Holmes returns following rough start as Tiger

The forward remains on the team following disciplinary issues in October.
Missouri Tigers forward Davionna Holmes (5) passes her defender during practice Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

On Feb. 5 at Mizzou Arena, a tall figure checked in for Missouri’s women’s basketball team as it took on Texas A&M.

This player was not on the Aggies’ scouting report.

In her first minute on the court, the 6-foot-3-inch forward hit the post and got a basket. The arena, particularly the home bench, went wild.

This player was sophomore forward Davionna Holmes, who on that day, played her first four minutes as a Tiger.

Holmes transferred from University of Louisville, where she was on a volleyball scholarship, two years ago. She had to sit out last season due to NCAA regulations but was removed from the Missouri roster in October to attend to personal matters, Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said.

Holmes was included on the Columbia Police Department’s report of arrests made and summonses issued from Oct. 28 to Oct. 29. She was arrested on suspicion of stealing, per the report.

On Dec. 13, Holmes was reinstated onto the Missouri roster, but was not on the bench and dressed to play until February.

Now that she’s back, Holmes has played in three of the last four games, tallying four points in nine minutes.

Holmes’ intentions this season are simple.

“I just want to be able to produce when needed,” she said.

After her first volleyball season, Holmes was able to compete on the Cardinals’ basketball team for the first few games, but her year was cut short when she tore her patellar tendon.

“Volleyball’s a choice I made for my mom; basketball’s a choice I made for myself,” Holmes said when asked about her transition to collegiate basketball.

As a senior playing for East St. Louis High School in Illinois, Holmes averaged 14.4 points and 4.4 rebounds.

“Davi is one of the most athletic people I’ve ever seen,” sophomore guard Lindsey Cunningham said. “She doesn’t need to do anything crazy, but if she can give us rebounds here and there, a couple of finished buckets around the rim, we’ll take it.”

The transition onto the team hasn’t been easy for Holmes. She has had to jump in at a point where the other players have been playing together for a longer time, and has had to learn the playbook at a difficult time in the season.

Due to her absence, it would be expected that Holmes’ chemistry with her teammates would suffer, but the forward doesn’t think so.

“Coming back, my bond with my teammates has gotten a lot stronger,” Holmes said. “I don’t feel like (the connection) died during the time that I was gone. So I came back pretty much the same, if not stronger.”

Captain and senior guard Morgan Eye, after calling her a “sweetheart,” said Holmes visited her at home in small-town Montrose, Missouri during the summer, and experienced her first bonfire.

“Me and her, you look at our backgrounds and we’re totally different people,” Eye said. “But getting to know someone is so much different, and getting to come together on the court is a really cool thing.”

Pingeton has played Holmes in moderation in her first few games, allowing her to go in for short minutes at a time to make some sort of impact.

“If we can steal minutes here and there, it can help (Holmes) get her feet wet,” Pingeton said. “But I also think we can steal a rebound or a putback here and there. She could definitely help us and it’ll help her move forward.”

The head coach added that she doesn’t see Holmes getting extended minutes this season.

Despite Holmes’ mistakes, Pingeton said that although she’s putting her on a bit of a shorter leash, she is also holding her to the same standard she holds all of her players.

“It says that she truly cares and she truly does love her players and that she obviously sees some sort of potential in me to be a good person or a great player,” Holmes said concerning Pingeton’s decision to keep her on the team. “It says a lot about her and her character.”

With the Missouri men’s basketball team having disciplinary issues and seeing the suspension of many players, Pingeton’s decision to put faith in Holmes was not an easy one.

“Certainly, our goal is to win games and compete for championships,” Pingeton said. “But our passion is to impact people’s lives and make a positive difference, and help them to understand what it’s going to take to really be successful after that ball quits bouncing.”

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