Sports

Ex-coach Tommy Amaker ‘so proud’ of Shaheen Holloway’s success

SAN ANTONIO — Tommy Amaker, with plenty of help from Shaheen Holloway, led Seton Hall to the Sweet 16 of the 2000 NCAA Tournament, and the pride and admiration for what the fearless Pirates guard has done for and with Saint Peter’s is impossible to miss now.

“He’s an outstanding coach, and you can’t do what he’s doing without being a tremendous coach and a tremendous leader,” Amaker told The Post. “When I see his games and see his team, I think that they have taken on his personality of fearless, confident, belief. … Unwavering belief in who they are and what they’re doing. The head man is leading the way for them and setting the tone.

“I’m just so proud of him and pleased for him, and I’m really excited and pleased for Saint Peter’s — you think of not just Shaheen, but just everything that’s happening for that institution to gain this kind of unity and the exposure and all the goodwill that these kinds of moments can create with your students, your faculty, your community, your alums. How cool is that?”

No one knows better than Amaker, now Harvard’s head coach, how easy it will be to root for Holloway on Sunday night against North Carolina, 40 minutes from a Final Four.

Shaheen Holloway and Tommy Amaker
USA TODAY Sports; Gist Vile

“He adjusted his game to become the kind of player he ended up being,” Amaker said. “He was always a scoring guard. He really made himself into being a tremendous point guard in terms of quarterbacking and orchestrating — all the things I think you see him doing now, he’s just doing it from the sideline as opposed to being on the floor. But he’s orchestrating so much for others, and I thought that year he really did that for us and that made us so much of a better team that year.”

Unfortunately, Holloway broke his ankle during the second game of the NCAA Tournament against Temple and was a helpless spectator against Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16.

“That’s part of it as we know, it’s really unfortunate things you can’t control,” Amaker said. “He made the game-winning basket the game before when we upset Oregon in the first round, and then obviously wasn’t able to help us the next day, but his teammates picked him up and carried him just like he carried us.”

Amaker, even today, remembers how meaningful it was for Holloway to be the first in his family to graduate college.

“One of the things I always was so touched and moved by with him was I knew how important it was for him to be a college graduate,” Amaker said. “I was just blown away how determined and committed he was. He wanted to be as good of a player as he could be, he wanted to play in the NBA like all of ’em do, but he also wanted to make sure that he graduated college.”

Amaker recalled the rapport that Amaker and the student-athletes had with a woman named Robin Cunningham, Seton Hall’s Director of Academic Support Services from 1984-2003.

“She knew how hard he worked and he knew how much she helped him and believed in him,” Amaker said.

Amaker was asked if he has seen an underdog story like this one.

“I would have to kind of keep searching,” he said and laughed, “because I can’t think of one right now.”

via

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