03/12/04 — Even injured, Sharome Holloway is a player

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Even injured, Sharome Holloway is a player

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 12, 2004 2:00 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A normal play.

Mount Olive College guard Brad McDougald dribbles the ball outside the three-point line and looks to distribute it inside to either Marcus West, Sean Barnett or Sharome Holloway.

This time Holloway was McDougald's intended target. Holloway attempted to dunk the ball and a Belmont Abbey defender knocked him backwards. As he lost his balance, Holloway tried to brace his fall with both arms, but a majority of the weight shifted to his left wrist.

Sharome Holloway

News-Argus/Brent Hood

Mount Olive College junior Sharome Holloway goes to the basket for a first-half layup against Pfeiffer in early February. Holloway sustained a season-ending injury two weeks later, which has turned him from a part-time starter into a vocal bench leader.

"I shook it off for a minute and shot my first free throw, which was a little off," Holloway said. "I made the second free throw. I ran up and down the court two or three more times."

But when West zipped an open-court pass to Holloway, the junior forward couldn't hold onto the ball.

"I was hoping it was a sprain and that I could be back on the floor as soon as possible," Holloway said.

It was worse.

Holloway dislocated a bone and had four pins placed in the wrist. He missed the Trojans' last nine games and his role of part-time starter changed to bench leader. Any athlete would have difficulty adjusting to the unwelcomed and untimely change.

Holloway admits it's been tough.

"I look at it as a positive and a negative," Holloway said.

The season-ending injury didn't end Holloway's career. He still has another year left, and intends to use it as motivation for next season. Holloway also calls it a learning experience because he'll undoubtedly be called upon to help replace West in the post next season.

The negative side, of course, revolves around not playing. He'll be on the bench Saturday afternoon when the Trojans make their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II East Regional at Pfeiffer University. Mount Olive (23-7) opposes Alderson-Broaddus, the regional's No. 2 seed and the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion.

"It's a wonderful accomplishment," Holloway said of the history-making moment. "But it's very tough not being out there with my troops and battling with them.

"I'm trying to stay motivated with them and keep them inspired toward the big picture."

But even Holloway wasn't sure how he fit into the puzzle.

The 6-foot-8 junior college transfer battled inner demons the first month of the season. He recorded double figures just twice and barely made an impact on the boards.

Holloway knew his main job of helping West and Barnett in the post could be in jeopardy. He wasn't pleased with his results.

"At the beginning of the season, I wasn't mentally ready because I didn't know what I was up against," Holloway said. "Those early-season games I was battling among my myself. I knew if I stayed in the game, we've got a shot to win.

"A majority of the time when I stayed in the game, we won."

Holloway's season turned around against archrival Barton College. The junior forward notched a double-double -- in the second half -- as the Trojans prevailed 84-74 in overtime.

That began a string of five consecutive double-figure scoring outputs and two double-doubles -- one against the Bulldogs and the other against Belmont Abbey.

"That Barton game let me know that if you keep working hard, things will come to light," Holloway said. "I picked up a lot of self confidence and started to lead by example."

Holloway occasionally appeared in the starting lineup and played consistent in every game. By early February, the Trojans were in position to overtake nationally-ranked Pfeiffer Unversity in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference standings. Holloway collected his third double-double, 20 points and 13 rebounds, as Mount Olive pulled off a sterling 108-105 victory.

Three days later, Holloway's season ended abruptly at Belmont Abbey. He sustained the wrist injury nearly six minutes into the game. The Trojans needed three games to adjust to the loss.

"When your number is called, you've got be ready and to expect the unexpected," Holloway said. "I told the guys to play game the same way as if I was in there. I'm not saying I'm a big piece, but just play the same way.

"Don't make any adjustments."

Holloway shot 53.6 percent from the floor, nearly 75 percent at the free throw line and averaged eight points a game before his injury. He emerged the team's leading scorer in two games and the top rebounder seven times.

His loss has tested the team's depth, which has become one of many intangibles in the Trojans' postseason run.

But that run continues without Holloway, who diligently goes through rehabilitation every day.

"I have a tennis ball and I'm squeezing the daylights out of that," he said. "I'm working on finger motions and trying to get them back from being stiff."