May 13, 2009
Whispers around the Wisconsin basketball scene are that star-recruit Vander Blue is seriously considering de-commiting to UW-Madison and the promises he made to Bo Ryan more than a year ago. And if the rumors I’m hearing come to fruition, the 6-3 junior guard from Madison Memorial could be headed to the other D-1 school in the state. According to my source who’s been in contact with John Casper, a former Marquette alumni and beat writer, if Blue does officially decide to de-commit, he’ll in all likelihood join the Golden Eagles. Blue had verbally committed to play for the Badgers way back in April of last year, however, he apparently has been rethinking his non-binding decision as of late.
UW officials say they know nothing about Blue’s second-guessing, and to their credit Blue has yet to come out public on the situation, however, it could be a PR-ploy. Let me just say that if the rumors are true, Vander will have made the right decision. Not only does Marquette fit his style of play better, but he would also join former-teammate Jeronne Maymon at Marquette for the 2010-2011 season. I have a feeling that if Blue decided to stick with his original commitment and play under Ryan in the swing offense, he’s numbers would severely dip as opposed to playing in the aggressive-style Buzz Williams employs. I was fortunate to see this guy play this past year down in Madison during the Division 1 State Tournament and couldn’t see any obvious flaws in his game. Not only did Vander prove himself on the offensive end, knocking down jumpers from beyond the arc and throwing down some spectacular dunks, but he was a monster defensively, anticipating passes which lead to those easy transitions points. He was without question the most dominant player over the course of the weekend, despite the fact Maymon (committed to Marquette) and Racine Horlick senior-forward Jamil Wilson (committed to Oregon) were expected to be. Now obviously, this is a developing story, so I’ll keep you posted with any new stuff I hear.
UPDATE (May 20): Blue has officially decommitted, according to JSOnline. Here’s the link: http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/badgers.html. Blue hasn’t ruled out Wisconsin yet, but I think it’s safe to assume he will be looking heavily elsewhere. Systems like Buzz Williams’ at Marquette, Rick Pitino’s at Louisville and Bruce Pearl’s at Tennessee are speculative destinations.
January 2, 2008
It was a certainly an up and down week for a pair of Wisconsin Badger players and coaches, experiencing the highest highs and lowest lows of many of their young collegiate careers. Last Saturday, the Badger men’s basketball team, the day before arguably their toughest match-up of the year, lost leading scorer guard Trevon Hughes to an ankle injury. Obviously, Bo Ryan and the rest of his team wasn’t intimidated one bit despite playing in Austin facing the 9th ranked Longhorns. The Badgers were able to hang around all game, getting contributions from each and every player at Ryan’s disposal. Yet the Texas trio, Justin Mason, D.J. Augustin, and A.J. Abrams, were resilient in their own rite, until the final seconds, when Abrams, a previously 93% shooter from the charity stripe, missed a vital attempt that would have put his Longhorns up three. Ensuing the miss, senior Michael Flowers ran down the court after a timeout and drained a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left. Flowers then alertedly stole the in-bounds pass locking up the thrilling victory, 67-66. The win boosted the Badgers back into the Top 25, and upped their record to 10-2. The team opens their Big-Ten season tonight versus Michigan.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Badger football team wasn’t as fortunate on the gridiron in the Outback Bowl yesterday in Tampa Bay. Despite gutty performances from senior quarterback Tyler Donovan and sophomore bruiser P.J. Hill, the Badgers still fell on the short end of a 21-17 decision to the Tennessee Volunteers. Donovan, who was battered throughout the game’s entirety, appeared to have the Badgers ready to take their first lead of the game in the final minute. However, on a pass to the end-zone intended for Paul Hubbard, Donovan was intercepted to seal their fate. Second-year coach Bret Bielema and the Badgers finished their season 9-4, and will return their entire backfield in 2008. Look for another successful year from them next year, with to-be sophomore John Clay hopefully emerging as a legitimate piece to the puzzle.
