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Terriers Have Another Star Freshmen

February 14, 2008 Columns No Comments



Holland Leads Terriers’ Resurgence

by Phil Kasiecki

BOSTON – In recent years, Boston University has been able to ride the play of several good young players, like last season when they finished third in America East behind the play of three freshmen guards. Now the Terriers are doing it again.

This time around, it’s primarily one freshman, John Holland, who is sparking the Terriers. Tuesday night was the highlight to this point, a 25-point effort in their 79-53 win over Binghamton, their fourth straight win.

Although Tuesday was the highlight, Holland has really turned it on since America East play began. He moved into the starting lineup against New Hampshire – immediately following his first DNP of the season in the opener at Binghamton – and hasn’t left after he scored nine points on 2-7 shooting but registered six steals. He’s scored in double digits all but three times, and on each time he missed he scored nine points. In addition, he’s posted two double-doubles and leads the team in rebounding in conference games.

Every significant number is up for him in conference play, but more importantly, he’s given the team an injection of life at a time when they had been struggling. The Terriers were 3-9 in non-conference play, and truth be told they simply were not very good. Holland was part of that, as he had his moments but was inconsistent, and his coach has an explanation.

“He had a tremendous energy level, primarily because he conserved for most of the practices up to the beginning of the year, so he’s got it all saved,” said head coach Dennis Wolff with a tongue-in-cheek tone.

Wolff has always been a coach for whom players earn time by their practice play. Holland didn’t adjust to the college game and life right away, but he hasn’t had any more of an issue with it than many others. The adjustment looks to be more complete now if his play is any indication, especially after he won America East Rookie of the Week the last two weeks. In their four-game winning streak, he’s averaging 16 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, and his impact has been greater than the numbers can convey.

“John has played, for about two weeks, probably as well as any freshman I’ve had here,” said Wolff. “John is an unbelievable kid. The transition to college sometimes takes a little bit of time. People are going to make mistakes, and he’s right now playing through those better than he did early.”

A native of the Bronx who played a prep year at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J., Holland was known for his athleticism coming in. He’s capable of scoring plenty of points, as he once showed at a major AAU tournament when he scored 30 to help his team to a high consolation round finish. As is often the case with players in this conference, he flew under the radar quite a bit, and in his case it was in a metropolitan area that is always loaded with talent and makes it easy to get lost.

On Tuesday night, he looked like much that same player as he did a little of everything. He carried the Terriers in the first half with 15 points, as they didn’t have a lot of life early on but gradually took over. Whenever there was a play to be made, it seemed like he was there, from getting steals to grabbing a loose ball or getting ahead of others on the fast break. He was aggressive at both ends of the floor, playing with no fear and making things happen. And while he’s more of a scorer than a shooter, he is capable from behind the arc and went 3-5 on three-pointers. Most came after he got his offense going on slashes and in transition.

The opposing coach certainly took notice. Considering how important Holland’s role was in the win, it would have been hard not to.

“The guy is an animal. He plays hard, and that’s the kind of guy that I like,” said Binghamton head coach Kevin Broadus. “Forget the points, the guy was just everywhere. He was the best player on the court today, simple as that. He looked like a four-year veteran, and he’s got three more years, right?”

While Holland has clearly made great strides and might be the most improved player in the conference since the start of the season, he certainly has more work to do. That was even evident on Tuesday, as he was excellent but at times tried to do too much. He can’t get into the pattern of taking contested fade-away jumpers as he did a couple of times, as that will limit his effectiveness. As his confidence continues to go up, that’s one thing he needs to avoid falling into, especially since he’s done so well playing as he has to this point.

This season’s freshman class at Boston University isn’t producing a group of stars like last season’s did, as well as a couple of other recent ones. But Holland is the one player out of the group who is playing well, and lately at the nerve center of their turnaround after a slow start.

     

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