- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2008

Amid the penchant for taking significant shots, a free-flowing gush of hyperbole and histrionics certain to incite friends and foes alike, Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez remains single-minded in a few pursuits.

Certainly, there are accomplishments in the big picture, the sort so overwhelming they seem a little silly to consider with four months left.

There’s also the braggadocio factor, a sense of exaggeration at both exquisite and demoralizing moments to be considered while attempting to place the junior’s words into perspective.

Yet one message remained steady since preseason practice commenced, with Vasquez offering a how-to diagram on how he will help the Terrapins (3-0) remain relevant in conference and national discussions this season.

“I’m trying to get triple-doubles,” said Vasquez, whose team opens play Thursday at the Old Spice Classic outside Orlando, Fla., against No. 5 Michigan State (2-0). “I’m trying to get 10 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists every game.”

Oscar Robertson he is not, though he never claimed to be, either. And while Vasquez is still searching for his first triple-double, he leads Maryland in scoring (22.3), rebounds (7.7) and assists (5.0) in the early portion of the season.

The scoring and rebounding are up and the assists predictably down since he’s primarily playing off the ball so far this year. But he’s a more fluid facet of the offense, with far fewer shots hoisted for reasons beyond the bounds of logic.

“He’s not trying to do too much on his own, and his stats are showing he’s getting better stats than he was last year,” senior forward Dave Neal said. “I think he’s trying to play more with the team, and when you do that, it shows. If we stay on this road and he keeps putting up stats like that, people are going to talk about him.”

Vasquez is the fulcrum of nearly every discussion involving Maryland, most notably the Terps’ chances of exceeding expectations this season. The player who stares down the clock and deftly swishes a vital 3-pointer is the one who’s admired; the man who contorts his 6-foot-6 frame and unloads off-balance attempts while facing the bench is frowned upon.

The latter made only cameo appearances in the first three games before reverting to his better self, and Vasquez acknowledged as much after Neal and Adrian Bowie played crucial parts in Maryland’s rally against Vermont last week.

“I didn’t win the game by myself,” Vasquez said. “Adrian, everybody. Dave Neal did a great job. I’m just happy with it.”

It is a revitalized Vasquez who will show up in Orlando as Maryland enters the toughest nonconference test on its schedule. While the three-game tournament won’t determine the direction of the Terps’ season, it will provide an opportunity to draw more definitive conclusions than could be gleaned from the first three games.

Already, though, it’s clear Vasquez was beat-up toward the end of last season, and offseason ankle surgery (and the accompanying rest) is influencing Vasquez’s strong start.

“I think sometimes that happens to you,” coach Gary Williams said. “You get frustrated because you can’t do the things you normally can do. I think this year he’s fresh and our backcourt is a little deeper where he won’t have to play as many minutes all the time.”

Still, he played 43 minutes against Vermont, so there’s little doubt Maryland’s best player will log plenty of court time. He took the game-tying attempt in the closing seconds of regulation, then shrugged at the reaction he would face whether he made or missed the shot.

And of course he played with his usual dose of emotion, at times over-the-top but genuine.

“That’s just Greivis,” said Bowie, who played with Vasquez in high school at Montrose Christian. “You have to take everything. He’s a great player. That’s G.”

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