Men's Basketball Travels To Central Florida On Tuesday

Jan. 4, 2009

Complete Release in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (5-9, 0-0 PL) vs. Central Florida (9-4, 0-0 C-USA)
Date: January 6, 2009
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: UCF Arena (10,000), Orlando, Fla.
Bright House Sports Network Television: Bernie Guenther, play-by-play; Mike O'Donnell, color
Live Video Streaming: www.ucfathletics.com
Live Stats: Gametracker
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; www.worcesterpike.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
Central Florida Radio: WQTM 740 AM, Orlando, Fla.; Marc Daniels, play-by-play
Series Record: First Meeting


PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:
Pos.  No.  Name                Ht.   Wt.   Cl.
F      33  Colin Cunningham    6-6   220   Sr.
F      34  Andrew Keister      6-9   235   So.
C      45  Greg McCarthy      6-11   235   Sr.
G      10  R.J. Evans          6-3   200   Fr.
G      22  Andrew Beinert      6-4   185   So.

THE SERIES WITH CENTRAL FLORIDA: This will be the first meeting between the Crusaders and the Knights on the hardwood. Holy Cross does have an all-time record of 5-4 against the 12 schools which are currently members of Conference USA (2-0 vs. Alabama-Birmingham, 1-0 vs. Memphis, 1-2 vs. Rice, 1-1 vs. Southern Mississippi and 0-1 vs. Tulane).

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: First Meeting
In Orlando: First Meeting
At UCF Arena: First Meeting
Ralph Willard vs. Central Florida: 2-0
Kirk Speraw vs. Holy Cross: 0-0

HOLY CROSS IN FLORIDA: The Crusaders will be playing in the state of Florida for just the 12th time in school history. Holy Cross has a 4-7 record in its previous appearances in the Sunshine State, but has not played in Florida since defeating Georgia State 101-94 in Miami on Dec. 21, 1989. The Crusaders stand 0-4 in road games in Florida (losing at Florida International, Florida Southern, Miami and South Florida), with a 4-3 mark in neutral site games (defeating Georgia State, Pennsylvania and Tennessee in Miami, and Michigan State in Jacksonville; while falling to Texas A&M and Western Kentucky in Miami, and Florida in Jacksonville).

CRUSADERS SET FOR FINAL NON-LEAGUE GAME: Holy Cross will play its final non-conference game of the 2008-2009 campaign when it heads to Central Florida for a 7:00 p.m. contest on Jan. 6. Holy Cross then returns home to open Patriot League play against Lafayette on Jan. 10 at 3:30 p.m. Following that contest, the Crusaders will play three straight games on the road, at Army on Jan. 14, Bucknell on Jan. 17 and Navy on Jan. 21.

EVANS HAS BIG START TO COLLEGIATE CAREER: Freshman guard R.J. Evans (Salem, Conn.) is enjoying an outstanding rookie season, and has scored in double-figures in each of his last eight games. During the Boston University game, he totaled 12 points, six rebounds and two steals. In the previous contest against Siena, Evans led the team with 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. He also played well against San Francisco, posting his first career double-double with career highs of 26 points and 10 rebounds. Earlier in the season, Evans had big games against Massachusetts (17 points, eight rebounds, four steals), Western Michigan (17 points, six rebounds, two steals), Ohio (16 points, four rebounds, three steals), Sacred Heart (15 points on seven of 12 shooting), Fairfield (13 points, three steals), Yale (12 points, three rebounds, three assists), St. Joseph's (12 points, three rebounds) and Harvard (10 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals). Evans' 26 points against San Francisco were the most by a Holy Cross freshman in a single game since Ronnie Perry scored 29 points at Iona on Dec. 21, 1976. Overall this season, Evans is averaging a team-best 13.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. Evans came to Holy Cross from Norwich (Conn.) Free Academy, where he was a two-time All-State selection and score 2,030 career points.

