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Postseason Evaluations: Greivis Vasquez

This week, Terrapins Insider is taking a look back at the Maryland season that concluded last weekend. Each day will feature posts on the performances of specific players and Coach Gary Williams

Greivis Vasquez scored 10 or more points in all but three of Maryland’s games this season. That’s 91.4 percent (32 of 35).

No other Terrapin was even remotely as consistent in that regard. Eric Hayes was a distant second in double-digit scoring, tallying 10 or more points in 60 percent of Maryland’s games.

The fact mentioned in the first sentence of this post reveals many things about the season Vasquez had. First and foremost, you almost always knew what you were going to get from Vasquez when Maryland took the court.

Among the many things Vasquez was most likely to do during each contest: take a lot of shots, miss a fair share of those shots, attempt several flashy plays (some, but not all, of which would pan out and elicit awestruck reactions from the surrounding audience), talk trash to the opposing team, interact with the crowd (sometimes in a friendly manner; other times not so much), be the most outwardly emotional player on the court, dish out a handful of assists, grab a handful of rebounds and score at least 10 points.

Vasquez led Maryland in scoring, rebounding, assists, minutes, free throw shooting percentage, turnovers and steals. And though there is no accurate way to measure such things, Vasquez also likely led the team in both cheers and boos drawn.

He was reliable in just about every sense of the word -- not always reliably good, but reliable in the sense that you almost could predict how Vasquez would perform on a nightly basis.

But that initial fact, when mixed with some context, reveals other nuggets about Vasquez, as well. Maryland needed Vasquez to score. He took the most shots of any Terrapin (538) this season because had he not, Maryland’s final record likely would have been far worse than 21-14.

He is a playmaker, constantly teetering on the line that separates arrogance from confidence. He wanted the ball in his hands at all times. He wanted the in-game, on-court decisions to flow through him. He wanted control. And Maryland, on most occasions, needed him to have all of it.

Vasquez was not always the team’s primary point guard this season. The Terrapins spent most of the season with a starting lineup that included three point guards (Vasquez, Hayes and Adrian Bowie). Maryland’s offense was most efficient when it operated in transition, and the deal was that whichever guard got the rebound (they all were relied upon heavily in that department) got to orchestrate the fast break.

But Vasquez always felt he could be more useful to the team if he were the one handling the ball, taking it up the court and getting the offense in and out of its sets. In the week leading up to the home game against North Carolina on Feb. 19, Vasquez explained his predicament to assistant coach Rob Ehsan during practice.

“I said I feel bad when we lose, you know, because even though I’m the 2-guard, I’m not really a scorer,” Vasquez said a few days after his discussion with Ehsan. “I’m a point guard. I’m a true point guard. And this is my team, so I’m supposed to lead the team. I’m supposed to have the ball in my hands. So I told Rob, I said I just want to try if I can be the point guard for big games.

“Remember, we all remember, we beat UNC and Duke twice my freshman year and last year with me being the point guard, so I make a good point, but I don’t want things to change because Adrian’s doing a good job for us, but I wanted to win this game so bad that I had to go and talk to one of the assistant coaches and tell them that the only way I’m going to produce and play my best is just being the point guard because that’s my natural position.”

Given the increased ballhandling responsibilities he had sought, Vasquez tallied a triple-double against the Tar Heels at Comcast Center. He had talked about it almost as if it were a foregone conclusion many times previously during the season. And finally, he made it happen.

This is part of Vasquez’s charm: He’s a talker. He can’t help himself. He has a lot on his mind at all times, and he rarely shies away from revealing it for all the world to analyze. He infrequently uttered the phrase “no comment,” and even more than that, he infrequently uttered any phrase that was not intriguing, at the very least. This trait won him many supporters, and it also got him into a few precarious situations.

There was the time he screamed curse words at Maryland’s student section as he was dribbling the ball up the court during a game.

There was the time he vehemently defended Gary Williams when he felt his coach was being treated unfairly by reporters.

There was the time he said he planned to declare for the NBA draft after his junior season was complete and compete in pre-draft camps before deciding whether to return to Maryland for his senior season.

And there was the time he called into question how Memphis – a team from Conference USA and also a team Maryland would face less than 24 hours after Vasquez made this particular comment – would fare in the ACC.

