Holman Provides Physical Challenge For Jayhawks

By Blake Schuster

His name is Ray McCallum; he is a 6-2 guard, and former McDonald’s All-American, who averages 15.6 points per game and can pass the ball with the precision of a quarterback. He is the name Kansas fans have become familiar with as the Jayhawks prepare for a Friday showdown with Detroit in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

He is not who Kansas should fear.

His name is Eli Holman. You won’t see him in the starting lineup, but if Detroit is going to give Kansas a run, Holman will be a large reason why.

The 2012 Horizon League 6th Man of the Year, who was originally recruited to Indiana by Kelvin Sampson, transferred to the Titans after his freshman year. Since then he’s established himself as one of the premier centers in the Horizon League.

“He’s big and long,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Certainly one of the bigger physical presences we’ve gone against.”

How big? 6-10, 260 lbs., and he isn’t the only 6-10 center that Detroit boasts — LaMarcus Lowe, the Titans’ starting center, shares the accolade.

And even though Kansas has seen its big men dominate throughout the year, they’ve never gone up against one that has the ferocious tenacity that Holman plays with — Jared Sullinger would fit the profile had he played in Ohio State’s loss to Kansas on Dec. 10th.

Holman (163) and Lowe (154) rank number two, and three, in Detroit history for career blocks. Holman’s career .611 field goal percentage is the best ever for a Titan, and he also happens to be averaging 6.8 boards per game this season.

Rivals.com compared Holman to Cole Aldrich, and Kansas fans know what Aldrich brings, especially to the tournament.

“We are a tough mindset team,” Holman said. “It’s going to come down to toughness and defense.”

That’s what Jayhawk fans should fear, not getting beat on the perimeter like against Northern Iowa, but getting beat in the area Kansas dominates — the paint.

Like Northern Iowa, VCU, Bradley, and Bucknell before them, Detroit is playing with nothing to lose, and like those who have branded their names in Kansas infamy Holman will make sure Jayhawkers remember him, even in a Titan’s loss.

“I don’t want to say this, but it would be the best way to go out as a senior,” Holman said. “After everything I’ve been through, it would be a great way to end my college career against one of the best players in the country, a top program like Kansas, and with the guys I love sitting next to me.”