clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Column: Mackenzie Holmes belongs in the National Player of the Year conversation

You should know the name of the highest scorer on the No. 2 team in the country.

Syndication: The Herald-Times Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Women’s college basketball coverage is weird.

First off, there’s just not enough of it. You’ll get articles from national outlets like ESPN, The Athletic and sites dedicated specifically to the women’s game on a national scale but the list beyond that thins out pretty quickly. Even local outlets sometimes don’t cover a team until it’s too big not to.

Mind you, that’s not to throw shame on those who do the job. There’s a ton of talented writers and reporters across the media who do a fantastic job telling these stories.

But we need more.

Mackenzie Holmes is the leading scorer on the No. 2 team in the country with 22.7 points per game, which is good for sixth nationally. She makes shots at an astounding mark of 68.56%, good for second in the country. She’s one of just two in the top ten of field goal percentage with over 300 attempts on the season, with the second coming in at ninth on that list.

On top of that, Holmes plays in an incredibly pass-happy offense, with the Hoosiers coming in at seventh in the country in assists per game with 18.3. Her own assist numbers aren’t gaudy, with 1.1 per game, but that’s usually because whoever she’s passing to is the one finding a teammate with open look.

She’ll do that often too. Holmes creates such a problem in the paint that teams are all but forced to double team her lest she beat them singlehandedly. As evidenced by her field goal percentage, she’s perfectly capable of beating those looks.

But Indiana’s offensive philosophy, evidenced by their assist numbers, revolves around sharing the ball and getting great shots, not good shots. If she wanted, Holmes could average more shots and more points. She doesn’t because that may not necessarily lead to wins.

Indiana’s offseason build seemed to focus on adding floor spacers around Holmes, with newcomers Sydney Parrish, Sara Scalia and Yarden Garzon all known for their abilities from the arc. Pick your poison, two points in the paint or three from one of them.

That’s what makes the Hoosiers as dangerous as they are, there’s so many ways Indiana can beat teams and you can thank the mere threat of Holmes for doing so.

It isn’t just offense either, Holmes has moved into No. 2 all time in program history in blocks with 197, per Indiana’s website. Holmes helps lock down the paint she threatens on the other end, and you need no better example than what happened against Iowa.

Monika Czinano is an outstanding player in her own right, definitely the most difficult matchup for Holmes across the league. Her 17.7 points per game compliment star Caitlin Clark incredibly well. Against Holmes and Indiana? Six points and five fouls.

Holmes is clearly among the best players in the country on both ends of the court. She’s helped lead the Hoosiers past nine ranked opponents, a mark that comfortably leads the country in the best conference for women’s basketball.

But when you hear about National Player of the Year? It’s Clark or South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, occasionally LSU’s Angel Reese.

This isn’t to say either of those two don’t deserve to be in the conversation, they very much do! Clark is one of the most gifted scorers the sport has ever seen and her abilities are plain to see. Boston is a defensive force playing title defense on the No. 1 team in the country.

But let’s venture out for a little bit.

Clark is earning these nods for her scoring ability, which is outstanding at 27.2 points per game. But she’s not the leading scorer on a top-25 team. That honor belongs to Maddy Siegrist, who leads No. 14 Villanova with 29.4 points per game

Siegrist deserves these nods as well, not just Holmes.

Acting as though the National Player of the Year race is down to two does a tremendous disservice to the sport as a whole. Coverage of the award is an excellent opportunity to highlight stars across the sport and more can be done to make them the household names they deserve to be.

Start with Holmes and Siegrist.