Crusaders To Open Season At The College Of Charleston

Dee Goens

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Video: Crusaders Set To Open 2011-2012 Season

The Teams: Holy Cross (0-0, 0-0 PL) vs. College of Charleston (0-0, 0-0 SC)
Date: November 11, 2011
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: TD Arena (5,100), Charleston, S.C.
Live Video Streaming:
Unofficial Live Statistics:
Series Record: College of Charleston leads, 1-0
Last Meeting: College of Charleston 93, Holy Cross 84; Nov. 13, 2010; Worcester, Mass.

Pos., No., Name, Ht., Wt., Cl.
F, 10, R.J. Evans, 6-3, 200, Jr.
F, 35, Eric Obeysekere, 6-8, 209, Jr.
C, 50, Dave Dudzinski, 6-9, 227, So.
G, 2, Devin Brown, 6-1, 190, Sr.
G, 3, Justin Burrell, 5-9, 165, Fr.

THE SERIES WITH THE COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON: This will be the second meeting between the Crusaders and the Cougars on the hardwood, with the College of Charleston leading the all-time series 1-0. The Cougars won the first game between the schools 93-84 last season in Worcester. Against the 12 schools which currently compete in the Southern Conference, Holy Cross stands 4-4 all-time (1-0 vs. Chattanooga, 0-1 against the College of Charleston, 0-1 vs. the Citadel, 2-2 against Davidson, 1-0 vs. Furman). The Crusaders also have a 1-5 all-time record against schools from the state of South Carolina (0-1 vs. the College of Charleston, 0-1 against the Citadel, 0-2 vs. Clemson, 1-0 against Furman, 0-1 vs. South Carolina).

FOR OPENERS: Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 65-27 in its opening game of the season. The Crusaders have lost their opener in each of the last two seasons, but prior to that had posted six straight victories on opening day. This year will mark the 48th time Holy Cross has opened the season on the road, with the Crusaders posting a 29-18 mark in the previous 47 contests. Over the last 12 years, Holy Cross stands 8-4 in season openers. During that time, Holy Cross has defeated Providence (54-43 in 1999-2000), Quinnipiac (85-57 in 2001-2002), Boston University (59-57 in 2003-2004; 58-48 in 2004-2005), High Point (85-73 in 2005-2006), Fairfield (67-65 in overtime in 2006-2007), Hofstra (61-47 in 2007-2008) and Sacred Heart (67-58 in 2008-2009) on opening day, while falling to Providence (63-57 in 2000-2001), Kansas (81-57 in 2002-2003), Harvard (87-77 in 2009-2010) and the College of Charleston (93-84 in 2010-2011).

HOLY CROSS IN ROAD OPENERS: The Crusaders have an all-time record of 45-47 in their opening road contest of the season. Holy Cross has lost its first away game in each of the last three years, but prior to that the Crusaders had won four straight times in their opening road contest of the season. Holy Cross posted victories at Fairfield in 2007-2008 (67-54), at Harvard in 2006-2007 (82-69), at William & Mary in 2005-2006 (67-55) and at Boston University in 2004-2005 (58-48).

CRUSADERS PICKED THIRD IN PRESEASON POLL: In the 2011-2012 Patriot League preseason poll, Holy Cross was picked to finish in third place in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. The Crusaders received 73 total points in the conference preseason poll. Bucknell placed first in the poll with 98 total points and 14 first-place votes, followed by Lehigh in second with 82 points and two first-place votes. The preseason rankings were rounded out by Lafayette (fourth, 55 points), American (fifth, 47 points), Colgate (sixth, 44 points), Navy (seventh, 34 points) and Army (eighth, 15 points).

