|2012 - Vander Blue||34||33.0||5.4||11.9||45.4||1.2||3.9||30.3||2.8||3.7||75.6||0.6||2.6||3.2||1.8||2.3||1.1||0.0||1.8||14.8|
Minimum Expectation: 10 points, five rebounds, and either the assists go up or the turnovers go down. Oh, and the end of The Patented Vander Blue Layup That Bounces Four Times On The Rim Then Falls Off.
Wildest Dreams: Blue finally lives up to the hype from his freshman year and the reputation that's kept him in Chad Ford's top 100 NBA Draft prospects every single year. He turns into the dependable shooter that MU needs, which means defenders have to start giving him DJO-level respect for both his shot and his first step. His offensive development doesn't affect his mentality on defense and Buzz says "he makes it really hard to take him off the floor" about 30 times.
Worst Nightmare: Vander's development as a player has peaked. We get the same reliable defense and rebounding, but his offense still struggles, and Buzz is forced to rummage around in the bench to find anyone who can score.
I suppose I can't just use [Reviews Blue's season & marvels at his development as a player from sophomore to junior year, then gets bummed out when the realization that he's not coming back sets in and there won't be another jump from junior to senior year] as the entire review, huh?
Look, it's impossible to talk about all the great things that Blue accomplished wearing blue and gold this past season without acknowledging the fact that his decision to leave school for the NBA Draft made virtually zero sense from a player development vantage point. You have to be a good player to score 20 or more points in a game on six different occasions like Blue did in 2012-13, but you have to be a great player to get drafted. You have to be a tireless offseason worker to improve your three point shooting percentage from 16% your freshman year to 26% your sophomore year to 30% your junior year, but you have to be able to shoot it better than that to play shooting guard in the NBA.
If you look at what we laid out in our expectations in Blue's Preview post, it ended up being kind of hit and miss. However, I think this has more to do with how Vander was deployed by Buzz Williams this season. For his first two seasons at Marquette, Blue played the third guard/Swiss Army Knife role on the team that Trent Lockett slipped into so well. With Lockett occupying that role, Blue stepped into the void left behind by Darius Johnson-Odom at the more traditional shooting guard slot in the lineup. When you take that into account, seeing the dip in rebounding and complete lack of blocks (and I mean complete lack, Blue had zero blocks on the season) makes a little bit more sense.
Did Blue turn into a dependable shooter? If you're talking about from behind the arc, you probably have to answer in the negative. He was much better than he was in the past, but there's a lot of "1-4" in his game logs. The upside is that he hit them when he had to, like in the closing minute of the NCAA tournament game against Davidson for example. More important than that though, was his ability to hit pull up mid-range jumpers. Back in February, Paint Touches put together a jealousy-inducing Synergy breakdown of Blue's ability to hit that shot, marking Blue as the second best mid-range shooter in the country. Not too shabby.
As for whether Blue was able to bring an end to The Patented Vander Blue Layup That Bounces Four Times On The Rim Then Falls Off, well, go ask your favorite St. John's fan how that went for them.
Best Game: There's a lot of options here from a scoring perspective. I almost went with the 19 point, eight rebound outing in the insane-o overtime loss in Cincinnati (hey, remember when MU scored 13 points IN A HALF?), but Blue had a 19-6-2 with two steals against Pittsburgh when the Panthers were ranked number 16 in the country. What sealed it as the choice is Blue shooting 7-8 from the floor in that one, including a perfect 2-2 from three point country.
Season Grade (1-Worst Nightmare to 10-Wildest Dreams): We already covered most of the points in our expectations, but I did want to touch on one last thing: Vander's turnovers. Were the raw numbers up over his sophomore year? Sure thing. But according to KenPom.com, because of his elevated minutes, Blue's turnover rate - the percentage of possessions that he used that ended with him turning the ball over - fell from 23% in 2011-12 to just 18.6% in 2012-13. When you're making a marked increase in scoring like Blue did, cutting your turnovers like that is very impressive. All told, I give Blue a 9 for his final year at Marquette.