For Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne, last Sunday’s loss to Michigan State had to be doubly heartbreaking. When you come so close to making it to the Sweet 16, only to have it snatched away by a last second shot; and to have that game be the last you will ever play in a Maryland uniform is a tough way to end a college career. Yet the three of them shouldn’t dwell on that loss for long; the good that these three were a part of far outweighs the tough losses they had to endure. Sure, they weren’t as decorated as the likes of Juan Dixon, Steve Blake or Lonny Baxter, but perhaps they can and should be remembered as players who helped to raise the program back from the low of the post championship years. These three certainly will be looked upon more favorably than recent seniors Nik Caner-Medley, and Travis Garrison, and the “thought he was actually better than he was” John Gilchrist.
Any review of this year’s seniors has to start with Vasquez. Was he maddening at times? Sure he was. Was he sometimes too emotional, too flashy for his (and the team’s) own good? Yes. But throughout what would become a great senior season, he showed more heart, more toughness and more guts than a lot of better known and more highly regarded players. Sure he would take the occasional crazy shot, but when the game was on the line, he wanted the ball and was willing to take the big shots. One need only look at the last game to see that. In the last two minutes, Vasquez scored 10 points, with every shot bringing the Terps closer or getting the lead. The numbers say that Greivis has had one of the great careers of all time; though it can be debated if he even is in the top 5 or 10 of players who have ever played at Maryland. As the only player to amass over 2,000 points, 700 assists and 600 rebounds, he certainly should be among the greats to ever have worn the Terrapin uniform.
Eric Hayes came in with hype labeling him “the next Steve Blake.” While that may or may not have been what he became, there was plenty of growth in Hayes over the course of four years. It took him a while to get acclimated to the ACC grind, but by the time he became a senior, he had found his niche, and was a perfect complement to Vasquez. His personality was not one that had to be in the spotlight, but he was the steady counterbalance to Vasquez’s emotional outbursts. Opponents knew that they had to keep an eye on Hayes on the perimeter, or he would make them pay from behind the three point line. My lasting memory of Hayes comes from the ACC tournament last season, when it seemed he finally discovered he could be an important part of the offense. It was as if a light turned on and he believed he could score points and make plays on offense. That discovery carried over into his senior season.
Landon Milbourne had the misfortune of spending his time at Maryland when there often wasn’t a big man that could share the responsibility of banging down low with the big bodies in the conference. Yet he battled them night after night, often as his offense suffered. Milbourne had the ability to make shots out to 15 feet, but was often expected to play down in the paint. He had good shot-blocking ability though, and used that as a weapon under the basket. The arrival of Jordan Williams help ease some of the load in his senior season, but there he was still trying his best even though the Terps were often outmanned on the glass.
Throughout their careers at Maryland, these three had to hear how they were lesser recruits for the school; how their coach couldn’t get the best talent and how their struggles were magnified as being part of the downfall of Terrapin basketball. Yet, Gary Williams managed to get the best out of all three of them; a Williams trademark is that he often gets the most out of the talent he has. These three all had their moments to shine as Terrapins, and while they are leaving, each of them left their mark on Maryland basketball. Terrapin fans are hoping that the coming years see further progress for the Terrapins basketball team.