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Xavier wants another deep tournament run
Question of the Day
CLEVELAND (AP) - He's been called Tu since he was a tot.
So Terrell Holloway decided it was time to stop being so formal. He scrapped his first name in favor of his nickname.
Tu Holloway is the name listed on the roster, the media guide, the starting lineup.
It's the name that will be engraved on the Atlantic 10 player of the year trophy.
No matter the name, it's the junior guard's game that has carried Xavier and led the Musketeers to their sixth straight NCAA tournament.
Xavier is one of only two programs (Michigan State) to reach the round of 16 in each of the last three seasons.
The road to a fourth for the sixth-seeded Musketeers (24-7) starts Friday against No. 11 Marquette (20-14). Holloway will be key to get Xavier there _ and possibly beyond.
But the Golden Eagles have Holloway's scouting report memorized _ or is mesmerized?
"He's a very great player," Marquette guard Jimmy Butler said. "He can shoot it. He can drive it, rebound it, distribute the ball as a guard."
Scary stuff. While some fans complained they couldn't find truTV on the dial, they'll get a dose of Tu TV on Friday.
He had some big games in the NCAA tournament last season, scoring 26 points in a double-overtime loss to Kansas State. And he kept going this season.
He was second in the A-10 in scoring (20.1 points) and was in the top 10 in just about every other major category. Holloway was also named to the conference's A-10 all-defensive team.
"I think Tu's proven over this entire year that he's one of the best players in the country," Xavier guard Dante Jackson said. "I'm not sure where our team would be without him."
He made sure the Musketeers could survive after Jordan Crawford _ who led the A-10 in scoring at 20.5 points per game _ left early for the NBA. And along the way, Holloway, out of Hempstead, N.Y., has been compared to a lite version of Connecticut's Kemba Walker and BYU's Jimmer Fredette.
Holloway, of course, has a history with Walker, a Bronx native. The two competed vs. each other on the concrete playgrounds over a few summers. The Musketeer knew Walker would become the star he has for UConn _ he just made sure it never happened at his expense.
"It's not new to me what he's doing," Holloway said. "He never had a game like that against me, I'll say."
While Walker and Fredette truly burst onto the scene this year, Holloway hasn't seen his status elevated like those guards. Xavier won its fifth straight A-10 regular-season title, but was knocked out in the second round of the conference tournament by rival Dayton.
That's not a big problem for a program that has struggled in Atlantic City, N.J., only to crank up their performance when March's spotlight shines brightest.
"I think we play our best basketball in March," Xavier center Kenny Frease said. "With the guys on our team, we have a lot of experience in the NCAA tournament. I think that will really help us coming down the stretch."
National TV appearances are rare and a big game on Friday could start making Holloway more of a household name. And CBS will surely get his name right after broadcaster Kenny Smith slipped and called him Tu "Holliday" during the selection show.
"I knew he would be the backbone of our team, one of the best players in the conference," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "But to say I knew he was going to be A-10 player of the year, an All-American candidate, one of the most clutch players in the NCAA this year, I couldn't have said that."
If Holloway plays at all like Walker, then Marquette could be in good shape. Butler, who had the primary defensive assignment, and the Golden Eagles held Walker to just 5 of 16 shooting for 14 points in January.
"I think we've got to keep him off the paint," Butler said, "and we've got to stay in front of him and contain him."
The Golden Eagles are in their sixth straight tournament for the first time since a 10-year run ended in 1980. Marquette went 9-9 in the Big East, then won a pair of games in the Big East tournament to give them a nice momentum burst heading into Friday.
"I think that our mode is much better this week than it was two weeks ago," coach Buzz Williams said.
While Xavier is loaded with tournament experience, only five Marquette players have played in an NCAA tournament game. Butler is the only one who has played more than one game.
Experience is often overrated. But sometimes, it's everything.
Williams brought the Golden Eagles to Cleveland on Tuesday. No, it wasn't for strategic purposes. Marquette is on spring break and he wanted the team out of the "haunted house" feel of dorm life.
He figures there's no reason to rush back. May as well keep going and stick around until Sunday.
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