Friday, October 12, 2007

Basketball Media Day

Some notes from media day for the upcoming basketball season.

A nice article on Greivis Vasquez in the Washington Times by Patrick Stevens. It was mostly about Vasquez's experience over the summer playing in the FIBA games for Venezuela. Apparently Kobe Bryant was very complimentary of Vasquez and said if he continued to work hard he had a future in the NBA. Don't let that worry you, he is no John Gilchrist. He was quoted in the article as saying, "It's not about me or about what's going to happen to me. It is all about Maryland and us winning games."

Coach Gary Williams had some good things to say about his sophomore leader. He lauded Vasquez's ability to focus and motivate himself as well as his dedication going into this season:

He would get himself ready to play. I think that is one of the things I like about him the most. It is like that for games but it is like that for Saturday's practice as well. He just gets excited. He is excited to have the opportunity to play basketball. It is a dream of his to play in the ACC and he hasn't forgotten that. Some guys forget that and he hasn't. What he is going to give us is more scoring this year and more ways to score. I think he picked up quite a bit international experience from last year but he came back here wanting to work. Some guys comes back and say, `Listen, I need a couple weeks off. I just played all summer.' Not him. He came back ready to play.

All good signs for the Terps this fall as Vasquez will be a bell weather for this team. For his part Vasquez knows the fortunes of this team rest heavily on his shoulders,

People are going to find out if I can take the pressure and if I can be the man who really is going to make his team play by making everyone involved and making everyone happy. That's a pretty tough situation.

Williams was also impressed by the resolve of sophomore SF Landon Milbourne to take advantage of the minutes available now that DJ Strawberry has moved on to the NBA.

I gained new respect for Landon last spring where he didn't hang his head at all. Some guys, first thing they do when they don't play a lot as a freshman is they come in and say they are thinking about transferring. When Landon came in, he said, `Coach what can I do? I want to play next year so what can I do?' That is all you ever want. He wants to be given the opportunity to play and I'm looking forward to tomorrow to getting out there with him and see how he fits with the others guys.

Heather Dinich writes about Milbourne in the Baltimore Sun. He is a smart and hard working player who may get much better as the season goes on. Greivis Vasquez for one thinks that Milbourne will have a "breakout year."

The one big advantage that this team seems to enjoy is very good chemistry. That hasn't always been there the last three or four seasons for Williams' squad. The senior leadership of DJ Strawberry will be missed but a group of players like Vasquez, and seniors James Gist and Bambale Osby should be able to step in and create a positive influence on the large freshman class. The lack of that in years past certainly hurt the development of players like Mike Jones and Ekene Ibekwe. There doesn't seem much doubt that the young players on this team will get all the support and mentoring they need from the veteran players. According to Gary Williams:
I am very fortunate and our coaches are very fortunate because we have guys that we want to coach. I have been coaching a long time now and I haven't been able to say that every year; that you have guys that you necessarily look forward to getting onto the floor with everyday. These guys play hard when it comes time to play. The veterans demand that the other players play hard, and that makes my job a lot easier when I don't have to be the person doing that all the time. If the veteran players come out ready to play, then the new guys watch them very carefully and they go along with the program. I am really proud of the way our returning players have handled things so far this fall.
It should be great fun to see all the new faces tonight.

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