Each NCAA Tournament has its darling that hits the national radar and becomes everyone’s favorite underdog. This year that happens to be the St. Peter’s Peacocks, led by head coach Shaheen Holloway.
The small school from Jersey City, NJ took down second-seeded Kentucky in one of the most shocking upsets in March Madness history.
The Peacocks then continued their Cinderella run, beating Murray State to advance to the Sweet 16.
Holloway has become a major college basketball story as the leader of an undersized underdog shocking fans across the country.
But who is Shaheen Holloway, how did he land at little St Peter’s, and how is he leading the Peacocks on a run for the ages?
Shaheen Holloway is leading St. Peter’s basketball on a historic NCAA Tournament run
Holloway and the Peacocks burst onto the national radar with a stunning upset of second-seeded Kentucky in the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
It was only the 10th time in history a No. 15 seed has beaten a No. 2.
“At the end of the day, every team that made it to the NCAA Tournament deserves to be here,” Holloway said after the win via ESPN. “Every team that made it to the NCAA Tournament believes they can advance.”
Sometimes a dramatic upset win like the Peacocks had in the first round can drain some energy from a team. Not this year, though, and not St. Peter’s.
The school, with an enrollment of 3,500, continued its Cinderella story with a 10-point win over the No. 10 seed Racers to advance to the Sweet 16.
Holloway has become the hottest coach in college basketball. But where was he before, and how did he land with the Peacocks?
Who is Shaheen Holloway and where did he come from?
St. Peter’s has won two NCAA Tournament games in school history — the two that Holloway just led them to. The program is only the third 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16, per ESPN.
Clearly, the 45-year-old knows a thing or two about winning. And those lessons originated from Seton Hall University, where Holloway was a four-year player from 1996-00 per his bio on SaintPetersPeacocks.com.
Ironically, he led the Pirates to the Sweet 16 his senior season after hitting a game-winner in overtime to beat Oregon in the first round.
Holloway is the school’s all-time assist leader and scored 1,588 career points.
He then played professionally overseas and in the United State’s Basketball League and American Basketball Association, earning three NBA tryouts along the way.
Shaheen began his coaching career as a high school assistant at Bloomfield Tech. He moved up to the college game as a member of Kevin Willard’s staff at Iona. The two completed a 19-game turnaround with the Gaels in only three years.
Willard was then hired at Seton Hall, and Holloway followed him to his alma mater, where he remained on Willard’s staff for eight years as the associate head coach and lead recruiter.
Once again, the duo rebuilt a program, eventually leading the Pirates to three consecutive 20-win seasons. Seton Hall also won its first NCAA Tournament game since 2004 with Holloway as the lead assistant.
Shaheen has now completed another quick turnaround after taking over at St. Peter’s in 2018.
In just his second season, Holloway was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Coach of the Year after winning a program-record 14 games and guiding several individual players to a handful of conference awards.
And now, of course, a berth in the Sweet 16 in his fourth year at the helm.
The Peacocks’ head man is likely not long for St. Peter’s
Holloway has now helped to rebuild three different programs, one as the head coach, and he’s done it fairly quickly at every stop.
His resume, and now his leap onto the national radar during this year’s tournament, will put him at the front of the queue for a number of big-time Division 1 programs in search of a new leader.
In fact, after the Peacocks beat Kentucky, Willard endorsed Holloway as his replacement at Seton Hall should he leave after this year per ESPN.
But Holloway has led St. Peter’s on a dramatic run. No matter where he goes from here, his legacy with the Peacocks is already cemented in college basketball history.