Dr. Gerald Nestadt, director of the Johns Hopkins Medicine OCD Program, said many aspects of the disorder remain a mystery.

"As far as the cause, we have not the slightest idea," he said. "The only indicator is that it does appear to be familial, and therefore we're studying genetics to see if there's genes involved."

Nestadt said the disorder affects men and women equally in different cultures, and it's usually a lifelong condition. When first diagnosing cases at Johns Hopkins, a scale consisting of five questions is used to measure the severity of a person's condition.


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"There's some people that can manage their lives with it, and there's others that absolutely can't do anything. They can't leave their house," Nestadt said. "The question is, how does someone do it? Well, they make changes in their life. This coach, who I don't know, probably wakes up an extra hour or two earlier than he needs to in order to do the stuff so that he can leave. He does his job and he functions adequately. Is he imposing on himself? No question. But he's still able to function very well."

Holley's players quickly learn to accept the way he does things. Practices rarely include scrimmages (Holley cringes at the sight of sloppy play and thus tends to stop it frequently), drills have to be completed perfectly or are repeated, and the game plan is always precise.

"In drills, he looks at every last detail," senior point guard Chase Cormier said. "It can be something as simple as a three-man weave where you have to run your lanes. The lines on our court are green, so you have to run outside each time. Some people don't make it outside the lanes. They may think so, but everybody has to make it outside the lane each time until the drill is completely over."

During games, Holley credits his disorder for helping him make quicker adjustments.

"It helps me see the whole picture, and within that whole picture you see how everything should be," Holley said. "So on the basketball court, I know where all my players should be, and if something is out of order, it allows me to see it quickly and then get it right back in order."

When the Millers were trailing then-No. 1 Dunbar by four points earlier in the season, Holley recognized that one of his players was consistently late when sliding over in the team's zone press. The problem was addressed, and the Millers forced a couple of key turnovers soon after. They went on to hand the Poets their first loss of the season.

'A father figure'

Holley's work with his players goes far beyond the X's and O's. He says he's a teacher of life first and a basketball coach second.

And his players attest to that.

"Coach Holley is a father figure on and off the court," said Isaiah McCray, a team captain in the Millers' past two championship seasons who now plays atIndiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne(IPFW). "He teaches young men everything they need to know to get ready for the real world. It's all about working hard and seeing that it can pay off. Just following everything he says, you know it can lead you to be a successful person."

At home, there are concessions that help Holley and his family coexist.

Holley has his own office and Melissa, a nurse practitioner, has her own. The kids are allowed to play and make a mess, and only after they are completely done will Holley start cleaning up. They also have learned to make light of the situation, like when Melissa deliberately throws a shirt on the floor to see how long her husband can hold off until picking it up.

"Our counters have to have a certain shine, so I may take my finger and smudge it from time to time right after he cleans it," Melissa said with a laugh. "He gets mad!"

Holley tries to understand and reinforce to himself that not everybody sees things the same way. He's also aware that others may have more extreme cases of OCD and should look for outside help.

As for himself, when asked one of the questions on the scale from Hopkins — How upset are you personally by having it? — he comfortably replies, "Not at all."

But what about the two hours he has to spend cleaning up the night before a big game? Couldn't that extra sleep help?

"Yeah," Holley said laughing. "We might have won that Lake Clifton game — I blew that one."

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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