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?
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