CUNNINGHAM STEPS UP IN SENIOR SEASON: Senior forward Colin Cunningham (Memphis, Tenn.) has returned to the Holy Cross lineup at small forward this year, and is once again one of the Crusaders' top players. In the victory at Boston University, Cunningham totaled 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Previously against San Francisco, he scored a career-high 26 points and handed out six assists. Cunningham also played well against Western Michigan, totaling 12 points, two rebounds and two steals. Earlier in the season, he had big games against Loyola (13 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals) and Brown (11 points, eight rebounds, six assists). Overall this year, Cunningham has averaged 8.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals per contest. Last season, he averaged 8.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game, while hitting 36.8 percent (28 of 76) of his three-point attempts. Cunningham's top game in 2007-2008 came at American in the Patriot League quarterfinals, when he recorded 20 points, four rebounds and three assists. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Cunningham has totaled 519 points, 311 rebounds, 156 assists and 76 steals.

BEINERT TAKES OVER AT THE POINT: Sophomore guard Andrew Beinert (Floral Park, N.Y.) has been one of the Crusaders' top players in the backcourt this season. During the victory at Boston University, he scored a career-high 18 points, while hitting seven of nine shots from the field and four of five attempts from three-point range. Previously against San Francisco, Beinert totaled seven points, three rebounds and a career-high 10 assists. He also played well at Ohio, recording seven points, five assists and three steals. Some of Beinert's other top games this season have come against Yale (career-high 15 points, five of seven from three-point range), Brown (nine points, three assists), Loyola (eight points, four steals) and Western Michigan (six points, five assists, five steals). Overall this season, he has averaged 7.1 points, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game, while hitting 45.0 percent (18 of 40) of his three-point field goal attempts. Last year, Beinert was selected to the Patriot League All-Rookie team, after averaging 3.9 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

WILLARD CONTINUES IMPRESSIVE RUN AT HOLY CROSS: Ralph Willard is now in his 10th season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 179-112 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). In 2006-2007, 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 323-236. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY RECAP: Andrew Beinert scored a career-high 18 points on seven of nine shooting from the field, to lead Holy Cross to a 68-49 victory over Boston University at Agganis Arena on Jan. 2, 2009. Andrew Keister also had an outstanding night for the Crusaders, posting a double-double with career highs of 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Crusaders made their first six shots of the night, jumping out to a quick 12-3 lead after the first four minutes of play. Holy Cross would extend its lead to as many as 12 points (17-5), before the Terriers responded with a 7-2 run to get back into the game. The Crusaders eventually took a 29-22 advantage into the locker room. After Boston University opened the second half with a pair of free throws to make it a five-point game, Holy Cross used a 10-0 spurt to increase its lead to 15 points (39-24) with 16 minutes left to play. The Crusaders eventually went up by 19 points (48-29), before the Terriers used a 10-0 run to close the gap to nine points (48-39). But that was as close as Boston University would get, as Holy Cross responded with an 8-0 run of its own and then pulled away for a 19-point victory. The Crusaders used their top defensive performance of the season to limit the Terriers to just 49 points on 37.2 percent shooting from the field. Colin Cunningham finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, while R.J. Evans added 12 points and six rebounds. The Terriers were led by Jake O'Brien with 16 points.

KEISTER BECOMING A FACTOR UP FRONT: Sophomore forward Andrew Keister (Galloway, N.J.) is developing into one of the Crusaders' top players at the low post positions. Over Holy Cross' last six games, Keister has averaged 9.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest, while hitting 54.1 percent (20 of 37) of his field goal attempts. During the victory at Boston University, he posted his first career double-double with career highs of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Previously against San Francisco, he scored eight points and pulled down nine rebounds. Keister also played well at Ohio, totaling eight points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Earlier in the season, he had good games against Massachusetts (10 points, six rebounds), Western Michigan (nine points, eight rebounds) and Fairfield (six points, eight rebounds). Overall this year, Keister is now averaging 5.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

BROWN PLAYS KEY MINUTES OFF THE BENCH: Freshman guard Devin Brown (Randallstown, Md.) has been the first player off the bench in the Holy Cross backcourt this season. During the victory over San Francisco, Brown recorded 22 points and five assists, while making 11 of 12 free throw attempts. Previously at Massachusetts, he totaled 14 points and three rebounds. Brown also had a huge game against Fairfield, scoring a career-high 22 points while hitting five of nine shots from the field and all 10 of his shots at the foul line. Some of his other top games this season have come against St. Joseph's (12 points, two rebounds, two assists) and Siena (10 points, three rebounds, two assists). Overall this year, he is averaging 8.9 points per game, while making a team-best 89.8 percent (53 of 59) of his free throws. Brown came to Holy Cross from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Fitchburg, Mass., after previously graduating from Baltimore City High School.

MAY STEPS INTO PROMINENT ROLE: Junior forward Adam May (Mentor, Ohio) has become a key part of the Holy Cross rotation this season, and has been one of the team's top players on the offensive end of the court. So far this year, he is averaging 5.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. During the Siena game, May totaled 15 points, three rebounds and three steals. Earlier in the season against St. Joseph's, he led the team with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. May also played well at Northeastern, totaling 11 points, two rebounds and two assists. Last season, he averaged 5.2 points and 2.0 rebounds, while playing in 23 games with one start. May scored in double-figures three times in 2007-2008, including a career-best 16 points against Harvard. Over the course of his collegiate career, May has now totaled 221 points, 82 rebounds, 40 assists and 27 steals.

MCCARTHY PLAYS BIG ROLE UP FRONT: Senior center Greg McCarthy (Mansfield, Mass.) has seen a good deal of action for Holy Cross at the low post positions this season. During the Yale game, McCarthy scored 12 points and pulled down a career-best nine rebounds. Previously at Loyola (Ill.), he posted 13 points on six of 10 shooting, in addition to recording three rebounds and two steals. Earlier in the season, McCarthy also played well at Harvard (18 points, eight rebounds, four steals) and Northeastern (11 points, four rebounds). Overall this season, he is now averaging 6.4 points and 3.9 rebounds, while leading the team in field goal percentage (50.7 percent, 38 of 75). Last season, McCarthy averaged 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he has totaled 247 points and 137 rebounds, while hitting 103 of 207 (49.8 percent) field goal attempts.

MEISTER CLEANS THE GLASS FOR THE CRUSADERS: Junior forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.) has been a key player for Holy Cross in the low post this season, despite missing three games due to injury. During the victory over Western Michigan, he totaled 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Previously at Harvard, Meister posted his second double-double of the year with 10 points and 11 boards. He also had big games earlier in the season against Sacred Heart (11 points, career-high 11 rebounds) and St. Joseph's (nine points, seven rebounds, three blocks). On the season, he is averaging 6.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots per game. Last year, Meister averaged 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds, while playing in 18 games with eight starts. As a freshman in 2006-2007, he was selected to the Patriot League All-Rookie team. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he has now totaled 267 points, 264 rebounds and 44 blocked shots.

VANDER BAAN PLAYS KEY ROLE ON FRONT LINE: Senior forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) has been a key member of the Holy Cross lineup this year, despite missing five contests due to injury. During the Ohio game, he recorded 10 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Previously at Loyola (Ill.), Vander Baan totaled nine points, three rebounds and two assists. Earlier in the season, he had big games against St. Joseph's (13 points, 11 rebounds), Sacred Heart (nine points, seven rebounds) and Brown (six points, eight rebounds, five assists). Overall this year, Vander Baan is averaging 6.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. During the 2007-2008 season, he averaged 8.5 points and 5.7 rebounds in 19 games played. As a freshman in 2005-2006, Vander Baan was selected to the Patriot League All-Rookie team. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 634 points, 492 rebounds, 135 assists, 74 steals and 35 blocked shots.

