Indiana Daily Student

Holt 'forgives himself,' catches up to speed in win

Freshman Emmit Holt has his shot contested by a Pittsburgh player during IU's game against the Panthers on Tuesday at Assembly Hall.
Freshman Emmit Holt has his shot contested by a Pittsburgh player during IU's game against the Panthers on Tuesday at Assembly Hall.

Following his team’s loss to Eastern Washington, IU Coach Tom Crean said he was reluctant to play freshman forward Emmitt Holt because the game was going “too fast.”

Tuesday night, Holt caught up.

The Webster, N.Y., native had 15 points off of 6-for-6 shooting and five rebounds to lead IU (6-1) to an 81-69 win against Pittsburgh (4-3) in the Hoosiers’ ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup at Assembly Hall.

“I guess it just came out of the blue,” Holt said. “Tonight, my team did a great job finding me in the alley ... I was there open.”

Holt checked in a little more than four minutes into the game after junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea picked up his second early foul.

He was slow to adjust into the game but soon found himself frequently around the ball.

Holt gave IU a 25-20 lead when he skied for an offensive rebound, turned across the lane and laid the ball in while drawing a foul. He connected on the ensuing free throw to complete a three-point play.

Just a few possessions later, Holt cut along the baseline to catch a pass from freshman guard Rob Johnson.

Holt gathered his composure, pump-faked and finished with a layup and converted another and-1 opportunity.

Holt finished the night 3-of-4 from the free-throw line.

“Certainly Emmitt did a fantastic job tonight,” Crean said. “Emmitt’s gaining confidence and I think that’s the huge thing because he just didn’t have the game ?experience.”

Holt’s IU career began surrounded by controversy and a four-game suspension after his involvement in a Nov. 1 car accident that sent sophomore forward Devin Davis to the hospital with a serious head injury.

Off the court, coaches and teammates have said Holt has struggled to deal with the incident. Holt said he has learned from what happened on Halloween night.

Part of what helped him the most was the support from Davis’ family.

“The first thing (Devin Davis’ parents) did was forgive me,” Holt said. “That was the biggest thing for me ... From then to now, I think I’ve made tremendous ?progress.”

On the court, the ?suspension put him even further behind in his development, which was already stunted considering he didn’t join the program until mid-August.

Tuesday was only the fifth game Holt was active. Entering the game, Holt had played just 17 minutes all season. Against the Panthers, he played 19 minutes, 12 of which came in the first half.

Crean was emotional talking about Holt.

He paused for five to 10 seconds at a time as he gathered his composure and thoughts before answering questions.

He said after the accident, IU’s staff didn’t allow Holt out of their sights for 48 hours unless he was in the shower or using the ?restroom.

Less than five weeks later, he was on the floor leading the team.

“I look at him and I think he’s out there playing hard, and I see Devin there who wants to play so bad,” Crean said, holding back tears. “I think they’ve learned when something’s taken away that they haven’t had taken away, they’re going to have to respond to that.”

With Mosquera-Perea, IU’s only experienced true post player, the question surrounding IU throughout preseason and in the early games is where IU will go next.

Whether or not Holt inevitably is that second post option remains to be seen. But as of Tuesday night, Crean has shown he’s confident enough to let him try.

“We had not seen Emmitt quite like that,” Crean said. “That’s a pretty good Emmitt right there.”

The last month has been a process of steps forward for Holt. Basketball is a way for him to heal. When he brought up the Davis family forgiving him, a reporter asked about another person needing to be forgiven.

“Have you forgiven yourself?” Holt was asked.

Holt didn’t hesitate.


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