Jrue Holiday has been working out to get himself ready for the NBA draft by working out at IMG Academies in Florida. He recently offered an interview while working out that was posted on the academies blog.
The interview is pretty much all fluff with some cute word association games involving Wooden, Howland, and Southern Cal's basketball program. There was one comment thought that I thought was revealing (emphasis added):
On his preseason prediction in Dime Magazine that UCLA would win the national championship… I wouldn’t take it back. I really believed that we had what it took to win. We had seniors in Shipp, Darren and (Alfred) Aboya. I guess we just didn’t play together.
Uh huh. And it's just a matter of time we are going to hear from Holiday's people how Ben Howland's offense held his talents back.
It would be nice if Holiday and the advisers around him admitted that Holiday still has a long way to go to play defense like an elite Ben Ball warrior (or a potential budding NBA star). We saw flashes of it here and there in some games this past season. But when it came to key games it wasn't a matter of our guys not playing together, it was players like Holiday not playing Ben Ball defense.
As mentioned above Holiday had a handful decent defensive games (including one at Pauley East) but time and time again on big stages he got torched by guards such as Abrams and Harden.
Meanwhile, on the offensive here are his point totals from 9 losses which arguably presented the two marquee OCC games, and pivotal conference games that ended up costing us the Pac-10 championship:
@ Texas: 3
@ ASU: 0
Southern Cal: 1
Except for Michigan game, those are some ugly numbers.
Even if we had gotten barely average performance from Holiday in those games offensively, we might have won 2-3 or those games resulting in different tourney placement. Certainly TOTAL 3 point performance at home v. WSU, ASU, Southern Cal stands out. He laid a ZERO v. ASU in Tempe.
I can't recall how many times we saw Holiday passing up open shots (because he was too tentative) or not attacking the basket. He wasn't scoreless certainly not for lack of mins. Coach Howland gave him all the PT a coach can give a freshman to blossom often at the expense of more defensive minded athletes such as ML.
We can evoke the comparisons to AA and RW. However, those kids didn’t come into Pauley with the hype of number 1 player in the country or the hype of "lottery pick" that gets mentioned wrt his name. I will not mention defensive performances v. Texas, ASU and WSU at Pauley.
He looked out of it and frankly kind of disinterested when the Bruins were taking on ASU at Tempe and also against Villanova in Philadelphia. I saw it from the courtside in Philly when many Bruins in the stands were groaning at his lack of hustle on defense. In contrast, the passion and intensity of ML for playing defense was unmistakable (as noted in the link above). It was pretty clear who was showing more hustle and desire while rotating on defense.
I have to say when I read comments like that from a kid who hasn't shown the performance to match the incredible hype prior to coming into college makes me question his mindset, maturity and readiness for the next level even more.
Whatever. I wish Mr. Holiday and best of luck in the NBA and thank him for his flashes of brilliance when he helped out the team by playing Ben Ball defense "together" with rest of his team-mates.