Monday, January 28, 2008

More on Duke-Md

Random thoughts on Maryland vs. Duke:

There are two Greivis Vasquezes. There's Good Greivis and Bad Greivis. You've met both of these guys. Good Greivis can be the best player on the court in any college game against any team in the country. He is a tall, rangy point guard with a nice outside shot, and an incredible gift to make things happen all over the court -- slicing and dicing a defense before dishing an assist, or going to the hole and hitting a running floater. Double G is disruptive on D, inspirational to his teammates and a guy whose jersey might one day hang from the rafters. In fact, let me go even further with the GG lovefest, Good Greivis is not just good, he's great, he's an NBA player, maybe an NBA starter, he really is that good.

But then there's Bad Greivis. Him we don't love so much. We saw much more of BG during the first 10 games of the season, he was the guy shooting an off-balance three before running any offense and catching only backboard; BG throws sloppy, soft passes at the most horrific times and generally his play is characterized by bad decision making.

But here is the Good News. As the season has gone on, we have seen MUCH more of GG than BG and Maryland really needs GG if it has any chance to be a tournament team.

It's interesting to see these two personalities battle each other during the course of a game by the way. GG controls our man's psyche about 80 to 90 percent of the time, but it seems BG is always whispering in our hero's ear saying things like, "just lob that pass on up to Landon, he'll catch it in traffic."

My general thought is that Maryland goes absolutely nowhere without Greivis playing well, of this I am convinced. Gist and Osby have been fantastic during this recent stretch of good play, but pay attention to the team when Vasquez is in the game (which is about 38 minutes), his teammates want the ball in his hands, he is their leader.

Let us now spend a little time on Bambale Osby. Can you ever remember any player turning out to be this much better than you thought he would be? I mean seriously, this guy abused Duke for 20 and 15, and he did it all with great footwork and strength. Last season, heck earlier this season, he'd come in the game and you would wonder aloud if he was an ACC player. You'd think thoughts like, "I wonder if he's an ACC player."

Well guess what? He's not just good enough to BE in the ACC, he's good enough to be VERY GOOD in the ACC. Amazing. I really can't get over how effective he's been against Duke and UNC.

Stuff I thought about while watching Duke:
The cast of athletes that Duke throws out on the court is very, very impressive. While some of Maryland's guys, especially the youngsters, are a little raw and skinny, Duke's guys, even their freshman, are filled out and just look like big-time players. I hate them.

Gerald Henderson and Demarcus Nelson looked like NBA guards against the Terps; strong, athletic, unshakable, very impressive.

Greg Paulus is a talented player, strong with the ball, annoying in the Duke mold, very good shooter; but last night he was the second-best point guard on Duke. The freshman Nolan Smith made Duke a better team every time he came in the game to replace Paulus, who was in foul trouble all night. That dude is scarcy.

Loved Gist all night. Loved the way he let the game come to him, took shots within the offense (aside from a couple ill-advised turnaround Js), loved how freakin high he gets up for rebounds, love that he is stepping up during his senior year to be the kind of big-time player we hoped he would be. Keep it going James.

People I saw in the arena worth noting:
(celebrity watch was a little light to be honest; back in the Juan Dixon days, you saw the governor, Cal Ripken, and Ray Lewis roaming around, this year Maryland is struggling to get more than 75 percent of its season ticket holders to show up when the game isn't against Duke)
Jeff Baxter
Walt Williams
Byron Mouton
Steve Bisciotti (natch, he was probably there for Savannah State, dude is a huge fan).
Nobody else jumps out.

What Now?
Well, home against UVa Wednesday and at Ga. Tech Saturday, that's what now. So as much as we all obsess over Duke, there are 11 ACC games left and home vs. UVa Wed. is the next "biggest game of the season." I think Terps need to go 8-3 over the last 11 to get in the dance, and I also think they'll do it. They've figured something out the last month, let's hope they keep it up.


No comments: