Holy Cross Comes Home To Face Boston University

Jan. 2, 2008

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (7-3, 0-0 PL) vs. Boston University (3-8, 0-0 AEC)
Date: January 2, 2008
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
WCTR Television: Kevin Shea, play-by-play; Kevin Wells, color
Live Video Streaming: Crusader All-Access
Holy Cross Radio: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Boston University Radio: WWZN 1510 AM, Boston, Mass.; Doug Brown, play-by-play; Mike Shalin, color
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 49-12
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 73, Boston University 70, OT (January 3, 2007, Boston, Mass.)


PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:
Pos.  No.  Name                Ht.   Wt.   Cl.
F      21  Alex Vander Baan    6-9   205   Jr.
F      33  Colin Cunningham    6-6   210   Jr.
C      00  Tim Clifford       6-11   260   Sr.
G       2  Kyle Cruze          6-2   175   Sr.
G      20  Pat Doherty        5-11   170   Jr.

THE SERIES WITH BOSTON UNIVERSITY: This will be the 62nd meeting between the Crusaders and the Terriers on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 49-12. Holy Cross has won four straight and five of the last seven meetings in the series, but prior to that Boston University had won five straight games against the Crusaders. For games played in Worcester, Holy Cross holds a 30-6 advantage, but the Crusaders are only 5-3 against the Terriers at the Hart Center. Holy Cross and Boston University first met on January 10, 1903, with the Crusaders posting a 33-4 victory in Worcester.

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 49-12
In Worcester: Holy Cross leads, 30-6
At the Hart Center: Holy Cross leads, 5-3
Ralph Willard vs. Boston University: 4-2
Dennis Wolff vs. Holy Cross: 3-5
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, four games
In Overtime: Holy Cross leads, 2-0

HOLY CROSS RETURNS HOME: The Crusaders will be playing their first game at the Hart Center in over a month, when they take on Boston University on Jan. 2. Holy Cross has played its last three games on the road, and has three more road contests coming up following the game against the Terriers. Next up for the Crusaders is a contest at San Francisco on Jan. 5. Holy Cross will then play at Maryland on Jan. 8, followed by its Patriot League opener at Lafayette on Jan. 12.

CRUSADERS EXTEND HART CENTER WINNING STREAK: Holy Cross currently owns a 22-game winning streak at the Hart Center, including a perfect 4-0 record so far this season. The Crusaders own the sixth longest current home court winning streak in the nation, behind only Brigham Young (38 games), Memphis (37 games), Notre Dame (28 games), Indiana (26 games) and Tennessee (23 games). In addition, the 22-game winning streak is the longest in the history of the Hart Center, which opened on December 1, 1975. Last season Holy Cross posted a perfect 14-0 mark at the Hart Center, setting a school record for the most home victories since it moved into the building. During the Hart Center's history, Holy Cross has posted a winning record at home in 28 out of 32 seasons, while recording double-figure home victories 15 times. The Crusaders stand 295-104 all-time at the Hart Center, including an 82-12 mark since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season. Here is a look at the longest winning streaks in Hart Center history.

Rank    Streak  Dates                   Ended By
  1.  22 games  2/15/2006-present       --
  2.  15 games  1/9/1993-1/12/1994      Lehigh (87-85)
  3.  14 games  11/23/2002-11/25/2003   Williams (78-71)
      14 games  12/22/1980-1/9/1982     Boston U. (96-82)
  5.  11 games  12/28/2000-11/20/2001   Boston U. (61-49)
  6.  10 games  1/5/2005-3/6/2005       Bucknell (67-51)
      10 games  12/1/1975-1/22/1976     Connecticut (73-69)

CUNNINGHAM STARTS SEASON STRONG: Junior forward Colin Cunningham (Memphis, Tenn.) has taken over as the starting small forward for Holy Cross this year, and has been one of the Crusaders' top players. In the Sacred Heart game, he recorded 10 points and four rebounds. During the previous contest at Siena, Cunningham recorded 15 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals. Earlier in the season against Yale, he posted his first career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds, while making all three of his three-point attempts. Some of Cunningham's other top performances this season have come against Fairfield (career-high 17 points, 10 of 10 on the free throw line), Harvard (13 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals), Ohio (12 points and three rebounds) and Hampton (10 points, six rebounds and five assists). Overall this season, Cunningham is now averaging 10.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

CLIFFORD PLAYS BIG ROLE IN THE MIDDLE: Senior center Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.) is once again among the top big men in the conference this season, after earning second team All-Patriot League honors in 2006-2007. In the first 10 games of the season, he has averaged 17.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest, while hitting 63.2 percent (74 of 117) of his field goal attempts. In the Sacred Heart game, Clifford led the team with 24 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. During the previous contest at Siena, he scored a season-high 26 points on 11 of 16 shooting, including two three-pointers in the final 12 seconds of regulation to force overtime. Clifford also had a big game at St. Joseph's, recording 16 points and seven rebounds, while hitting eight of 12 shots from the floor. Some of Clifford's other top games this season have been against Yale (23 points, eight rebounds, six blocked shots and four assists), Harvard (22 points and four rebounds), Hampton (22 points and six rebounds), Dayton (20 points) and Ohio (11 points on five of six shooting). In 34 games played last year, Clifford averaged 11.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest. He was even more impressive in Patriot League regular season games, averaging 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest. Clifford's biggest game last season came on Feb. 15, 2007, at Navy, when he scored a career-high 33 points to go along with four rebounds and four blocked shots (hitting 12 of 19 field goals and all eight of his free throws). Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Clifford has now totaled 899 points, 408 rebounds and 160 blocked shots. He currently needs 101 points to become Holy Cross' 44th 1,000-point scorer.

CRUSADERS HAVE FAST START: Holy Cross began the 2007-2008 season by winning its first six games, good for is best start during Ralph Willard's tenure as head coach. Previously, the best start by the Crusaders under Willard came in 2006-2007, when they began the year 5-0 with wins over Fairfield (67-65 in overtime), Hampton (62-47), Siena (65-57), Harvard (82-69) and William & Mary (66-57). This season's 6-0 start was the best by Holy Cross since the 1988-1989 team also opened the year at 6-0, defeating Mount St. Mary's (90-82), New Hampshire (89-73), Assumption (105-84), Harvard (91-74), Fordham (79-68) and Boston College (85-80). This year marked the ninth time in school history in which Holy Cross opened a season with at least six straight victories.

SACRED HEART RECAP: Tim Clifford totaled 24 points and seven rebounds, but it was not enough as Holy Cross was defeated by Sacred Heart 61-58 at the William H. Pitt Health & Recreation Center on Dec. 30, 2007. Clifford made 10 of 15 shots from the floor on the day, in addition to hitting four of five free throw attempts. Sacred Heart opened the game on a 7-2 run, and would eventually increase its lead to nine points (22-13) with nine minutes left in the half. But Holy Cross came back with a 9-0 spurt of its own to tie the score at 22-22, including four points by Clifford. After the Pioneers went back in front by four, the Crusaders closed the have with a 7-2 run to take a 29-28 advantage into the locker room. Early in the second half, Sacred Heart reclaimed the lead (38-36) with 16 minutes left to play. Holy Cross then went on an 8-0 run over the next five minutes of play, to claim a 44-38 lead. But the Pioneers came right back with a 13-5 run of their own to reclaim the lead, 51-49 with 6:49 left. The Crusaders stayed close down the stretch, but were never able to regain the lead. Holy Cross had the ball with 18 seconds left trailing by just three points, but was not able to convert as Sacred Heart held on for the win. Colin Cunningham recorded 10 points and four rebounds for the Crusaders. Luke Granato led the Pioneers with 18 points, hitting six of 10 three-point attempts.

CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2007-2008. In 10 games played so far this season, the Crusaders have held their opponents to 58.7 points per contest, 41.3 percent shooting from the field and 36.5 percent shooting from three-point range. Holy Cross is also outrebounding the opposition by 7.5 boards per game, while forcing 14.9 turnovers per contest. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Holy Cross has held its opposition to only 58.6 points per contest. In addition, the Crusaders have ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense in five of the last six seasons (sixth in 2001-2002 at 59.6; third in 2002-2003 at 58.7; seventh in 2003-2004 at 58.6; fifth in 2004-2005 at 56.8; and eighth in 2006-2007 at 57.5). Here is a look at Holy Cross' defensive statistics under Ralph Willard.

Season       PPG    FG%   3FG%    SPG    BPG
1999-2000   63.3   39.6   31.3    6.5    3.8
2000-2001   62.3   38.2   35.2    6.3    5.2
2001-2002   59.6   42.0   38.5    7.8    3.1
2002-2003   58.7   40.6   33.2    7.9    4.5
2003-2004   58.6   40.3   32.9   10.7    4.5
2004-2005   56.8   38.9   36.3   10.3    5.0
2005-2006   60.5   40.2   30.3    9.1    3.5
2006-2007   57.5   41.4   37.8    9.5    3.6

VANDER BAAN PLAYS KEY ROLE ON FRONT LINE: Junior forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) is once again a key member of the Holy Cross lineup this year. In nine games played so far this season, he has averaged 10.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest, while hitting 50.0 percent (11 of 22) of his three-point field goal attempts. During the Siena game, Vander Baan posted 13 points, six rebounds and two steals. In the previous contest at St. Joseph's, he totaled 16 points and seven rebounds, while making all four of his free throws in the final minute of play. Vander Baan also had a big night against Dayton, recording 11 points and seven rebounds, while hitting all three of his shots from the floor. Some of Vander Baan's other top performances this season have come against Harvard (18 points and eight rebounds), Hofstra (15 rebounds, 10 points, three assists and three blocks) and Fairfield (11 points and four rebounds). In 34 games played last year, Vander Baan averaged 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest, while making 36.2 percent of his three-point field goal attempts (17 of 47). His top performance of the 2006-2007 season came at Lehigh on Feb. 25, when he recorded 14 points and eight rebounds. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Vander Baan has now totaled 509 points, 401 rebounds, 112 assists, 55 steals and 25 blocked shots.

THE LAST MEETING WITH BOSTON UNIVERSITY: Keith Simmons posted a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds, to lead Holy Cross to a 73-70 overtime victory over Boston University at Case Gymnasium on Jan. 3, 2007. Simmons added three assists and three steals, while hitting three of four free throw attempts in the final minute of overtime to secure the win. The Crusaders jumped out to an early 23-12 lead with 11:14 remaining in the first half, but the Terriers responded with an 8-0 run of their own and eventually tied the score at 32-32 heading into the locker room. Holy Cross was able to build its lead back up to seven points on two occasions in the second half, before Boston University tied it up at 57-57 with less than a minute remaining in regulation. Colin Cunningham then hit a three-point field goal with just 1.1 seconds remaining, to put the Crusaders up by three. But the Terriers' Tyler Morris made a desperation three-pointer as time expired to force overtime. In overtime, Boston University built an early three-point lead before Tim Clifford drained a three-pointer to tie up the score. The Terriers were able to go back in front by two, but Alex Vander Baan made a three-pointer of his own to put Holy Cross back in front 68-67 with 1:47 left to play. The Crusaders were clinging to a two-point lead (71-69) with 15.6 seconds left, when Boston University's Corey Lowe was able to hit just one of two free throw attempts. Greg McCarthy was fouled grabbing the rebound after the miss, and hit both free throws to conclude the scoring. Torey Thomas finished the night with 16 points and three assists, while Clifford added 16 points, three assists and three blocks. The Terriers were led by Lowe with 24 points, while Morris added 23 points and four rebounds.

CRUZE PLAYS KEY MINUTES IN THE BACKCOURT: Senior guard Kyle Cruze (Knoxville, Tenn.) has developed into a strong player in the Holy Cross backcourt. Through the first 10 games of the season, he has averaged 4.4 points, 2.9 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest. During the St. Joseph's game, Cruze posted season-highs of 13 points and six assists, while hitting four of five field goal attempts (including three of four three-pointers). Previously against Ohio, he hit the game-winning shot with 2.6 seconds remaining, while totaling seven points, four assists and he rebounds. Earlier this season, Cruze recorded 10 points, two rebounds and two steals against Hofstra, while finishing with nine points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in the win at Fairfield. During the 2006-2007 season, Cruze started 25 games for the Crusaders, averaging 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds per contest.

DOHERTY TAKES OVER AT THE POINT: Junior guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) has taken over as the starting point guard for the Crusaders this year, after serving as the first guard off the bench in 2006-2007. Through the first 10 contests of the season, Doherty has averaged 8.4 points, 5.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. During the Siena game, Doherty totaled 15 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals. Previously against Ohio, he recorded 12 points, six assists and three steals. Some of Doherty's other top performances this season have come against Hofstra (18 points, four assists and three rebounds) and Fairfield (11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals). In 28 games played last season, Doherty averaged 5.3 points, 2.2 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest. His top game last year came at Yale when he totaled 18 points, four assists and three steals, while hitting five of six shots from the field and all four of his three-point attempts. Doherty returned to the Holy Cross lineup last season, after missing the majority of the 2005-2006 campaign due to injury, and receiving a medical redshirt. As a freshman in 2004-2005, Doherty was honored as the Patriot League Rookie of the Year. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 388 points, 192 assists, 127 rebounds and 87 steals.

CLIFFORD BREAKS BLOCKED SHOT RECORD: Senior center Tim Clifford broke the Holy Cross record for career blocked shots during the victory over Yale on Nov. 28, 2007. Clifford's record-breaking block came at the 5:15-mark of the second half, when he swatted away an attempted jump shot by the Bulldogs' Porter Braswell. That block moved him past Nate Lufkin (2001-2005), who had 153 blocked shots during his Holy Cross career. Clifford, who currently has 160 blocked shots during his career as a Crusader, also owns two of the top six spots on the school single season list for blocks (64 in 2006-2007; 48 in 2005-2006).

WILLARD CONTINUES IMPRESSIVE RUN AT HOLY CROSS: Ralph Willard is now in his ninth season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 166-92 during his time in Worcester. He now stands in second place on the all-time school list for career victories, behind only George Blaney (357-276 / 1972-1994). Last season, Willard was selected as the Patriot League Coach of the Year for the third time in his career. He was previously named the conference's Coach of the Year during the 2000-2001 and 2004-2005 seasons, and in 2004-2005 he was also one of 10 finalists for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award. Willard has led the Crusaders to four Patriot League tournament titles and four trips to the NCAA Tournament, during the 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003 and 2006-2007 seasons. He has also guided Holy Cross to four Patriot League regular season championships in 2000-2001, 2002-2003, 2004-2005 and 2006-2007, with the 2002-2003 squad posting an overall record of 26-5 to come up just one win shy of the school single season record for victories. Prior to his time at Holy Cross, Willard spent five seasons as the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, and four years as head coach at Western Kentucky University. He led Western Kentucky to the NCAA Tournament during each of his final two seasons (advancing to the Sweet 16 in 1992-1993), and his overall career record stands at 310-216. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

CRUSADERS PICKED FIRST IN PRESEASON POLL: In the 2007-2008 Patriot League preseason poll, Holy Cross was picked to finish in first place in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. The Crusaders received 91 total points in the poll, and 10 out of 16 first place votes. Following Holy Cross in the poll were Bucknell (second, 85 points, five first place votes), Colgate (third, 62 points, one first place vote), Lehigh (fourth, 56 points), American (fifth, 49 points), Army (sixth, 42 points), Navy (seventh, 34 points) and Lafayette (eighth, 29 points).

CLIFFORD NAMED PATRIOT LEAGUE PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Senior center Tim Clifford was named the Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year, in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. Clifford was also one of five players selected to the preseason all-conference team. Along with Clifford, other selections to the squad were Army senior guard Jarell Brown, Bucknell senior guard John Griffin, Lehigh sophomore guard Marquis Hall and Navy senior guard Greg Sprink. Clifford, Brown and Sprink all earned second team all-conference honors at the conclusion of the 2006-2007 season, while Hall was last year's Patriot League Rookie of the Year.

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders have once again shown themselves to be an outstanding rebounding team this year. Holy Cross has outrebounded each of its first 10 opponents, while averaging 33.8 rebounds per game and outrebounding the opposition by 7.5 boards per contest. The rebounding load has been well balanced, with five different players averaging at least 3.6 rebounds per game. Junior forward Alex Vander Baan leads the team with an average of 7.0 rebounds per game, followed by senior center Tim Clifford with 5.2 boards per contest. Sophomore forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.) has totaled 4.6 rebounds per game, while junior forward Colin Cunningham has added 4.4 boards per contest, and junior guard Pat Doherty has contributed 3.6 rebounds per game. Last season, the Crusaders averaged 32.1 rebounds per game, and outrebounded their opponents by an average of 4.3 boards per game. Holy Cross really stepped things up in Patriot League regular season play last year, outrebounding the opposition by 8.0 boards per game, while allowing opponents to average just 25.2 rebounds per contest. Five different players averaged at least 3.6 boards per contest for Holy Cross in 2006-2007.

