Thursday, May 20, 2010

Even Turtles Bleed Blue

Last season, Maryland point guard Greivis Vasquez wrapped up his accomplished college career by winning the ACC Player of the Year award. For years, Vasquez has been the cocky, arrogant leader of the Maryland team -- the guy who wasn't afraid to mouth off to whoever he was playing, and who, at least most of the time, could back it up. Last year, when Maryland beat Duke for the first time in three years, it was Vasquez who was front and center, screaming at the fans, trash-talking the players, and generally being a loud douche. Which is why this story is sure to make any Terps fan recoil in horror.

On a radio show, Duke commit Josh Hairston was asked about playing at Maryland -- specifically whether Greivis had ever counseled Hairston about dealing with the crowd there. (Maryland fans might want to look away now.) Hairston replied:
"He talks about Duke all the time, how much he loves Coach K, and the staff and the program itself," Hairston said. "You know, he's warned me before, but that's just how [Maryland] fans are, so you've just got to keep playing through it. When I first met Greivis, the first thing he kept talking about was how much he loved Duke and how much he loved Coach K. And I thought he was being sarcastic at first, but he's very serious about it. Every time I see him he always talks about how much he just loves the program. And when [the Terps] were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament, we were running a camp together at Montrose. And a kid asked him who he wanted to win the tournament and he just said 'Duke.' He said 'Duke all the way.' He's always been a big Duke fan, and he hopes that we can pull it off. He is a true Duke fan, even though he plays for Maryland."
As any Duke fan will tell you, the Duke-Maryland rivalry is interesting in that it's one-sided in its animosity. Duke absolutely hates UNC. UNC absolutely hates Duke. Maryland absolutely hates Duke. Duke thinks Maryland is annoying. Basically, if UNC is herpes, Maryland is heat rash. Obnoxious, yes -- but the best course of action is just to ignore it and hope it goes away on its own.

The true test of a rivalry is how it stands up when a team has a down year. Yes, UNC kind of sucked this year, but the Duke-UNC games were still the most intense regular season games of the year for both teams. When Maryland has a down year, a lot of the luster is lost. Maryland fans will claim that Duke-Maryland is a legitimate rivalry. Duke fans will arrogantly laugh and make some joke about pumping gas or flipping burgers -- it never gets old -- which is why if this story is true, it's gotta be particularly painful for Maryland fans.

We're all proud of you for coming clean though, Greivis. As the wise man Tommy Callahan once said:

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