Magic in UM guard's game?

Versatile Vasquez reminds Terps coach of 'The Wizard'

March 07, 2009|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,jeff.barker@baltsun.com

COLLEGE PARK -Gary Williams didn't need long to respond.

Has there been another Terrapin, the Maryland coach was asked yesterday, who can match Greivis Vasquez's versatility?

"Walt Williams," the coach quickly replied, referring to the man who holds the school record for points in a season (776).

As Maryland (18-11, 7-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) tries to strengthen its case for an NCAA tournament bid today against Virginia (9-17, 3-12), Vasquez is nearing a milestone.

The junior guard can become the sixth player in ACC history to lead his team in scoring, rebounding and assists.

Vasquez would enter an elite group comprising Tim Duncan (Wake Forest), Danny Ferry (Duke), Anthony Grundy (North Carolina State), Julius Hodge (N.C. State) and Bob Sura (Florida State).

Vasquez is already drawing comparisons to Walt "The Wizard" Williams, the seventh pick in the 1992 NBA draft. "Walt was very similar to Greivis in terms of how they play the game and how they approached the game," Gary Williams said.

Vasquez is averaging 17 points, 4.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds. He leads the ACC in free-throw percentage at 87.7 percent.

The only category he might not top is rebounds. Teammate Landon Milbourne is averaging 5.2.

Vasquez is big for a guard - 6 feet 6. Like Walt Williams, he can play inside or outside.

"[Walt Williams] was a lot like Greivis in that he could play multiple positions," the coach said.

"He was bigger than Greivis - he was like 6-8 1/2 . He even played the 5 [center] spot for us at times."

Williams was more of a scorer than Vasquez. Williams averaged 26.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.1 steals in his senior season of 1991-92.

But Vasquez has come on this season when Maryland has needed him most.

On Feb. 21, Vasquez led the Terps to an upset victory over then-No. 3 North Carolina, recording Maryland's third triple double with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Two games later, he had 33 points in a road win over N.C. State.

"He's a great leader," sophomore forward Dino Gregory (Mount St. Joseph) said of the animated Vasquez, who seems to feed off enthusiastic crowds - even if they are booing him on the road.

Vasquez scored 16 points the last time Maryland faced Virginia - an 84-78 victory Jan. 20 at Comcast Center.

The Terps are one win shy of evening their record in the ACC. Last season, Maryland finished 8-8 and missed the NCAA tournament.

It could be different this year, but if the Terps win today, they still might need to win a game or two in next week's ACC tournament to earn an NCAA berth.

"I think anybody that goes .500 deserves a spot with our conference," Gary Williams said. "Being rated all year as the toughest conference, having the level of teams at the top of the league that we've had all season. But that's still not a guarantee because I feel that way. That's a job for other people to decide."

terps today

What to watch for

Can Greivis Vasquez get scoring help? Landon Milbourne and Adrian Bowie have combined for seven and eight points, respectively, in the past two games.

Key matchups

Freshman guard Sylven Landesberg vs. Maryland's defense. Maryland held Virginia's leading scorer to seven points on 2-for-10 shooting in defeating the Cavaliers, 84-78, on Jan. 20. Can the Terps limit Landesberg again?

What it means

Maryland almost certainly must win to keep alive its hopes for an NCAA tournament berth.

Jeff Barker

MARYLAND (18-11, 7-8) @ VIRGINIA (9-17, 3-12) Today, 3:30 p.m.

TV: Chs. 2, 7

Radio: 1300 AM, 105.7 FM

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