Despite loss, Rashaan Holloway does a bit of everything against George Mason

By Amin Touri

(Caroline O’Connor/ Daily Collegian)

Junior center Rashaan Holloway turned in one of his best performances of the season against George Mason on Wednesday, but it wasn’t enough to save the Massachusetts men’s basketball team from an 0-2 start in conference play.

Holloway was all over the stat sheet against the Patriots (7-8, 1-1 Atlantic 10), logging 13 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high six blocks to go with two steals on the defensive end. On both sides of the ball, Holloway made his mark.

Facing a somewhat undersized Mason frontcourt—the largest Patriot, Greg Calixte, is listed at a full three inches and 80 pounds short of the Minuteman big man—Holloway went to work offensively, notching 13 points on 5-9 shooting from the floor, hitting 3-4 from the line to make the most of his opportunities.

Holloway’s production underneath kept UMass (7-8, 0-2 A-10) in the game, helping keep afloat a team that only shot 18.5 percent from three-point range. He spent most of his 24 minutes working to get open underneath, and likely could have used more touches inside, but Mason did all it could to deny him the ball inside.

“We tried [to deny him the ball],” said Mason coach Dave Paulsen. “We try to have good ball pressure, we tried to double him; he’s so stinking quick with his moves and he’s got great footwork in there, and I think a lot of baskets came off of offensive rebounds. He’s a handful.”

Holloway snatched four offensive rebounds to create a handful of second-chance points, including a rim-rocking slam as he was fouled after grabbing another offensive board.

“We were trying [to get him the ball],” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “He’s the only guy on my playcard that says ‘actions for.’ It says ‘actions for Holloway’. We ran every action for Holloway we had, and I thought we got caught staring down the post. He’s got to get it through movement.”

On the defensive end, Holloway sent back six shots, including some emphatic rejections that got the Mullins crowd back into the game and brought the UMass bench to its feet. Two steals and a forced jump ball added to his impact defensively, as he did it all on his own end.

“I thought he got us back in the game, I thought he was great,” McCall said. “But again, Rashaan’s got to play that way all the time. In practice, every day, Rashaan has to be that way, because he’s capable.

For Holloway, as imposing and intimidating a player as there is in the A-10, these flashes of greatness suggest a potential to be one of the conference’s dominant big man. The issue is, and always has been, making performances like Wednesday’s a regular occurrence.

“I can’t want for him, he’s got to want it for himself,” said McCall. “He showed some aggressiveness tonight that we’ve seen different times during the year that we need to see every single day, because he could be a really, really good player.”

Holloway and the Minutemen will try and earn their first conference win on Saturday as they head to Dayton.

Saturday’s tip is set for 12 p.m.

Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Amin_Touri.