Saint Peter’s Shaheen Holloway beats Kentucky in March Madness upset

by Ezekiel J. Walker
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Head Coach Shaheen Holloway and his Saint Peter’s Peacocks busted brackets everywhere Thursday by taking down Kentucky in a first-round overtime thriller – becoming just the 10th-ever No. 15 seed to oust a No. 2 in the NCAA Tournament.

Saint Peter’s University is a private Jesuit university in Jersey City, New Jersey. Queens, NY native Holloway became the 15th head coach of the men’s basketball program at Saint Peter’s University in April 2018.

Shaheen Holloway is a Godsend to Saint Peter’s.

Holloway’s success with the program continued during the 2020-21 tilt, his third season, leading the Peacocks to another top-3 MAAC finish by way of a 10-8 conference mark and 14-11 overall record. It was the first time since 2015-16 and 2016-17 that the program has had back-to-back 10+ MAAC win seasons and the first time since 2009-10 and 2010-11 that the Peacocks posted consecutive seasons with 10 or more MAAC wins and an overall winning record.

The squad’s third-place finish combined with 2019-20’s second-place finish, secured the highest back-to-back rankings in consecutive seasons since 1987-88 and 1988-89.

Now in his fourth season and fresh off of an instant-classic win over legendary Kentucky coach John Calipari, the payoff is becoming evident. “When I took the job, everybody told me, ‘it’s a bad job, don’t take it,’” said Holloway. “Sometimes you got to believe in yourself, you got to bet on yourself. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve done that. That’s who I am.”

Success at Saint Peter’s didn’t take long. In just his second season at the helm of the men’s basketball program, Holloway was named as the 2020 Rock MAAC Coach of the Year. 

Holloway’s Peacocks made history last night.

Saint Peter’s had never won a tourney game until Thursday, having previously lost in the first round in 1991, 1995 and most recently 2011.

When asked about his team in a TV interview after the game, Holloway responded, “I’ve got guys who have a chip on their shoulder. I’ve got guys who think they can play for Kentucky.”

Beating a blue-blood mega power school like Kentucky sent shock waves through the country and sent Twitter aflame. Though this sports tournament is the most unpredictable of them, Coach Shaheen Holloway has already proven he and his squad belong to be there.

His 15th seeded team will play tomorrow night at 7:45 p.m. against #7 Murray State Racers, where they’ll look to extend their Cinderella story.

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