Friday, October 23, 2009

Do As I Say, Not As I Do.

I've done my best to avoid writing about Tom Oates' column on Vander Blue all week; after all, it's much more fun to watch the Badger Meltdown from afar than to throw oneself into the carnage and respond to some of the more inane insinuations that have come out of Madison this week.

Then, a couple of things happened. First, everybody's favorite Llama "wrote" (and I use that term in the loosest sense possible) a response to Oates' piece. In that post, Toddles, apparently not realizing that Oates' column was a series of backhanded compliments and thinly-veiled jabs at Buzz Williams, said that Oates "puts the blame squarely on Bo Ryan himself." Um, well ... not exactly. (But we'll get to that in a second.)

Second, Oates went on the Lucas and Lupay Show -- or, as I like to call it, The Show Featuring the Mouthpieces of the Great Red Menace -- and ignored his own advice in his column.

And let's start there, with the column itself. Things got off to an innocent enough start:

When it comes to Madison Memorial's Vander Blue picking Marquette over the University of Wisconsin, it is important to remember that no one truly knows what a talented high school basketball player is thinking when he selects a college.

So while UW fans may wonder from some of Blue's comments just how much garbage the summer basketball know-nothings have pumped into his 17-year-old head, ultimately they need to accept that it's his future and, therefore, his decision.

And, so ends the briefest column in the history of sportswriting: "It's his decision, it does no good to speculate why Vander chose Marquette, so let's drop it."

Or: not. You know what's coming next, don't you?

Having said that,

Having said that, watch me disregard my own advice in the very next line, as I attempt to divine meaning from the fact that young Master Blue calls his soon-to-be coach by his nickname:

there was one quote from Blue in the many stories written about his commitment to second-year Marquette coach Buzz Williams that jumped off the page at me. Among other things, Blue said Marquette was a good fit because he has "a real good connection with Buzz."


That's right, Buzz. Not Coach Williams. Not even Coach Buzz or Coach B.

Not Mister Williams. Not Your Honor. Not His Eminence. Not Your Grace. Not His Worshipfulness. Just Buzz. Kids these days, you know?

Based on his reaction to this utterly-benign fact, I've begun compiling a list of things that probably bother Tom Oates (and let me know if you've got any others):
  • Howard Taft
  • Talkies
  • This Elvis Presley character
  • Women's suffrage -- also: pant suits
  • The lack of a good sarsaparilla around here
  • Television -- and especially that uppity Katie Couric gal
  • Earth Day
  • The fact that you can't smack your secretary on the ass, call her "toots," and down a fifth of scotch at lunch, then pass out under your desk and wake up in a puddle of your own vomit (without anybody batting an eye)
I mean, come on, Tom: Buzz Williams is a fucking basketball coach. He's not a drill sergeant. He's not a judge. He's not a priest. Is it really that big of a deal to call the man by his nickname?

Oh, I guess it is:

But that one minor but overly chummy comment is enough to make you wonder what it takes to recruit in an era when players become household names before they even get to high school.

Sigh. So much for that whole "it is important to remember that no one truly knows what a talented high school basketball player is thinking when he selects a college" and "they need to accept that it's his future and, therefore, his decision" shit, eh? You're right; this is much more fun ...

... So much fun, in fact, that the Speculation Hour continued when Oates went on the Lucas and Lupay Show yesterday. Queried Lucas (or Lupay; I don't know which one is which, and I don't much care -- all I hear is "blah blah Scott Tolzien blah blah Bo Ryan should be mentioned in the same breath as John Wooden blah blah Barry Alvarez once touched my shoulder and I felt the healin' power course through my body"):
“By the sounds of it, Vander Blue felt more comfortable with the academic environment and academic standards, if you will, at Marquette. Would you agree?”
Answered Tom:
"I don't know enough about that."
And mine heart leapt, and I said: "Oh, joy! He's remembered what he wrote about not speculating about the mind of a 17-year-old!" And I went home happy, for I knew that there was goodness and decency in this world.

Oh, wait. He said more? Dammit:
"But again, just reading from the comments, I would say that’s true."
That comment, apparently, was from Vander's grandpappy, Art Wilson, who said that Vander "had a lot of respect for a young lady who will be his academic advisor" at Marquette. The inescapable conclusion one must draw from that statement, of course, is that Vander is comfortable with the academic "standards" at Marquette -- which, of course -- OF COURSE -- are much, much, much lower than the same "standards" are at Madison.

I mean, it's not like you'd see any Madison athletes majoring in something called "human ecology - leadership studies," right? Or "human development family studies"? Or "life sciences communication"? After all, Madison's professors get wayyyyy too many research grants at their publicly-funded university for something like that to happen.

(What's that you say? One has nothing to do with the other? Hmm. That's not what I've been hearing all week. Then again: I went to Markett, so I'm not so gud at the thinkin'.)

(And, also, because I lurned how to do my ritin' at Markett, I ain't so gud at findin' a nice spot for my ritins to end. So: BYE!)


Devil's Threesome said...

Ron Dayne & Brent Moss - aren't they both at MIT now finishing up their doctorates? Don't give me this bullshit about UW academics holding back athletes. Cough, John Clay, cough.

In a related Rob Schultz Pravda article:

'Senior point guard Trevon Hughes said Wisconsin narrows the number of players it recruits by making character an issue. The pool of recruits is further drained after the players look at what they must do academically at Wisconsin.
"That's what kind of hurts," Hughes said. "We don't take any shortcuts with academics and that scares most of the athletes away."'

That little incident regarding stealing iPods and cash that involved two Badgers? Forget about that - UW recruits character players.

Meanwhile, while everyone around Madison has been dragging Blue's academic record through the mud (including Potrykus on public message boards), wasn't UW heavily recruiting him until he committed to MU? He was good enough on Sunday morning, but by Sunday afternoon he must have been deemed a lost cause academically.

It's easy to use "standards" as an excuse when you lose out on a recruit.

PS - Check out the great 'staches on Mike Lucas & Rob Schultz in the video at the attached link. Rob Schultz bears an uncanny resemblance to Milton on Office Space. Commit to UW or I'll burn down your house. Lucas just looks like he wants to entice your kids into his conversion van with candy.

Rubie Q said...

"We don't take any shortcuts with academics" says the guy majoring in life sciences communications. Riiiight.

From what I've heard, Vander got a 64 on his most recent Spanish test. That was the straw that broke the Bo's back. You better know your Espanol if you wanna be a Badger (or: un Tejon).

FPMKE said...

Wow, I'm amazed that you didn't spontaneously combust after holding this in all week.

EMoney said...

Here's the question....who else will be going with me to Madison in 2011 when Vander makes his first visit there as a sophomore? Jeronne will be an upperclassman and Vander will have a solid year and full Big East slate under his belt. Venom will be spewing in the Kohl Center that day!

Speaking of which, anyone here planning on making the trip to Madison this year? I think it will be a tough game to watch this year