Suddenly, they're seniors, Part 3: Jason Holwerda

In the last of a series of interviews with Vanderbilt's men's basketball seniors-to-be, Jason Holwerda talks about his role this past season, his leadership role on next year's team, and... yes, his ability to dunk the basketball. "I guess teams are starting to realize that a 6-5 white kid can jump," laughs Holwerda.


VandyMania: Jason, you began the season as a starter, and you remained a starter until about halfway through the season when Russell Lakey began coming on strong. Could you talk about that adjustment you had to make?

Jason Holwerda: As good as Russell played down the stretch, I had no problem at all sitting on the bench and watching him play. He was a joy to watch. I just want to do what I can do to help the team win.

VandyMania: Russell is gone now, as well as Matt Freije and Scott Hundley. Can you talk about what that's going to be like for you?

Jason Holwerda: I think it's going to be a big challenge. For me it's going to be a lot more being vocal and being a better leader on and off the floor, keeping the guys in line. Just following the example Matt and Scott and Russell and even Martin Schnedlitz have put forth this year.

VandyMania: You have always demonstrated a real unselfishness in the way you've helped the team this year. As a result of that, and of course the attitudes of several other players too, the team seemed to have great chemistry, and that probably was the reason for some of the team's success. Could you talk about how and why unselfishness is important to team chemistry?

Jason Holwerda: Well, having Russell start ahead of me was not a knock on me in any way. Coach and I had a little talk about it after he benched me. But to sit and watch Russell play, like I said, was really a joy for me. He played so well down the stretch. He played with a lot of passion, it being his senior year. He deserved to play, and it was fun to watch him play. My role became to do what I could to help the team, maybe a rebound here, a steal there, whatever it takes to help the team win.

VandyMania: You also got a little notoriety this season for your ability to dunk.

Jason Holwerda: (Laugh) I guess the LSU game helped that out. I had two pretty good dunks there, then at Georgia I had a nice one. But I guess so. I guess teams are starting to realize that a 6-5 white kid can jump. I've been able to get a few on fast breaks and put some down.

VandyMania: Coach Stallings told a funny story about your dunk in the LSU game... can you tell that story in your own words?

Jason Holwerda: Well, me and No. 42 [Antonio Hudson] were kind of talking back and forth the whole game... I know him from high school summer ball and what-not. We were just having a good time and... he just happened to be there when I dunked it, and I just let him know about it. We both had a good laugh.

VandyMania: Sometimes people worry that maybe you should be shooting more... you were Mr. Offense in high school, and they haven't really seen that from you in college. What's your perspective on all that?

Jason Holwerda: I've heard the same kind of things since Day One. Maybe they're right... maybe I do need to shoot more. But like I said, all I really want to do is help the team win. If that means going out and scoring 30 points, then I'll do my best to score 30 points. If that means going out and getting two points, four points, a couple of steals and solid defense, and let some other guys take the lead, then that's what I'm gonna do. Whatever Coach tells me to do on a given night, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability.


Previous interviews in this series:
Suddenly, they're seniors, Part 2: Dawid Przybyszewski
Suddenly, they're seniors, Part 1: Corey Smith

Photos by Brent Wiseman and Bryan Hufalar, copyright 2004 for Top Stories