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Greivis Vasquez ignores jeers, allows performance to do talking

A fan sitting in the front row of the Florida State student section Thursday night held up a cardboard sign that read, "Deport Vasquez," which was ironic because on the railing on which the fan was leaning he had hung the Nigerian flag in honor of Seminoles forward Solomon Alabi. Then again, not a whole lot of what the Florida State student fans did or said made sense during Maryland's four-point victory.

Some made references to Vasquez being Mexican, even though he is Venezuelan. And then there were the baseless taunts about Vasquez not loving America (presumably because he was not born in this country). And then there were the slurs uttered while Vasquez attempted free throws. And then there were the insults directed at Vasquez's mother. Having met her in person, I can assure you she is a genuinely good-hearted woman who never would deserve such disrespect.

In the past, Vasquez might have joined in a back-and-forth with the crowd. He might have allowed the comments to boil his emotions and alter his play. He might have lost control.

But on Thursday night in the Terrapins' 71-67 win at Florida State, the most the crowd got out of Vasquez were a few shimmies after made baskets. He finished with a team-high 23 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds and 5 turnovers.

"I mean, let's face it, Greivis I think sometimes responds pretty well in those situations," Coach Gary Williams said. "He was telling me about some of the places he played at growing up as a kid on the playgrounds in Venezuela, you know, and he plays with a lot of emotion and that bothers some people. It definitely does. But I think that's part of what makes him a very good player is that he uses that to help him be a very good player. Now, some people don't like it. I could hear about 10,000 that didn't like it tonight. I mean, that's the way he plays."

After the game, Vasquez spoke up before reporters had a chance to ask him any questions.

"I got a couple things to say," Vasquez began. "First, I dedicate this game to one of our managers. His name is Bobby Holt. I did something wrong last game by accident, and I want to apologize to him and his family and let them know that this game is for him. That's all I wanted to say."

Vasquez was referring to an incident that occurred early in Sunday's nine-point loss at Clemson. Vasquez was pulled from the game less than three minutes after the opening tip upon picking up his second foul. He then grew angry at Holt, who did not offer Vasquez what he apparently was looking for upon reaching the sideline. Vasquez's mini-outburst was caught on tape, which led to embarrassment for both parties involved.

After apologizing to Holt, Vasquez went on to discuss the offensive adjustments that Maryland made during a second half in which the Terrapins shot 46.7 percent from the field.

When asked about the crowd, Vasquez was somewhat diplomatic.

"It's not about me," Vasquez said. "I was trying to win the game. I've become more mature. I feel more mature, and I'm not trying to get that much attention. I'm just trying to win the game and be the best player on the court."

When asked again a little later about the crowd's vile and consistent comments toward him, Vasquez took a different tone.

"The fans here were crazy, the craziest I’ve ever had since N.C. State,” Vasquez told D1scourse's Patrick Stevens. “They were being racist, they were talking about deporting me and sending me back home, calling me Mexican when I’m Venezuelan. It was pretty bad, so they deserved to lose. That’s why they lost. I showed up like I showed up, like I’m the best player on the court and they have to take it like that.”

On Friday, Vasquez was named one of the 11 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the nation's top point guard. The only other ACC player to join Vasquez as a finalist for the award was Duke's Jon Scheyer.

Senior forward Landon Milbourne said following the game that hostile road crowds sometimes have the effect of inspiring Vasquez to perform better, in which case Milbourne isn't necessarily opposed to away fans jeering Vasquez in the future.

"He laughs at it, and he comes out and plays hard," Milbourne said. "He doesn't really let that get him down or anything like that. He just comes out there and plays his game and then at the end he gets to look back and say, you know, yeah. It probably does [fire him up]. Sometimes you might need that from a guy. He feeds off of that. If that's what it takes to get him to play good, then I'm happy that they act like that."

By Steve Yanda  |  February 5, 2010; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Jordan Williams builds on successful freshman campaign

Comments

Unfortunately, I think the immigration reform efforts of 2006-2007 unearthed a lot of ugly anti-Hispanic sentiment in this country, particularly in the southern states, and it hasn't really gone away despite immigration reform being on the shelf for 3 years. And a guy like Vasquez is an easy target for those opposed to the legalization of our nation's undocumented immigrants.

Again, I'm not saying this doesn't happen at Maryland home games. It does. But you gotta feel for Vasquez...yeah he's flamboyant, yeah he's cocky, but he's just a college kid playing basketball who doesn't deserve to have these bigoted comments and signs directed at him and his family. He has thousands if not more fans, friends, and family down in Venezuela watching most of his games on tv/internet. What a piss poor representation of this country these idiot fans give to those watching in Latin America. It's embarrassing.

Props to Greivis (spelled with 2 i's Yanda) for taking it all in stride.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 5, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Also want to point out these idiot bigots would never get away with this if they were yelling racist taunts towards blacks, Native Americans, Asians, etc in front of a large crowd of people--or at least less likely to get away with it. But it's somehow socially acceptable to some these days to be racist against Latinos.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 5, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Saw the GV incident against Clemson and it was disgusting. Fine, apologize. Then stop doing that stuff.

Why must we always have a passion play going on with everything Vasquez?

Grevis, try this one..."brevity is the soul of wit."

Posted by: petecard | February 5, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the comment, Barno1. Not Yanda's fault on the misspelling. Blame his editor (me) who wrote the headline with the stupid mistake. Now fixed.

Posted by: Matt Bonesteel | February 5, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I thought I was the only one who noticed that sign at the end of the game... I was a bit bothered througout the telecast. It seemed to be a very biased production. During the entire second half while Maryland was ahead, the producers always showed a FSU highlight on the way to the commercial break. Moreover, the play-by-play guy was audibly more excited every time FSU made a run. The color guy was a bit more objective. Why, after a tough, steady victory would some producer show that sign?

Posted by: damon21 | February 5, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

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