Blog Entry

Tu Holloway isn't all the way back, but Xavier is

Posted on: January 7, 2012 4:46 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 1:08 am
On Saturday Holloway scored zero points. That hadn't happened since he was a freshman. (Getty Images)

By Matt Norlander

BRONX, N.Y. — Player with All-American talent comes home, has a game in front of 70 friends and family, and takes only three shots, scoring zero points.

How do you interpret that? Bravo to said player for not trying to force the issue and make the game about him? Or is there something wrong if a guy who’s his team’s best scorer simply opts out of aggressiveness and turns his game into a one-mode mission: distribute the ball at all costs. For the first time since he was a freshman, Tu Holloway failed to score a point.

Holloway says he’s OK. Says he and Xavier got that much-needed morale boost of a win by defeating Fordham on the road 67-59 Saturday afternoon. Holloway, who grew up in Hempstead, N.Y., also had five assists and two turnovers. He looked as much the part of a natural point guard as I’ve seen him. And it looked odd.

“We didn’t want to get any technical fouls [in the last few games],” Holloway said. “Today, we had to get back to being us.”

Then, he went existential. Say what you will about Tu Holloway, at least he’s got a sense of the ethos.

“In your mind, you are who you are for so long, but you don’t realize you change sometimes,” he said.

Holloway’s definitely changed to a degree since You Know What. He said he’s back (I don’t think he’s all the way there; when we see it we’ll know it), but admitted the team was mentally rattled for the past month. That disconnect started with him and fellow guard Mark Lyons not taking control of the team.

There’s no way Xavier’s OK and all the way back if these kinds of games from Holloway become habit — not to suggest they will, either, but today’s performance was tangibly consistent with his inhibitions for the past month. Know this: The two big games Holloway was held to single digits last season, Xavier lost (to Cincy in the regular season and to Marquette in the NCAA tournament). Fortunately, Fordham, one of the younger teams in the country, is still not that strong and X could get itself right by mixing it up and trying to win in other ways. Any way to get that W was what Xavier (10-5) needed, and it got it.  

“I think today was an anomaly,” Musketeers coach Chris Mack said. “But, yeah, we need him to score. There’s no question about it. He probably went overboard the other way, but for this game, where our team is at, the only stat that mattered was the win.”

Holloway was averaging four turnovers per game the previous five games, fouling with more frequency . His scoring hadn’t dipped too much, but his on-court demeanor — and the rest of the team’s, too — altered. On Saturday Holloway wasn’t brash on the floor. His chest didn’t puff like Lyons’. Normally, the two go hand in hand in how they play, fraternal twins who dictate Xavier’s personality and mood swings.  Lyons was the reason Xavier avoided a loss — and subsequently didn’t turn this post into an obituary. Lyons remained aggressive, wanted the ball, said this was the game where he got back to not worrying about how refs would view the team and make calls. He baited Lamount Samuell into a technical after taking the ball from Samuell in a dead-ball situation and saying, “Gimme that.” It’s how Lyons plays. It’s pesky, and it showed he wasn’t afraid to be himself on the floor anymore.

It was Lyons, not Holloway, who had the ball and hit two free throws to put the game decisively out of reach, at 66-59, with 30 seconds to go after Fordham made a late-game push. Holloway’s an 83 percent free-throw shooter; Lyons 73. Yet he made sure he got those free throws.

“We’ve been worried about the media and stuff,” Lyons said. “And nowadays we’re getting back to our old ways, and we’re going to compete and be the tough and nasty team that our program is known for.”

Lyons only speaks in terms of defensive toughness. I found it refreshing that Xavier’s coaching staff and players weren’t afraid to keeping using the words “tough” and “nasty” following the win. The fight was awful PR, but it’s not going to change how the team plays. At least not anymore.

“I think a lot of people want to label our kids at times as dumb, but he’s (Holloway) a great kid,” Mack said. “He hasn’t played great at times, but I wouldn’t take any other point guard in the country.”

Here’s what’s interesting to me. Xavier was 9-5 coming into this game, and it’s Mack’s third season as coach. You know what the Muskies were last year after 14 games? 9-5. They finished the regular season 24-6. In 2009-10? Again: 9-5.  They finished 23-7. It’s what leads up to and surrounds that record that dictates how we view it, of course. Xavier could win up in the tournament and getting a 5 seed. There’s a lot left to accomplish, I just think Holloway’s got to mentally lock in and play unafraid for it to happen. Again, we’re waiting to see it come back.

