Vasquez still searching for his shot
There was a brief moment during Maryland's win last night over Fairfield when it appeared that maybe, just maybe, senior guard Greivis Vasquez had found his mojo. With just more than 14 minutes remaining in the second half, Vasquez sank a three-pointer from the wing (just his second made basket of the game), turned and nodded to the crowd. There was no wiggle, no fist pump, no guttural yell. But the confidence Vasquez's body language seems to eternally project makes you think one sound shot is all it would take to solve his offensive woes.
That, however, did not prove to be the case Tuesday night. Vasquez shot 3 of 11 from the field and tallied seven points against Fairfield. That came on the heels of an opening-night performance Friday against Charleston Southern when he shot 3 of 14 from the field and totaled nine points. Through two games, he has shot 24 percent.
"I just got to be patient," Vasquez said. "I can't really put that much pressure on myself. We're still winning by 20-some points and maybe I got to let it come to me a little more; I can't try to force it."
This, of course, always has been one of the harshest criticisms thrown in Vasquez's direction -- that he tries to do too much, asserting his will at times to the detriment of his team. In Maryland's first two games Vasquez has taken an array of off-balanced, heavily contested and rushed shots.
To this point, though, it would not be fair or accurate at all to say Vasquez's shooting woes have hampered the Terrapins' ability to succeed offensively. That likely is due in large part to the level of competition Maryland has faced so far. Still, Vasquez tallied 13 assists Friday against Charleston Southern and six assists against Fairfield.
Vasquez has spent the opening minutes of each game testing out his shot to see if it would befriend him on that night. Upon realizing it would not, Vasquez eventually moved on to involve himself in other aspects of the offense.
After making one of the four shots he attempted in the first 5 minutes 6 seconds of last night's game, Vasquez -- either by his own volition or at the behest of Coach Gary Williams -- eased up on the trigger. He took three shots the rest of the half (all misses) and four shots the entire second half (2 for 4). With roughly 23 seconds remaining in the first half, Vasquez passed up a wide open three-point attempt. Such an instance surely had occurred before, but no one in the media section immediately could recall it.
"He's getting his looks," Williams said. "You know, he's a marked man. There's no doubt about it. He's gotten enough publicity over the summer and everything and where he's been picked in preseason all-American teams, and players get excited. I would if I was playing against him; I'd get up for him. So he's got to handle that. That's what this part of the season is for, to learn how you can still be really good."
In addition to his six assists, Vasquez tallied three rebounds, two steals and a block against Fairfield. He also recorded four turnovers.
"It's hard, you know?" Vasquez said. "You got a lot of things going on for yourself and then you're not doing good. But my teammates are doing a great job helping me out, and I'm just really happy that with me playing okay, we're still beating teams pretty good. I didn't have my best game, but it really didn't matter at all because everybody else played well. All my teammates are really doing a good job supporting me. That's the big difference between last year's team and this year's team."
Indeed, fellow seniors Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes each turned in impressive performances, and Maryland's defense stifled Fairfield in the second half. The Stags shot 19.2 percent after the intermission and 28.6 percent on the night.
Maryland, on the other hand, shot 43.1 percent for the game, and Williams believed Vasquez played a key role in putting his teammates in good position to score. Until Vasquez rediscovers his shot, that's the sort of production the Terrapins will need out of him.
"Some of the passes he made tonight were just incredible, and it makes us tough to cover," Williams said. "So once that shot starts to go in, he's fine. I'd rather him miss now than miss later."
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