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A tough decision needs to be made about the future of Eli Holman at UDM

By Michael Martinez
On October 12, 2011

Where's Eli?

I've asked a lot of loaded questions in my four years on the newspaper staff, but this one might take the cake.

To put it simply: He may or may not be expelled for a situation that allegedly happened. He may be back with the team tomorrow, or he may never put on a uniform again after a leave of absence that isn't directly involved with the alleged incident.

Got all that?

A lot has happened over the past three weeks involving the Horizon League's best big man. A lot still has to happen, but the bottom line is that, as of today, the season is only two days away.

And Holman, for all intents and purposes, isn't with the team.

Athletic Director Keri Gaither told me two weeks ago that he was still technically on the team but couldn't participate in team-related activities.

I think the proper term for that would be "water boy."

Still, whatever role Holman is or isn't in, a decision about his future will have to be made. Head coach Ray McCallum will help make that decision.

It's one that could affect his legacy at UDM more than any championship or high-profile recruiting class.


Just like us

By now, I'm sure most of you have made up your mind.

The alleged assault at the Phi Kappa Theta house a few weeks ago is now common knowledge. You've most likely decided what you would do with Holman.

Maybe you loathe the idea of a 6-foot-10 bully representing your school and would kick him out as soon as possible.

Maybe you would offer him a second chance.

I have my own thoughts on the matter, but I won't voice them – and neither should you.

Who are we to cast blame on someone who, despite his size and celebrity on campus, is just like us?

We're college kids, barely adults, and just discovering ourselves. None of us will escape UDM without at least a few decisions we later regret.

Besides, no man should be judged by the worst of what he's done.

And Holman is certainly better than whatever happened in the early-morning hours last month at the frat house.

His smile is infectious. Ask any alum or season ticket holder, and they'll tell you Holman is the first to politely shake their hands and talk to them at team events.

He's a family man who prays before every game to his grandfather for guidance and support.

Ask his kids and they'll tell you of a loving and caring father who cherishes every minute of holiday breaks that he gets to spend with them.

So if you think the UDM big man is a big monster, think again.


An undesirable position

That obviously doesn't excuse his behavior, and McCallum's decision about his future with the team is crucial.

But it's one I'm certainly glad I don't have to make.

If he decides to cut ties with Holman, he would be showing that his program doesn't tolerate off-the-court foolishness and that good character is more important than good athletic ability.

If he brings him back, he's saying that everyone deserves a second chance and that he's committed to working with and helping his players through any difficulty.

And we haven't even mentioned the season yet.

The Titans are expected to upset Butler and the other conference powers this season, winning the Horizon League title and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time this decade. Holman is supposed to be a big part of that.

McCallum shouldn't base his decision on the success of the team, but he wouldn't be human if it wasn't in the back of his mind.


Who steps up?

I'm completely speculating here, but let's pretend for a moment that Holman is still on a leave of absence by the time the season's first games begin.

Who's going to step up and fill his large shoes?

It sets the stage for a breakout year by the soon-to-be best point guard in the league, Ray Michael McCallum. He'll be hurt by the absence of Holman in the paint, but it could allow him to put the team on his shoulders and carry them to the top of the league nearly singlehandedly.

In terms of other big men, UDM has no viable replacement for Holman. LaMarcus Lowe played well off the bench last season, but hasn't performed well yet with starter's minutes. John Hoskins is still a project, and it's a complete toss up as to how he'll play in meaningful situations.

UDM could always play smaller with Nick Minnerath at center, depending on what transfer forward Doug Anderson brings to the team.

Of course, all this speculating will become completely pointless if Holman is brought back.

But we don't know if, or when, that will happen. And that makes this season the most intriguing in years.

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