This debate about the worthiness of Wichita State sophomore Fred VanVleet as a point guard, if there is even a debate, is probably the silliest thing I’ve ever seen.
Of course, it’s mostly fueled by one clown with a national platform and by now I don’t need to mentionThe 1963-64 Wichita State team is one of the best in Shocker history. Ernie Moore (32) is seated third from the left on the front row.names.
VanVleet, the critic says, might lack the quickness and foot speed to play with the nation’s elite point guards in the NCAA Tournament. And yada, yada, yada.
When I watch VanVleet play, I see a stone-cold killer. Is he the quickest point guard in America? Probably not. Could he out-run Usain Bolt? My guess is that he couldn’t.
But VanVleet is a tremendous player. He scores when he needs to score. He passes when he needs to pass. He’d be a great DJ at a wedding because he can go up-tempo and he knows just when to slow things down.
The greatest point guard in Wichita State history, in my opinion, is Ernie Moore. He played a long, long time ago, from 1960-64. He’s living now in Kansas City, where he attended Sumner High back in the day, and he pays a lot of attention to the Shockers. And to VanVleet.
And here’s some of what he has to say about the current WSU point guard.
“He’s very, very good,” Moore said. “He controls the game like he’s supposed to. He takes that big shot like he’s supposed to when they bog down a little bit on offense. He takes care of the basketball. He really takes care of the basketball and that’s what I judge him on the most.”
Moore, who is in his early 70s, would run for president of the Fred VanVleet Fan Club if there was such a thing.
A little background on Moore:
He played for Ralph Miller and averaged 13.2 points during his career. He went into the Shocker Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. Moore was a tremendous floor leader, but assists were not an official statistic when he played so those numbers are missing. Safe to say, though, that passing was among his greatest strengths.
Moore shot 44.7 percent from the field during his career and 75.3 percent at the free-throw line. He also avearaged 3.1 rebounds per game and was every bit as dangerous as a defensive player as he was on offense.
“When I was playing, we really got after you on defense,” Moore said. “We really did because if we didn’t, Ralph would really get after us. That’s what this team does, too. They get after you on defense.”
Moore said he’s amazed by VanVleet’s poise, given that this is his first season as the Shockers’ starter.
“He can really shoot the ball from the outside,” Moore said. “One of the little concerns I had at the beginning of the season was that he was walking the ball up the floor quite a bit. But he doesn’t do that now. You don’t want to play 40 minutes of half-court basketball. You want some easy baskets. No, Fred VanVleet is great.”
Greatness is best defined by the great, right?
Moore said he’s seen about half of Wichita State’s games this season and believes the Shockers can get to another Final Four. He said VanVleet’s leadership is a major reason why.
“It would have been a challenge to have played against him,” Moore said. “He plays in such an off tempo. He marches to the beat of his own drum, really. He can look like he’s not going to score and then he scores and that’s because the guys he’s going against aren’t at the same tempo.”
Moore said he suspects VanVleet is using criticism as motivation, the way he did when he was a Shocker.
“Back in the day, the media rated all the players just like they do now,” Moore said. “When we played against a guy who was rated way up there above me, that made me really want to challenge him. And I think that’s what Fred and Wichita State is going to do. They’re going to prove a point.”
Moore, a retired city worker, said he gives no credence to the notion that the Shockers have played a weak schedule, either.
“I’m not concerned about that at all,” he said. “What I’m concerned about is the Shockers’ play. Have they deviated or changed their play any from the beginning of the season or have they now? Well, I haven’t seen it change on iota. This team can play with anyone.”