Vasquez: 'My problem is mental'
Maryland senior guard Greivis Vasquez sat down with a group of reporters this afternoon and discussed his play thus far this season. As usual, Vasquez was quite candid, so I'll let his words carry this blog post.
Just a few numbers for context: Vasquez, who led the team in points, rebounds and assists last season, is averaging 12.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. He is shooting 32.3 percent from the field and 28.1 percent from three-point range.
And away we go ...
How would you describe your play so far this season? "I'm disappointed," Vasquez said. "It's horrible. I'm really angry at myself. I've worked too hard. I let so many things bother me, and I wasn't myself. And then we lost three games that we should have won. And it was all because supposedly the best player and the leader of the team didn't do what he needs to be doing, and I take responsibility. But the season's too early. I remember games like Georgetown and Duke last year, Georgetown beat us by 40 and Duke beat us by 40, and then I came on strong. So I'm not going to give up. That's the last thing I'm going to do. I'm a fighter. I've put the numbers up already, so I need just to go out there and have fun and play basketball."
Do you feel any pressure to lead this team? "No, not at all," Vasquez said. "Not at all. It's just things are not working out for me for some reason. I work hard all the time. I still work hard. I just have to find myself. I'm not really moving well. You know, I have to move better. I watch tape, and then we lost against Georgetown and came back and played Michigan, and I was moving so much different. And you can tell by seeing me rebound the ball. I have five, six rebounds, and I usually get 10 or nine, so that means I'm not moving well. I'm more concerned about that than points, you know, and I don't really care what people so or what anybody, the media, said about me playing for the NBA because that's not what I'm playing for. It's just, I'm not making my runners and I'm not making my shots that I usually make, and I thought my shot was better but I guess, you know, the whole problem is mental. I think I don't have to prove anything to anybody. I already proved to myself for three years, you know, in the ACC, in any level of play. My problem is mental. So I've got to get out of that, because it's hurting my team, and in a way it's very selfish because we need to win basketball games."
What adjustments can you make? "Just let the game come to me," Vasquez said. "I question some of the shots that I take, but I took some tough shots last year and I still made some tough shots, you know? And yeah, I'm going to take questionable shots at times. But that's who I am. We still won games last year. It's just mental. And I'm back in the gym again in the mornings and trying to get better. I'm not going to get it overnight, but just seeing my numbers, they're not bad. I'm probably shooting a horrible percentage, but so are some good players from other teams too. So I just, you know, like I said, I can't really, I just got to go out and play the game. I gotta just stop thinking about what people say. You know, what is my role on the court? We definitely have a different team, and I mean, we have guys playing well. We have Sean playing extremely well. And I'm happy, I'm happy for the team and especially for him. Just like I said before, he worked extremely hard this whole summer so he deserves to have a good season. We got Jordan Williams playing well. And Eric Hayes is playing aggressive. So, you know, I'm the only one who needs to add up to all those so we can win a lot of games. I mean, I think our last game, that was a great example. I thought my team really didn't need me to score, they just needed me as a leader. And I thought I did a good job against Indiana. I just couldn't get it done against Villanova. Down three, four possessions is when you the man, you know, that's why I came back to school. But like I said, I'm not going to give up. I'm going to keep fighting, and it's going to be a fight. It's going to be a fight with me, and I'm going to help this team win. I'm going to really help this team win, and I'm going to have another chance Saturday."
Do you feel you're passing up shots? "Yeah, definitely," Vasquez said. "I just got to play, you know? I'm thinking too much when I'm on the court. I usually don't think that much, and for some reason I've got that habit right now where I have an open look and I don't take it. And then I come down and take a tough shot. That's why things are not working out. It only takes one game, you know, a breakout, unbelievable game. One of those games where I just go off offensively and get rebounds and just be aggressive on defense. It's been the worst start for me since I've been at Maryland. And since I've been here I've dealt with so many different things. Academically, I came over here and took a class that never gave me credit. I have been fighting so much since I got here, so I know this is nothing new for me. A lot of people talk, saying he's not playing like all-ACC, I'm good. You know, I'm good. I've proven myself that I'm good. And you can check the book records and all that stuff. I just have to go out there and play the game. I got to stop thinking. It is mental more than it is anything else. It's not, oh, he's not athletic, he's not -- it's mental. I came throughout my three years here, I put up the numbers, and I just have to play, you know? I think I have great teammates around me now, and I just have to take advantage of that. Sean, like I said, I just need to get him involved every time because he's doing the job. He's becoming a threat for us. And that is always going to help me, especially right now because he will create shots for myself, and I need that. So, you know, Jordan is just grabbing all my rebounds, so I'm upset about that. (He was joking with that last comment. He said it while smiling and his audience chuckled upon the line's delivery.) But we've got guys that are playing well, and I can't feel sorry about myself. I can't be here crying. I have to, you know, go back there and just play with, you know, if I have to talk trash and be myself, then that's the way I play. I just haven't seen, I haven't felt like I've been myself. I'm trying to do so many right things, and it's not like I'm going to do wrong things, but I have to be myself. I'm crazy on the court; I have to be crazy. Like, we played Villanova, the No. 3 team in the nation, and people was -- not people, but myself was just questioning what I was. I thought I was playing back at home, and that was a huge game for us. And it really bothers me. It bothers me a lot because I'm a winner, and I can't let that happen to me, especially right now, but it's not time for me to feel sorry about anything. I just have to play the game. I need to play the game the way I know how to play it."
Did NBA people last summer during the draft process tell you to calm down on the court and is that something that's stuck in your mind? "No, they loved my passion," Vasquez said. "That's what I have to be playing with. I have to play with passion, you know? For some reason, I just wanted to just kind of like change just a little bit, and just play the game instead of just wasting the energy doing something else, but it's not working. It's not me. Like I said, we played eight games, and I don't think I have played the way I've played maybe the first couple games. After that, I mean, it seems like this is not me. This is not really me, so I have to get back to coming on the court and just playing with a lot of energy and then lead by example and lead these guys because in order for us to win big games I'm going to have to step up. You know, it doesn't have to be offensively. I don't have to score 30 points because we have guys that can score now, but by doing other things like playing defense and setting the tempo on defense and getting rebounds and then scoring at the right time in the game. Like I said, we were down three and we couldn't take the lead playing against Villanova, so that was one of the examples that I get out of the game by not being the guy that I've always been able to be -- clutch in big games."
December 11, 2009; 4:29 PM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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