This is Vasquez: honest because he knows no other way. And as the season progressed, that honesty began to be scrutinized, by reporters as well as his own coaches. Over the last month of the season, whenever Vasquez spoke to reporters he was flanked by at least one team official. Usually it was an assistant coach. Sometimes it was a Maryland PR officer. Other times it was both.

To be fair, assistant coaches began to monitor the postgame interviews of most of the Terrapins near the end of the season, presumably ready to pounce on any reporter who attempted to “bait” one of their players. But Vasquez, as always, got the most attention. He was so open that he could not be trusted – quite a paradox.

But even under such circumstances, Vasquez remained true to his ethos. He was ultra-consistent in nearly every aspect – on or off the court, including the candidness of his commentary.

Whether Vasquez returns for his senior season may go a long way toward determining how successful next season’s team can be. Yes, he often drives some observers mad with his antics – the ill-advised shots and passes and decisions and words.

But as long as Vasquez remains in College Park he will continue to be a vital component of the Maryland men’s basketball program.

What did you all think of Vasquez’s season? How would you evaluate his performance? Would you like to see him return for his senior season?

By Steve Yanda  |  March 24, 2009; 7:12 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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He needs to return, both for himself and for the team. First, his growth, both as a basketball player and personally, was incredible between his sophomore and junior seasons. His decision-making was much much much better this year. His assist to turnover ratio went from 1.55 last year to 1.80 this year. While, except for a brief stretch in the middle of the season when he seemed so down, he was able to keep his fire without letting his emotions overtake his play (too much). If he can continue this maturation process over this offseason, he could be first-team all-ACC next year.

The other point is that "Greivis just being Greivis" isn't necessarily a bad thing. Like Steve pointed out, he's emotional, open, passionate, loyal, and honest. His two most controversial outbursts this year were both retaliatory: cussing out home fans who had (unjustifiably) been riding him all game, and reacting to a personal slight from a Memphis player. I thought his reaction to both situations (apologizing to fans and admitting Memphis proved him wrong) was mature and classy. The bottom line is that he's not a scumbag or a jerk or a clubhouse cancer or a detriment to the team in any way. He's a fiery, passionate guy who loves his coach, his school, and his teammates.

I am excited about his senior season.

Posted by: ICBomber | March 24, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I don't know if his turnover-to-assist ratio went down over the course of the season, but it sure seemed like it. It seemed later in the season there were a lot fewer careless turnovers, not just for him for the team generally.

While he may annoy some (the stupid trash talk against Memphis was certainly annoying and who knows, maybe provided the motivation the Tigers needed to play sharp), you can't deny his numbers and some of the incredible games he had this season (triple double against Carolina).

One more year of college ball is critical if he's serious about playing in the NBA. Even then... Anyway, I hope he comes back and the Terps get some height / scorers so the offense is not so one dimensional next year.

Posted by: mwr68 | March 24, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

His future probably depends on Marty Blake. If the NBA guru says first round, he's gone. Second round, maybe he stays. Undrafted, rent him a room in College Park.

He wanted to go last year, remember.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 24, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I've blasted Greivis frequently during his first 2.5 yrs in College Park. However, he matured as a player this season with his intelligence on the floor. The last month of the season he only took 1 or 2 bad shots a game, which really isnt bad at all, and his decision making was, for the most part, excellent. More importantly, Greivis began to learn how to get his shots within the flow of the offense, while still being the primary ball-handler and creator. I was fuming after his comments before the Memphis game, but think MD will be a better team with him back next season, assuming that is he shows the same maturation that he's already displayed, and he doesn't alter his game to play for NBA scouts knowing its his last change to make an impression

Posted by: asnis715 | March 24, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

mwr68 - GV's non-conference ratio was 1.98 and his in-conference ratio was 1.60. So your theory is correct, but 1.60 is still slightly better than his overall from last year. Also, output tends to decline once the competition picks up.

Posted by: ICBomber | March 24, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Vasquez would improve his stock by staying another year. He will not be playing point-guard in the NBA. As it stands, he's a 2nd round pick. He needs to improve his 3-point accuracy (32%), keep his mouth shut more often, etc. You'd like a guard to shoot 45% or above, so (.405) needs improvement as well. He made a lot of strides at the end of the year, but the fiery Venezuelan needs to be more consistent.

