Jae Crowder was the Big East player of the year last season and his Marquette teammate, Darius Johnson-Odom, was right behind him. The two were the best duo in the conference and led the Golden Eagles to the Sweet Sixteen. With both players now in the NBA, Marquette will have to look elsewhere for key players. Enter Vander Blue.
While Blue was a starter last season, he hasn’t quite broken out yet. Along with Crowder and Johnson-Odom, Blue and teammates Todd Mayo, Junior Cadougan, and Davante Gardner rode what was a true team effort to the Golden Eagles’ success.
Blue has a real chance to be Marquette’s best player this year. Last season, his offensive skills started taking form as he averaged 8.7 points to go along with 4.4 rebounds. While he does need to work on his shot selection, evident by his 41% shooting, he’s gotten a lot better at attacking the rim, and his athleticism shows there’s more room to grow.
Above all, Blue’s biggest asset is his defense. He has great length for a guard his size (6’3″) and the lateral quickness that truly great defenders need. With his tenacity and desire to defend, he excels at creating turnovers.
If he can develop his offensive game even more, Blue can become one of the more complete guards in the conference. He will team with Cadougan in the backcourt and really has a great chance to break out into a top Big East player.
Even with the losses of Crowder and Johnson-Odom, Blue and his teammates have enough talent to avoid a severe drop-off. Expect them to be competitive in the Big East title race.