The Marquette Golden Eagles are a very good team. Buzz Williams might be one of the most under appreciated coaches in the nation. Vander Blue is likely the best player you have never heard of. Those three sentences are three things that need to be mentioned whenever you talk about the Golden Eagles basketball team. Unless you follow the Big East closely or are a Marquette fan, you either don’t care about them enough to notice these things or the fact they get very little national exposure could prevent you from absorbing in all of those facts.
Blue is the perfect example out of those three. A junior guard, Blue is currently averaging 14.6 points per game on a team who is ranked 17th in the nation a year after losing two players to the NBA. Soak those three nuggets in for a second. 14 points a game is nothing to sneeze at when teams are game planning their defense around your offensive skill set. Which is exactly what teams have been doing while trying to slow down the Golden Eagles.
Then there is the fact that Marquette lost two players to the NBA coming into this season. Take two pros off of any roster and there is surely to be a downfall. However, that doesn’t seem to be an issue for Marquette, who thanks in large part to Blue, haven’t seem to miss a beat. Instead, they continue to win games and be one of the best teams in the Big East Conference(Nuggets two and three kind of tied at the hip there).
Blue isn’t really a versatile player. He gets his minutes because he has the ability to put the ball in the basket by creating how own shot, which at the college level is harder and harder to come by. Having a player such as Blue who has that ability, not only makes them tough in the Big East, it will make them an even tougher out come March.
Opposing coaches who will face Blue in the future know how good the guy is. His ability to stay relatively under the radar is not going to last that much longer. When the Big East Tournament begins, and we get to see him on the national stage, people are going to wonder who this kid is. Then, after capturing your attention, he is going to be one of the biggest stars in the NCAA Tournament.
Sneaky good isn’t a way of saying he is barely good. No sir, it is just a compliment to a player who has been good all season long but nobody has seemed to notice. I am sure Williams would like to keep Blue’s ability as secretive as possible, so teams who haven’t seen him play won’t attempt to strategize around him, but Blue might be so sneaky good that the secret is out of the bag.
Blue has gotten better every year he has been with the program. Massive jump in points, field goal percentage, minutes played, everything you would hope for from someone who is now a junior. Blue’s best ability however, might be that he is so sneaky good that he is actually great.
Plus, let’s be honest, his name just screams awesomeness. Someone named Vander Blue just has to be good.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports who primarily covers the Catholic Seven. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone