Like the most of the staff, my Maryland sports memories are all from the last 10 years. So while I’m sure the readers could compile their own list of greatest ACC memories that wouldn’t be so heavily weighted towards the last decade, for now I’ll continue with the trend.
I’m heading back to 2009, when everyone’s favorite Venezuelan had the best game of his life. Vasquez and Hayes were in their junior year, and on this February night they went up against fellow Maryland native Ty Lawson and the number-3 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.
The 2009 Terrapins squad was one of my all time favorites. They were just a likable group of players overall. Whether it was Cliff Tucker or Landon Milbourne draining 3’s, a young Sean Mosley getting some minutes in a big-time game to prove himself, or even Dave Neal cleaning up the boards, it was a group of players that worked hard and supported their backcourt duo.
As a quick aside, I’d like to say that while this is my favorite game that Maryland played in the ACC, my favorite individual moment was Dave Neal’s perfect 15 seconds of play against Duke later that season. For the big man to set the greatest pick in the history of basketball, leaving Nolan Smith writhing on the court, only to turn around, get the ball as the trailer, and drain a 3 against the dreaded Dukies was perfection.
But I digress. The team was full of good players, but on that night in February it was all about one man: Greivis Vasquez. In the 4 seasons since this game, nobody has had as commanding an individual performance. 35 points, including the team’s first 16 of the night. 10 rebounds and 10 assists, for the first triple double by a Terp since Derrick Lewis accomplished the feat in 1987. The 3 blocks and 2 steals were simply icing on the cake.
Greivis did it all, and he did it in style. The bank shot to tie the game and send it to overtime with 9 seconds left was absurd. The wide open 3 he calmly drained in OT was never in doubt as soon as he spotted up. Vasquez had the hot hand, and he knew it.
As evidenced by some of the other entries into this series, wins over Duke seem the sweetest. That’s understandable, they are the main rival. It’s harder to hate Roy Williams and the baby blue MJ legacy than it is to direct the anger at Coach K and the Cameron Crazies. Yet North Carolina has been our tougher opponent: over the last 5 years we’ve only bested them twice, and have beat Duke three times in that same span.
It was an incredible performance from an incredible player, and I would have killed to be inside Comcast that night. The sea of red in the stands was quiet and defeated with their Terps down 10 points with four minutes to play, and even quieter down nine with two minutes to go. Yet nobody was making their way for the exits, because they knew that with Greivis Vasquez on the floor, there was always a chance. Playing classic Gary Williams basketball, with quick passing and full court pressure, the team clawed their way back and kept in it.
It was a chance that Maryland seized. Overcoming the deficit, taking control in overtime, and bringing that sea of red crashing down onto the court as the final buzzer sounded. It was a great night for Maryland basketball, and my personal favorite memory of our time so far in the ACC.