Posted by: imterpsfan2 | March 24, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Look, everybody is in a scare about Vasquez, but the fact of the matter is, that he's coming back. He's going to ask Gary what his thoughts are, and just like last season, Gary's going to tell him the truth: he's not ready, yet. And anything Gary says, Greivis acts upon.

Also, he's stated his excitement for Padgett and Williams with the possible addition of Lance Stephenson or Terrell Vinson, both of which will open another threat in scoring, and let Vasquez stay at the point, and not move to the 2 or 3 again.

Posted by: jra004 | March 24, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

HE NEEDS TO STAY PERIOD END OF STORY! now that being stated its up to Gary to find a scoring guard or frontcourt player who can take some pressure off of Vasquez that would make the Terps an overall better team.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 24, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Vazquez did nothing more than what Joey Dorsey (a Baltimore native & Memphis forward)did a few years ago when he challenged Greg Oden & Ohio State before an Elite 8 game. He ended up eating his words with 1 rebound - whereas at least Vasquez ended up with what 17 points.
Memphis fans forgave him. Maryland had a great season and what little we saw of him and Maryland in SEC land you could tell he played with fire. He is one guy you would always want on your team!

Posted by: TIGERS3 | March 24, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

As long as he plays to his strengths I will tolerate him.

That means knife to the paint and make his high percentage shot or kick it to the open man on the perimeter.

Nothing more...nothing less. Hopefully these two big guys coming in will actually provide us with a low post game which will give GV a high low game like we did with Osby.

Posted by: | March 24, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

assuming grievis stays, we could have a pretty formiddable squad next year. most of the studs from the conference will either graduate or go pro--pyscho t, lawson, henderson, teague, douglass, mcclinton, singler(?). of course duke & unc will reload but the terps will have a real chance to win the conference. this only happens with 21 still wearing red and doing crazy things on occasion

if he can go first round, i wish him luck and understand the decision. the money can change his and his families life, but dont go unless the experts are sure about being a first rounder.

Posted by: jpfterps | March 24, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Vasquez shoots the ugliest bricks in the area. He needs a low post rebounder like Wilcox to clean up after his BRICKS.

Posted by: jercha | March 24, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Nick Calathes Florida, Aaron Jackson Duquesne, Mac Hopson Idaho, Greivas Vasquez, Maryland. That's the list of players getting 15 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists in NCAA basketball. None of those other guys faced the competition Vasquez faced OR led their team to the NCAA tournament. So the list of players in the NCAA tourney with that kind of output is ONE, Vasquez. The kid certainly could improve aspects of his game but he carried a team further with his all around play than just about anyone else in the country. I praise him for his effort, hustle, and determination and I bet Dave Neal thanks him for helping make his senior season a successful one.

Posted by: Lee26 | March 24, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

apparently, you forget that chris wilcox was master of the spectacularly-bricked missed dunk

selfishly, i hope he comes back. with vasquez and incoming class, ncaa tourney seems very possible. without him, who picks up the slack???

hayes had a good finish to the year and gained some confidence going to the basket and playing within himself. he should be a real force next year if he doesn't forget how. but they need the dynamic play and personality of vasquez to bring that unpredictable nature to the offense.

Posted by: moo21 | March 24, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm dismayed at the tone of your blog entry. One may say that you are merely trying to be fair, by listing Greivis' accomplishments while also describing some controversial moments. But your negativity in this entry clouds what happened on the court, and you do a poor job adequately describing how much Greivis means to this team. Your "Washington Post Reporter's" view of Greivis' season is out of touch with the average fan's view.

I understand that Greivis is an interesting interview, who speaks his mind openly on all topics. I understand that he is emotional, he talks trash, and he interacts with the crowd in positive and negative ways. But these are footnotes on a truly remarkable season. They are not the story.

As a fan, I am much more interested in how Greivis helps his team win games, than off the court stories. And if I'm evaluating his season, I want to mainly discuss his play on the court, not off it. You failed to mention that Greivis earned 2nd team all-ACC honors. You failed to mention he was ACC player of the week 3 times this year. And you failed to mention that he filled the stat sheet while often drawing the opposing team's entire attention. When was the last time the Terrapins had a player who required the opposing coach to create a defensive gameplan around? When was the last time a point guard led the team in rebounding? When was the last time a Terrapin team started 5 players shorter than 6'7" and still made the NCAA tournament? It is remarkable that Greivis led this team to 21 wins, including 6 over tournament teams.

