Crusaders Set To Open New Year At Sacred Heart

Dee Goens

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The Teams: Holy Cross (1-11, 0-0 PL) vs. Sacred Heart (4-8, 0-2 NEC)
Date: January 2, 2011
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Place: William H. Pitt Center (2,100), Fairfield, Conn.
Live Video Streaming:
Holy Cross Radio: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Click Here to Listen
Unofficial Live Statistics: Presto Sports Primetime
Series Record: Tied, 3-3
Last Meeting: Sacred Heart 82, Holy Cross 79 (December 22, 2009; Worcester, Mass.)

Pos., No., Name, Ht., Wt., Cl.
F, 5, Mike Cavataio, 6-4, 190, Jr.
F, 35, Eric Obeysekere, 6-8, 209, So.
C, 42, Josh Jones, 6-7, 235, Sr.   
G, 2, Devin Brown, 6-1, 190, Jr.
G, 22, Andrew Beinert, 6-4, 185, Sr.

THE SERIES WITH SACRED HEART: This will be just the seventh meeting between the Crusaders and the Pioneers on the hardwood, with the all-time series tied at 3-3. The Crusaders won the first two games in the series with a pair of victories at the Hart Center, 55-52 on Jan. 3, 1999, and 63-48 on Jan. 6, 2000. Sacred Heart then came back to win two straight meetings between the schools in Fairfield, 66-61 on Jan. 3, 2001, and 61-58 on Dec. 30, 2007. After Holy Cross posted a 67-58 victory at the Hart Center on Nov. 14, 2008, the Pioneers won the last meeting 82-79 in Worcester on Dec. 22, 2009.

Overall: Tied, 3-3
In Fairfield: Sacred Heart leads, 2-0
At the William H. Pitt Center: Sacred Heart leads, 2-0
Milan Brown vs. Sacred Heart: 11-4
Dave Bike vs. Holy Cross: 3-3
Current Win Streak: Sacred Heart, one game

HOLY CROSS HEADS TO SACRED HEART ON SUNDAY: The Crusaders will play at Sacred Heart on Sunday, Jan. 2, at 2:00 p.m., to wrap up a stretch in which they will have played four out of five games on the road. Holy Cross then returns home on Wednesday, Jan. 5, to play its final non-conference game of the season against Yale at 7:00 p.m. The Crusaders will open their 21st season of competition in the Patriot League on Saturday, Jan. 8, when they play host to Lafayette at 3:30 p.m.

CRUSADERS AGAINST THE NORTHEAST CONFERENCE: Holy Cross has an all-time record of 22-8 against the 12 schools which currently compete in the Northeast Conference. The Crusaders are 11-3 against Northeast Conference foes since 1985, with the only three losses during that time coming against Sacred Heart. Holy Cross stands 2-0 all-time against Central Connecticut, 1-1 vs. Long Island, 4-0 against Mount St. Mary's, 2-0 vs. Quinnipiac, 3-3 against Sacred Heart, 10-3 vs. St. Francis (N.Y.) and 0-1 against St. Francis (Pa.).

BROWN PLAYS KEY MINUTES FOR THE CRUSADERS: Junior guard Devin Brown (Baltimore, Md.) continues to be one of Holy Cross' top players during the 2010-2011 campaign. In 12 games played so far this year, he has averaged a team-best 12.4 points per contest while hitting 86.0 percent (49 of 57) of his free throws. During the victory at Marist, Brown totaled 13 points and four assists, while hitting all eight of his free throw attempts. Previously against Stony Brook, he scored a team-high 21 points on seven of 11 shooting from the field. Brown also played well at Wake Forest, when he tied for the team lead in scoring with 16 points. Some of his other top performances this season have come at Massachusetts (18 points, four assists), at New Hampshire (16 points, two steals), against the College of Charleston (14 points, two assists) and at Hofstra (10 points). In 30 games played last year, Brown averaged 12.5 points per contest, while scoring in double-figures 16 times. He also hit 44.8 percent (64 of 143) of his three-point field goal attempts and 77.3 percent (85 of 110) of his free throws last season. Brown finished the 2009-2010 campaign ranked third in the Patriot League in three-point field goal percentage, eighth in free throw percentage and 11th in scoring. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Brown has now totaled 709 points, 130 rebounds and 83 assists, while hitting 37.8 percent (96 of 254) of his three-point field goal attempts and 82.8 percent of his free throws (207 of 250).