HOLY CROSS NAMES CAPTAINS: Senior center Tim Clifford and senior guard Kyle Cruze have been selected as the Crusaders' captains for the 2007-2008 season, while junior guard Pat Doherty and junior forward Alex Vander Baan will serve as co-captains. These four players will take over the leadership role from Keith Simmons and Torey Thomas, who served as the Crusaders' captains as seniors during the 2006-2007 season.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in five statistical categories, through games of December 16. In addition, senior center Tim Clifford is ranked among the national leaders in field goal percentage. The rankings:

Category                  Rank  Player / Team   Avg.
Scoring Defense              8  Holy Cross      55.3
Rebound Margin              24  Holy Cross      +8.1
Free Throw Percent          27  Holy Cross      75.0
Field Goal Percent          28  Tim Clifford    61.6
Winning Percent             33  Holy Cross      87.5
Field Goal Percent Defense  43  Holy Cross      38.5

HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: Holy Cross is currently ranked 80th in the nation in the Ratings Percentage Index, with a rating of .5590 through games of Jan. 1. The Crusaders are the highest ranked team in the Patriot League, with the second-highest ranking belonging to Colgate (163rd, .5050). In addition, Holy Cross' non-conference schedule ranks as the 162nd best in the country, and the hardest in the Patriot League. The Crusaders concluded the 2006-2007 season ranked 59th in the country in the RPI with a rating of .5730. Holy Cross was also ranked 111th in the RPI in 2005-2006 (.5304) and 49th in 2004-2005 (.5657)

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 89th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1256-802 (.610), 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, including current Crusader coach Ralph Willard.

SCOUTING THE TERRIERS: Boston University enters the game with an overall record of 3-8 on the year. The Terriers have lost their last two games, and stand 1-5 on the road so far this season. Sophomore guard Corey Lowe currently leads the team in scoring with an average of 18.4 points per game, in addition to handing out 29 assists. Sophomore guard Carlos Strong is averaging 14.1 points per contest, while sophomore forward Scott Brittain is chipping in with 10.5 points and a team-best 6.2 rebounds per game. Boston University is led by head coach Dennis Wolff, who owns an overall record of 219-175 in 14 seasons with the Terriers. Wolff's career record stands at 249-193, including two seasons at Connecticut College.

HOLY CROSS ON THE RADIO: Once again this season, a number of the Crusaders' basketball contests will be carried by WTAG 580 AM in Worcester. For the 19th straight season, Bob Fouracre will call the play-by-play for most of the games. In addition, Jeremy Lechan and Dick Lutsk are in their fourth year on the Holy Cross broadcast crew, and will handle either play-by-play or color commentary for selected games. WTAG is currently scheduled to air 17 of the Crusaders' 28 regular season games. All 28 regular season games will also be carried live over the internet at "www.sportsjuice.com". In addition, the Holy Cross student station, WCHC 88.1 FM, will carry a number of games this year.

CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: Holy Cross is currently scheduled to have eight games shown on live television during the 2007-2008 season. The Crusaders had 13 television appearances last year, and 10 television games during both the 2005-2006 and 2004-2005 campaigns. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2007-2008 season:

Date     Opponent           Television Outlet
Jan. 2   Boston University  WCTR-TV3
Jan. 8   Maryland           Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic
Jan. 12  Lafayette          Lafayette Sports Network
Jan. 18  Bucknell           ESPNU
Feb. 2   Lehigh             ESPNU
Feb. 16  Bucknell           ESPN2
Feb. 27  Colgate            WCTR-TV3
Feb. 29  Lehigh             ESPNU

CRUSADER ALL-ACCESS: Live video streaming of a number of Holy Cross basketball games will be available over the internet through Crusader All-Access. The package, done in association with College Sports Television Online, is available for a $9.95 monthly subscription. For details on how to sign up for Crusader All-Access, click here.

DRIBBLES: With the loss at Siena, Holy Cross had a seven-game overtime winning streak snapped. The Crusaders, who stand 10-3 in overtime contests under Ralph Willard, had not lost a game which went into extra time since Dec. 9, 2004, when they fell at Boston College 63-60 ... Holy Cross posted a perfect 6-0 record in the month of November ... With the victory over Hofstra on Nov. 10, the Crusaders improved to 64-25 all-time in their opening game of the season, including a 7-2 mark under Ralph Willard, Holy Cross also upped its record to 26-7 in home openers since moving into the Hart Center ... Last year, Tim Clifford and Alex Vander Baan both broke the all-time Holy Cross single season records for games played and games started. They both had 34 appearances and starts last year. Eric Meister also broke the record for games played, as he has appeared in all 34 contests last season ... The Crusaders are ranked 13th in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 Poll from CollegeInsider.com, released on December 31.