An example from the first part of your post: "Vasquez led Maryland in scoring, rebounding, assists, minutes, free throw shooting percentage, turnovers and steals." This is incredible! When is the last time a Terrapin led the team in all these categories? It was a historical season. Yet rather than talk about this accomplishment, you merely point out that he "likely led the team in cheers and boos drawn."

One last point: Was it really necessary to write that Greivis took a lot of shots, and 'missed a fair share of those shots.' Only one guard in conference made more shots than they missed. And that was POY Ty Lawson.

Posted by: eric_the_red | March 24, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

To answer your question at the bottom of the post:

Vasquez was the best player on a NCAA tournament team. He led the team in points, rebounds, assists, FT%, A/TO ratio, steals, and minutes. I absolutely want to see him return for his senior season.

The Terps would have struggled to make the NIT without him this year.

Posted by: eric_the_red | March 24, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

the terps tend to go as the quality of their guard play dictates and I'd just as soon get this era over and move on to the next one. GV turns the ball over too much, doesn't play very well without the ball, and his defense is average at best....his biggest problem is playing point guard - he's better at the 2 but doesn't work hard enough to get open and always goes back to controlling the ball...he would be much better with a better supporting cast.

steve blake, juan dixon, adrian branch, mo howard, howard white, john lucas....there's probably 10 others who were all better than GV.

Posted by: outrbnksm | March 24, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Greivis Vasquez, I know you read this blog. You let us know this when you yelled at Eric Prisbell during the Cal game for writing about your NBA plans.

So this is for you, Greivis:

I don't need to lecture you on how you still have areas in your game where you need to improve, you already know this. This is just to remind you of all the other positives if you stay.

You can be first team All ACC next season if you come back.

You can be ACC player of the year.

You can win an ACC championship.

You can go to the sweet 16 and maybe more.

You can set career records next year at MD and go down as one of the greatest Maryland Terrapins of all time.

The money will still be there a year from now, and probably a lot more of it if you have a great senior year.

You think it will be fun sitting on the bench your rookie year in the NBA? It's a lot different than being the star of the team. Nobody cares about the guy at the end of the bench.

No one in the stands will be cheering for you in the NBA like the MD fans cheer for you. They won't love you like we love you.

Your family and friends back in Venezuela can see you more on tv while you're at MD than most NBA teams, because MD plays more games on ESPN and other international tv networks than most NBA teams (17 internationally televised games this season vs likely less than 10 for most NBA teams)

The girls in the real world won't love you like the girls at MD love you.

They won't know who you are in the real world, but at MD everyone knows who you are.

Former Terp Chris Wilcox said he wished he didn't leave MD early, that he should have stayed another year or 2. Don't regret the decision like Wilcox did.

College is the greatest time of your life and you can't get it back once you decide to go pro. You only get this chance once in your lifetime, don't blow it.

Posted by: Barno1 | March 24, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

This was a very neutral post about a guy who carried this low talent level team to a tournament birth and a round 1 win....Maryland wasn't even supposed to beat Cal in all honesty. Aside from one player, Vasquez, Cal was better man for man. Antics and trash talking don't nearly have an effect on the outcome of a game that talent does. Vasquez's talent carried the terps through this season and his mouth just provided something for pundits to discuss. I'm not even a maryland basketball fan but the bs he gets from the fan base is a joke. HE LEAD THE TEAM IN EVERY MAJOR STATISTICAL CATEGORY!. and you guys still made the tournament. teams in that predicament are usually playing in the NIT or CBI.

Posted by: damimac1 | March 24, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Vasquez matured a lot this year. His game improved quite a bit as witnessed by fewer turnovers and more assists. He also took better shots. Some of this can be attributed to more confidence in his teamates in that he didn't feel as if he had to carry the load all of the time.

Most of it can be attributed to Gary taking away the point from him early in the year. He finaly seems to realize the team is much better when he stirs the drink than being the drink?

He is a good guy who plays with passion and I hope he comes back. His trash talking and on court behavior still needs some work but overall his behavior has improved. Another year would probably be benificial for him and the Terps. If he goes pro this year, Europe would probably suit his game better than the NBA.

