Shaheen Holloway addresses media for first time as Saint Peter's head coach, replacing John Dunne and coming to Peacocks after eight years on staff at Seton Hall. (Photo by Jerry Carino/Asbury Park Press)
It did not take long for Shaheen Holloway to command the Yanitelli Center.
Introduced as the head coach at Saint Peter's Thursday afternoon, the New Jersey legend wasted little time unveiling the same vision he honed to perfection as an all-Big East Conference point guard at Seton Hall and later executed as an assistant under Kevin Willard as a committed mentor on each of the Pirates' last three NCAA Tournament teams.
"This is a long time coming," Holloway remarked shortly after being christened as the successor to John Dunne, who left the Peacock program after twelve years to take over at Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rival Marist last week, and Saint Peter's 15th-overall head men's basketball coach. "Sometimes in life, you've really got to believe in yourself, and that's what I did. I chose myself. I've prepared a long time for this, but this is really not about me."
"This is about these student-athletes right here," he continued, gesturing toward his new players in attendance for his first press conference at the helm. "I'm here to try and guide these guys, not just on the court, but also in the classroom and in life."
Holloway takes over a Saint Peter's team fresh off a semifinal appearance in the MAAC Tournament for the third time in four seasons, but also one losing both of its senior leaders in Nick Griffin and Nnamdi Enechionyia. However, a young core anchored by forwards Sam Idowu and Quinn Taylor, as well as a pair of scrappy guards in much the same vein as Holloway himself was early in his career -- Elijah Gonzales and Davauhnte Turner -- return to Jersey City to take the next step in a story that adds a nascent head coach to its fabric at a time in which many believe he was destined to set out on his own.
"I am incredibly excited for Shaheen and his opportunity to lead his own program," Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard, who also counted Holloway among his staff at Iona, said in a statement. "He has been by my side for eleven years, and he has been instrumental in the program we have built and the success we have achieved here at Seton Hall. He is a dedicated student-athlete mentor, ace recruiter, a terrific skill development coach, and an even greater person."
"With his outstanding experience as a Division I coach and student-athlete, Shaheen Holloway is the perfect fit to take our men's basketball program to the next level," said Saint Peter's University president Dr. Eugene Cornacchia. "This choice further solidifies our deepened commitment to the Saint Peter's athletic program as a whole."
Based on his initial foray into hiring a men's basketball coach, athletic director Bryan Felt -- who worked with Holloway at Seton Hall and is as aware of his choice's credentials and potential -- seems to have answered the bell in that regard, bringing in a well-respected native son who is eager to hit the ground running in his new capacity, even displaying a confident swagger when answering a question posed by a student reporter of whether his team would end its eight-game losing streak to three-time reigning MAAC champion Iona in the affirmative.
"I hope to bring a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of passion, determination, and hard work," Holloway said when asked of his intended mindset. "But there are only two things I care about: I care about doing things the right way and playing hard. If you do things the right way and you play hard, take no shortcuts, build a foundation, everything will go well. That's what I hope to bring."