UMass big man Rashaan Holloway suffers thumb injury

  • Rashaan Holloway, left, and Khalea Turner-Morris reach for a rebound during UMass practice Oct. 9 at the Champions Center. GAZETTE STAFF / JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rashaan Holloway, shown last season, hurt his thumb in practice Wednesday. GAZETTE STAFF / JERREY ROBERTS

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

AMHERST — UMass big man Rashaan Holloway went up for a rebound during practice Wednesday and came down with a thumb injury on his right shooting hand.

Minuteman coach Matt McCall said Holloway would see a hand specialist later this week. McCall didn’t know the severity of the injury or the timetable for his return.

“He may have broke his finger. That’ll be a little bit of a sting,” McCall said. “He’ll be back hopefully in three or four weeks. Nothing is guaranteed right now. Even if it’s not broken, dislocated he’ll be out, not for a significant time. We’ll know more when the X-ray comes back and he sees the hand specialist.”

UMass hosts Springfield College in an exhibition game on Nov. 3 and opens the 2017-18 season on Nov. 10 against UMass-Lowell at the Mullins Center.

McCall said the staff will develop a plan to keep Holloway’s fitness at a high level while he recovers.

“The biggest thing for Rashaan, we don’t want him to lose where he’s at from a conditioning standpoint,” he said. “We’ll have to make sure even if he’s not in practice, mentally he’s in there every day and with strength coach Coty Green everyday. I’ll get with our training staff and our strength staff to make sure he doesn’t fall behind.”

Holloway wasn’t the only injury from Tuesday’s practice. Curtis Cobb, the transfer guard from Fairfield, also suffered a finger injury, but he’s sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. His injury comes a day after it became official that senior guard Jaylen Brantley would miss the season with a heart condition.

Frontcourt was an area where UMass had some experience and depth, but Holloway is the team’s most talented big man who’ll likely draw considerable defensive attention. He averaged 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 19.0 minutes last year.

If he’s out or limited, the Minutemen will need to replace his production.

Junior Malik Hines, who backed up Holloway at center last year, has been preparing to play both center and alongside Holloway at power forward. Hines said he worked harder in the offseason on his strength and conditioning.

“Every year you want to get better as a player. It started this summer with strength and conditioning,” said Hines, who averaged 3.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.5 minutes last year. “From guarding Rashaan in practice everyday, he’s hard to guard. When my head’s on straight, we’ll be pretty nasty together.”

Hines said he’s not thinking about whether he’ll be playing with or in place of Holloway when the season starts yet.

“I’m taking everything day by day. I can’t look to November right now,” he said.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage