Monday, April 07, 2008

Puzzling Occurrences

First off, the Wisconsin men's basketball team appears to be signing the guy in the picture, Ryan Evans, a 6'6" wing from Arizona. And this isn't for a year and a half from now. No, this is for next season. What's a little weird is that reportedly Evans does not have any other scholarship offers from any other D-I programs. That's worrying, but okay, let's just hope that Bo and his staff found an uber-sleeper. Apparently Evans has grown a bunch in high school, meaning he was probably overlooked early on. And he is allegedly "super athletic" and pretty big, and everyone's been crying for an athletic wing for some time now. Plus, he seems to have had a very solid senior year, leading his team to the semifinals of the Arizona state playoffs. So there should be some optimism, I guess. I mean, look at Stephen Curry. He was undersized, so no one gave him the time of day. Now he's one of the best players in the country.

But still, this development has some iffy reverberations. It seems to mean that Gullickson's scholarship is getting pulled, which is a bummer for Kevin. He's a neat guy and a good student. It also means that Wisconsin appears to not be in a position to add another 2009 scholarship player beyond the two that have already committed-- Diamond Taylor, a guard from suburban Chicago, and Mike Bruesewitz, a ginger forward from Minnesota. This means that a bevy of other talented prospects, several of whom are from the upper-Midwest, and thus might be reasonable targets for Wisconsin, do not appear to be options. This includes three very athletic wings, including Royce White and Rodney Williams of Minnesota, and Racine's Jamil Wilson, who by all accounts appears to be the most talented Wisconsin state prospect in quite some time. Foreclosing these possibilities for a late-bloomer from Arizona seems a bit odd. Again, I guess we should trust Bo. He and his staff should have earned our confidence by now.

The other weird happening is Marquette filled their open coaching job with a guy named Buzz Williams, a career assistant who's only been with the program for one season. He spent two years at Texas A&M, and otherwise has bounced around. He's only in his mid-30s, and seemed to be hired in effort to keep the current team and the current recruiting class intact. Williams is mainly known for being a solid recruiter, especially in Texas, but not for much else. A very strange hire from my perspective. If you want a quality big league coach, I think you either pull a successful coach from a smaller D-I school, or a really successful coach from a lower division school, or you pull a talented long-time assistant from a very successful program. Personally, I prefer the first option (guys like Bo, Bruce Pearl, Ben Howland), but the second option has worked well too (Roy Williams, Bruce Weber, Matt Painter, Tom Izzo).

Marquette seemed to go with some weird bastardized take on the career assistant option. And hey, maybe it will work out in the long run and this Buzz Williams fellow will be a great coach. But the odds of that happening don't look that good. Williams's only other head coaching experience was one year at the University of New Orleans two seasons ago. His team finished the season with a 14-17 record (they were 10-19 the previous year), and has actually improved since he left (the "Privateers" were 19-13 this season). Maybe the MU athletic department thinks they can make a legit run in the Big East and the tourney next year if McNeal and James don't leave early and their recruiting class stays intact. I guess that's some justification. But for sure, no other BCS conference school would have hired Williams to fill their head coaching vacancy. Frankly, this hire reeks of desperation and short-term thinking. I guess that's good if you're a Badger fan and you dislike Marquette. Not so much if you root for the state's schools generally.

1 comment:

Randy Moss said...

if ryan evans works out and leuer turns into the dependable offensive presence that he promises to be, i feel like our coaching staff could be well on their way to correcting the lack of speed and athleticism we dealt with this year.

smaller-faster may not be better, but it shows a willingness to adapt and succeed with a different formula.

nobody ever heard of zach morley either, but he took us to the elite 8.