Posted by: donmac1 | March 24, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

He sucks. He's lucky he plays in the ACC. Any scrub could put up numbers if the offense runs through him. He runs his mouth and can't make his teammates better. He's another Omar Cook, William Avery or John Gilchrist.

Posted by: peterandmeredith | March 24, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I would love to get Greivis back for his senior season. He is a great player. I think it would be best for both Greivis and the Terps. He still needs how to learn to be himself without baiting on the opposition. The totally mindless statements before Memphis and Duke this year served as motivation for the opposing teams.

Posted by: MDterpfan | March 24, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

From someone who went to Carolina - Vasquez needs to come back, work on his game and talk more trash - the guy is great for the game even though he torments us - and people need to GET OFF GARY'S BACK FOR GOD'S SAKE - how many ACC championships did Lefty win? One. How many ACC championships? Zero. All you Gary haters, get a life.

Posted by: jennifermcbride | March 24, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey Greivis, do you think Memphis and the Conference USA showed you how to play real basketball but shoving the ball down the Terps throats thanks to your mouth?

Coach Gary ought to put to some duct tape over your lips before a big game.

Posted by: memyselfI1 | March 24, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that Steve's post reviewing Greivis's performance doesn't really focus on his performance; the big takeaway is about Greivis's candor and interaction with the media.

Perhaps that's the overarching story with Greivis's season, but I would've preferred more analysis of his skills, his decision-making, etc. Was it a positive that Greivis led the Terps in so many statistical categories? Some external analysis from another ACC coach would've been nice.

One element of Greivis going pro that few mention: His age. Greivis is already 22 and he'd be 23 1/2 by the time of next year's draft, which would all but guarantee that he'd be a second-round pick. NBA executives making multi-year, first-round commitments tend to prefer younger, still-developing players.

Posted by: DD80 | March 24, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

If Vasquez returns, and he most certainly is not ready for the NBA, MD final four run AT LEAST. Adding those two big forwards next year will actually give Vasquez someone to throw the ball to in the low post.

Posted by: sanjuan1227 | March 24, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

GV is gone. I can't see him slipping past the late first round. He's a 6-5 point guard that plays with energy and get his team involved. He will develop into a productive NBA bench player in time.

Posted by: restonhoops | March 24, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Vasquez sees the game and its possibilities as well as any player on the college level. Perhaps it is his having grown up in a soccer culture, in which the art of inside-out play, one-two passes (touches), and finishing in ironic ways that defy defending are stapples that makes his style so engaging and effective within a team concept. Whatever its source, his game is "fresh," vibrant, different, exciting, and generous (visa via his teammates). I can see him on San Antonio or San Fransico, Toronto or NY. I think he's gone.

Posted by: cohenra | March 24, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

He sucks. He's lucky he plays in the ACC. Any scrub could put up numbers if the offense runs through him. He runs his mouth and can't make his teammates better. He's another Omar Cook, William Avery or John Gilchrist.

Posted by: peterandmeredith | March 24, 2009 12:21 PM

Really? He sucks? 2nd team all-ACC and lead his team in just about every category, which is hard to do for anyone no matter who he has around him. And he sucks?

That seems to be a little over the top. Hate the game not the player.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 24, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Barno does a very good job of laying out a lot of reasons why Greivis should come back.

The problem of course is that only GV will make that decision and it is pretty unpredictable.

The question is, what is GW doing about the strong possibility he won't be back?

Will we use his absence as an excuse for another talent gap mext year?

Posted by: petecard | March 25, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Yanda, you and Prisbell take GV's comments entirely way too personally. Remember that Kornheiser, Feinstein, Bilas and a host of bball people also made fun of your 3 piece chicken dinner of an article. The evaluation of a player is about what he does on the court and what he means to the team, to finish off your "evaluation" with an assessment on his PR skills is an indicator of your personal feelings.

Posted by: minhle1 | March 25, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Grievis was at the ERC(Rec Center) last Wednesday and he was baking. Lot of people were hating on him but it was great to see him out there. He was talking to everyone at the gym, his best quotes were "you need to get in the weight room" "thats my shooter" and after one of his teammates bit on a pump fake he looked at him with a crazy face and said "why did you jump? Thats why your not D-1" I personally love his game and hope he comes back next year, great season for a funny guy

Posted by: jstack34 | March 28, 2009 3:22 AM | Report abuse

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