In front of father, Hollis shines

OLEAN, N.Y. — Sophomore Damian Hollis has had his fair share of difficulties this season. Expected to be a consistent starter this year, coach Karl Hobbs began pulling Hollis off the bench in the middle of the season as the forward began to struggle as a starter.

But the 17-point performance Hollis turned in during the men’s basketball team’s 80-71 win at St. Bonaventure Saturday night was different from any other game he has had this season. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that Hollis was playing in front of his father, Essie, a St. Bonaventure alum whose No. 25 jersey was retired before the game.

“Towards the beginning of the season, everyone was talking about (my dad’s jersey getting retired),” Hollis said after the game. “I didn’t feel the pressure until I actually saw the banner fall. Then it set in. It feels like I’m trying to impress him.”

Hollis said after the contest that he was very aware of the fanfare surrounding his father. At the beginning of the game, when Hollis touched the ball, the student section directed chants of “traitor” his way.

“It was tough with the crowd and the student section,” Hollis said. “I haven’t faced that since high school. But I kept playing my game and tried to pull out the win.”

Having Essie and other family members in attendance, including his uncle Roy who sang the National Anthem, may have given Hollis the extra motivation he needed to finally find his form. The last time his father attended a game, in a GW win over Temple almost exactly a year ago at Smith Center, Hollis had a then-career-high 15 points. It also helped to end a four-game losing streak for the Colonials.

Once again, Hollis was crucial in keeping his squad from adding another tally to the loss column, the side of the team’s record that filled up pretty quickly this season. Hollis has made some important contributions to his team over the season, scoring in double-digits in seven games, but has also been a non-factor at times. He was held scoreless once and to fewer than five points on four other occasions. He is the team’s fourth-leading scorer, averaging 7.5 points per game.

The rollercoaster that Hollis’ scoring pattern has taken this season is slightly puzzling, although it must be noted that Hollis has been nursing a sprained thumb for at least two weeks.

But Hobbs offered up one way to ensure that Damian will produce in GW’s next game, against Richmond Feb. 23.

Hobbs said, “We’re going to retire (Essie’s) number at GW to get (Damian) to continue to play like that.”

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