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Maryland basketball legends chime in on Vasquez: Driesell

Lefty Driesell led the Maryland men's basketball program from 1969 to 1986, and during that span he coached such players as Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, Buck Williams, Albert King, John Lucas and Adrian Branch. But perhaps the best player Driesell ever coached was Len Bias, who played for the Terrapins from 1983-86 and tallied 2,149 career points.

Bias ranks second on the all-time Maryland scoring list, but he might be bumped down to third place at some point this coming weekend. Maryland senior guard Greivis Vasquez sits 21 points shy of passing Bias for second place as the Terrapins prepare to take on Houston in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday night in Spokane, Wash.

Here's what Driesell had to say in a recent phone interview about Vasquez and how Vasquez compared to Bias in terms of the spectacle they each created in and around Maryland games during their respective times in College Park ...

On the career that Vasquez has had at Maryland: "I think he's a heckuva player. Look what he's done. What I like about him is most guys that score a lot of points, that's all they do. But he can pass the ball. He makes that team much better passing than he does scoring. He sees the open floor, he hits the open man, he's very unselfish. He throws up some wild shots once in a while that I say, 'What is the world is he doing?' But then he'll come back and make 'em. I don't know if there's any other guard in the country that scores as many points as he does and has as many assists.

"I've always felt that your leading scorer should also lead you in assists because people are going to double up on him and put their best defensive player on him, so that's going to leave somebody else open. I'm just as impressed with his passing and his playmaking and his dribbling. I mean, nobody takes the ball off of him bringing the ball up the court. He can beat any press, whether it's a double team press or guys just trying to guard him one-on-one ... And he also rebounds. The best rebounder that I ever had for me that led the fastbreak was Brad Davis. If you get the rebound off a defensive board and you push it up yourself, you eliminate the outlet pass. And he's great at that.

"Plus, he's turned into a really, really good three-point shooter. Last year he was a good three-point shooter, but now I think he's turned into a threat out there, particularly when the game is on the line. He makes a lot of his big shots when the game is on the line in the last five minutes. When I used to keep stats, I would keep track of the last five minutes in red, because that's when it's the most important, really. He does a great job of getting things done in the last five minutes of ball games. And, you know, he's a good defender. I'm really impressed with him."

On what he thinks of Vasquez's style of play: "I went to lunch today with some of my old buddies. They're in their 70s like I am. They said, 'What do you think of Vasquez, man? He's a hotdog. He does all that shakin' and bakin' ... And I said, 'Well let me tell you something,' and I told (current Maryland assistant) Chuck (Driesell) the same thing. I said, 'Tell him to cut out all that shakin' and bakin'.' And then I got to thinking about it and I said, 'Nah, leave him alone. Let him shake and bake and do that stuff as long as he's playing the way he's playing.' And a lot of people don't like that, you know what I mean? People my age, they think, 'Ah, he's a hotdog,' or whatever. But I love the way he plays. He's sort of like Muhammad Ali. He shaked and baked and talked a lot, but he backed it up. And I think Vasquez backs up his shakin' and bakin'. And I think the fans love it, particularly when he's playing at home."

How long did it take before you realized you actually liked Vasquez to do all that shakin' and bakin'?: "I told him that one day and then I got to thinking about it and I called him back and I said, 'Chuck, forget it.' He probably couldn't do it anyway. The more I'm thinking about it now, the guy's playing great. Let him do what he wants to do. And I think I was right because he's playing great. It was this year. Earlier this year sometime."

On how he's noticed Vasquez's game evolve over the course of his career: "Well, I think he's gotten better every year. For example, Leonard Bias was the same way. Leonard, he didn't even start for me as a freshman until about midway or two-thirds of the way through the season. But he got better. Better as a sophomore. Better as a junior. Better as a senior. And that's what you hope all of your players will do."

On how Vasquez and Bias compared in terms of the excitement they each generated at the Maryland games in which they played: Bias "did some unbelievable things as far as catching alley-hoops and dunks and stuff like that. He had great post moves, he could shoot jump hooks. He could shoot outside. He rebounded, great defender. He did everything just about like Vasquez does, but he was a different position. He was a power forward or a small forward. And Greivis is a point guard or a two guard. They made players around them better. And they weren't one-dimensional players. I had guys that were great scorers, but I put them on the weakest offensive player of the other team. But Greivis, he steps up and guards the best players on the other team. So did Len Bias. The game that we beat North Carolina in the first defeat at the Smith Center, I think we were up two with a couple seconds left and he blocked Brad Dougherty's shot. Doughtery was 6-9, and Leonard was 6-7 or 6-6. He was a great defensive player. He wasn't as good a passer as Greivis, but he didn't play the guard position."

On where Vasquez ranks among the all-time Maryland greats: "You know, I don't like to do things like that, and I wouldn't name any names because I'd make somebody mad, you know what I'm saying? But he's certainly right up there at the top there somewhere. I don't know if he'd be in the top five. He probably would be in the top five. I'd have to sit down and think about it for a minute. But he's certainly been valuable to this team this year. He's carried this team. The other guys have done a great job too, but he's the leader."

By Steve Yanda  |  March 18, 2010; 11:04 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Comments

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Posted by: blogger421 | March 18, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Nice to hear mention of Brad Davis, one of my favorite Terp point guards. Drafted by the Lakers, but played mostly with the Mavericks. Later had his jersey retired.

Posted by: booger1 | March 18, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

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