Terps Close Convincingly Despite Vasquez's Foul Trouble
With 8:32 remaining in yesterday's win over Virginia Tech, Greivis Vasquez committed his fourth foul of the afternoon and was subbed out of the game. After Hokies swingman A.D. Vassallo converted two free throws, Maryland's lead was trimmed to seven and Vasquez was subbed out of the game.
"I think some people have the opinion that if Greivis isn’t playing well or he doesn’t play, say he’s hurt or something, that we can’t win," Gary Williams said. "Well, I think in the players’ minds, they have a pretty good feeling about themselves right now. You know, a quiet confidence; nothing like cocky."
Vasquez sat out until just less than five minutes remained and when he re-entered, the Terps' lead was up to nine. Maryland was efficient on offense all afternoon, a notion re-inforced by the fact the Terps tallied 83 points on just 54 field goal attempts. Williams has said in the past his ideal number of shot attempts per game hovers around 60, so he had to have been delighted at his team's performance against the Hokies.
Without Vasquez on the floor for much of the final ten minutes, Maryland did not lose its edge. Vasquez has led the team in nearly every offensive statistical category for most of the season and his performance often is crucial to the team's success. But yesterday, the Terps held steady just fine with Vasquez mired in foul trouble.
Vasquez checked out of the game again with 4:38 remaining -- just 19 seconds after his return. He subbed back in with 2:50 to go and fouled out 18 seconds later. He finished with 17 points on 7 of 13 shooting. He went 3 for 5 from beyond the arc and pulled out his pattened wiggle-shimmy celebration for good measure after one second-half three-pointer.
Obviously, the Terps would prefer to have Vasquez's offensive presence on the court. For all of his eccentricities and streakiness, Vasquez often finds a way to score around 15 points regardless of his shooting numbers.
But as Williams pointed out, the Terps proved last night that they can hold onto a lead and secure a victory without Vasquez on the court late in games, if need be. Virginia Tech hit four three-pointers in the final two and a half minutes of the game, yet Maryland's lead never sank below nine durring that span.
Free-throw shooting was key (the Terps went 24 for 26 yesterday, including
20 for 20 21 for 22 in the final eight minutes), but the most important development may have been the confidence boost Maryland afforded itself with its own performance.
"We still obviously have some tough games coming up," Williams said. "At the same time, we want to go play our game and see what happens. I think we’re getting more confidence into a lot more people on the team."
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