Notebook: Holloway brothers shine in UMass win

  • Rashaan Holloway, right, of UMass, and his brother, Mike Holloway, Jr., of Fairleigh Dickinson, watch for an incoming pass during their game Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 at the Mullins Center. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rashaan Holloway, second from left, of UMass, watches as his brother, Mike Holloway, Jr., of Farleigh Dickinson, shoots a free throw Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 at the Mullins Center. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rashaan Holloway, right, of UMass, and his brother, Mike Holloway Jr., of Fairleigh Dickinson, head downcourt during their game, Friday at the Mullins Center. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 12/22/2018 12:44:23 AM

AMHERST — The dozens of members of the Holloway family who attended Friday’s game at the Mullins Center left satisfied.

In the first half, it was Fairleigh Dickinson’s Mike Holloway who stole the show, scoring a team-best 13 points and leading the Knights to a eight-point halftime lead. In the second half, it was UMass’ Rashaan Holloway who took over the game, scoring 16 of his 18 points in the final 20 minutes to spark the Minutemen’s 85-84 victory.

While one brother was dominating the game, the other found himself on the bench with foul trouble. Rashaan played just four minutes in the first half after picking up three fouls, while Mike played just three of the final 13 minutes sitting with four fouls.

“He’s a good basketball player, he’s always been a good basketball player,” Rashaan Holloway said. “It was good to see him do well, but I had to get over the three fouls and come back in the second half and catch a (win). That’s all I was worried about.”

UMass coach Matt McCall said he was concerned about how Rashaan would handle the brotherly competition, especially coming off an ankle injury he suffered in the opening minutes of the Minutemen’s loss to Temple last week. The older Holloway didn’t practice until Thursday and McCall said he was pleased that he didn’t try to do too much in the second half Friday after being on the bench for most of the first half.

“He wanted to play so well in this game, and as a coach, you worry about that,” McCall said. “His approach was the right way and we need that for him every night. He settled in there, he made some great post moves inside and he missed a couple, too.”

DEFENSIVE LETDOWNS: A common theme this season for UMass has been its defensive malfunctions.

The Minutemen came out flat and lackluster when Fairleigh Dickinson had the ball and allowed the Knights to make nine of their first 13 shots. Fairleigh Dickinson made six of its first seven 3-point attempts and shot 54.5 percent from the field in the opening half. The Knights complemented that offense by forcing their way to the free-throw line for 18 attempts, 14 of which they made.

UMass showed more heart in the second half and held FDU to just 2 of 11 on 3-pointers and 42.4 percent overall over the final 20 minutes. Holloway said he thought the Minutemen were too concerned about their failures on offense that it hurt them on defense.

“We struggle with having a feel for the game all the time,” Holloway said. “When we lock in and we actually come in and play defense, we get it done. That’s what we have to do every game before we start. Sometimes we get caught up in the offense and if it’s not going then we don’t play defense. We learn and we go over it every day.”

The issue has reached a point where McCall has become increasingly frustrated with having to go over the same talking points after the game. He said the focus on offensive success instead of prioritizing defense has become a pattern for UMass and is preventing the group from taking that next step.

“It’s our kryptonite, we get complete consumed with offense,” McCall said. “It’s happened multiple times this year and we have to get better there. I’ve never been as animated as I was after the game, that’s probably the most animated I’ve been at halftime. The staff kept saying to me ‘Go (zone).’ No, sit down and guard. Take some pride of not getting whipped off the bounce and sit down and guard. This guy is not allowed to go by me. We just have to get so much better.”

DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Despite the frustrations on defense, there were two critical plays on that end of the floor that changed the game in UMass’ favor, McCall said.

The first came early in the second half when Jahlil Jenkins stole the ball from Luwane Pipkins and Keon Clergeot charged down the floor and blocked the layup. That play prevented Fairleigh Dickinson from extending its lead to 12. UMass scored the next six points and built on that momentum.

The other play was a defensive rebound from Pipkins with 51 seconds left with the Knights leading by three points. He ended a run of offensive rebounds by the Knights by out-jumping two Fairleigh Dickinson players and then outletted the ball for a layup at the other end.

SUSPENSIONS: UMass freshman forward Sy Chatman and junior guard Curtis Cobb were both suspended for Friday’s game for violating team rules. The two came out for warmups in track suits after spending the end of practice Thursday on the stationary bikes in the weight room.

McCall said the transgressions were minor, but an important lesson for his team as he attempts to change the culture in the program. He said both players should be available on Dec. 30 when UMass closes out the non-conference portion of its season against Georgia in Athens.

“Playing the game is a privilege, being a part of UMass is a privilege,” McCall said. “We’ve got to appreciate being a part of this. Neither one did anything malicious, it was just a decision as we’re continuing to change our culture that we decided to make as a staff. Both will be back at practice and both will be back in the lineup against Georgia.”

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