Identical twins Nick and Caleb Holmes, who dominated Kansas high school basketball for three seasons at Olathe South High, will showcase their skills as college players tonight in Allen Fieldhouse.
The 6-foot-6, 200-pound Yale University sophomores, who lost one game their junior and senior seasons and won a state title in 2004, are hoping for a happy homecoming when the Bulldogs (7-6) visit Kansas University (7-4). Tipoff is 7 p.m., with a live telecast on channels 13 and 38 (Sunflower Broadband Channels 13, 15) and a replay at 10:30 p.m. on Channel 6.
"I think every relative we know will (be at the game)," said Nick Holmes, a starter who averages 6.0 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. Key reserve Caleb Holmes averages 9.6 points and 3.9 boards.
"There should be a lot of people who went to my high school and people from Olathe. Only a couple are staying home to watch it on TV," Nick Holmes said.
Most of Yale's allotment of 100 tickets will go to Holmes supporters, who cheered the duo as they won 67 of 72 games in high school, including 31 of 32 Sunflower League games.
"I've been looking forward to it a long time. When coach (James) Jones recruited us, he said one thing we'd do is play a game close to home," said Caleb, a 92.5 percent free thrower whose two makes with 18 seconds left gave Yale a three-point lead over Rice on Monday in Houston. Nick's block of a last-second three-point try assured the 70-67 victory.
"I mean, I've been following KU pretty much my whole life. It's the closest team to Olathe," Caleb said. "As of now, it's probably the biggest game (in career). Playing close to home, I'll want to play well."
Caleb and Nick have competed in the fieldhouse before. Their AAU team won the Jayhawk Invitational four years ago - the title game played in KU's tradition-rich building.
"In high school, we played against Matt Kleinmann," Caleb said of KU's red-shirt freshman center, who attended Blue Valley West. "We used to play against Brandon Rush quite a bit when we were younger."
Kleinmann, who remembers losing at least one lopsided game to Olathe South, says the Holmes brothers will be fired up.
"I talked to them last summer. They were looking forward to the game, of course. It's a homecoming game for them," Kleinmann said. "They'll be ready to play."
Yale coach Jones convinced the brothers to choose the Ivy League school over UMKC, Rice, William and Mary, and some Missouri Valley Conference schools. Kansas didn't recruit the twins.
"They both have an unbelievable sense of how to play the game of basketball," Jones said. "Nick is a great shooter. Caleb may be one of the best players I've coached in understanding the game.
"Their dad (Mark, Missouri Western grad) played professionally (in Iceland, Norway and Argentina). They've grown up around basketball and being around Kansas, one of the country's best programs, they've gotten to see great basketball up close."
The Holmes brothers probably won't be shy about firing up shots tonight. Caleb has made 22 of 57 threes; Nick 12 of 39.
Fouling Caleb would be a bad idea. He's made 37 of 40 free throws to Nick's 12 of 16. Perhaps the two biggest charities of Caleb's career came Monday at Rice.
"He's over 90 percent on the year. There was not much doubt," Nick said of his brother's clutch shots.
"It's repetition and confidence. He's worked on it a lot," coach Jones said of the Ivy League's top free-throw marksman.
Yale received a boost at semester when Dominick Martin, a 6-10, 240-pound senior, became eligible to play. Martin, a transfer from Princeton, averages 12.3 points and 6.0 rebounds a game. He had 18 points in the victory over Rice.
"They are young, but athletic. We have to get back on defense and rebound well, play well," Caleb said of the Jayhawks.
"It's going to be exciting. It'll be a fun place to play. The crowd is always great. It's one of the most prestigious places in the country. Everybody on the team is excited, not just us," said Nick, who, like Caleb, has attended several games in the building throughout the years.
KU coach Bill Self said the Jayhawks must match the Holmes brothers' enthusiasm. Looking past Yale in anticipation of Saturday's home date against Kentucky could classify as flirting with disaster.
"These guys will come in and will play hard," Self said. "They can shoot the ball. They'll make us make plays which will be good for us. Hopefully, we'll be excited to play. I'm sure the Holmes boys will let their teammates know how much it means to them and how much fun they'll have playing in Allen. We'll do the same."