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders are once again an outstanding rebounding team this year, averaging 36.2 boards per contest and outrebounding their opponents by an average margin of 5.9 rebounds per game. So far this season, Holy Cross has outrebounded its opponent in 12 out of 14 games played. Senior forward Colin Cunningham leads the team with an average of 5.5 rebounds per game, while junior forward Eric Meister stands second with 5.3 boards per contest. Senior forward Alex Vander Baan is averaging 5.1 rebounds per game, while freshman guard R.J. Evans is averaging 4.6 boards per contest and sophomore forward Andrew Keister is chipping in with 4.4 rebounds per game. In 2007-2008, Holy Cross was outrebounded only five times in 29 games, while averaging 33.5 rebounds per game and outrebounding the opposition by 5.6 boards per contest. The Crusaders were even more impressive in Patriot League play, outrebounding conference foes by 6.3 boards per game. Entering 2008-2009, the Crusaders have posted a positive rebounding margin in nine straight seasons, including seven years in which they outrebounded the opposition by at least four boards per game.

OFFENSE LIGHTS UP SCOREBOARD AGAINST SAN FRANCISCO: In the Dec. 27 victory over San Francisco, the Crusaders scored a season-best 97 points. That performance marked the most points scored by Holy Cross in a single game since Nov. 23, 2002, when it defeated Dowling 101-61. The 97 points were also the most by the Crusaders against a Division I opponent since they defeated Lehigh 100-81 on Jan. 27, 1996. Overall this season, Holy Cross is now averaging 64.8 points per game.

STEALING THE SHOW: Through 14 games played so far this season, Holy Cross has averaged 8.8 steals per game, including highs of 13 steals at Boston University and 12 steals at Harvard. Freshman guard R.J. Evans currently leads the team with 25 steals, while sophomore guard Andrew Beinert stands second with 22 steals. Senior forward Colin Cunningham has totaled 21 steals, senior center Greg McCarthy has recorded 14 steals, and four other Crusaders have at least seven steals. Holy Cross has led the Patriot League in steals five times in the last six seasons, while averaging over 10 steals per game in both 2003-2004 (10.7 steals per game) and 2004-2005 (10.3 steals per game).

CRUSADERS HAVE THREE 20-POINT SCORERS: In the 97-88 victory over San Francisco on Dec. 27, Holy Cross had three different players score at least 20 points. Senior forward Colin Cunningham and freshman guard R.J. Evans tied for the team lead with 26 points each, while freshman guard Devin Brown added 22 points. That performance marked the first time that three different Crusaders scored 20 or more points in the same game since Nov. 18, 2005, against High Point. In that game, Kevin Hamilton led Holy Cross with 22 points, Keith Simmons scored 21 points, and Torey Thomas added 20 points.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in two statistical categories, through games of Dec. 21. In addition, freshman guard Devin Brown ranks among the national leaders in free throw percentage. The rankings:

 

Category          Rank  Player / Team    Avg.
Free Throw Percent   3  Devin Brown      94.6
Steals              41  Holy Cross        8.9
Rebound Margin      54  Holy Cross       +5.9

CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2008-2009. In 14 games played so far this season, the Crusaders have allowed 67.5 points per game, while forcing 16.1 turnovers per contest and outrebounding the opposition by 5.9 boards per game. Holy Cross is also averaging 8.8 steals and 3.2 blocked shots per contest. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, the Crusaders have held their opponents to only 59.4 points per contest. In addition, Holy Cross has ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense in five of the last seven 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 the Crusaders' 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
2007-2008   60.5   41.0   36.9    7.4   3.9
2008-2009   67.5   44.2   34.7    8.8   3.2

CRUSADERS REACH 300 VICTORIES AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross currently owns an all-time record of 303-112 at the Hart Center, after posting its 300th win in the building against Sacred Heart on Nov. 14. The Crusaders 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 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 29 out of 33 seasons, while recording double-figure home victories 15 times. The Crusaders stand 90-20 at home since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, including a 54-10 record against Patriot League foes.