HOLY CROSS FACES TOUGH SLATE: Even though Holy Cross is off to an 1-11 start this season, it has faced the fourth-toughest non-conference schedule of any school in the Patriot League. Through games of Dec. 30, the Crusaders' schedule was ranked as the 190th-hardest in the nation by The only Patriot League schools to play a tougher schedule are Bucknell at 146th, Lafayette at 178th and American at 183rd. Holy Cross has played five teams ranked in the top 128 of the ratings percentage index, and its opponents have combined to go 82-65 this season for a .558 winning percentage.

CAVATAIO SHINES ON THE WING: Junior guard Mike Cavataio (Forest Hills, N.Y.) is once again among Holy Cross' top players during the 2010-2011 campaign. In 12 games played, he has averaged 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest. During the St. Joseph's game, Cavataio led the team with 12 points and eight rebounds, while hitting six of 11 shots from the field. Previously at Massachusetts, he filled up the stat line with 13 points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Earlier in the season, Cavataio had 16 points and seven rebounds against the College of Charleston, while recording 11 points, seven rebounds and two steals at New Hampshire. In 31 games played last season, he averaged 11.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest. Cavataio also shot 47.1 percent (131 of 278) from the field and 82.1 percent (78 of 95) on the free throw line in 2009-2010. He finished last year ranked fourth in the Patriot League in free throw percentage, eighth in field goal percentage, ninth in rebounding and 14th in scoring. Cavataio sat out the 2008-2009 season after transferring to Holy Cross from St. John's, where he totaled 23 points and 20 rebounds during his only year with the Red Storm. During his two year career at Holy Cross, he has totaled 437 points, 232 rebounds and 90 assists.

BEINERT LEADS HOLY CROSS FROM THE POINT: Senior guard Andrew Beinert (Floral Park, N.Y.) has been one of the Crusaders' top players in the backcourt over the last four seasons. In 12 games played this season, Beinert has averaged 6.9 points, 3.6 assists and 2.6 rebounds per contest, while hitting 40.0 percent (20 of 50) of his three-point field goal attempts. During the St. Joseph's game, he totaled seven points and eight assists with no turnovers. Previously at Marist, Beinert scored 10 points (all in the second half) and pulled down three rebounds. A few of his other top performances this season have been against Fairfield (19 points, three rebounds, three assists), at Wake Forest (eight points, seven assists) and at Boston College (11 points, three rebounds, two assists). In 31 games played last year, Beinert averaged 10.5 points, 3.5 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per contest, while hitting 61 of 141 (43.3 percent) three-point field goal attempts. He finished last season ranked fourth in the Patriot League in assists and three-point field goal percentage, while standing 17th in scoring. During his career as a Crusader, Beinert has now totaled 793 points, 260 assists, 212 rebounds and 89 steals, while hitting 41.6 percent (149 of 358) of his three-point field goal attempts.

GEORGE WASHINGTON RECAP: George Washington's Dwayne Smith totaled 16 points and six rebounds, to lead the Colonials to a 58-57 victory over Holy Cross at the Charles E. Smith Center on Dec. 31, 2010. The Crusaders were led by Josh Jones and  Jordan Stevens, who both set new career highs by scoring 13 points. The score was close throughout a first half which featured seven ties and five lead changes. The largest lead for either team during the half came at the 11:52-mark, when the Colonials were up 12-7. Holy Cross then used an 8-3 spurt to tie the score at 15-15, and neither team would lead by more than three points for the rest of the half. George Washington was up 26-24 heading into the locker room. The Crusaders opened the second half with a 13-6 run, to claim a five-point lead (37-32) with 14:11 left to play. The Colonials responded with a 14-3 spurt of their own to pull back in front, and would eventually lead by seven points (52-45) with 5:10 remaining in regulation. Holy Cross came right back to score eight of the next nine points, tying the score at 53-53 with 2:35 left to go on a pair of free throws by Eric Obeysekere. A three-pointer by Mike Cavataio tied the score again at 57-57, before George Washington's David Pellom made one-of-two free throws with 39.2 left to put the Colonials up 58-57. A three-pointer by Andrew Beinert was off the mark in the closing seconds, as George Washington held on for the win.

