Mulholland Aims To Be Key Component For Natick Five
By KEN HAMWEY
Staff Sports Writer
Patrick Mulholland isn’t a captain or a Bay State Conference all-star but the shooting guard has all the necessary attributes to be a key component for Natick High’s basketball team.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound junior adheres to high standards, is passionate about basketball, displays leadership, and his commitment and desire to excel are off the charts.
Those qualities also are evident in the classroom — Mulholland is an honor-student whose GPA is an impressive 4.0.
During the off-season last year, Mulholland alerted all his teammates about pick-up games and conditioning drills. “That initiative was all about getting players together to build team chemistry,’’ he emphasized. “We’ve got multiple-sport athletes and I wanted them to maintain a focus on basketball.’’
A shooting guard, by nature, leans heavily on developing his offensive skills. Mulholland is just as interested in sharpening his defensive ability.
“Playing off-guard is fun because I get shooting opportunities and I don’t have to use a lot of energy on ball-handling,’’ he said. “More energy allows me to devote strong efforts towards defense. I like going against an opponent’s top scorer and limiting his effectiveness.’’
The Redhawks’ coach, Mike Masto, has high praise for Mulholland’s devotion.
“Patrick had a great off-season, keeping the team together and doing leadership work,’’ Masto noted. “He was a starter as a sophomore and this year he’ll take a step forward with his scoring and vocal leadership. He’s got a great work ethic and passion for the game. He sees the court well, can handle the ball and score at all three levels.’’
A native of Natick, the 17-year-old Mulholland reveals his standards when he discusses his goals for the season, his competitive philosophy and the life lessons he learns while play basketball and golf.
“My team goals are to keep improving, win the Bay Stare Conference’s Carey Division, qualify for the tourney, get a home game for the playoffs, and aim for the state title,’’ he said. “My personal goals are to be more involved in our offense and average 15 points a game and to be a league all-star. All of these goals are realistic. And, our team has only three seniors but we’re experienced and we have talent.’’
Mulholland, who averaged seven points a game last year, is committed to an athletic philosophy that stresses effort.
“To reach your potential it takes a strong work ethic,’’ he said. “And, it’s important to control what you can control to bring about positive results. Having fun while working hard leads to winning. The life lessons I’ve learned in sports are to be a good teammate by working within a system, to set high goals and to strive to overcome adversity and be resilient.’’
Relying on a patient style, Mulholland will shoot if open and his favorite shot in a three-pointer. “I try to let the game unfold and if it comes to me, I’ll be ready,’’ he said.
The personable Mulholland was more than ready last year when Natick faced Needham and Milton.
“My best game was at home against Needham,’’ he said. “We were down by 15 points at the half but we rallied and lost by a point. I had 16 points (four three-pointers) with most of them coming in the second half. My game was efficient and I was glad to contribute. My most thrilling game was our opener against Milton. I had missed the entire pre-season because of a sprained ankle. But, I played and scored 13 points. My preparation was solely riding a bike and taking shots in a stand-still position.’’
Mulholland, who started playing basketball at age six in a YMCA league, sees a bright outlook for Natick and he’s upbeat about players like senior co-captain Jason O’Keefe and junior center Liam O’Neill.
“Jason is our point guard,’’ Mulholland said. “He’s a quality leader and a good scorer who creates offense at the point. Liam is probably our most improve player. He rebounds well, provides a presence in the paint and can defend bigger opponents.’’
A fan of his coach, Mulholland likes Masto’s style. “He’s a great motivator, he’s energetic, and makes us a defensive-oriented team. If we work hard and practice hard, he rewards us with playing time.’’
Mulholland, who’s played AAU basketball for eight years, has yet to decide where he’ll attend college or what he’ll major in. However, he knows he wants to play basketball, either in Division 2 or 3. “What’s important is that I choose a school with good academic standing,’’ he offered.
College scouts next year likely will be on recruiting missions to view Mulholland’s games. It’s difficult to pass up a player who relies on court vision, a high basketball IQ, an instinctive nature, and a desire to use his size to get offensive rebounds.
Masto says it best: “Patrick is like having another coach on the staff.’’
Calling his father (also named Patrick) his role model because of his support and encouragement, Mulholland’s favorite professional player is Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets because “he’s almost seven feet and he’s such a talented scorer.’’
Not solely a basketball type, Mulholland devotes time to other activities. He helped the unified basketball program by working with special-needs students and he’s been a two-year player on the golf team. He finished as Natick’s No. 4 golfer last fall and his best round was a nine-hole score of 33. And, a National Honor Society selection seems very likely this spring.
Last year, the Redhawks finished at 11-9, then bowed to Winchester in the first round of the playoffs. Mulholland believes Natick is positioned for a deeper tourney advance this season, primarily because there’s six juniors who’ve got game experience. The Redhawks won their opener against archrival Framingham, 63-58, and Mulholland had 20 points and 4 rebounds.
“We’ve got talented competitors and that’s a plus,’’ he said.
Natick also has Patrick Mulholland whose commitment, leadership, passion and high standards are also vital assets.