There’s no one on Cal State Bakersfield’s team that head coach Rod Barnes puts on the court more than guard Rickey Holden. There’s no one else in the conference that plays more minutes per game and only about 150 players (out of several thousand) in the country that play a higher percentage of possible minutes.

The junior college transfer has played 535 minutes in his first year at CSUB, which breaks down to 33.4 minutes per game and 83.6 percent of the Roadrunners’ total game minutes.

“Rickey Holden has been probably our best all-around player, most consistent player offensively and defensively this year,” Barnes said in December and reiterated on Tuesday.

Holden might not be CSUB’s most statistically significant player in terms of points, rebounds or assists, but he’s been steady. That’s earned him Barnes’ trust and time on the court. He’s averaging 10.2 points, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game and is one of the most important players for the Roadrunners.

CSUB will need Holden this week, when they take the court in two important home conference games — Thursday night against Texas-Rio Grande Valley and Saturday against New Mexico State. Both games tip off at 7 p.m.

Barnes’ praise of Holden started before CSUB played its first game. Through fall practice, it was apparent that Holden was already the most consistent player on the team. Each day, Barnes knew what he was going to get out of Holden.

Holden had an advantage over the other newcomers on the team because he came from Jones County Junior College in Mississippi where he played for Rahim Lockhart — one of Barnes’ former players at Ole Miss.

“He understands the terminology and the placement and where to be and what’s expected of him in a sense,” Barnes said early in the season.

But with Brent Wrapp hurt, Holden had to run the team from the point guard position in fall practice and the first several games. He tried to be the floor general the team needed and pick up all the plays.

When Wrapp was healthy enough to play point full time a few weeks later, Holden moved over to the off ball guard spot. He struggled at first running the plays off the ball, Barnes said.

Holden and Barnes had a talk where the head coach told his player not to adjust his game based on what position he was playing on the court. Barnes thought Holden was passing up too many open shots while playing the point, Holden said.

“He just told me to be me and go play my game whether I’m at the one or the two,” Holden said. “Whatever I have to do to be able to produce on the floor, just do whatever I can.”

Holden’s turned into a complement to freshman guard and leading scorer Jarkel Joiner on the other wing. Holden’s the only player on the team with at least three points in every game.

Barnes preaches defense and Holden is often at the top of the press or manning the opposing point guard.

On a team that’s biggest flaw has been its inconsistency, Holden has been a constant.

“He’s got great defense, great on-ball defense and he’s been shooting it well, scoring,” Wrapp said. “He makes plays for others. He’s just been all around for us and that’s been big.”

Jon Mettus can be reached at 661-395-7389. Follow him on Twitter at @jmettus.

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