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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On the Rise...

Terps are on the rise everywhere. It's true - the press is starting to scramble for information and stories about Gary Williams' team that's ripping up the ACC.

As many sites now recognize (I saw this over at East Coast Bias), Greivis Vasquez earned top spot last week in the country according to ESPN.com's Andy Katz, and James Gist was cited by The Sporting News as last week's best. Very cool stuff.

But I think the star article today is one I read in The Diamondback this morning by Daniel Kobrin. He makes the claim that Greivis Vasquez is the best player in college basketball, which I couldn't possibly agree with, but I follow his logic. Please read it so you can follow my logic from here on out.

Kobrin masterfully sums up my feelings about Greivis and how the fans treat him. He's never gotten the respect from his home crowd that he richly deserves. When he does well, Terp fans gloss over it. When he makes mistakes, everyone screams to bench him. I try to defend him and change the mass perspective whenever I get the chance.

While I definitely think that racial undertones are involved in this issue, I also believe that the Maryland faithful desperately want Eric Hayes to be the next Steve Blake because they perceive the two to be similar players. Hayes is solid, but he's no Steve Blake, and I doubt he'll go on to follow Blake in the NBA as a starting point guard.

I think the tide is finally starting to turn: ESPN recognizes his contributions, as does The Sun. College basketball is an emotional game - we can't pretend that every player should be a quiet, dignified guy who doesn't ham it up or celebrate after a good play, however inappropriate. Yes, Greivis is emotional, but so are Terps fans, and no Terp fan likes to be told to hold back their emotions (however inappropriate). He has faults, but so does every player. I encourage fans to embrace the player Greivis is, because he's pretty damn good at what he does.

Tonight as most are well aware is the Duke game, part II. I'm feeling vaguely optimistic about our chances tonight - Maryland plays Duke in Cameron better than any team in the country, and we were only at the start of our upswing when we first played them. I feel confident with all our starters at this point, but we'll need three things:

KEYS TO THE GAME:


- Bench has to contribute (Someone besides Dave Neal, please.)
- Perimeter defense has to lock down on their shooters.
- We need to make threes.

I think this is very doable, and really I feel like if we can accomplish two out of three, I think Maryland has a really good shot at winning this matchup.

See you on the flip side and Go Terps!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

"While I definitely think that racial undertones are involved in this issue, I also believe that the Maryland faithful desperately want Eric Hayes to be the next Steve Blake because they perceive the two to be similar players."

I disagree with the first part of your statement. MD fans had no trouble embracing Juan and Lonny along with Steve Blake, while they trashed Danny Miller. They heaped equal levels of scorn on Garrison and NCMedley. Fofana and Bowers both were regarded as non-ACC caliber, but the criticism didnt disparage along racial lines there either. We're talking about the same fans today. The anti-VG comments i've heard and read have complained about his posing, taunting of other teams fans, and out of control play. Now that he's playing with more control and basketball maturity, those same people are praising the improvements.
I agree with the second part of your statement, but not as proof of racist attitudes toward VG. Of course the "Maryland faithful desperately want Eric Hayes to be the next Steve Blake"... who wouldn't? They also desperately want GV to be the next Dixon, Dupree to be the next Baxter, Tucker to be the next Mouton... and Wilcox to reappear.
Of course there are a small % of every fan base that only see things through skin-colored glasses. But I do not hear ANY kind of racist trashing of VG from the Maryland faithful that I converse with, on- or off-line.

KGoon1590 said...

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree, especially in light of some online comments by Terps fans suggesting that Vasquez "return to Venezuala."

I don't see many other reasons why people somehow continue to believe that Eric Hayes is the superior player and Greivis should be benched when he's arguably the best PG in the league. A lot of fans go with their initial judgement on this issue, which is often incorrect. I feel like Greivis is a lot more like Steve Blake, but the only player I hear compared to Blake is Hayes. My belief is that people make that association in part because they both are white. I don't think you give enough credit to the subtlety of people's judgements.

hoopman927 said...

Dave Neal does far from contribute off of the bench. He has really low averages for a guy that ought to be a contributor, especially for a junior. Neal has been a BIG disappointment this season. I'd be hard pressed to say what he's been worse at; defense or offense. His missed layup against Duke was a 5 point swing and he did an awful job substituting for Boom in the 2-2-1 press; his foot speed negated any sort of physicalness he showed against UNC. Neal ought to be the 3rd or 4th guy off the bench, but unfortunately, our bench is really lacking and he's 1st or 2nd.

Anonymous said...

"'m going to have to respectfully disagree, especially in light of some online comments by Terps fans suggesting that Vasquez "return to Venezuala."
"I don't think you give enough credit to the subtlety of people's judgements."

I again have to say that I've not encountered this flavor of comment. Is this a prominent view that you've encountered or is this the ranting of the minuscule number of ignorant fans that exist in every fan base? My experience says its got to be the latter.
Regarding subtlety of judgments, consider that EH was promoted by MD before he arrived as a player cut from Blake's cloth, so this isn't fueled by fan's "incorrect initial judgments". EH and Blake are very similar players in style (pass-first point guards, 3pt threats)and in personality (deadpan expressions, little outward emotion, not forceful leaders). Vasquez and Blake, other than playing the same position, have very little in common in regard to playing style and personality.
If you remember last year's win over Illinois, everybody's initial judgment was that VG was the next Dixon, certainly not the next Blake. Was that an incorrect initial judgment? As far as EH being considered the superior player, at the start of this year most considered EH a better choice for PG in part because he played well at PG the previous year and early in the 08 season he appeared to be a better control player and assist man. GV was viewed as a better 2 guard because he looks to shoot and has great ability to create his own offense (both key SG skills). During this season, Hayes' lack of foot speed has generated quite a few more suggestions that he be benched in favor of Bowie and Tucker.
Fans get frustrated with VG trying too hard, but I don't see this supposed mindset that VG should play behind EH. Has someone ever said it? Of course. Have any sizable number of fans said it, or say it now? Nope. Above all, I just don't encounter racism in the negative comments about VG. If its out there to any measurable degree, its not on the sites I visit.

Jeremy said...

Anybody who doesn't vote for Earl Badu on your poll clearly wasn't in College Park from 1998-2002 to see how desperately loved he was by his teammates and the fans. In fact, anybody who doesn't vote for Earl is a communist.

KGoon1590 said...

I applaud your enthusiasm, Jeremy.