Maryland basketball legends chime in on Vasquez: Branch
Adrian Branch registered 2,017 career points while playing at Maryland from 1982-85. He currently ranks fifth on the program's all-time scoring list. He played with another all-time Maryland great, Len Bias, during the last three seasons of his collegiate career.
These days, Branch works as a college basketball analyst for ESPN. In a recent phone interview, here's what he had to say about Maryland senior guard Greivis Vasquez ...
On Vasquez passing him in several categories in the Maryland career record book: "I hope he leaves one, man. Well, there's one that he won't get -- the all-time scoring leader at Cole Field House. You know what, man, it's all his turn. Congratulations to him. He did it in the non-glory years of Maryland. One thing that's different about what he's done. Everyone on that list has had celebrated teams. Juan Dixon won the national championship. John Lucas was arguably on the greatest team to never win a championship. Albert King and them were regular season champions. And Len Bias and myself were regular season champions. So he's done it in some non-distinct years, quietly. So, hey, congratulations to him."
Wait, did you say quietly? You might be the first person to ever describe Vasquez as doing anything quietly.: "Well, I mean, his style is one where, you know, he's vocal and he causes a strong reaction. But the team that's he had, who's been their most celebrated player that he's played with? James Gist? Those aren't the first names that you would run off when you mention all-time great players. They made solid contributions, you know, but he quietly has just gone about, man, he's quietly nestled into one of the all-time historic marks in that program, which is pretty impressive."
On what it takes to generate such prodigious statistics over the course of a collegiate career: "Well, one, you've got to be there for four years. Two, you've got to be durable and injury-free. And then three, you've got to just keep handling your business. And it's just that simple. It's not a lot to it. Two things that he does: He plays with tremendous confidence and he's able to make shots. You know what I mean? It's a simple formula; I couldn't over-analyze it for you. If you're going to get those records, how do you do it? You stay healthy, you stay for four years and you kick some butt. It's as simple as it gets. Period."
On his first encounter with Vasquez: "When he was going into his freshman year, Coach Stu Vetter said, 'Hey, I've got a guy that's going to be pretty good at Maryland. He's a 6-5 point guard, and I think he's going to make a big contribution.' And I shook (Vasquez's) hand. I met him up near Rockville Pike. He wouldn't remember that. But I shook his hand and said hello to him, and who would have known that he was going to be one of the great all-time scorers? Nice guy. Humble guy. He was just a nice kid. I'm 25 years removed from that program. He's my son's age, you know?"
On where Vasquez ranks among the all-time greats ever to play at Maryland: "Scoring-wise, it speaks for itself. Scoring-wise, it is what it is. He'll finish as one of the top players. But I mean, his legend is secure because ... Name probably the three best players in ACC history: Ralph Sampson, Michael Jordan and David Thompson. And Vasquez has done something that those great players have never done. Not Phil Ford, not Ty Lawson, not Jimmy Black, not none of 'em. Two thousand points, 700 assists, 600 rebounds. That's pretty impressive. That speaks for itself, man."
Right, but where would you place Vasquez amongst guys like yourself, Albert King, John Lucas, Len Bias, Walt Williams, Juan Dixon, etc.?: "Oh man, you know what? I guess where I would put him isn't appropriate for what his stats are. He's a very good player, a solid player. I wouldn't want to rain on his parade, man. It's about him. I'll let history place him where they gonna place him. I know his stats speak for themselves. The greatest player to me is still Len Bias. But hey, Len Bias, Juan Dixon, you can't take anything from those guys. They did their thing. One of their great players that they still never talk about greatly is Ernie Graham. And one of the guys that if he'd stayed four years would have broke all their records is Jerrod Mustaf. So there you go."
March 18, 2010; 10:03 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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