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 90th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1269-822 (.607), 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 KNIGHTS: Central Florida enters the game with an overall record of 9-4 on the year. The Knights have won their last four games, and have a perfect 7-0 record at home this season. Senior guard Jermaine Taylor currently leads the team with averages of 23.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Isaac Sosa has added 9.8 points per contest, while hitting 50.9 percent (29 of 57) of his three-point field goal attempts. Central Florida is led by head coach Kirk Speraw, who owns an overall record of 256-206 in 16 seasons with the Knights. Speraw's career record stands at 338-227, including three seasons at Pensacola Junior College.

HOLY CROSS ON THE RADIO: Most of the Crusaders' basketball contests during the 2008-2009 season will be carried by The Pike, WWFX 100.1 FM in Worcester. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre is in his 22nd season calling the play-by-play for Crusader basketball on the radio. In addition, Jeremy Lechan and Dick Lutsk are in their fifth year on the Holy Cross broadcast crew, and will handle either play-by-play or color commentary for selected games. The Pike is currently scheduled to air 23 of the Crusaders' 29 regular season games. All games aired on The Pike can also be heard live over the internet at `www.worcesterpike.com'. The six games not carried on The Pike will be broadcast exclusively 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 nine games shown on live television during the 2008-2009 season. The Crusaders had eight television appearances last year, while appearing on television 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 2008-2009 season:

 

Date     Opponent         Television Outlet
Nov. 29  Loyola (Ill.)    Lakeshore Public Television
Dec. 30  Siena            WCTR-TV3
Jan. 6   Central Florida  Bright House Sports Network
Jan. 17  Bucknell         ESPNU
Jan. 24  American         ESPNU
Jan. 31  Lehigh           Service Electric Cable
Feb. 7   Lafayette        Lafayette Sports Network
Feb. 11  Army             WCTR-TV3
Feb. 25  Colgate          Time Warner Cable

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 CBS College Sports Online, is available for a $9.95 monthly subscription. For details on how to sign up for Crusader All-Access, click here.

DRIBBLES: The Crusaders stand 3-3 this season when wearing their white uniforms, while going 1-0 in their black uniforms and 1-6 in their purple uniforms ... With the victory over St. Joseph's, Holy Cross is 1-0 this season in overtime games. The Crusaders now stand 12-3 in overtime contests under Ralph Willard ... Senior forward Colin Cunningham, senior guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) and senior forward Alex Vander Baan are serving as the Crusaders' tri-captains this season ... Holy Cross was picked to finish third in the 2008-2009 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 68 total points and two first place votes. American placed first in the poll, while Lehigh was second ... The New England Basketball Hall of Fame has established the Ronald S. Perry New England Basketball Legend Award, which will be presented at each New England Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony to an individual who, in demonstrating uncommon basketball excellence, has made an extraordinary contribution to the sport in the New England region. The award is named in honor of former Holy Cross student-athlete and athletic director Ron Perry (Class of 1954) ... At halftime of the game between Holy Cross and St. Joseph's on Nov. 16, four all-time Crusader basketball greats were honored. George Kaftan (Class of 1949), Bob Cousy (Class of 1950), Togo Palazzi (Class of 1954) and Tom Heinsohn (Class of 1956) were all be on hand to witness their jerseys being lifted to the Hart Center rafters -- the first time Holy Cross held such a ceremony for any former student-athlete ... With the Nov. 14 victory over Sacred Heart, Holy Cross improved to 27-7 in home openers at the Hart Center, with an 8-2 mark under Ralph Willard ... The Crusaders also improved their all-time mark in season openers to 65-25, including a 39-6 mark at home and an 8-2 record under Ralph Willard ... Holy Cross wore its black uniforms at home for the first time ever against Sacred Heart, as part of the Black Out Night promotion.