By Parrish Alford | NEMS Daily Journal
The Ole Miss basketball career of Murphy Holloway, which includes a year on the practice squad at South Carolina, has been newsy and entertaining.
His immediate certification by the NCAA after transferring back into the program was met with no small amount of excitement on the Ole Miss end.
Had Holloway remained at South Carolina, Gamecocks coach Darrin Horn, whose team averages an SEC-low 32.1 rebounds a game, would have welcomed the potential of a boost on the boards.
Andy Kennedy, though, knew what he was getting in Holloway’s return. He’d seen him for two years at Ole Miss. He was a known commodity.
Holloway did not disappoint, rising to third in the SEC in rebounding, before going down with a severely sprained ankle on Dec. 21 against Middle Tennessee State.
A bad ankle sprain can bother a player throughout a season, because there’s often not adequate healing time.
Having watched Murphy Holloway’s toughness and energy, it’s not surprising that he would return after a brief time away and jump right back in the action.
What we may be seeing now, however, are the lingering effects of the ankle.
Holloway missed three games but returned with a bang, a double-double against Arkansas on Jan. 11 with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
He had another double- double against Auburn the next game with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
In the last two games, Ole Miss wins against rival Mississippi State and at Georgia, Holloway has 14 rebounds. Seven rebounds a game is not bad, but the Holloway standard on the glass is higher.
Here’s the kicker. He’s got no offensive rebounds in the last two games … zero.
Prior to the MSU game Holloway had 140 rebounds, 46 of them on the offensive end.
The put-back is a big part of Holloway’s offensive success, and he had just five points against MSU, his season-low.
Against Georgia he was more aggressive on the offensive end, putting the ball on the floor from outside the lane and driving in to score. He was 5 for 8 from the floor for 12 points.
Holloway had been able to rest his ankle in the days leading to his return. Now he’s involved in the grind, two games a week, limited recovery time in between.
Kennedy said from the get-go he noticed a difference in Holloway’s “recoil,” his second and third jump that is necessary when ball possession isn’t won right away. Maybe Holloway is making a conscious effort to get more involved on offense.
Holloway was not involved in the postage interview session at Georgia. When we scattered, he was talking with friends out on the court, hood pulled on and ready for the trip home which is invariably better after a road win.
“We’re about to go on a roll,” he said.
That’s a pleasant thought and welcome news for Ole Miss fans, but a push toward real relevance will have to include Holloway’s energy and production as it was before the injury or in a rebuilt fashion.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@ journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at Djournal.com.