Friday, January 07, 2005

The End of the Boo Wade Era at Wisconsin

So, Boo Wade is gone from the Wisconsin roster, and from the Wisconsin student directory as well, as he’s left the team and the school. I have no idea why Wade is packing his bags (though I suspect, given the timing of things, that academics must play some role), there’s not a lot to feel good about in this situation. Wade leaves school with lots of upsetting questions around him, will need to go elsewhere if he hopes to finish out his pursuit of a college degree, and doesn’t get to be around basketball, a sport he purportedly loves. And to top it off, the 5 minutes or so that he played during his comeback have ensured that he will essentially lose his junior year of eligibility should he ever catch on elsewhere. It’s not quite a worst case scenario, but it’s probably not a high point of Wade’s life. Hopefully he can find a way to make something positive happen in his life very soon, since it looks like he’s at a point where he really needs to.

On a side note, where does Wade go from here if he wants to continue with basketball? The logical choice, given his Milwaukee roots, and a huge stable of guards arriving soon at Marquette, is UWM. I don’t know that Wade’s game fits with UWM’s style, though, so I wouldn’t bank on him ending up there. Bruce Pearl seemingly has about 27 scholarships to give out at any given time, though, so I would think he could make a play for Wade if he wanted to. Where he goes, if anywhere, is anyone’s guess, in my mind.

Turning to the less significant basketball point, how will this affect the Badgers? Because Wade played only about 5 minutes this season, I think this will hurt Wisconsin’s season more than anyone will ever understand.

As most know, I was never a gigantic Wade fan. It was largely because his game was very plain. He handled the ball without turning it over (even if he never actually appeared to be strong with the ball). He shot from the outside only when he was absolutely wide open (Though, as I noted yesterday, he was a three-point specialist in high school, with range out to the coach’s box. If you don’t believe me, come over to my place and I’ll show you some tape.). He defended well. In short, his game was solid, but unspectacular. Playing behind Devin Harris, though, solid but unspectacular didn’t seem so fun.

However, this solid but unspectacular game that Wade possessed is exactly what the Badgers needed this year at the guard spot. Stability has not been a strong suit of the Badger guards so far, and Wade could have brought that. Kam Taylor and Michael Flowers, though they show flashes of brilliance on the offensive and defensive ends, respectively, have not performed at their highest levels on a consistent basis. Clayton Hanson puts out a great effort, and can be dangerous when he gets hot from behind the arc, but probably is a guy you’d rather have as a key reserve than a starter. Sharif Chambliss is doing an admirable job as point guard, but it’s not his position, and he could probably do even better things if he didn’t have to shoulder this load. Wade’s biggest contribution would have been giving Wisconsin a point guard that they wouldn’t need to worry about. He’s not a guy that would have put up 15 points per game or dished out 7 assists every game, but he would have provided a defensive boost, and generally been safe. And safety in the backcourt often goes underrated.

As I said, though, I doubt that most people will ever see things this way, as Wisconsin isn’t playing badly, and hasn’t had Wade for most of the year. To most, this loss will be the loss of a guy who was nothing more than an average point guard. With this, I agree, however, I also think that an average point guard is exactly what the Badgers need this year.

And because it was a late night, I’ll save my few, brief comments on UWM’s overtime win at Butler. Go Panthers!


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