Greivis Vasquez presented with Cousy Award
INDIANAPOLIS -- This morning, Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez was presented with the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the top point guard in the nation. We're hoping to have video of Vasquez's acceptance speech up on Terps Insider within a few hours, but in the meantime, here are quotes from some of the people who spoke before Vasquez was called up to the stage.
Former UCLA and NBA center Bill Walton introduced Vasquez. Here is what Walton had to say:
"In presenting the Bob Cousy point guard of the year award to University of Maryland star Greivis Vasquez, I'm fully aware that basketball gives each an every one of us a unique opportunity to make a difference, to make a difference in the life of someone else, which is truly the greatest calling,” Walton said. “And in making that difference, we're always faced with two factors: The choices we have in front of us, and the sacrifices that we're willing to make. In those choices and with those sacrifices, to get to this stage, to receive this Bob Cousy Award, we must be taught be great leaders.
“And in addressing this body today, I can think of the immortal words of Mother Teresa, who told us that a life not lived for others is not a life. John Wooden took that phrase and turned it into the world of basketball, our world. A game not played for others is not a game. And in seeing Oscar Robertson and Jerry Colangelo here today, to witness their choices, their sacrifices, we have all been touched by their brilliance, by their leadership. Bob Cousy was a truly remarkable player. More importantly, he was a better human being. Bob Cousy made choices and sacrifices in his life so that other people's dreams could come true. And how special it is to bring that smile to someone else's face. How truly fortunate we are to have Bob Cousy to give people the life that all of us have had.
“Gary Williams was that man for Greivis Vasquez. Gary Williams joins that incredible list of Mother Teresa, John Wooden, Oscar Robertson and Jerry Colangelo, someone who made a difference for a young man, who gave someone a chance to be a part of something special.
“Greivis Vasquez, he grew up in Caracas, Venezuela without much. Greivis Vasquez, because of Jerry Colangelo and David Stern and the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program in Brazil, he was able to be touched by a great message and even better leaders. Greivis Vasquez, who grew up idolizing Jason Kidd and Steve Nash, true descendents of Bob Cousy, an unbelievable lineage, the ability to make the difference, to bring a smile to someone else's face.
“Greivis Vasquez, who came to Maryland as a high school player, could not speak a word of English. After just a few short years, he was offered a scholarship to the University of Maryland under the leadership and the mentoring and guidance of a brilliant man and a fine soul, Gary Williams. Greivis Vasquez is now graduating in four years with a degree in American Studies. Greivis Vasquez, he has made the most of his opportunities that others have given him, which is the true message of Bob Cousy and the point guard of the year award.
“And in presenting this award to Greivis, I would just like to close with a song that Neil Young wrote for Greivis. It's called 'Light a Candle,' and the verse goes, 'Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle for where we're going. There's something ahead worth looking for.' Thank you, Bob Cousy, and congratulations to Greivis Vasquez.”
At a breakfast hosted by the Basketball Hall of Fame, Maryland Coach Gary Williams gave a speech about Vasquez. Here's what Williams had to say:
"This is a big thrill for me," Williams said. "When I was in college at the University of Maryland we used to go up to the Baltimore Arena and we'd sneak in and watch, you know, Walt Bellamy and Gus Johnson play. We knew the guy in the back there that let us in. It was a big thrill for me. Also growing up watching Oscar Robertson average a triple-double and watching how he played his game, I think a lot of guys tried to imitate how he put the ball in one hand, but our hands were too small to ever do that. And then of course one of my players, Keith Booth, played with Scottie Pippen on one of the Bulls championship teams. Or as Keith says, that he took Michael and Scottie to the championship that year (laughter in the audience).
"So this is certainly a big thrill for me to be here today for the Bob Cousy point guard award. I think you hear it all the time, that college basketball is a point guard's game and that Greivis Vasquez is elected as the outstanding point guard in the country by the Bob Cousy Award is certainly a thrill for me. I did get the opportunity to meet Bob Cousy while coaching at Boston College. Certainly, it's one of the great things about being on the phone call each year of the Bob Cousy Award is to listen to how Bob Cousy describes what he thinks a point guard should be, in terms of how he runs the team. In Greivis Vasquez, I've been fortunate enough to have a player for four years that exemplified those characteristics. Just a tremendous passer at his 6-6 size. A very good shooter, a scorer-type player, not just a jump shooter, but able to score. And he's one of those people who just makes the other players better.
"We had a good run this year in our conference play. We managed to tie Duke for first place in the ACC this year. Of course, they're still playing and we're not, which doesn't bother us at all (laughter in the audience). But it's been a great pleasure to coach Greivis. The thing I like best from a coaching standpoint is his willingness to always improve, and that will continue. In other words, he doesn't feel like he's reached the top of his game yet. And certainly, his willingness to put the time in in the offseason, lifting weights, all the things you have to do now as a basketball player, he's been more than willing to do. When you have your best player do those things, it's pretty easy to get the rest of the team to participate in those areas. He's been our captain for the last two years. He's the only player this year in college basketball to average 19 points and six assists, and he's done something in the ACC that no other player has ever done, which is to score over 2,000 points, have 700 assists and (600) rebounds.
"When you have a Greivis Vasquez on your team, it shortens your bench because you can swing him through a couple positions. But the key thing for us was the way he could run the fast break, the way he could get us into the offense and make the other players better. The Bob Cousy Award, presented by The Hartford, it certainly is a great deal of pleasure for me to be here today because Greivis, I really feel, has worked to get this. Nobody gave him this. He had to do a lot of things just to become a college student in the United States. It's a great day for me. I think he's a great representative of what Bob Cousy would want the winner of this award to be. Thank you very much."
At a press conference about an hour later, a video presentation was shown in which Bob Cousy spoke about exactly what he feels the winner of this award should embody. Here is what he had to say:
"If basketball becomes an art form, it resides, I think, in the body and the skills of the effective point guard. There are certain physical assets that are required, certainly exceptional peripheral vision, I think, is as important as anything. You need an ability to control the ball, you need imagination to create these opportunities for the other four people.
"The mind-set is required. You can't try to implement these skills, for instance, of creating something for someone else. If your mind-set is of a shooter, coming over the halfcourt each time looking for your opportunity, your not going to be an effective point guard, so how you perceive the game is important as well.
"When you're put in a position to lead other people, you have to know something about it, you have to have a certain skill level yourself and then you've got to be able to bond with the people you're working with in a way that you can then motivate and inspire them."
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