Dec. 21, 2007
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. - While they may have shared the same number, Earl Belcher and Essie Hollis each played separate but vital roles for the St. Bonaventure squads of the mid-70s to early 80s, and will share in the honor of having their No. 25 jerseys retired Feb. 16 when the Bonnies square off against George Washington on Bob Lanier Court.
Belcher and Hollis rank second and fifth, respectively, on the list of all-time leading scorers for the Brown and White and rank sixth and eleventh all time, respectively, on the career scoring average list.
"Essie and Earl are both very deserving of this tremendous honor," said former St. Bonaventure head coach Jim Satalin, who coached Hollis in Belcher during their careers in the Brown and White. "They are two distinctively different players, who were the best at what they did."
Hollis, '77, accumulated 1,905 points in his career, with the 1976-77 season being his best as he averaged 21.8 points per game in leading the Bonnies to the 1977 NIT Championship in his final season with the team. The Erie, Pa., native also averaged 8.9 rebounds per game, making him a member of the elite 1,000 points and 500 rebounds club. During his four-year career, Hollis helped lead the team to 72 wins.
It will be an emotion-filled night for Hollis, who will be rooting for both teams as his son, sophomore Damian Hollis, takes the floor for the Colonials.
"That will be an extremely special night for me," said Hollis. "Having our number put up in the rafters with some of the greatest players to ever wear that uniform is a tremendous honor. It will be even more special with my son, Damian, in attendance. I'm excited for him to experience it with me and play in a place that means so much to me."
"Essie was a tremendous all-around player who was blessed with loads of talent, but he was more than a basketball player," Satalin said. "He was the Bonaventure Man of the Year and most importantly was respected by the student body as his teammates."
The following year, Belcher picked up where Hollis left off, leading the team in scoring in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons for a total of 2,077 points in his time with the Bonnies. The 6-foot-6 forward from Syracuse, N.Y., averaged 20 points per game over his four years with the team, a period in which the team registered 70 wins.
Since joining the Atlantic 10 conference, Belcher is one of only two players to earn All-Conference first team accolades twice in his career, in 1980 and 1981. Belcher also garnered the A-10 Player of the Year award in 1981. Belcher is also a member of the 1,000 point and 500 rebound club.
"When you take the floor as a player you never think about this kind of stuff," said Belcher. "Now that I'm done playing basketball and I reflect back on those glorious years I get chills about how special those moments are to me. There will be a lot of emotion on that Saturday night in February and I can't wait to be back in the Reilly Center."
"Earl's accomplishments can be credited to his work ethic and determination," said Satalin. "He improved his game every year and was as good as an offensive rebounder as the program has ever had."
Ceremonies will begin after the women's team takes on the nationally ranked George Washington women at 4:30 p.m. and prior to the start of the men's game at 7 p.m.