Dec. 16, 2006
Heading into the 2000-2001 season, one of the biggest question marks surrounding the Broncos was the lack of low post scoring. Sure, Brian Jones would carry the team again in his final season on the Mission Campus. But he would not be able to lead them to a 20-win season without someone to take the pressure off by being able to score around the rim.
Jamie Holmes had shown glimpses that he could be that guy during his junior season, averaging nine points and four rebounds a game in 23 starts. Holmes got better as the season moved on, leading the team in scoring and rebounding in both WCC tournament games. But he would never be confused with centers from other teams that were taller and more impressive in a tank top. It didn't always look pretty but Holmes got it done. Holmes used excellent positioning and footwork to make up for a relative lack of foot speed and jumping ability.
His senior year was a revelation: earning first team all-conference as a senior on a Santa Clara team that won 20 games and reached the championship game of the conference tournament.
The fact he even played at all was no certainty with numerous knee problems that caused Holmes to use more ice than would be used for a lifetime supply of Big Gulps. To the naked eye, Holmes was a wonder. He was the complete opposite someone like Brandon Armstrong from Pepperdine in the league at the time. Holmes didn't have the jaw-dropping physical gifts but compensated with positioning and guile. In the tourney semis that year, Holmes, Jones and the Broncos recovered from a 44-25 first half hole to knockout Armstrong and the Waves, earning a date with Gonzaga in the title game.
An all-league season came from a player out of Merced who began his career at USF. Phil Matthews didn't see what Dick Davey would later see, telling Holmes he wasn't a division one player, without a future in the USF program.
"That was something that was motivation for me and drove me," says Holmes. "As I get older, I understand more of what happened there. He had his JC guys like Hakeem Ward and Damian Cantrell who are both real good players, as well. There's no ill will there at all. That said it did feel good to beat those guys."
Holmes won his last three games against the Dons, including a 15 point 10 rebound game in the first round of the conference tournament. Before that game, Matthews praised Holmes season and admitted to being wrong for cutting him loose. He said Holmes could play on his team anytime.
"I knew it as soon as he did that but to hear him say that means an awful lot. That was a classy thing for him to admit."
After leaving SCU, Holmes went overseas, alternating seasons in Holland and Australia. Eventually, his knees demanded a one-nation commitment and Holmes finished his playing career in Australia only. He was the missing piece to a Mount Gambier title run (with former Bronco Jason Sedlock), scoring 40 points in the semis. He averaged 27 points and 13 rebounds a game. Life was good.
"I think my favorite thing about playing in Australia was the bar that was hooked up to the gym. Right before the game there was no one in the crowd and then the horn would sound and everyone would come running out of the bar and fill the stands. You get a little more of a lively atmosphere that way. At halftime, everyone would run in there and come running out at the end of the half. After the game our team and the opponents would hang out in there. It's a great way to get to know the players from the other teams."
His body would continue to plead for a different occupation and eventually Holmes would listen even though he believes he could still have been a contributor as a role player. It was time for a career change, bringing back to Santa Clara. Jamie is the director of basketball operations this season.
"I basically do all the jobs that Lloyd and Sam don't want to do. A lot of film exchange and making copies of games are my top responsibilities. I call coaches from other schools and get copies of their games for our coaches"
Recently retired as a player, Holmes feels like he can relate to the current roster on a different level and that is something he feels will help him down the line.
"Definitely", says Holmes. I'm still trying to get used to coaching and feel like a player and relate to the guys real well. Actually, Sam (Scuilli) gives me a hard time and says I'm a player's coach. I'm still moving toward being on the other side of it and being able to relate helps in giving little tips here and there."
Holmes had always had in the back of his mind that he would someday get into coaching. It's a way for him to stay involved in a game that's given him so much: an education and an opportunity to see the world.
"I learned so much from Coach Davey, Coach Seandel and Sam when I played here and now I get to see a whole different side to it. It's real eye-opening. Those guys are really smart and know the game inside and out. I enjoy learning from them and picking up as much as I can."