“We’re gonna be fine,” Mack said as he crutched his way out of Rose Hill Gymnasium and headed to the airport; he tore his patella tendon Friday night while practicing with the team. “It’s on us to make sure the team that I see every day in practice shows up in games, and for whatever reason that hasn’t been the case.”

Out of everyone involved with the program, Mack seems the most confident and least stressed about his team’s reputation and performance and Holloway. Which is how it should be.

“If it weren’t for the fight at Cincinnati, I don’t know what our record would be, but I’m not going to apologize for it,” he said. Xavier’s done apologizing in general. Once Holloway stops feeling restricted and regains his confidence, we’ll know for sure if this team’s completely moved on.


Since: Jan 26, 2008
Posted on: January 11, 2012 10:43 pm

Tu Holloway isn't all the way back, but Xavier is


  you need to let go, its over, grow up.

Since: Jan 10, 2012
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:36 am

Tu Holloway isn't all the way back, but Xavier is

Hi Matt

I am guessing that you watched on Xavier game this year and that was Gonzaga.  I am also guessing that you have not seen Tu Holloway very much during his 4 4 years at Xavier.  If you had you would not make assumptions on his mental state based on his demeanor on the court.  Holloway is very a very focused and introspective palyer.  He leads by example on the court and has realized (at least in my opinion) that he needs to be an assist leader not a scoring leader for Xavier to meet their expectations this year.  Holloway will be fine.  Xavier is a special place.  Ask any coach who has left for more money the emotional ties that they still have to the program.  Thank you for your opinion on our players but I doubt you have too much insight into what Holloway is thinking.  Maybe you should wither interview him or watcha  few games first.  After all you are a Senior Analyst.

Since: Feb 3, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:35 am

Tu Holloway isn't all the way back, but Xavier is

This article explains it all.   Mack promotes this behavior  

Since: Feb 12, 2008
Posted on: January 9, 2012 10:31 pm

Tu Holloway isn't all the way back, but Xavier is

I guess your gonna say the big east is far superior, while of course, you know Pitt a preseason top ten and Marquette a dominant top 15 program there really impressive these days... and you can really get behind Notre Dame and Villanova this year with their plethora of top notch wins.  Oh and Cincinnati who lost by 20 to a 10-5 Xavier team.  Lets not forget Miami, Depaul, Providence, Seton Hall, South Florida they're some real juggernauts. Oh wait, I forgot about Bob Huggins that changes everything, lol! Outside Syrcause, Georgetown (a top 16 team at best) and maybe Uconn and Louisville on a good night you have a mediocre conference at best.  Dayton, Temple, St. Louis, Xavier, Lasalle, and St. Joes are all top 50 caliber teams with Umass and Charlotte in the top 80 for sure.  So, yeah, Fordham is about the 199th team in the rpi this week just 29 spots behind St. John's... who just beat Cincinnati on the road, lol.  The only thing 'Big' for the Big East is the farse that they are an elite conference.   

Since: Jan 9, 2012
Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:44 am

Tu Holloway isn't all the way back, but Xavier is

bigeast12... Fordham is much improved this year, and I don't think it's a given that they are "the worst team" in the A10.  They beat a ranked team (Harvard) and an ACC team (Georgia Tech).  They have a new coach who seems to be taking them in the right direction.  Unfortunately for Fordham, the A10 is also improved this year, with a couple of teams (Rhode Island and George Washington) lacking, as is the case with most conferences.  So, they may still end up near the bottom; however, they'll be a tough out.

miles roxbury... Why are you yelling?  Who's got the anger issue now?!  Hint - it's not Mark Lyons or X!  Granted, they are getting back to the types of players who will not back down from a challenge and will never give up (see Vanderbilt and Purdue games); however, they are not "thugs" who sucker-punch and kick players while they are down.  Big difference.  Also, I have complete confidence that X will not allow thuggery to bait them into throwing punches or anything of the sort again.

Since: Jan 8, 2012
Posted on: January 8, 2012 4:33 pm

Tu Holloway isn't all the way back, but Xavier is


Since: Feb 3, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 11:38 am

Tu Holloway isn't all the way back, but Xavier is

Seriously they played Fordham?    They won by 8 against the worst team in the bad A10?   Swagger?  Seriously?

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