STEVENS STEPS UP OFF THE BENCH: Sophomore guard Jordan Stevens (Gansevoort, N.Y.) has turned into one of the Crusaders' top players over the last few weeks. Over Holy Cross' last four games, Stevens has averaged 9.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals per contest, while hitting 42.1 percent (eight of 19) of his three-point field goal attempts. During Friday's game at George Washington, he totaled a career-high 13 points, four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals. Stevens previously recorded 11 points and two assists at Hofstra, while finishing with nine points, three assists and two rebounds during the victory at Marist. Overall this season, he is now averaging 5.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

BROWN TAKES OVER ON THE CRUSADER BENCH: Milan Brown is in his first season as the head men's basketball coach at Holy Cross in 2010-2011, with a record of 1-11. Brown earned his first victory with the Crusaders on Dec. 19, 2010, at Marist. The 16th head coach in the history of the program, he came to Holy Cross after spending the previous seven seasons as head coach at Mount St. Mary's. During his final three years at Mount St. Mary's, Brown led the Mountaineers to three straight winning seasons and a pair of postseason appearances. His teams posted a 54-44 record (.551) during those three years, including a 35-19 mark (.648) in Northeast Conference play. During the 2007-2008 campaign, Brown led Mount St. Mary's to the first NCAA Division I Tournament victory in school history, with a 69-60 win over Coppin State in the opening round. Brown's career collegiate head coaching record stands at 96-131 (.423).

CRUSADERS REMAIN SOLID AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross currently owns an all-time record of 316-124 at the Hart Center, including an 0-4 mark so far this year. The Crusaders posted their 300th win in the building against Sacred Heart on Nov. 14, 2008. Holy Cross had a 23-game winning streak at the Hart Center from Feb. 15, 2006-Jan. 2, 2008, which was the longest streak in the history of the building and the sixth-longest home court winning streak in the nation at the time. In 2006-2007 the Crusaders posted a perfect 14-0 mark at the Hart Center, setting a school record for the most home victories since they moved into the building. During the Hart Center's history, Holy Cross has posted a winning record at home in 30 out of 35 seasons, while recording double-figure home victories 16 times. The Crusaders stand 103-32 at home since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, including a 66-14 record against Patriot League foes.

THE LAST MEETING WITH SACRED HEART: Sacred Heart's Ryan Litke scored 19 points on seven of 10 shooting from the field, to lead the Pioneers to an 82-79 victory over Holy Cross at the Hart Center on Dec. 22, 2009. R.J. Evans led the Crusaders with 20 points and five rebounds. The first half of the game went back-and-forth, with six ties and 10 lead changes. Sacred Heart took its largest lead of the night (24-17) with 11 minutes left in the first half, before the Crusaders used a 27-13 run to take a seven-point lead of their own (44-37). Holy Cross was up 44-39 at the break. The Crusaders held onto the lead early in the second half, eventually going up by as many as 11 points (58-47) with 12 minutes left to play. But Sacred Heart then scored nine straight points to get back into the game, and the score stayed close the rest of the way. Holy Cross was up 67-66 at the 4:46-mark, before a short jumper by Liam Potter gave the Pioneers the lead for good. The Crusaders were able to close to within one point twice in the final three minutes, but Sacred Heart made seven of eight free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win. Devin Brown totaled 19 points and two steals for Holy Cross, while Eric Meister added 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. The Crusaders shot 50.0 percent (six of 12) from three-point range and 78.9 percent (15 of 19) at the free throw line while holding a 47-34 advantage on the glass, but also committed 23 turnovers.

CRUSADERS PICKED FOURTH IN PRESEASON POLL: In the 2010-2011 Patriot League preseason poll, Holy Cross was picked to finish in fourth place in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. The Crusaders received 70 total points in the conference preseason poll, along with two first-place votes. American placed first in the poll with 79 total points and seven first-place votes, followed by Bucknell in second (76 points, three first-place votes) and Lafayette in third (73 points, two first-place votes). The preseason rankings were rounded out by Lehigh (fifth, 69 points, two first-place votes), Navy (sixth, 35 points), Colgate (seventh, 31 points) and Army (eighth, 15 points).

CRUSADERS LOOKING FOR SIXTH PATRIOT LEAGUE REGULAR SEASON TITLE: During the 2010-2011 campaign, Holy Cross will attempt to win the Patriot League regular season title for the sixth time in school history. The last championship for the Crusaders came in 2007, when they tied for first place in the conference with Bucknell, as both teams posted 13-1 records in league play. Prior to that, Holy Cross won outright Patriot League regular season titles in 2001, 2003 and 2005, while sharing the regular season championship in 1994. The Crusaders are the only team in league history to win more than two outright titles, while their five total championships are tied for the most in conference history with Navy (one outright, four shared) and Bucknell (two outright, three shared).

