Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Vasquez Returns

Maryland fans got the best possible offseason news when junior guard Greivis Vasquez announced he was coming back for his last year in College Park. Vasquez will certainly etch his name near the top of many all time lists among Maryland's greatest players if he has a halfway decent senior year, he is already in the top 10 in several categories. More importantly his return will go a long way in helping to get the Terrapins to back to back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since the year after the National Championship.

With Vasquez on the roster this team certainly should contend for an NCAA birth but could also make some noise in regards to the ACC regular season title. Almost every other team was dealt a major blow by graduation or early defections to the NBA. Vasquez is the best returning guard in the ACC while no team in the league possesses the talent and depth of Maryland's returning backcourt. The frontcourt is still an unknown but the arrival of James Padgett and Jordan Williams will give Gary Williams more flexibility than he had last season. If Padgett and Williams can merely be effective then this team will be significantly better than it was last season. I would expect a top four finish in the ACC regular season for the first time in seven seasons.

Wake Forest was dealt a severe blow when guard Jeff Teague stayed in the draft. Duke became even less athletic with the departure of Gerald Henderson, who was really their only dynamic player. North Carolina endured another mass exodus after the second national title under Roy Williams and while not devoid of talent is in rebuilding mode. Clemson was hurt by the bizarre departure of Terrence Oglesby and Florida State must find some backcourt replacement for Toney Douglas. In short Maryland was one of the few decent teams in the ACC that was not significantly weakened in the off season. With Vasquez the Terps are a legitimate threat to win the ACC with a favorable schedule.

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