Congrats to Vasquez; but give it up for HOF Gary
Greivis Vasquez was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, and I could not be happier for him. I have tremendous respect for what Vasquez has achieved this year, and who he is on, and off of the court.
Vasquez left his native Venezuela to join Stu Vetter and Montrose Christian, knowing very limited English. Just a few years later, he is going to graduate from College Park, and is a testament to hard-work, and commitment.
Whenever this season ends for the Terrapins, we will discuss in-further detail the prospects for Vasquez as a Pro. What we can say, is that it is not Vasquez’s physical-talent which will give him a chance to play in the NBA. It is his work-ethic, intensity, and desire to compete.
Vasquez has plenty of detractors, but even those detractors acknowledge his intensity, and obvious love of the game.
As a card-carrying member (perhaps President?) of the Gary Williams fan-club, Vasquez had my admiration the first-time Williams recounted the story of Vasquez’s first day on the Maryland campus; when the young Freshman came to Williams office and saluted him stating he ‘reporting for duty.’
Since that date, Vasquez has been a great solider for Williams, and the University itself. He has had a tremendous season, and already earned one banner. On Sunday, he will lead the Terrapins to the tournament for the 3rd-time in his 4 year career. I’m anxiously awaiting to see what further damage he can do before his college eligibility comes to an end. However, while Vasquez has my congrats; I am much more interested in the man he saluted years ago – the 2009-10 ACC Coach of the Year Gary Williams.
If you are reading this, you know that I run a blog covering the O’s, Ravens, and Terps. By far, my favorite person in all of sports is Coach Williams. Williams shares a March 4th birthday with my Wife Laura. When Williams turned 65 last-week, it was another realization that nothing lasts forever, and Williams will one day leave the Terps. Some will say when that day happens, things will be better for Maryland. Some will say when that day happens, things will be worse. What everyone should be able to agree on, is that when that day happens, things will be different.
There are a million things I will miss about Coach Williams when he leaves; some as simple as his fist in the air, the way he is guaranteed to choke-up several times a year talking about his players, or the dry-humor he shows on a regular-basis.
He is a man full of pride, resolve, loyalty, and fight. As he has again been named the ACC Coach of the Year, I think it is good time review what he has accomplished.
He has led programs at American, Boston College (Big East), Ohio State (Big 10), and Maryland, and taken each to post-season play. If he had not had to build 4 programs, his resume would look even better then it currently does – and his resume speaks for itself.
In the storied history of ACC Basketball, he is 3rd all-time in ACC wins.
He has taken 8 teams to the Sweet 16, and has an overall NCAA Tournament record of 28-15.
He has 18, 20 win seasons, 70 wins over Top 25 teams, 16 wins over Top 10 teams, 7 wins over #1 Ranked teams.
After his first year at Maryland, the NCAA placed sanctions on the Terps for the actions of former Head Coach Bob Wade. The Terps were banned from the post-season for 3 years, and also not allowed to be on TV.
He took the program from those depths, to back to back Final Fours, and a National Championship.
He was able to have the best arena in college sports built on the Maryland campus.
He has been hammered on the graduation rates, but when you look closer at the players that either went and played professionally, or completed their degree outside of the NCAA window – you see that argument against him is poor.
I even was able to live with the NIT appearances of 2004-5, and 2005-6 as those years featured atypical scenarios with the departures of John Gilchrist, and Chris McCray.
He deserves his place in the Hall of Fame, and should be held in even higher-regard than he is. Perhaps if this Maryland team goes on a couple of runs in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments, that additional recognition will be forthcoming.