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 92nd season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1292-859 (.601), while making 24 postseason tournament appearances — 12 trips to the NCAA Tournament and 12 to the National Invitation Tournament. In the history of collegiate basketball, Holy Cross is one of only 16 schools to have won the NCAA Tournament (1946-1947) as well as the National Invitational Tournament (1953-1954). Throughout its history, Holy Cross has had six first team All-America selections, sent 10 players to the National Basketball Association, had four players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, had 23 players drafted by professional teams, had three players go on to coach professionally, and had 15 players who have coached in college.

KEISTER CONTINUES TO DOMINATE IN THE LOW POST: Senior center Andrew Keister (Galloway, N.J.) has been one of the top low post players in the Patriot League over the last two seasons, and has twice been selected All-Patriot League. Keister earned first team All-Patriot League in 2008-2009, then was named second team all-conference in 2009-2010. In 11 games played so far this season, he has averaged 11.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest, while hitting 46.5 percent (47 of 101) of his shots from the floor. During the Hofstra game, Keister led the team with 12 points and eight rebounds. Previously at Marist, he totaled 16 points and seven boards. Keister also played well against Fairfield, posting his 22nd career double-double with 16 points and seven rebounds. Some of his other top performances this season have come at Massachusetts (16 points, 11 rebounds), at Wake Forest (16 points, five rebounds), against the College of Charleston (15 points, 10 rebounds), at Boston College (10 points, seven rebounds) and at New Hampshire (10 points, seven rebounds). In 31 games played last season, Keister averaged 10.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest, while hitting 51.6 percent (130 of 252) of his shots from the floor and posting 12 double-doubles. He led the Patriot League in rebounding a year ago, while ranking third in field goal percentage and 19th in scoring. Over the course of his collegiate career, Keister has now totaled 740 points and 597 rebounds, while making 51.2 percent (296 of 578) of his field goal attempts and posting 22 double-doubles.

EVANS KEEPS ON SCORING: Junior guard R.J. Evans (Salem, Conn.) is once again among the top players in the Patriot League this season, but has sat out the last four contests due to injury. In eight games played so far this season, he is averaging 9.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per contest, while hitting 46.3 percent (31 of 67) of his field goal attempts. During the Stony Brook game, Evans totaled 11 points, five rebounds and two assists. Previously at Massachusetts, he finished with 11 points and three rebounds. Some of Evans' other top performances this year have been against the College of Charleston (16 points, five assists, three steals, two rebounds), at Harvard (13 points) and at Boston College (12 points, seven rebounds). In 28 games played last year, he averaged a team-best 13.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest. Evans finished last season ranked eighth in the Patriot League in scoring, 11th in assists and 14th in rebounding. The 2008-2009 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, Evans has now totaled 879 points, 342 rebounds, 137 assists and 81 steals over the course of his Holy Cross career.

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders are once again a strong rebounding team this year. Holy Cross has averaged 35.2 boards per contest and has outrebounded its opponents by an average margin of 1.9 rebounds per game in 2009-2010. The Crusaders have outrebounded five of their last six opponents, including margins of +12 at Marist and +11 against Stony Brook. Senior center Andrew Keister leads the team with an average of 7.8 rebounds per game, while sophomore forward Eric Obeysekere (Orinda, Calif.) stands second with 5.5 boards per contest. Junior guard Mike Cavataio has pulled down 5.3 rebounds per contest and junior guard R.J. Evans has chipped in with 4.1 boards per game. Entering 2010-2011, the Crusaders had posted a positive rebounding margin in 11 straight seasons, including nine years in which they outrebounded the opposition by at least four boards per game.

