The shots that draw prayers, angst and cheers
With just more than 11 minutes remaining in Maryland's ACC opener on Sunday, Florida State center Solomon Alabi scored a lay-up to pull the Seminoles to within four points of the lead. Maryland senior guard Greivis Vasquez answered with a three-pointer.
On the next Florida State possession, Seminoles guard Deividas Dulkys drains a jumper to cut Maryland's lead to five. Vasquez answered with a jumper of his own to push the lead back to seven.
Although Florida State made a concerted comeback attempt in the second half, the Seminoles never were able to tie up the score, much less claim a lead, in large part because Vasquez found his offensive rhythm at about the same time. After scoring five points in the first half, Vasquez tallied 17 in the second half. Between he and fellow senior guard Eric Hayes -- who shot 5 of 6 from three-point range and finished with 17 points -- Maryland seemingly always had an answer whenever the Seminoles made a serious push.
Vasquez, in fact, got into such a comfort zone that he later took a three-pointer in transition that he acknowledged afterward was "a bad shot." He made the shot, pushing Maryland's lead to 13 and forcing Florida State to call a timeout, but for the moments it took for the ball to travel from Vasquez's fingertips to the front of the rim, there was a pretty anxious coach on the Terrapins' sideline.
"I'm praying in that situation," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said in jest.
Then Williams provided a more serious assessment of Vasquez's shot selection: "He's earned that right. You know, if he feels like he can make that shot, he's going to take it. Now, he's not going to make it all the time and I might get upset if he misses it, but I've always felt with players -- I just saw Juan Dixon in the hallway, and nobody took more bad shots once in a while than Juan Dixon did, but in the last two minutes of the game you wanted the ball in his hands, because a lot of guys who are pretty big scorers don't want the ball in the last two minutes.
"Well that same thing is with Greivis. He wants the ball in big situations, so he knew how he felt coming into that shot. In other words he had just made a couple other shots, and so he felt hot and he was wide open. So it went in and that was great, but at the same time, you don't take the confidence away from the guys that can score. I found that out a long time ago when I was coaching in high school. If you have scorers, they're not going to do everything the way you want them to, but you can't take away their confidence in what they do well."
Vasquez finished with a game-high 22 points on 8 of 18 shooting (3 of 6 from three-point range). It marked the sixth consecutive game (and seventh in the past eight) in which Vasquez has tallied at least 20 points. Only Walt Williams -- who once registered 19 straight 20-point games -- has a longer streak.
January 11, 2010; 8:03 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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