- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Perhaps there were minor worries that Greivis Vasquez wasn’t quite the same player this season. There was offseason ankle surgery, the suspension for Maryland’s preseason scrimmage and exhibition and then an opening game that no one would confuse for explosive.

Turns out that no one needed to work the kinks out in the first game more than the junior guard.

Vasquez matched a career-high with 28 points and added eight rebounds, four assists and four steals as the Terrapins drilled Youngstown State 73-49 on Tuesday night at Comcast Center.

“This was the real Greivis,” guard Cliff Tucker said. “He let the game come to him this time.”

It was a welcome sight for Maryland (2-0), which will lean heavily on Vasquez as it navigates a season without a tested big man. Even if they came against the overmatched Penguins (0-2), his bursts of brilliance were evidence that the Venezuelan will remain the Terps’ unquestioned first option.

His only other 28-point effort came in last season’s stunning loss to American. After 13 quiet points in Friday’s opener against Bucknell and a sluggish first five minutes Tuesday, Vasquez ensured far greater satisfaction in this performance.

“I’m just trying to win games; I’m not trying to lead the game in scoring,” Vasquez said. “I don’t want to get 28 points and lose the game.”

Vasquez ignited two long runs. His 3-pointer against a double team and a winding shot clock with 6:42 left in the first half began a stretch where he scored 10 of 12 points for Maryland - and then assisted on a Tucker basket as part of a game-clinching 22-2 run.

Another burst arrived early in the second half. Vasquez rattled off eight points in a little more than a minute to make it 52-28, prompting a student near midcourt to observe, “Youngstown is beating Greivis by three.”

“It’s early in the year and players - no matter what they did the year before - need that positive thing to happen,” said coach Gary Williams, who won his 399th game at Maryland. “I think tonight was very positive for Greivis.”

So it was for the rest of the Terps, who no longer seem determined to toy with their nonconference home fodder deep into games like they did a season ago. Sure, Maryland found itself down 6-0 in the opening minutes, but the Terps assured a rout well before halftime, exploiting Youngstown State´s 23 turnovers.

Eric Hayes added 13 points for Maryland, which held the Penguins to 3-for-20 shooting in the final 12 minutes of the first half. Still, not all was answered - most notably frontcourt scoring. The Terps’ interior combination of starter Braxton Dupree and reserves Jerome Burney, Dino Gregory and Dave Neal were never going to be counted for a large chunk of Maryland´s scoring. But unlike Tuesday night, they probably will need to score in the first 38 minutes against most opponents.

The Penguins weren´t one of them because Vasquez made the difference.

“That’s what we’re going to expect pretty much every night for us,” Hayes said. “Maybe not 28 a game, but just that offensive-minded scorer. We’re going to need it.”

Vasquez knows. So, even as he talks about recording triple-doubles and not worrying about who the Terps’ leading scorer is, it’s clear that Maryland will need more outings like Tuesday night from him.

“I’m just trying to get better every game,” Vasquez said. “I thought I got a little better today. Tomorrow’s another day to get better and Friday’s another game for me to get better. I’m just trying to work my way up.”

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