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Holmes all too ready to get back on court
By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published December 19, 2007
TAMPA -- Already with a seven-game winning streak that matches USF's longest in 25 years, the Bulls get a boost tonight at Wake Forest with the debut of redshirt freshman Aaron Holmes, the St. Petersburg Catholic standout who transferred last year from Florida State.
"I'm pret0ty excited. I've been off for a while," said Holmes, a three-time Times Suncoast Player of the Year who last played in the state semifinals in March 2006.
Holmes, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward, gives the Bulls improved depth at shooting guard and small forward, where he'll challenge for playing time with his range and athleticism.
"I really think we've played our guards a lot of minutes, and we need to find a way to rest them a little bit more, keep them a little fresher," said coach Stan Heath, who has starting guards Chris Howard and Dominique Jonesplaying more than 33 minutes per game. "This gives us the ability to have another guy who keeps us at a pretty good level where we don't have a dropoff. He gives us another shooter that can spread the defense out, and he's pretty athletic and bouncy."
Holmes has been practicing with the Bulls for the past year and has shown himself to teammates as someone who fits well in the uptempo offense.
"I really like to catch and shoot, so I fit in well with the style of play," Holmes said. "To be honest, I thought I'd be really nervous, but now I'm used to the college level. It's like I went through the prep school route, so now I'm able to adjust to the speed and the physical play."
The Bulls are loaded with talented midyear transfers from major programs, such as former Arizona guard Jesus Verdejo and former LSU center Kentrell Gransberry. After 10 games without Holmes, the challenge is integrating him into the rotation without disrupting the chemistry.
"Everybody's playing well. We just have to keep it up," Holmes said. "I don't have any individual goals. I just want to get out and help my team win."
REPUTATION: USF defensive end George Selvie has made nearly every All-America team and led the nation with 31.5 tackles for loss, but his being named Big East defensive player of the year is likely a reflection of the way opposing coaches had to game-plan to try to contain the sack-happy sophomore.
Selvie's statistics in Big East play are not as eye-popping as his overall numbers. In seven conference games, he totaled four sacks, behind Cincinnati's Anthony Hoke nine, Pittsburgh's Joe Clermond (eight) and Rutgers' Jamaal Westerman (seven). Selvie led the league with 12 tackles for loss.
BACK TO TEXAS: When USF leaves for the Sun Bowl next week, it won't be coach Jim Leavitt's first time competing in El Paso. He went as a member of Missouri's baseball team for a Pan-American tournament as a freshman in 1975.
"I don't even know if I played," Leavitt said.
Leavitt was born in Texas in 1956 while his father was stationed in Harlingen as an Air Force pilot. Leavitt mentioned that to Sun Bowl officials as they were courting the Bulls but didn't point out that Harlingen is clear at the other extreme of Texas, more than 800 miles southeast.
"I talked to the bowl people, said I was born right there," Leavitt said. "They said, 'Where?' and I said, 'Harlingen.' They didn't say anything."
Leavitt also didn't mention that his family moved from Texas when he was 6 months old, but the state holds special meaning to him. His brother Randy lives in San Antonio, and his other brother Rusty was a minister in Texas before moving to Bradenton.
"My whole family, all my brothers and sisters, were born there, so I always feel like there's a connection there, a little bit," he said.