Men’s basketball coaching legend steps into 40th year at Biola

Hall of fame head coach Dave Holmquist is the fifth-most winning coach in all of college basketball history.

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File | THE CHIMES

Biola men's basketball coaching legend Dave Holmquist looks to reach over 1,000 wins in his 40th year with the Eagles.

Andi Basista, Sports Editor

(This story was originally published in print on Dec. 5, 2019).

The game of basketball has changed over the last 40 years. Power forwards had their backs glued to the basket, never stepping foot outside the paint. Guards weaved the ball around defenders until they were able to feed into the big men waiting down low. It was a relaxed, textbook style of play. The late 80s changed all that, bringing on a new era of basketball where the 3-point arc and shot clock evolved the game to focus on speed and outside shooting.

Men’s basketball head coach Dave Holmquist has followed alongside all the adjustments to the sport, adapting his coaching style into whatever the game requires. Now, Holmquist enters his 40th season with Biola. But in his first season of NCAA postseason eligibility, the Eagles enter into a new era of higher-level competition.

Holmquist is a basketball legend, earning 973 career wins, the fifth most all-time of all college men’s coaches in history across the NCAA and NAIA. The man is highly decorated, beginning when he was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2002. His success continued into the 2015-16 season, where he was honored for the second time as the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

HOLMQUIST’S QUEST

Holmquist began his coaching career at Fresno Pacific University where he was head of the basketball staff for three years. However, it wasn’t a great fit, so he moved his talent to Biola when he was offered the head coaching position the summer of 1978; but it was another rocky beginning. 

The time preceding Holmquist’s reign at Biola was dark. The Eagles had not competed in any national tournaments for 18 years. He was handed yet another impossible challenge, turning around a sinking program, which he handled with excellence.

“The first year was a tough year,” Holmquist said. “Sometimes I had second thoughts about whether or not I really wanted to coach. And then I was able to recruit my own guys, those next years were really enjoyable seasons.”

In Holmquist’s 1979-1980 season, just his second year as head coach, he led his team to the second round of the NAIA Nationals with a 26-4 winning record. Two seasons later, his Eagles produced a near perfect regular season record, 39-1. During his time, men’s basketball advanced to 21 NAIA championships, the sixth-most of any school in their division.

“After you’ve done it a long time like I have, you look back and see what’s happened,” Holmquist said. “My mindset has always been to not look ahead and just look at the game we have next and think about the current team. When it’s all over and I’m retired, I’ll look back and reflect much more.”

Holmquist acted as a double-edged sword for 27 years, where he was Biola’s head athletic director and head basketball coach simultaneously. Holmquist then transferred over the position of AD to Bethany Miller in October of 2015 in order to focus solely on getting buckets.

“Dr. Holmquist is wise, patient and encouraging, and I have learned from his leadership and asked his advice to help me with context, and benefit from his insight and experience,” Miller said. “What makes him so special as a coach is the life wisdom he imparts and the care he has for his student-athletes.”

CHANGING TIMES

The game has widely spread out compared to how it used to be in the early stages of Holmquist’s career. Basketball players are challenged by the fast-paced transition required to keep up with quick ball movement. Balancing out the court allows power forwards to unchain themselves from the paint and disperse outward, opening up lanes for guards to drive to the hoop. The upheaval in player development creates a greater variety of playmaking, and ultimately creates more success on both the offensive and defensive ends.

However, defense has been the hallmark of Holmquist’s coaching from the start. While the changes to the game have been gradual but many, defense has always remained a constant.

“We have always tried to emphasize defense, some years were better than other years,” Holmquist said. “I still believe if you want to do really well you are going to have to play good defense.”

STILL BALLIN’

Holmquist has no plans of retiring right now. He has been a part of a sports team since he was eight years old where he played little league baseball, football and on into high school and college sports. Now he is a Hall of Fame coach, and he’s not ready to give up all the fun just yet.

“I still enjoy it, I still like it,” Holmquist said. “I try to stay in good physical shape so I will have the energy I need. Almost my entire life I have been apart of a team, so it’s hard to think about not being apart of a team, I think I would miss that a lot.”

Holmquist is not only a leader on the hardwood, but a mentor to his athletes once the sneakers come off and the gym lights power down. His focus on molding well-rounded student-athletes is found in the standard of academic excellence he encourages his athletes, which has led him to bringing 32 Eagles to NAIA All-American honors.

Steve Herve, a five-year Biola basketball alum, has found family in Holmquist’s Eagles. Now an assistant coach working alongside Holmquist, the former power forward continues to stick around the sport and be there for his former teammates.

“Growth, a lot of growth,” Herve said.

Learning about growing up as a man, learning about different things in life, not just about basketball.”

“There was a time in my life when I was not emotionally stable, so I talked to him and he gave me some strong advice. He is a person I can talk to about basketball and also about life.”