Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Holloway and Hines continue to see court time together for UMass men’s basketball

(Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

Rashaan Holloway is officially starting to look like Rashaan Holloway again.

After suffering a thumb injury that kept him out for the majority of the preseason, the 6-foot-11 center has had a rocky start to the season. Holloway had a strong game early against Harvard though, one in which he was one rebound away from a double-double.

But from there, Holloway has had his struggles, scoring a combined 18 points over the next three games. The numbers weren’t just bad on the offensive end, as he grabbed a pedestrian eight rebounds over the stretch.

Holloway returned to his normal form on Saturday against Brigham Young, where he dominated the Cougar bigs throughout the game. While foul trouble limited him to just 16 minutes, Holloway still managed to finish six-of-eight from the floor, scoring 16 points and securing eight boards. His presence was also felt on the defensive end, where he blocked three shots.

“I feel like that’s what I have to do for our team to be in a good spot at times,” Holloway said of Saturday’s performance. “In order to help the team, I need to play aggressive and do what I do.”

UMass coach Matt McCall hopes that his center can bring the aggressiveness he showed Saturday into the coming games, but knows he will have to stay out of foul trouble in order to impact the game for longer periods of time.

When asked if Holloway can build off of Saturday’s performance, McCall replied, “I sure hope so.”

“Just being aggressive,” McCall said. “I think Rashaan gets too caught up in picking up fouls and it causes him to pick up a foul and causes him to not be aggressive on the offensive end of the floor. I thought the fouls that he picked up were completely him not being in the right frame of mind.”

Holloway has been paired often times with fellow big man Malik Hines this season. The duo didn’t see much court time together a year ago, but McCall has started both players together the last four games.

The duo’s size alone, both standing over 6-foot-10, presents matchup problems for each opponent UMass faces. While they are still learning how to offset each other, they have been key to the Minutemen outrebounding their opponents by an average of 2.5 boards per game.

Holloway feels that the two are still working on figuring out how to play with each other on the court at the same time, but will only get stronger as the season goes on.

“We’re still working at it,” Holloway said. “It’s something that with more reps it will take care of itself.”

For Hines, he has seen his play grow this season, averaging just under nine points and six rebounds per game.

Hines has also proven to be a leader on a young UMass team. For a first-year coach like McCall, those intangibles are something every coach dreams of.

“I mean this wholeheartedly, out of all the guys since I’ve been here that I’ve seen really grow and develop, I think Malik is at the top of the list,” McCall said. “From how he’s carried himself to getting himself in shape and learning our system, to being bought in and doing what’s asked of him, he’s been phenomenal. His point production from one year to the next is up by six, his rebounds are up three or four. I think he and Rashaan are coming along good. I trust Malik on the floor. Offensively, defensively, he knows what he needs to do.”

Heading into Wednesday’s game with Quinnipiac, the Minutemen will need production from their two bigs in order to come out with a victory. The Bobcats are a team that has been outrebounded by an average of four boards per game.

Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @TJ__Johnston.

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