KEISTER NAMED PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE: Senior center Andrew Keister was selected to the preseason All-Patriot League team, in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. Keister was joined on the preseason all-conference team by Lehigh sophomore guard C.J. McCollum, Lafayette senior forward Jared Mintz, American senior forward Vlad Moldoveanu, Bucknell sophomore forward Mike Muscala and Navy junior guard Jordan Sugars. In addition, McCollum was selected as the preseason Player of the Year.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in three statistical categories, through games of Dec. 19. In addition, junior guard Devin Brown ranks 52nd in free throw percentage, senior center Andrew Keister is 124th in rebounding and senior guard Andrew Beinert ranks 174th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio. The rankings:

Category Rank Player / Team Avg.
Free Throw Percentage 52 Devin Brown 87.5
Fewest Personal Fouls 124 Holy Cross 18.6
Rebounding 124 Andrew Keister 7.7
Rebounding Margin 156 Holy Cross +1.7
Assist-Turnover Ratio 174 Andrew Beinert 1.6
Assists 192 Holy Cross 12.9

SHOTS FROM THE HEART: Holy Cross head coach Milan Brown and assistant coach Dan Engelstad are taking part in Shots from the Heart, a project created by to help raise awareness for the growing problem of heart disease. Brown and Engelstad are competing against other college basketball coaches from around the nation in a free throw shooting tournament, which will benefit the American Heart Association. Brown defeated Ron Hunter of IUPUI 30-29 in the first round of the tournament, then downed Rick Stansbury of Mississippi State 30-29 in the second round. Next, he will face Mark Phelps of Drake in the round of 16. Engelstad defeated Notre Dame's Martin Inglesby 30-28 in the first round, and will take on Rusty LaRue of Wake Forest in the second round.

HOLY CROSS ON THE RADIO: All of the Crusaders' basketball contests during the 2010-2011 season will be carried live over the internet. The games will be streamed by Stretch Internet free of charge, and can be heard by clicking here. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre will be in his 24th season calling the play-by-play for Crusader basketball on the radio. In addition, Jeremy Lechan and Dick Lutsk are in their seventh year on the Holy Cross broadcast crew, and will handle either play-by-play or color commentary for selected games. In addition, the Holy Cross student station, WCHC 88.1 FM, will carry a number of games this year.

CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: Holy Cross will have at least seven games shown on live television during the 2010-2011 season. The Crusaders had nine television appearances last year, while appearing on television 10 times in 2008-2009, eight times in 2007-2008, 13 times in 2006-2007, 10 times in 2005-2006 and 10 times in 2004-2005. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2010-2011 season:

Dec. 22 at Hofstra: Verizon FiOS1
Dec. 28 vs. St. Joseph's: WCTR-TV3
Jan. 16 at Bucknell: CBS College Sports
Jan. 27 vs. Colgate: CBS College Sports
Jan. 29 at Lehigh: Service Electric Cable
Feb. 5 at Lafayette: Lafayette Sports Network
Feb. 9 vs. Army: WCTR-TV3

CRUSADER VISION: Live video streaming of three home non-conference games during the 2010-2011 season will be available over the internet through Crusader Vision. The contests against the College of Charleston, Stony Brook and St. Joseph's will be shown. The package, done in association with Stretch Internet, is available through individual game pay-per-view. For details on how to view games through Crusader Vision, click here.

PATRIOT LEAGUE ALL-ACCESS: Live video streaming of all Patriot League regular season games during the 2010-2011 season will be available over the internet through Patriot League All-Access. The package, done in association with CBS College Sports Online, is available for a monthly subscription. For details on how to sign up for Patriot League All-Access, click here.

SCOUTING THE PIONEERS: Sacred Heart stands 4-8 overall and 0-2 in the Northeast Conference. The Pioneers had won three straight game, before suffering an 84-76 loss at Providence in their last game. Sophomore guard Shane Gibson leads the team with an average of 15.2 points per game, while hitting 36.3 percent (29 of 80) of his three-point field goal attempts. Senior guard Jerrell Thompson is also off to a strong start this year, averaging 12.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest. Sacred Heart is led by Dave Bike, who owns an overall record of 499-441 in 33 seasons as the Pioneers' head coach.

DRIBBLES: Senior forward Josh Jones (Ocala, Fla.) had the top game of his career at George Washington on Friday, totaling career highs of 13 points and five rebounds while hitting six of eight shots from the field. Earlier in the season, he scored nine points against both the College of Charleston and Marist. Jones is now averaging 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds per game this year ... Sophomore forward Eric Obeysekere had career highs of nine points and 17 rebounds during the victory at Marist. The 17 rebounds were the most by any player in the Patriot League in a single game this season. Obeysekere is now averaging 4.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game this season ... Freshman forward Dave Dudzinski (Elburn, Ill.) had a strong game off the bench against Fairfield, totaling a career-high nine points and four rebounds in 20 minutes of action. He then had seven points and a career-high six boards against St. Joseph's, and is now averaging 4.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.