The Bearcats' Guiding Force

As up-close look at junior point guard Andrea Holmes, who continues to drive the Binghamton women's basketball team

by Chelsea Horne
Bingamton Sports Information Office

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Andrea Holmes starred at Mitchell High School in Tennessee, where she graduated in 2008. As a senior, she averaged 24 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals per game. A five-year letter winner, a three-year captain, and league and district MVP, Holmes had an impressive resume even before coming to Binghamton. She has only skyrocketed since.

Not only did she play basketball in high school, she also played softball and track as well. When asked how she got into playing basketball, Holmes replied, "It's kind of funny actually. I'm the oldest child in my family, making me the oldest grandchild, so when I was growing up I didn't have a lot of kids my age to play with. But I had nine uncles and a dad and I was always trying to tag along with them. Their hang out spot was the park, which had a basketball court, and one day my dad threw me a basketball and that was the end of that."

BU recognized Holmes's blossoming talent. Assistant Coach Bernitha Johnson spent nearly two years recruiting her. Coach Johnson gives her first impression of Holmes: "Andrea got my attention because of her demeanor and the way she carries herself. As a point guard, to make good decisions and be under such control no matter what pressure or what came at her, and that's always a great characteristic to have in a point guard."

On the Rise

In her freshmen season, Holmes was named the America East Conference Rookie of the Year, a third-team all-conference selection, as selected the America East Rookie of the Week four times. Holmes ranked second on the team with 10.0 points per game, becoming the first Binghamton freshman to average double figures in scoring in six years.

Her second year, Holmes led the team with 13.3 points and 4.7 assists per game, earning a second-team America East All-Conference selection last year. Making all 30 starts and playing over 37 minutes per game, she powered the team, reaching double figures in scoring 18 times and ranking in the top ten conference stats for points, assists, and three-point field goals.

Coach Johnson explains that this is because Holmes came in with the mentality of a scorer. "(Andrea) wants to score and she has showed already that she can score. She wants to have the ball in her hands with the seconds running down, she wants to take the big shots and she has taken them, winning games for us, tying games for us," said Coach Johnson.

Earlier this fall, in the conference preseason poll, the Bearcats were tabbed third in the America East. Meanwhile, Holmes had already been recognized across the conference as a force to be reckoned with. She was one of three players unanimously chosen to the America East Preseason All-Conference Team.

This season, Holmes has again shown herself to be a driving force on the team. She is currently ranked first in the conference in scoring (15.4 ppg.), assists (4.3 apg.) and steals (2.6) Holmes moved into fifth-place in the Binghamton program's career assist list. She also just moved into 19th place all time for scoring in program history.

This year as the Bearcats head into conference play, the coaches have high expectations for Holmes. Coach Johnson said, "This year is going to be a big year for her because all she can do is challenge herself. She's accomplished so much already, but I'm telling her everyday that she can be better than what she has become, so she has to challenge herself."

Crowning Moment
Holmes certainly had many highlights over her past two seasons as a Bearcat. For Holmes, she says that her most memorable moment so far was winning the America East Rookie of the Year award her freshmen year.

"It was a really good moment," said Holmes. "My team was there to cheer me on as I accepted the award I felt like everyone was very proud of me."
Now, Holmes has her sights set on a new goal. "Rookie of the Year was good, but hopefully I get Player of the Year and that will be another memorable moment."

Setting the Bar High
Pegged to finish amongst the top in conference, the Bearcats are ready and eager to take up the challenge. As a result, the team has set their standards high.

"As a team, I think everyone wants to play their roles to perfection, do what's expected of them as a player and as a person. Be good leaders and good followers," Holmes said. "Another team goal we have will be to finish third or above because we were picked to finish third in preseason."

Ranked third as preseason play continues, the Bearcats are looking to put up a strong fight this year.

Taking up her coach's advice, Holmes raises the bar for herself as well. Holmes said, "My personal goal is to overachieve. I would very much like to win Player of the Year award in the America East. Hopefully lead this team to an America East championship."

Coach Johnson wants Holmes to push herself to be the best that she can be. She explains one of the goals, "One of the most important things I want to her do this year is lower her turnovers. Be even more of a controlled and smart player, even better than she has been for the past two years."

An Inside Look
Between classes, schoolwork, work, practice, and the Bearcats 27-game regular season, Holmes is a very busy student-athlete. When asked how she spent her free time, Holmes said, "That's actually my favorite question. I like to watch movies, listen to music, I'm a big music fan, I like to dance, hang out with friends, and just relax. I'm pretty much to myself most of the time so those are things I like to do alone, except for the hang out with friends part," she joked.

Growing up, Holmes looked up to her Aunt Shaun as a role model. From an early age, she made sure that Holmes always had her priorities straight. Holmes said, "A big role model of mine would be my Aunt Shaun. She was a big influential person in my life because she stressed academics more than athletics so its important for me to succeed in her eyes and she's the kind of person that sets goals and expectations very, very high. And she is not the kind of person that you want to disappoint."

The path to Binghamton University was not an easy one. But now that she's here, she's making quite a stir. Holmes says that her favorite part of Binghamton is the Events Center, where the Bearcats play their home games. Holmes said, "It's a really great environment. We get a lot of fans and its big and loud and just a good place to be. The fans are great."

Looking Ahead
A PPL major (Philosophy, Politics and Law) Holmes has a strong focus on her academics and is already considering her future. She hopes to continue her studies in law. Holmes said, "I want to go to law school to become a lawyer, maybe be a paralegal, climb that political ladder and see where it takes me. That's my first option. If I'm not able to continue playing basketball after college."

Final Thoughts
Like the rest of her team, her coaches, and even the fans, Holmes is looking forward to this season.

"This season is going to be very interesting because we have a lot of good vets coming back and a lot of good freshmen coming in. The team chemistry is looking very good right now in practice, everyone is getting along, learning how to play with each other. I feel really good," said Holmes.

Coach Johnson said, "We really need Andrea to be the glue, if things are falling apart she gets the team together, calms them down. She has started to do an amazing job of that already in practice."

Head Coach Nicole Scholl said of Holmes, "I love her competitive attitude and her competitive spirit so its fun to see when that comes out as well. We're very much excited to see her perform and what she has to do this year."

Coach Johnson sums up Holmes in a phrase, "I want her to allow her personality to come out more, allow it to shine. Let other people learn about Andrea Holmes, to lead them forth. She's a small little player with a big heart."

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