Vensel: Greivis not an all-time great yet

March 11, 2010|by Matt Vensel | | b free daily

Allow me to applaud Greivis Vasquez for all the awards he has racked up during his senior season at College Park. Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year. Sporting News first-team All-American. A blue ribbon from b for the best dance move by a Terps combo guard. All fine individual accomplishments from a fine player.

Vasquez's curtain call has been one of the finest single-season performances in Maryland men's basketball history. But chiseling his face -- including that big, busted-up honker -- onto the Mount Rushmore of Maryland hoops next to Len Bias, Juan Dixon, Joe Smith and John Lucas is premature. Forget all his honors, records and accolades. All that matters is that Vasquez has yet to lead the Terps on a single memorable postseason run. Unless he does, his name shouldn't enter the discussion.

Sure, if you look at box scores and stat lines and record books, ranking Vasquez among the program's all-time greats seems totally acceptable.

He's third on Maryland's all-time scoring list. He's the fifth Terp ever to garner ACC Player of the Year honors. And he's the only player in ACC history to record at least 2,000 points, 700 assists and 600 rebounds in his career. Statistically, Vasquez is right up there with the best of them.

Well, minus the postseason victories and tournament thrills and chills.

When you think of Dixon, what comes to mind first? That he's the leading scorer in Terps history, or a vivid memory of him -- in a goofy, brand-new backwards hat -- cutting down the net in Atlanta after Maryland won the 2002 NCAA title?

What one shining moment has Vasquez given us? A trip to last year's ACC semis?

Now, I'm not trying to pile on Greivis. He's one of the top 10 players to ever put on a Maryland jersey. I just want to see him take the Terps on a heart-thumping tourney run before I etch his mug next to the players I mentioned earlier.

Vasquez said Tuesday he would trade the ACC Player of the Year award for an ACC championship. "I want to win championships. That's more important."

See, even he knows what matters most.

The good news is he gets two more chances to prove wrong his few remaining critics -- including this one (who also has a busted-up honker, though it's less sizable). Vasquez's first opportunity comes this weekend at the ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

Honestly, I like the Terps' chances. A lot.

They're on a seven-game winning streak. They have strong senior leadership, a stud freshman big man in Jordan Williams, and the conference's Coach of the Year in Gary Williams. But most important, they have Vasquez, the best player in the tournament.

And you know he is extra motivated to leave College Park a winner. Before he takes off his Maryland jersey for the last time, he'll get a couple more cracks -- this weekend and at the NCAA tournament -- at cementing his legacy with a thrilling run.

Vasquez doesn't need to win a title. He just needs to give us something to remember.

Matt Vensel is a content creator for b. Follow him on Twitter, @mattvensel.

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