BROWN SET FOR ANOTHER STANDOUT SEASON: Senior guard Devin Brown (Baltimore, Md.) has been one of Holy Cross' top players over the last two years, and was selected second team All-Patriot League in 2010-2011. In 29 games played last season, Brown averaged a team-best 15.4 points per contest while hitting 35.9 percent (60 of 167) of his three-point attempts and 80.6 percent (104 of 129) of his free throws. He finished the year ranked fifth in the Patriot League in three-point field goals made, sixth in both scoring and free throw percentage, and 14th in three-point percentage. Brown was extremely hot over the last 10 games in 2010-2011, averaging 20.3 points per contest during that span and connecting on 48.9 percent (68 of 139) of his field goal attempts and 40.3 percent (25 of 62) of his three-pointers. His top game a year ago came against Yale, when he scored a career-high 33 points to go along with five rebounds and two assists. Brown's 33 points against the Bulldogs were the most by a Crusader in a single game since Tim Clifford scored 34 points at Navy on Feb. 20, 2008. He also scored 32 points in the home victory over Navy while hitting seven of 15 attempts from three-point range, and had a pair of outstanding games against Lehigh with 27 points and 26 points. During the 2009-2010 campaign, 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 in 2009-2010. Brown finished the 2009-2010 season 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 1,006 points, 178 rebounds and 110 assists, while hitting 37.9 percent (136 of 359) of his three-point field goal attempts and 81.4 percent (262 of 322) of his free throws. During the final game of the 2010-2011 season against Lafayette, he became the 45th 1,000-point scorer in school history.

CAVATAIO SHINES ON THE WING: Senior guard Mike Cavataio (Forest Hills, N.Y.) should once again be among Holy Cross' top players during the 2011-2012 campaign. In 28 games played last year, he averaged 8.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest and hit 41.6 percent (102 of 245) of his field goal attempts. Cavataio finished the season ranked 11th in the Patriot League in rebounding, 15th in both field goal percentage and assists, and 22nd in scoring. He played particularly well over the Crusaders' last 10 games in 2010-2011, averaging 12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists during that time, and connecting on 48.4 percent (45 of 93) of his shots from the field. Some of Cavataio's top games last season came against Colgate (17 points, five rebounds, two assists), the College of Charleston (16 points, seven rebounds) and American (16 points, four rebounds, two assists). In the 2009-2010 season, Cavataio averaged 11.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest, while shooting 47.1 percent (131 of 278) from the field and 82.1 percent (78 of 95) on the free throw line. Cavataio finished the 2009-2010 campaign ranked fourth in the Patriot League in free throw percentage, eighth in field goal percentage, ninth in rebounding and 14th in scoring. He 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, Cavataio has totaled 608 points, 326 rebounds and 135 assists.

EVANS RETURNS TO THE LINEUP: Junior guard R.J. Evans (Salem, Conn.) should once again been among the top players in the Patriot League this season, after missing the majority of the 2010-2011 season due to injury and receiving a medical redshirt. In eight games played last year, he averaged 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. Evans scored in double figures five times in his eight appearances a year ago, with his best game coming against the College of Charleston (16 points, five assists, three steals, two rebounds). During the 2009-2010 campaign, he averaged a team-best 13.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest. Evans finished that 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. He has scored in double-figures 51 times during his collegiate career and has hit the 20-point mark seven times, including a career-high 31 points against Bucknell in the 2009 Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals.

ASSUMPTION RECAP: Justin Burrell totaled 16 points and three assists, to lead Holy Cross to an 84-52 victory over Assumption in an exhibition game at the Hart Center. R.J. Evans also had a strong game for the Crusaders, finishing with 11 points, 10 assists and three steals. The contest was close early on, with Holy Cross leading 12-11 after the first seven minutes of play. The Crusaders then went on an 18-4 run over the next seven minutes to take control of the game. Burrell scored five of his points during that spurt, and was one of four Holy Cross players to hit a three-point field goal during the run. Assumption would cut the margin to 10 points (31-21) with 3:29 to go before the break, but the Crusaders then closed out the half with a 10-2 run to take a 41-23 advantage into the locker room. Holy Cross led by at least 14 points early on in the second half, and was up by at least 20 points from the 9:24-mark until the end of the game. The Crusaders eventually led by 34 points in the closing minutes, before finally claiming a 32-point victory. Devin Brown scored 11 points for Holy Cross, while Phil Beans added 10 points. Assumption was led by Tim Beinert with a game-high 24 points.

