Sunday, October 23, 2016

One Man Down: How Jonathan Holton’s absence changes things for No. 9 Press Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – On Thursday afternoon, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins announced the indefinite suspension of senior forward Jonathan Holton.

The reason behind the suspension, as well as the length of it, was left undisclosed. With a suspension like this one, No. 9 West Virginia’s game plan changes quite a bit.

(Photo Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

Without Holton, here’s what WVU will be missing:

  1. A two-year starter

Upon arriving at West Virginia, Holton has saw action in 55 total games, all of which he was included in the starting lineup. In those 55 games, he played over 1,200 minutes. This season, the senior averages 23.2 MPG.

After junior Nathan Adrian’s career-best performance against Kansas State last week, Bob Huggins’ decision as to who will start in Holton’s place should be fairly easy. Adrian put up 10 points in his first start of the season against the Wildcats in place of Esa Ahmad who had sprained his knee earlier in the week.

  1. Second-leading rebounder

Second only to Devin Williams (164), Holton has accumulated 150 rebounds in the 2015-16 season. He averages 7.5 per game.

Williams, who’s been in a slump as of late, will now be under extra pressure to pull down the rebounds and put up the points Holton will be leaving on the floor.

  1. A key member of the signature press

Perhaps Holton’s greatest strength is his defensive ability. The 6-foot-7 Miami native typically guards the inbounds pass, ultimately leading off the press with each and every one of the opponent’s possessions.

Press Virginia has forced 396 turnovers through 20 games. Holton has 22 of those all to himself while having a hand in dozens more.

  1. Leading blocker

Holton, Esa Ahmad and Elijah Macon lead the Mountaineers in the blocking category with nine each.

With his profound build and athletic energy, losing Holton decreases West Virginia’s size in and around the paint.

(Photo Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s obvious that WVU will feel Holton’s absence both offensively and defensively. Over the course of 20 games, Holton averaged nearly 10 PPG while shooting .540 percent from the field (.182 from three) and .736 percent from the free throw line. You could even say he was on a hot streak through the last three games, scoring 37 points and tallying 31 rebounds making him one of the most (if not the most) consistent players on the floor.

While a lot of details have been kept quiet, one thing is for certain; Holton’s suspension not only affects himself, but more importantly (and unfairly) his team’s game plan. Now that West Virginia is one man down, the big question is: who will step up and produce in his place?





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