|Around the Rim: Holloway's Freshman Education|
The education of Patrick Holloway as basketball player continues. The freshman from Stafford and Paul VI High School has experienced highs – a career-best 17 points against Maryland, a 5-for-7 game on threes in a comeback win against William & Mary. He has encountered lows – five games of going scoreless, a 3-for-12 shooting stretch over a three-game span and a 3-for-14 stretch in a four-game span.
He’s been knocked around in practices, by older, bigger and stronger teammates; he’s been lectured by coaches for missed assignments on offense or defense.
The kid, all 6-foot-1, 155 pounds of him, can shoot, all right. Give him an inch of daylight and he’ll take a three. At this point in his career, he’s a streak shooter. When he’s on, he’s instant offense. When he’s off, the team can stagnate offensively.
There’s a steadiness to him that indicates he could have a bright future. He can shake off a missed shot or a tough game or a shooting slump.
A year ago, he was the man in the D.C. metro area, being named All-Met Player of the Year by the Washington Post. He had a magical season, leading Paul VI to an unbeaten year in the super-competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, hitting several game-winning shots, and to the Virginia private school title.
Those successes are a contrast to his current up-and-down season, but he understands there is a process at work: “This is part of being a freshman. You have to grow each game, each practice. The more I do things right and the more I show I’m ready to play, then the more the coaches will trust to put me in a game; the more I’m in a game, the more comfortable I get with the team, then the more comfortable they get with me.
“I’m just trying to learn and get better each game, each practice. If I continue to do that, I’ll be all right.”
When the Patriots opened their season with a 63-59 win against Virginia, Holloway played just four minutes. “It was a wake-up call as to show how much better I needed to get and how much harder I needed to play,” he said.
Practicing against teammates like Sherrod Wright, a redshirt junior guard, who has about four inches, 40 pounds and three years of college experience on Holloway, was also a wake-up call. Wright considers it his duty to prepare Holloway for the college game; the two guard each other a lot in workouts.
“When we go at it in practice, I try to test him and make sure he’s working his hardest,” Wright said. “When people see him on defense, their eyes can light up because he’s smaller. They’ll try to push you, bully you.
“I try to get physical with him so he’ll be prepared. If he hits a couple shots, somebody may do something dirty with an elbow or put him on his back when he goes in the lane. He’s going through his freshman bumps like we all did. He’s starting to mature and take better shots and play harder defense. Those are things we need him to do and he’s doing them.”
Compared to early-season practices when Holloway was hitting the deck regularly, he’s holding his own. He even seeks out matchups against Wright, who leads the Patriots in scoring at 16.5 points a game.
“It was kind of embarrassing,” said Holloway of some early practices, who is averaging 5.4 points and 12.6 minutes per game while shooting 37.3 percent from beyond the arc. “I stopped looking at it as intimidation and looked at it as a way to get better. Now I like playing against Sherrod, because it’s going to make me better. He might score on me, he might push me down. But I know in the long run its going to help me.”
His body has been beaten up by the season; he’s committed to getting into the weight room in the offseason to bulk up. Still, he has handled the physical transition and the mental transition to the college game, not that it was easy.
“I came in here so mentally immature,” Holloway said. “Not really knowing how to handle things, coaches yelling, coaches getting on me. I wasn’t as used to that or expecting that coming in. As time has gone on, I know I have a great coaching staff. They push me and continue to yell at me. That’s paved the way to improvement. I’ve matured in that aspect.”
Holloway was taking that same long-term approach after Tuesday’s 85-81 loss to Towson. He hit two late-game threes that enabled the Patriots to get to overtime before losing 85-81. He also missed six shots in his 16 minutes.
“It’s really disappointing,” he said afterwards outside the locker room. “We fought so hard to come back. As a freshman, it’s been tough. All in all, I think I can say I’ve gained a lot of experience. I didn’t come in on a team that was just winning all its games. I came in on a team that’s had its ups and downs and had to battle.
“It’s a lot to take in on one season. I’m glad I could experience it so I can see what it’s like to lose, what it’s like to win -- to see both sides of it, experience it, take it all in and continue to move forward.”
Holloway mentioned the regular-season finale Saturday at Delaware and next week’s CAA Tournament. A three-game win streak in Richmond would put the Patriots in the NCAA tournament.
“I think a lot of people see this season for us being over, but we don’t see that,” he said. “We still have the conference tournament. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. It’s about winning the conference tournament.”