STEVENS STEPS UP OFF THE BENCH: Junior guard Jordan Stevens (Gansevoort, N.Y.) turned into one of the Crusaders' top players during the second half of the 2010-2011 season. Over Holy Cross' last 21 games a year ago, Stevens averaged 8.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per contest, while hitting 33.3 percent (22 of 66) of his three-point field goal attempts. He scored 15 points while hitting all four of his three-point field goal attempts at Navy, in addition to totaling 15 points, three rebounds and three assists at Army. A few of Stevens' other top games last season came against Sacred Heart (15 points, three assists), at George Washington (13 points, four rebounds, two blocks, two steals), at Colgate (13 points, four rebounds), against Colgate (12 points), at Hofstra (11 points, two assists), at Marist (nine points, three assists, two rebounds) and at American (nine points, two rebounds). Overall last season, he averaged 7.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Over the course of his collegiate career, Stevens has now totaled 203 points, 76 rebounds and 43 assists.

OBEYSEKERE STEPS UP ON FRONT LINE: Junior forward Eric Obeysekere (Orinda, Calif.) has developed into a solid presence for the Crusaders in the low post. Over Holy Cross' last 23 games a year ago, he averaged 5.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per contest. Obeysekere's best game in 2010-2011 came during the victory at Navy, when he led the team with career highs of 16 points and seven blocked shots, to go along with 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Some of his other top performances last season were at Lafayette (12 points, six rebounds), at Army (eight points, 14 rebounds, four blocks), at Marist (nine points, career-high 17 rebounds) and at Sacred Heart (six points, nine rebounds, six blocks). His seven blocks against Navy tied for second place on the Holy Cross single-game record list, while his 17 rebounds against Marist tied for the most by any Patriot League player in a single game last season. Overall last year, Obeysekere averaged 4.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. Over the course of his career with the Crusaders, he has now totaled 158 points, 203 rebounds and 59 blocked shots.

CRUSADERS IN THE RECORD BOOKS: Three current Holy Cross players enter this season having already earned spots in the school's all-time record book. Senior guard Devin Brown currently stands fifth all-time at Holy Cross in career free throw percentage (.814), sixth in three-point field goals made (136) and seventh in career three-point field goal attempts (359). In addition, senior guard Mike Cavataio ranks ninth all-time in career minutes played per game (29.3), and junior guard R.J. Evans is 10th all-time in career minutes played per game (29.1).

THE LAST MEETING WITH THE COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON: Andrew Keister posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, but Holy Cross was defeated by the College of Charleston 93-84 at the Hart Center on Nov. 13, 2010. Mike Cavataio added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Crusaders, while R.J. Evans totaled 16 points and five assists. The game was close early on, and the Cougars held a one-point lead (14-13) after five minutes of play. Charleston then went on an 11-4 run to increase its lead to eight points. The Cougars eventually extended their lead to 10 (30-20), before Holy Cross scored seven straight points to make the score 30-27 with seven minutes left in the half. Charleston then responded with a 15-2 run of its own, and would go on to take a 52-39 lead into the locker room. The Crusaders were able to stay in the game during the second half, at one point cutting the lead to 10 points (73-63) with nine minutes remaining. But Holy Cross would get no closer until the final minute of play, as the Cougars posted a nine-point victory. Jeremy Simmons led Charleston with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Willis Hall added 20 points and four rebounds. The Cougars shot 63.6 percent from the field and 56.3 percent from three-point range, in addition to making 82.4 percent of their free throws. The Crusaders also had a solid shooting night at 51.6 percent from the floor, and held a 33-25 advantage on the glass.

