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Summer Camp: Tu Holloway

Just have to grit your teeth and gut through the summer.
I'm not sure how many of you have noticed this, but Xavier hasn't played any basketball recently. That doesn't mean our boys aren't working on their games though. Tu and Big Kenny have proved that a summer of hard work can really pay dividends over the winter. This season, Xavier essentially brings back four players from last year's team. Here at the Examiner we'd like to humbly submit our suggestions for how the returning Musketeers can make the most of their summer vacations.

Tu Holloway is the banner case for improvement in a guard at X. As a freshman, Tu averaged 5.5-2-2 and posted a poor .350/.327/.782 shooting line. His 1.13 A/TO didn't flatter him, either. Over his three years at Xavier, he has seen improvement in every meaningful statistical category. Last summer, he famously lifted thousands of jumpers in an effort to improve his shooting abilities. Obviously, Xavier - and Holloway - reaped the benefits of Tu's efforts. Now Holloway is facing the final summer of his college career - if he hasn't already - and there are a couple of tweaks we'd like to see him adopt before November.

First off, it needs to be said that pointing to areas in which Tu's game could improve is admittedly gilding the proverbial lily in a number of ways. He was Xavier's best player from the first game of the year, and rarely did a single game go by that he was not able to impose his will. Just saying "Tu was really good and I hope he keeps it up" would really defeat the purpose of this series though.

Yes, Tu, shoot about a million of them.
One area where Holloway could stand to focus his time this summer is his three-point shooting. His 3P% has improved from .327 as a freshman to .345 last year, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In Xavier losses last season, Holloway shot 10-53 (.188) from behind the arc. His 50-121 in X's wins was good for .413, which is borderline stellar. Holloway's three-point stroke takes a little time to develop, and he doesn't have really deep range beyond the arc. While a quicker stroke may help Tu this coming season, what X really needs out of him is an ability to pick his spots. X figures to have at least a pair of elite three-point shooting threats next season and a host of other solid contributors from deep. If Tu just focuses this summer on doing what he needs to do to be able to consistently hit the wide open three, he and X will both benefit from it.

Another adjustment Holloway will need to make is one of approach. As a sophomore, he was a ball-distributing point with a puncher's chance of taking over in crunch time. That year, fewer than 20% of Xavier's possessions ended by way of shot or turnover from Tu. Last year, you may hve noticed, Holloway did everything but launder the uniforms. He led the team in three-point attempts and free throw attempts, was second in two-point attempts, and had the most overall field goals attempted. Not only did 28% of possessions end with Tu either shooting or turning the ball over, but he also assisted 30.4% of the buckets his teammates scored while he was on the court.

This coming season, Tu can hope to not have to carry such a large portion of the team's offensive burden. With the Muskies looking more like going ten deep than the six-and-a-half they showed last year, Holloway is going to have to re-adjust his game into a mode more focused on sharing the load. Last season, Tu showed a "no excuses, just results" mentality and a propensity for believing that he should be the one to drag the team back into the game no matter how much prior evidence may have pointed to the contrary. In the Charlotte loss, for instance, it was Cheek who led the team with 25-5-3 on 8-13/3-8/6-6 but Tu who shot four times in the final minute as Xavier was trying to find a way back into the game. This summer, Holloway is going to have to commit himself to getting back into the mindset of getting his teammates involved and not having to try to win every game with a massive second half.

You get out of the draft right now, young man!
On the whole, Tu Holloway's track record speaks for itself in terms of not only performance on the court but improvement in the offseason. Obviously, the elephant in the room is his NBA draft status. The number one thing Tu has to do to help Xavier over the summer is withdraw from the draft. How this also helps Tu has been detailed elsewhere. If he does that and further refines his game as detailed above, Xavier should be in pretty good shape come next March.

You'll know it's working when: Tu is in Xavier colors come November and making sure the squad is running like a well-oiled machine. A player with his ability is going to get his anyway, and he'll have the luxury of less of the opposing team's defensive focus on him this year. When Tu is keeping everyone else involved and still keeping himself in a good enough rhythm to rip off 7 points in three possessions - well, that's about as good as it can get.

You should worry if you see: Tu trying to force his way up the draft ladder by taking on an even larger chunk of the scoring load than he did last year. If Tu is eating up possessions on his own while the rest of the team looks on, things are sure to be going sideways. The more time the other four guys on the floor spend watching Tu dribble around, the worse things are going.