Vasquez finds his offensive balance
During the first eight games of the season, a time in which senior guard Greivis Vasquez struggled to find his scoring rhythm, he turned his attention to other facets of his game. Namely, he looked more frequently to pass, even in situations when he shouldn’t. While his scoring averaging and shooting percentage recessed, his assist tally remained steady.
On Saturday, Vasquez had his first breakout shooting performance of the season. There have been other games this year when Vasquez has tallied a decent number of points, but Saturday marked the first game in which Vasquez’s high point total (20) was matched by a good shooting percentage (7 of 14 from the field). He still was looking to pass when the situation warranted such an action, but he was not timid to fire up the shot himself when presented with an open look.
After the game, Coach Gary Williams was asked the difference between Vasquez when the guard is looking to score as opposed to when he’s more narrowly focused on passing to his teammates.
“Well I think he has to do both; I really do,” Williams said. “All great players let the game come to them, and Greivis, you know, last year he had a triple-double against North Carolina, and his passing was very important that game even though, you know, obviously he had 30 points.
“But at the same time you need everybody to be looking for everybody to get the easiest possible shot that time down the court, whether it's Greivis, whether it's Jordan Williams. If Jordan Williams gets double-teamed he's got to be able to drop the ball off to somebody else that's wide open. So we try to be that type of team.
“And I think when players slump a little bit at times they pass when they should shoot and they shoot when they should pass, and I thought Greivis today was great. He was really in tune with what he was trying to do and what we were trying to do.”
Vasquez did not start Saturday for the first time in 80 games after arriving late to a noon shoot-around earlier in the day. Vasquez and Williams said the player was late because he was stuck in traffic. He entered the game with 14:14 remaining in the first half and played 32 minutes.
At that point, Maryland led by eight and would proceed to build a 16-point lead. But with just less than two minutes remaining in the half, Eastern Kentucky scored to close its deficit to one. It was during the final minutes of the first half that Vasquez began to pick up some offensive momentum.
With three and a half minutes remaining before halftime Vasquez scored his first basket on a runner in the lane to push Maryland’s lead to five. With 46.9 seconds left in the half Vasquez scored and was fouled. He pumped his right fist, stomped toward the crowd and howled. It was a glimpse of the Vasquez with which Maryland fans became accustomed during his first three seasons in College Park. He made the free throw to push the Terrapins’ lead to six.
With five seconds left before the intermission Vasquez made a jumper to extend Maryland’s lead to eight. He tallied seven points on 3 of 5 shooting in the first half.
“When I attack and drive and make guys involved, you know, and I don’t think too much about my shot, that’s when I hit the big shots under pressure,” Vasquez said. “It was all mental. This was a great game for me just to sit out on the bench and see everything from the outside in and look at myself and get back to what I am. I’m the crazy guy that plays at Maryland that’s trying to make plays and sometimes people don’t believe it, and that’s who I am. So I’m going to be myself from now on. I’m going to get back to rebounding the ball and being aggressive defensively.”
In the second half, Vasquez was relatively quiet on offense until the Terrapins came out of a media timeout with just less than eight minutes remaining. The score was tied, 60-60.
Vasquez sank three-pointers on consecutive possessions and later fed Sean Mosley for a lay-up on a swift transition sequence. Vasquez finished with five assists and two turnovers.
“I think Greivis Vasquez, when he came in, as the half went on he got more aggressive with the ball and that carried over into the second half,” Gary Williams said. “You know, his aggressiveness with the ball allowed him to shoot some open shots. He made them because he was relaxed, because he was really into the game by what he was doing with the basketball.”
December 14, 2009; 8:23 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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