BROWN NAMED PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE: Senior guard Devin Brown has been selected to the preseason All-Patriot League team, in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. Brown was joined on the preseason all-conference team by Lafayette junior guard Tony Johnson, Lehigh junior guard C.J. McCollum, Bucknell junior center Mike Muscala and Navy senior guard Jordan Sugars. In addition, McCollum was selected as the preseason Patriot League Player of the Year.

BROWN ENTERS SECOND YEAR WITH CRUSADERS: Milan Brown is in his second season as the head coach at Holy Cross in 2011-2012, with an overall record of 8-21 and a 7-7 mark in Patriot League regular season games. With the win over Army on Feb. 9, 2011, he recorded the 100th victory of his collegiate head coaching career. Brown's overall career record now stands at 103-141 (.422). 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 (69-60 over Coppin State).

DUDZINSKI COMING OFF ALL-ROOKIE SEASON: Sophomore forward Dave Dudzinski (Elburn, Ill.) became a key player for the Crusaders at the low post positions last year, and was named to the 2011 Patriot League All-Rookie team. In 27 games played last season, he averaged 4.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest, while hitting 54.8 percent (51 of 93) of his field goal attempts. Against Lafayette in last year's Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals, Dudzinski totaled 11 points and four rebounds, while hitting all five of his field goal attempts. He also played well during the regular season victory over Lafayette, recording nine points and five rebounds, including a pair of free throws with 1:37 remaining to give Holy Cross the lead for good. A few of Dudzinski's other top performances last season came at Sacred Heart (career-high 15 points), against St. Joseph's (seven points, career-high six rebounds) and at Colgate (seven points, three rebounds).

CRUSADERS LOOKING FOR SIXTH PATRIOT LEAGUE REGULAR SEASON TITLE: During the 2011-2012 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 2006-2007, 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 and Bucknell are the only teams in league history to win three outright titles, while Holy Cross' five total championships are tied for the second-most in conference history with Navy (one outright, four shared), behind only Bucknell (three outright, three shared).

HOLY CROSS SHINES ON THE DEFENSIVE END: The Crusaders look to be strong on the defensive end of the court this season, after developing into one of the top defensive teams in the Patriot League during the 2010-2011 campaign. Holy Cross finished last year ranked second in the conference in three-point field goal percentage defense (33.7 percent) and blocked shots (3.8 blocks per game), and third in scoring defense (69.0 points per game) and field goal percentage defense (42.9 percent). The Crusaders were even more impressive during Patriot League regular season play, where they improved on all of those numbers. In conference games, Holy Cross ranked first in the league in blocked shots (4.0 blocks per game), second in field goal percentage defense (40.8 percent) and three-point field goal percentage defense (29.2 percent), and third in scoring defense (67.7 points per game).

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders look to once again be a strong rebounding team this year, after averaging 36.7 boards per contest and outrebounding their opponents by an average margin of 3.1 rebounds per game in 2010-2011. Holy Cross outrebounded 15 of its last 21 opponents a year ago, including margins of +15 at Army, +13 against Bucknell, +12 at Marist, +12 against Army at home and +11 against Stony Brook. Center Andrew Keister led the team with an average of 9.2 rebounds per game last season. Forward Eric Obeysekere stood second with 5.9 boards per contest, while guard Mike Cavataio has pulled down 5.4 rebounds per game. Entering 2011-2012, the Crusaders had posted a positive rebounding margin in 12 straight seasons, including nine years in which they outrebounded the opposition by at least four boards per game.

