Every Vandy fan has an opinion on A.J. Ogilvy.
Few players are more perplexing than the big Aussie. He is sensational and frustrating all rolled into one. He smoothly operates in the post at times, and then head-scratchingly drops an easy post feed at others.
Perhaps it's overly dramatic to say, but the outlook of our program depends on what A.J. decides to do this offseason.
In my opinion, losing to Murray State puts the program in a holding pattern where it had been on a promising rise. The 2008 loss to Siena is no longer a set-back, it's the beginning of a plateau. We were once a team that could peak at the right time, now we're a team that just doesn't peak when it really counts.
And we can completely change all of that, but I'm not sure we can do it if there's no A.J.
I emphasize sure because if he does disspell all the rumors floating around that he won't be back at Vandy next season, then we will be a top-20 program with battle-tested players in both the front and back court. With A.J.'s scoring ability in the post and improvement from both Jenkins and Taylor, we could have a very balanced scoring unit. Tinsley and Fuller would provide a nice change of pace look at the point. Stevie Thunder and Andre Walker would have more veteran seasoning, which would hopefully lead to more production in their overall game. We could redshit Josh Henderson and let him get a little bigger, and perhaps most importantly, we would give Big Fez an ability to improve even more without requiring him to shoulder the load as our starting 5. I am sure that these things will happen if A.J. were to return.
But if you subtract A.J. from the equation, I'm no longer sure of anything. True, Jenkins and Taylor will likely improve, but a significant portion of our offense will be lost. Losing Jermaine Beal is already tough, losing A.J. with him is even tougher. Like him or not, A.J. is our best scoring threat in the post. Without him, I am very unsure that our front court can score; at least not with the same balance that we enjoyed this year. What's more than that, we would lack depth in the front court, as well as the back court. Those are all issues that concern me.
There is always the possibility that we come out of this offseason better than ever, and that in reality the season we had circled on the calendar for almost 2 years was not this one, but in fact was next. I'd feel pretty confident in agreeing with that statement if A.J. Ogilvy was our starting center next year. But without A.J., I just don't know. It's not a lack of faith in Stallings or any of the players; we have a very talented squad that still has room to grow. It's the fact that A.J., like him or hate him, is just that important.
Not to mention that he still has some room to grow too.