Vasquez, Gist 'Crazy' in Maryland's 84-70 Win

Bambale Osby has no idea what Greivis Vasquez will do after he crosses mid-court. Will he shoot, drive or pass? If he passes, will Osby even be ready? It's perplexing trying to decipher the enigma that is Maryland's point guard.

"If we can figure out what he's gonna do, which I don't think we can," Osby said with laugh Friday, "then it'll definitely help us and make us a better team."

Last night, Vasquez was unpredictable only to visiting N.C. State. He had 13 points, a Maryland record-tying 15 assists and nine rebounds, propelling the gold-clad Terps to an 84-70 win in front of a sellout Comcast Center crowd.

Vasquez is part Walt Williams and part Byron Mouton, coach Gary Williams said. He has Williams' on-court intelligence—he studies the game endlessly. He knows where his teammates are on the court and where they will be a few seconds after, even surprising the recipients of his passes. "He found me a couple times and I didn't even know he was looking," Osby said.

Vasquez is part Mouton because he's… energetic, to say the least. His intensity in practice is higher than it is in games sometimes, which is alarming. When things aren't going right, Vasquez will make the situation seem life-or-death. And when things are going about as well as possible—like they are now—it's not enough.

"In the season, from Oct. 15, you need somebody who's a little crazy out there," Williams said. "Especially in practice, Greivis does that very well."

Vasquez is the far-and-away leader in the ACC in assists (161, 6.7 per game) and up there in turnovers (100, 4.2 per game). It was the second statistic that upset fans earlier in the season when Maryland wasn't winning. Vasquez said that was entirely because of him, but he also said he and Maryland (16-8, 6-3 ACC) would turn it around.

Apparently, nobody was listening at the time.

"I know, all of you guys criticize me. None of you guys heard me, not even the fans…" Vasquez said last night. "I don't listen to that; I don't buy into that. You guys can say whatever you want to say, the people can say whatever they want to say, everything's in here in the locker room is what I want for the team and why we won as team. We've proven people wrong; we've proved you guys wrong."

OK, score that one for Vasquez. A good chunk of the credit for the turnaround can go to him, too. But—and Vasquez has said the same—his teammates' play has had just as big a role in Maryland's exceptional performances of late. Last night, James Gist torched N.C. State (15-8, 4-5) for a career-high 30 points and each of the three other starters scored in double figures.

Maryland has scored more than 80 points in five of its last six games in large part because of the team's ball movement, which has created easy shot after easy shot. During Maryland's 12-0 run at the beginning of the second half, 10 of those points were scored by a lay up or dunk.

"When we start passing the ball like we can—and Greivis is probably the leader in that area—the ball gets moving and guys get open shots," Williams said. "We're a good enough shooting team if we get open shots we'll be OK. We couldn't get the ball moving that well in the first half. The second half the ball flew around."

Said Gist, "We're just realizing that playing together as a team is really, really helping us out and is the key to our wins right now. As long as we can keep distributing the ball and everybody getting open looks and guys keep knocking down shots, we're gonna be real hard to beat this year."

Eight of Vasquez's 15 assists (tied with Terrell Stokes for the all-time school record and tied for tops in Division I this season) came in Maryland's 53-point second half. They shot 74.1 percent and only had four turnovers in the second half. They did whatever they wanted. Shane Walker asked Gist on the bench if he was going for 30 points, "And I was like, ‘Man, if I can get I'm gonna get it,'" Gist said. So he did.

"Gist just went crazy," N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe said.

So has the whole Maryland team lately. And Vasquez, the craziest of the bunch, isn't quite satisfied yet. In fact, he never is, and that's why he has the Terps on a very promising road.

"I want to make it to the tournament and all I got on my mind is NCAA," he said.

And if that does happen, he'll say he wants a championship. And if that happens, who knows what he'll want next.


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