With every blocked shot, DaRon Holmes II moves closer to catching a man who will remain a big part of the Dayton Flyers record book whether he’s at the top of the charts or not.
In the 2015-16 season, his second at the University of Dayton after sitting out his freshman season, Steve McElvene blocked 55 shots in 32 games. He was often in foul trouble that season, so he was limited to 18.4 minutes per game. There’s no telling how many shots he would have blocked that season if he could have stayed on the court or in future seasons as he matured as a player.
McElvene died on May 12, 2016, from an enlarged heart. He was 20. Dayton has handed out the Steve McElvene Best Defender Award after the season since 2019. That’s what Holmes II, a 6-10 freshman forward, is chasing this season — along with McElvene’s blocks record.
Through 16 games, Holmes has 41 blocks. He’s on pace to block 79 shots in the regular season. He had five Tuesday in a 68-63 victory against Saint Louis.
“With every game, he’s learning what he’s capable of,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said Wednesday. “I thought he was a really big factor in the game tonight, being able to protect the rim. I think in the first half they were maybe under 30 percent in the paint with shots being altered or blocked. I thought his impact on the game tonight was really huge.”
Grant said Holmes II has the gift of timing and length.
“He understands how how important that is for our team to be able to provide rim protection,” Grant said.
Holmes II leads the A-10 in total blocks and ranks fourth in blocks per game (2.6). He’s tied for 29th in the country in blocks per game and ranks fourth among freshmen. He has tied the single-game school record with six blocks in a game twice (Nov. 13 against UMass Lowell and Nov. 28 against Belmont).
Holmes II will look to add to his block numbers at 12:30 p.m. Saturday when Dayton (10-6, 2-1) plays Duquesne (6-8, 1-1) at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse in Pittsburgh. The Dukes lost 72-71 at Fordham on Wednesday.
Holmes II has heard of McElvene but did not know about the blocks record or how close he was to breaking it when asked Thursday before practice at the Cronin Center. He did say getting the record would mean a lot to him because defense has always been a big part of his game.
“I do take a lot of pride in my defense,” Holmes II said. “Even if it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, I want to give it my all out there.”
Holmes II has become a better shot blocker since arriving at Dayton.
“I used to try to block everything,” he said. “I have learned that sometimes it is important to just alter the shot instead of trying to block it.”
Camara ranks second on the team with 11 blocks. He blocked 28 shots in 25 games last season at Georgia.
“(Holmes) is great; he’s good at it,” Camara said. “I used to be the tallest one at Georgia and the one in the middle, and he’s doing a great job of that. It’s making me see the game differently and be able to play a different position. I think it’s helped us a lot.”
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