Vasquez, Williams are overwhelming choices for ACC's top awards
After virtually every Atlantic Coast Conference win this season, Gary Williams used the occasion, without prompting, to needle his critics. For the combative Maryland coach, sarcasm is his signature move.
But Tuesday, after he was named ACC coach of the year, and was asked to reflect on the scrutiny he was under last year, Williams demurred.
"I'm not talking about that," said Williams. "This is a happy day for all of us."
On a day when not only he was honored, but his senior guard, Greivis Vasquez, was named ACC player of the year, Williams didn't want to suppress the celebratory mood at Comcast Center. It was a celebration of a pair of kindred spirits.
"We've got some similar things in terms of drive," said Williams. "He doesn't let critics determine how good he can be. If somebody says he can't do this, he can't do that, he might go out to prove that he can do those particular things."
vs. No. 2 Maryland
What » ACC Quarterfinals
Where » Greensboro Coliseum
When » Friday, 7 p.m.
TV » ESPN2
Both Williams and Vasquez were overwhelming choices. In winning ACC honors for the second time, Williams received 42 of 53 votes, outdistancing Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (eight), Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg (two) and Miami's Leonard Hamilton (one). Williams also won the award in Maryland's 2002 national championship season.
In becoming the fifth Maryland player to win ACC player of the year, Vasquez was named on 39 of 53 ballots. Duke's Jon Scheyer (12 votes) and Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney (two) received the other votes. The other Terp winners were Albert King (1980), Len Bias (1985 and 1986), Joe Smith (1995) and Juan Dixon (2002).
When asked about receiving the award, Vasquez credited each of his teammates, naming all 12 without hesitation.
"I was telling Jordan [Williams] just now, I would trade [the award] for an ACC championship," said Vasquez. "I want to win championships. That's more important."
To take his mind off the award, Vasquez turned off his cell phone and visited Hollywood Elementary School in College Park on Tuesday.
"Just seeing the kids so excited to see me and then asking for a picture and an autograph, it was unbelievable," said Vasquez. "There were some Latino kids and Spanish kids. I started to talk to one in Spanish. That just made my whole day even better."
When Vasquez left the school and turned his cell phone back on, it was flooded with congratulatory messages.
When he was told that Vasquez turned his phone off Tuesday, Williams made a joke at his own expense.
"I was sitting right by the phone, hoping they would call," said Williams, who added that he actually was sitting in his office watching film when he received the news.
Much has been said of the bond between Williams, himself a fiery former Maryland point guard, and Vasquez. The 6-foot-6 senior from Caracas, Venezuela said he didn't want to see Williams until Tuesday's 4 p.m. practice.
"If we talk face to face, I guess we're going to really cry in front of each other," said Vasquez. "We're both so emotional and stuff. I'd rather see him in practice fired up and yelling to everybody. I just love him, man. I love him. I'm so happy for him, because this man works so hard."