August 9, 2007
Many Wisconsin Badger fans, including Tyler Donovan, went into the offseason thinking that the 5th-year senior would be the starting signal caller come September. But since talking with Badger Beat writer Jeff Potrykus from JSOnline, he assured many that the quarterback job is far from secure, especially after the emergence of junior transfer Allan Evridge. Evridge, who came over from Kansas State, completed 48% of his passes in 2005, before being surpassed by freshman phenom Josh Freeman last year. Potrykus said that while many fans expect Donovan to be “handed” the job, the Badgers will start the player who gives them the best chance to win. Donovan, the more experienced of the two, did start two games last season due to a shoulder injury that kept John Stocco sidelined. The most notable game for Donovan was his start at Iowa, where he went 17-24 for 228 yards and 2 TD’s, beating Drew Tate and the Hawkeyes 24-21. What will decide the quarterback job will be training camp, but even then, it will be difficult to determine because the two have contrasting styles. Donovan is more of a pocket passer, where Evridge has “Brooks Bollinger” type athleticism (he can beat you with his arm or legs). Whichever play-caller head coach Bret Bielema ultimately chooses, expect great things from the Badgers in 2007, with the “pound the ball” mentality Wisconsin traditionally runs. And with a returning backfield featuring PJ Hill, Lance Smith, and possibly John Clay, who can blame them?
August 3, 2007
After the Wisconsin Badgers landed John Clay, one of the biggest recruits teams across the country were after, they figured that their backfield would be set with incumbent bruiser PJ Hill already on the roster. But after Clay failed to meet NCAA freshman eligibilty standards, the Badgers’ backfield after Hill suddenly became a glaring concern. Clay, from Racine Park High School, chose Wisconsin over Iowa and others, probably because of UW’s football reputation and its in-state location. Bret Bielema’s backfield was already slim after sophomore Lance Smith’s suspension, after violation of the school’s discipline policy. But recent developments [from the Racine Journal Times’ Gery Woelfel] suggest that Clay may suit up for the Badgers afterall. Clay has been attending English courses at Racine Horlick High and appears to be on track to pass those classes, making his eligible again to be ready for UW’s training camp.
March 18, 2007
After falling behind early yet again to UNLV, the Badgers couldn’t overcome the deficit and were bounced out of the NCAA Tournament by the Runnin’ Rebels. The same disturbing trend was consistent for the Badgers since the beginning of the Big Ten tourney on. They got off to slow starts, and would have to dig themselves out of their own hole to come back. They managed to escape a 18-point deficit and beat 15-seed Texas A&M CC Friday, but today’s hole was just too deep. Seniors Kammron Taylor and Alando Tucker carried the load, but UW couldn’t find that third scorer behind them with Brian Butch still out. Tucker unfortuantely will end his illustrious career at Madison, ranking as both the single-season and All-Time scoring leader. 2007 will hopefully be just as productive as 2006, with Marcus Landry, Joe Krabbenhoft, Brian Butch, Michael Flowers, Greg Stiemsma, and Trevon Hughes all returning. Tim Jarmusz, a very established guard from Oshkosh West, will also be coming to UW. Jarmusz lead West to back to back D-1 championships, as they beat Milwaukee Vincent last night.
March 10, 2007
After falling to Ohio State over two weeks ago, the Badgers are back. Following consecutive victories against Michigan State, the Badgers wore out a tired Illinois team Saturday afternoon in the second Big Ten semifinal. Alando Tucker continued his dominance in Big Ten compeitition, scoring 21 points on 10-17 shooting. Senior Kammron Taylor also joined in the act, chipping in with 16. The Badgers will now face the #1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the grudge match Sunday with a possible #1 seed on the line. Barring any upsets, Kansas, North Carolina, and Florida will most likely be the other top seeds, as all should win their Conference Tournaments, leaving only one spot open. But the way it looks, the winner will be a #1 and the loser a #2. Without Brian Butch, look for the Badgers to devise a plan to limit freshman phenom Greg Oden by commitee, using Greg Stiemsma, Joe Krabbenhoft, Jason Chappell, and Marcus Landry.
