Since taking over for Tom Crean, now at Indiana, in 2008 Buzz Williams has built up his reputation by building up players. Vander Blue is the latest in a line of players benefiting from Williams’ outstanding coaching ability. Even in their 70-51 blow out loss to Louisville, Blue showed brilliance on the offensive side of the ball. With a wide variety of ways to score at his disposal, Blue is looking to be the next Marquette player moving to the NBA.
Jae Crowder, Darius Johnson-Odom, Jimmy Butler and Wesley Matthews are all in the NBA now and each used at least three years at Marquette to develop into well rounded basketball players, especially on the offensive end. Blue, a 6-4 junior guard, has seen his offensive production improve each of his three years from 5.1 to 8.4 to 14.8 points per game. He has gone from making 16 percent of his three-point shots his freshman year to 32 percent this year and 60 percent to 72 percent from the free throw line. Blue has gone from purely a slasher that can only finish around the rim to someone that has a deadly off the dribble pull up jumper and can catch and shoot off screens very well, both things that will help him succeed at the next level. Against a swarming Cardinals defense last night he calmly put up 17 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor and showing of his versatile arsenal.
Going into the game against Louisville, Marquette was in first place in the Big East, in large part because of Blue’s play. This kind of loss can have an affect on a teams psyche, and Williams was working hard at the end of the game to point out anything his players were doing well in order to keep them positive. As they head into the second half of their conference play the Golden Eagles will need their leaders to continue to do what they do best, build up others and pour in points.