Rickey Holden’s role for Cal State Bakersfield has been more fluid than anyone else’s on the team this season.
The junior college transfer in his first year with CSUB was the starting point guard and No. 1 defender through fall practice and the first several games of the season. Then, he moved over to the two guard spot, still starting, but working more off the ball.
For the past four games, Holden has come off the bench, playing point guard some and on-ball defense much of the time.
“He moved around positions, but that’s just a credit to who he is as an overall basketball player,” redshirt senior guard Brent Wrapp said. “He’s not just confined to one position. He can do a lot of things on the court.”
Bringing Holden in off the bench has worked out “great” for CSUB, head coach Rod Barnes said. He hopes Holden’s success in the new role continues when the Roadrunners (10-13, 2-5 Western Athletic) take on conference-leading New Mexico State in Las Cruces, New Mexico (20-3, 7-0) on Thursday at 6 p.m.
A few weeks ago, Barnes started noticing signs of Holden wearing down. The guard was acting as the team’s top defender and playing more minutes per game than anyone in the conference.
His shooting percentage through the first 12 games of the season had been 43.4 percent. In a span of games between Dec. 16 and Jan. 18, it dropped to 30.8 percent. Holden’s 3-point percentage fell from 33.3 percent to 16.7 percent.
“His shooting percentage was plummeting,” Barnes said. “It wasn't going down. It was just going in the tank.”
Holden felt like he was tiring “a little bit.”
“We had gotten Rickey to the point where he was playing a lot of minutes,” Barnes said. “I didn't want him to wear down before we make this last stretch run.”
So Barnes put Holden on the bench to begin games and slimmed his minutes from 33.2 to 23.8 per game. His lowest total was 15 minutes at Seattle on Jan. 26 because of a rolled ankle he suffered with about 10 minutes left in the game.
Holden has started seeing the team trainer more and taking ice baths to preserve his body.
The result of the rest has been a fresher and more aggressive Holden, Barnes and Wrapp said. Holden didn’t think he’s been more aggressive, though.
Holden has shot 50 percent the last four games, dished out 16 assists and grabbed four steals.
“In the games lately, I feel like he’s been scoring a lot and just being aggressive and really helping us out,” Wrapp said.
Where, when and how much he plays isn’t much of a concern for Holden. He’ll adapt to anything Barnes wants him to do, he said, because it will help the team win.
“I feel good about it,” Holden said of coming off the bench. “Every decision Coach Barnes makes is a good decision. I feel like I can benefit off any decision he makes for me.”