November 11, 2006
Bret Bielema and the Badgers stepped up. After no “experts” gave them a chance to challenge for the Big Ten title, the Badgers proved the world wrong. The 16th ranked Badgers ran over the Iowa at Kinnick Stadium Saturday and proved themselves that they are “the best of the rest” and deserve to be in the BCS conversation. And if it weren’t for #1 Ohio State and #2 Michigan’s stellar seasons, the Badgers would have been in the race for the Big Ten championship. The win was particularly sweet for coach Bret Bielema, who had large shoes to fill after Barry Alvarez stepped down as the head man in Madison. At 10-1, Bielema has set the best record for a 1st year coach in Big Ten history. The Badgers were lead by junior quarterback Tyler Donovan, who made his 1st career start after John Stocco couldn’t go with a shoulder injury. The Badgers opened up the scoring and eventually took the early 10-0 lead, but the Hawkeyes hung tough and made a valiant but unsuccessful attempt to tack on their 7th win on senior day. The 24-21 win for the Badgers leaves just 1 game left this regular season, as the Badgers host Buffalo next week. Barring a massive upset, the Badgers will up their record to 11-1 and should get the Badgers into the Capital One Bowl, previously called the Florida Citrus Bowl. Although the Badgers wouldn’t be a “BCS” bowl game, they should be proud of their 2006 efforts.
September 1, 2006
Bret Bielema is ready. He has awaited this weekend ever since being announced as the new replacement to Barry Alvarez early last season. Bielema is not exactly a new site to Badger fans, as he worked as Alvarez’s defensive coordinator for two years. Tommorrow fans will be anxious and excited to see what Bielema is all about, and how he will handle the team for the first time. As for the Badgers, they don’t exactly have the “flashy” squads that they have had in the past, with the exception of tackle Joe Thomas, who excepts to be a high first round pick in next season’s draft. Another senior returning for his last season with the Badgers is quaterback John Stocco, who will have to create alot more plays without the studs on offense. For the most part the Badgers are a very young team with Stocco and Thomas as some of the lone exceptions. I will be looking specifically at how Stocco handles the offense without Brian Calhoun and Jonathan Orr. Right now, I just don’t think he can do it. Stocco has really done little to nothing spectacular while at Wisconsin; hopefully he can turn that around. Add the fact that the Big Ten has always been tough. The perennial powerhouses of Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State will be especially tough, but I think it will be how the Badgers fair against the non-conference schedule that will determine their season record, and what bowl they will get into. Stocco will definitely have to step up as well as linebacker Mark Zalewski in order for the Badgers to be successful.
Prediction: Badgers struggles versus Big Ten compeition and post a record of 5-7.
June 20, 2006
The Badger men had a tough end to the NCAA tournament last season after getting blown out by the Arizona Wildcats 94-75. But they are looking better than ever after they only lost senior sharpshooter Ray Nixon from the 2005-2006 team. With new recruits incoming that include point guard Trevon Hughes from St. Johns Northwestern Military Academy, the Badgers will be fully loaded and looking to go deep into the tourney this season. Wisconsin has a ton of returning talent still on the roster: upperclassmen Alando Tucker, Kammron Taylor, and Brian Butch and underclassmen Marcus Landry, Joe Krabbenhoft, and Greg Steimsma just to name a few. The stars should be Alando Tucker as well as Kammron Taylor who really stepped up his game last season averaging just over 14 points per game and shooting 40% from trey land. I think the key to the Badgers success is the play of Brian Butch and Marcus Landry, as they look to improve on somewhat disappointing 2005-2006 seasons. More so for Landry, who was unable to play for academic reasons almost the entire season. As far as the starting lineup is concerned, look for a Trevon Hughes/Kammron Taylor tandem in the backcourt with Hughes to start at point guard and Taylor starting beside him at shooting guard. The frontcourt should include Alando Tucker to start at the 3, Marcus Landry at the 4, and Brian Butch to start at center. Bo Ryan should be very excited as his 2006-2007 team is shaping up to be the favorite at the top of the Big 10 as well as one of the top college teams in the country.
June 19, 2006
Game 5 of the 2006 NBA Finals was a classic. The Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat traded baskets for what seemed like the entire game. The game was full of stars but there were two players that stood out in particular. It was former Marquette star Dwayne Wade who was spectacular for the Heat, scoring 43 points, including the game winning free throw with a mere 1.9 seconds left. For the Mavs former Badger Devin Harris shined both on offense and defense. Harris had only 6 points but it was his defense on Dwayne Wade that kept the Mavs close. Wade had to force alot of shots up, and while a lot went in, the Heat only won by a point. Who would have thought that a few years after they had been drafted (Wade 2003, 5th overall, Harris 2004, 5th overall) they would be facing each other in a pivotal Game 5 in the NBA Finals. While the stage was set for the big stars like Shaquille O’ Neal and Dirk Nowitzki, I thought it was the Wisconsinites, Dwayne Wade and Devin Harris, that stole the show and showed us a promising future for the NBA.