DeCock

Vasquez torments Wolfpack again

Staff WriterFebruary 18, 2010 

— Given the chance to hoist up another salt-in-the-wounds 3-pointer at the finish, Greivis Vasquez looked at the N.C. State students and shook his head, getting the last word without uttering a single one.

As an opponent, State fans may not be sad to see the Maryland star go. As a foil, who could ask for anything better?

In his final visit to the Triangle, Vasquez scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half as Maryland turned a 10-point halftime deficit into a nine-point win. He may not be missed around the RBC Center, but he will miss playing here.

"Definitely," Vasquez said, straight-faced. "It's a great building, those are great fans and it was a great game."

Easy for him to say: He's 7-0 against the Wolfpack in his career after Wednesday's 67-58 win.

A few fans chanted "U-S-A" at the Venezuelan as he took a late free throw, then cheered when he missed. That was scant revenge for his gratuitous 3-pointer a year ago at the end of an easy win - his response to what Maryland coach Gary Williams described as "things said to Greivis that were not very nice."

Offered the chance to hoist another one Wednesday, Vasquez declined. "No comment about that," Vasquez said afterward, four words not often among the many issuing from his mouth.

Rarely has there been a player who so enjoyed provoking crowds and savoring the response. Just as Vasquez has spent four years becoming the player everyone in the ACC loves to hate, few players have ever loved being hated as much as Vasquez.

Occasionally outrageous, often irrepressible, Vasquez has made the conference his own personal professional wrestling ring.

For all his talk, he has the game to back it up; he can dish it out, but he can take it just as well.

At times, Vasquez looks like he's toying with his opponents.

Last year, he hung 35 on North Carolina, posting a triple-double against the soon-to-be national champions. Monday, he torched five Virginia defenders for 25 points - in the first half.

When NBA scouts told him this summer they knew he could shoot but didn't know if he was capable of becoming a pass-first point guard, he scored in single figures in Maryland's first four games while dishing out 30 assists.

A slump? Or a statement?

He has scored at least 10 in every game since, and now sits five points short of becoming the first player in ACC history to record 2,000 points, 700 assists and 600 rebounds in his career.

The ACC player-of-the-year race is a little hard to handicap at this point, but it isn't hard to narrow down the top three.

There's Duke guard Jon Scheyer, the best player on the ACC's best team; Malcolm Delaney, the league's leading scorer on a surprising Virginia Tech team; and Vasquez, a two-time second-team All-ACC selection.

Each has sterling credentials, but it's hard not to lean toward Vasquez, who doesn't have Scheyer's supporting cast and has more dimensions to his game than Delaney - not to mention a touch for the clutch.

Wednesday, Vasquez scored seven quick points early in the second half to help get Maryland within one in a game the Terps had largely slept through to that point.

Fully awakened, Vasquez dropped in a 3-pointer from the left wing, softly, with 8:19 to play to put Maryland in the lead for good, then turned to look at the N.C. State student section.

For all the talking Vasquez has done, that look said it all.

luke.decock@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8947

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