CRUSADERS AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross currently owns an all-time record of 320-129 at the Hart Center, including a 4-9 mark last 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 36 seasons, while recording double-figure home victories 16 times. The Crusaders stand 107-37 at home since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, including a 70-18 record against Patriot League foes.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders finished the 2010-2011 season ranked among the top 125 in the NCAA Division I leaders for two statistical categories. In addition, several players ended the year among the top 250 in the nation in individual statistics. The rankings:

Category Rank Player / Team Avg. / Pct.
Rebounding 43 Andrew Keister 9.2
Rebounding Margin 74 Holy Cross +3.1
Blocked Shots 90 Eric Obeysekere 1.6
  110 Holy Cross 3.8
Assist-Turnover Ratio 97 Andrew Beinert 1.9
Assists 125 Andrew Beinert 4.1
Free Throw Percent 141 Devin Brown 80.6
Three-Pointers Made 169 Devin Brown 2.1
Scoring 183 Devin Brown 15.4

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year will mark the 93rd season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1299-870 (.599), 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.

CRUSADERS HAVE FIVE PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT CROWNS: Five years ago, the Crusaders captured their fifth Patriot League Tournament crown with a 74-66 victory over Bucknell on March 9, 2007. Holy Cross' previous tournament titles came in 2003 (72-64 over American), 2002 (58-54 at American), 2001 (68-64 over Navy in overtime) and 1993 (98-73 at Bucknell). The Crusaders' five conference tournament championships are the most in Patriot League history, with Navy (1994, 1997 and 1998) and Bucknell (2005, 2006 and 2011) being tied for second. Holy Cross has also appeared in the championship game seven times in the last 11 years. Overall, the Crusaders have made a conference-record 10 appearances in the Patriot League championship game.

HOLY CROSS ON THE RADIO: Most of the Crusaders' basketball contests during the 2011-2012 season will be carried live over the internet. The games will be streamed by Stretch Internet free of charge, will links to the broadcasts available by clicking here. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre will be in his 25th season calling the play-by-play for Crusader basketball on the radio. In addition, Jeremy Lechan and Dick Lutsk are in their eighth 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 five games shown on live television during the 2011-2012 season. The Crusaders had eight television appearances last year, while appearing on television nine times in 2009-2010, 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. 18 at Connecticut: SportsNet New York
Jan. 19 vs. Lafayette: CBS Sports Network
Jan. 28 vs. Colgate: CBS Sports Network
Feb. 4 at Lehigh: Service Electric Cable
Feb. 15 at Lafayette: Lafayette Sports Network

PATRIOT LEAGUE ALL-ACCESS: Live video streaming of most 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, visit click here.

SCOUTING THE COUGARS: The College of Charleston is coming off a 2010-2011 season in which it posted an overall record of 26-11 and a 14-4 mark in the Southern Conference. The Cougars also played in the National Invitation Tournament last year, where they advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to Wichita State 82-75. The team's top returning scorer is junior forward Willis Hall, who averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last year. Sophomore forward Trent Wiedeman (8.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game) and senior forward Antwaine Wiggins (7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game) also return to the starting lineup. The Cougars are led by Bobby Cremins, who is entering his sixth season as the College of Charleston's head coach. Cremins stands 113-60 with the Cougars, while owning a career record of 567-367 (including six years at Appalachian State and 19 seasons at Georgia Tech).

DRIBBLES: Two all-time Crusader greats were honored at halftime of the game between Holy Cross and Bucknell on Feb. 12, 2011. Jack Foley (Class of 1962) and Ronnie Perry (Class of 1980) were on hand to witness their jerseys being unveiled in the Hart Center rafters — only the second time Holy Cross held such a ceremony for former basketball players. On Nov. 16, 2008, George Kaftan (Class of 1949), Bob Cousy (Class of 1950), Togo Palazzi (Class of 1954) and Tom Heinsohn (Class of 1956) received the same honor ... Last season, Holy Cross head coach Milan Brown and assistant coach Dan Engelstad took part in Shots from the Heart, a project created by to help raise awareness for the growing problem of heart disease ... Holy Cross had its top defensive game of last season at Navy on Jan. 19, holding the Midshipmen to just 50 points on 28.1 percent shooting from the field (18 of 64) and 4.0 percent shooting from three-point range (one of 25) ... Holy Cross went 4-9 last season when wearing its white uniforms, while going 4-12 in its purple uniforms.