The past two seasons the Maryland Terrapins have had the confidence of knowing that they could rely on Greivis Vasquez to provide stability to their basketball team. The Terps had the luxury of relying on him produce in almost every way. In his senior season he led the teams in points per game, assists per game, and steals per game. Greivis produced at a high rate which resulted in him winning the ACC Player of the Year Award and the Bob Cousy Award, an award given out to the nations best collegiate point guard. Atop of Vasquez's mountain of accomplishments in his senior season: he became the only person in ACC history to accumulate 2000-points, 700-assists, and 600-rebounds.
At times, Vasquez may have come off as a bit arrogant, like during the Terps NCAA Tournament during his junior year when he questioned the valor of John Calipari's Memphis team, only to then be ousted by Memphis a few days later. Also, Vasquez frustrated many fans with his slow start to the 2009-2010 season, as he failed to score more than 10-points in any of Maryland's first four games, and then he registered a weak 12-point game against #3 Villanova. Regardless of any frustrations that the Terrapin crowd had with Vasquez he usually redeemed himself in the end by putting up three 30-plus point games, just as many double-doubles, his exceptional play against ACC powerhouses Duke and North Carolina, and then he also surged for a huge 41-point showing against Virginia Tech.
However, the approach to this upcoming season will be much different. There will be no Greivis. His 19.6-per game accounted for nearly one quarter of the Terps' offensive production last year. On top of losing their leading point scorer, in Vasquez they are also losing Landon Milbourne, their number two scorer and also their team leader in blocked shots, and also Eric Hayes who was their number three scorer and their teams best three-point shooter. Who will be the leader that will help write the next chapter in Maryland basketball history and will this history be worth telling?
Perhaps it will be the season it will be Adrian Bowie, a Maryland native who will be entering his final season with the Terps. In 2010, Bowie's role was reduced as he received nearly 10 less minutes per game than in his sophomore year, and consequently he scored nearly half the points, had fewer rebounds, and had a higher turnover-to-assist ratio. However, Bowie has given me confidence in his ability to perform despite his decreased production in the 2009-2010 season. His performance in his sophomore season has convinced me that he has potential, and now with Vasquez's departure for the NBA Draft there is a huge vacancy that needs to be filled at the point guard position and this could be the perfect opportunity for Bowie to step up and lead this Maryland team to contention.
Or perchance it will Maryland's other returning senior, Cliff Tucker, who will steal the show. Tucker shoots a good percentage from behind the arch, just like the departing Hayes, and he has come up big in number of instances including his miraculous game winner against Georgia Tech this season and then his clutch performance in his junior season in Maryland's upset over top-ranked North Carolina.
The Terps will likely be looking to increase the role of Jordan Williams who is coming off of a stellar freshman season. In his first year, Williams picked up eight double-doubles and led the team in rebounding. With fellow forward Milbourne making a departure, Maryland will be counting on Williams to keep the boards clean and perhaps to assume a larger offensive role as well. With a super sized, 6-foot 10-inch, 260 pound frame, Williams has a body that grants him an advantage over many of his competitors. He has the potential to become a serious dominant force on the inside for the Terps.
But may I not forget Sean Mosley, who experienced a much greater role this past season which led to much greater offensive production. Mosley averaged nearly twice the points, more rebounds, and an increase in his assists per game in his sophomore season. But I have a special feeling about Mosley coming into the 2010-2011 season. For one, he has a good shot selection which resulted in a .509 field goal percentage, he improved his shooting from behind the arch, and had a phenomenal 26-point performance against Villanova that kept Maryland in that game. Beyond that Mosley has a quiet confidence about him that I really like, it's just one of those intangibles that I feel makes him a special player that can ease the transition into the Post-Greivis Vasquez Era of Maryland basketball.
Or perhaps it will be one of Maryland's new recruits like Mychal Parker, Terrell Stoglin, or Pe'Shon Howard that will help carry Maryland into the future. Regardless of who steps up, things will be different next season without Vasquez. He brought charisma and energy to the Terps that is different from anything I have seen before. Vasquez's talent and flair made Maryland Basketball competitive and fun to watch and therefore it is bittersweet to see him leave. It marks the end of one chapter in Maryland basketball, but then it is the dawn of a new one which has yet to be written.
So as far as next season is concerned, am I nervous? Yes. Excited? Yes. Scared? Not really. Instead of adhering to Maryland's catchphrase "fear the turtle," part of me wants to fear for the turtle, but the talent and potential that Bowie, Tucker, Williams, and Mosley bring to the table help to subside my anxiety - at least until next season actually begins.