Holloway eager to assume leadership role

  • UMass big man Rashaan Holloway eyes an incoming pass in front of Dayton’s Kendall Pollard last season during A-10 basketball action at the William D. Mullins Center in Amherst. gazette photo/jerrey roberts

For The Recorder
Tuesday, July 04, 2017

AMHERST — New UMass men’s basketball coach Matt McCall was quick to dismiss the idea that his up-tempo system wouldn’t run naturally with a traditional center.

McCall Ball at Chattanooga looked a lot like how Billy Donovan, McCall’s mentor and former boss, ran things at Florida. McCall was on Donovan’s staff when traditional bigs Joakim Noah and Al Horford were key pieces on back-to-back national championship teams in 2006-07.

So, as he starts to craft plans for how to utilize junior big man Rashaan Holloway, his best returning player, McCall has studied that Florida film.

“I was fortunate to see it from the front row when we have two centers/power forwards — traditional frontcourt players who won two national championships,” McCall said. “We’re trying to watch some film and pull out some of that stuff we were doing with those guys. We’ll tweak it and adjust.”

Not only did the starters on that team get drafted, but so did reserve bigs Chris Richard and Marreese Speights. That wasn’t lost on Holloway.

“That’s where I want to be at. I feel like I’m good enough to go,” Holloway said. “I’m listening to everything they’re telling me to do. My post work has become more solid. I’m becoming more solid with some moves and knowing when to use them and when not to use them. It’s been easier to score for me. It makes me feel good. I have different ways of beating people now.”

Off the court, he’s doing everything Coty Greene tells him to do.

Greene, is UMass’ new strength and conditioning coach, an important role in Holloway’s day-to-day training as the rising junior attempts to shed weight.

Green is the third coach in that role over the last three seasons. Holloway is trying to take the best of each.

“He’s been making us do some different stuff. I felt muscles where I never felt muscles before,” Holloway said. “It gives you something different. I’ve had three different ways to look at my diet.”

Amidst all the change in the program, Holloway wants to be the team’s foundation piece. He averaged 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 19.0 minutes per game. He’d like all of those numbers to go up.

“We go as I go. This is not freshman year anymore. This is an opportunity to shine,” he said. “I have to step up and do what I do for us to be who we want to be. It’s something new to me obviously, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.”