January 10, 2005

Crusaders Travel To Army On Wednesday Night

Jan. 10, 2005

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Game Day Quick Facts:
The Teams: Holy Cross (8-5, 0-1 PL) vs. Army (2-11, 0-1 PL)
Date: January 12, 2005
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Christl Arena (5,043), West Point, N.Y.
Holy Cross Radio: Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Army Radio: Rich DeMarco, play-by-play; Bob Beretta, color; WBNR 1260 AM, Beacon, N.Y.; WLNA 1420 AM, Peekskill, N.Y.
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 43-14
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 78, Army 38 (February 7, 2004; Worcester, Mass.)

Probable Holy Cross Starters:
Pos. No.  Name             Ht.   Wt.   Cl.
F     23  Greg Kinsey      6-4   195   Sr.
F     24  John Hurley      6-8   215   Sr.
C      4  Nate Lufkin     6-11   235   Sr.
G      1  Torey Thomas    5-11   175   So.
G     14  Kevin Hamilton   6-4   180   Jr.

THE SERIES WITH ARMY: This will be the 58th meeting between the Crusaders and the Black Knights on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 43-14. The Crusaders swept two contests from Army last season, and have won six straight games overall against the Black Knights. Army's last victory in the series came on Jan. 23, 2002, when it posted a 57-46 win at home. For games played at West Point, Holy Cross holds a 15-12 advantage, with two straight victories and an 11-8 mark at Christl Arena. The schools first met on Feb. 22, 1926, with Army posting a 41-27 victory at West Point.

HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: The Crusaders are currently ranked 51st in the nation in the latest Ratings Percentage Index, according to CollegeRPI.com. In the most recent ratings, through games of January 9, Holy Cross had an RPI of .5839, to place ahead of nationally ranked teams such as Louisville (56th, .5794), Maryland (61st, .5752) and Pittsburgh (76th, .5559). The Crusaders' schedule currently ranks as the 51st-best in the nation at .5597, including games against four teams which are presently ranked in the top 50 (No. 4 Boston College, No. 25 Vermont, No. 33 Princeton and No. 46 Minnesota). Holy Cross is currently the top rated team in the Patriot League, coming in ahead of Bucknell (60th, .5765) and American (159th, .5011). No other Patriot League school ranks better than 216th.

STEALING THE SHOW: In its first 13 games so far this season, Holy Cross has recorded 141 steals, good for an average of 10.8 steals per game. The Crusaders have already reached double figures in steals for a game seven times this season, with a high of 20 at Harvard, their most in a single contest since swiping the ball 21 times against Texas A&M on Dec. 30, 1994. This should come as no surprise, as last season Holy Cross led the Patriot League and ranked seventh in the nation with an average of 10.7 steals per game.

HAMILTON STARTS SEASON STRONG: Junior guard Kevin Hamilton (Queens Village, N.Y.) has turned in a some outstanding performances in Holy Cross' first 13 games of the season, scoring in double figures 12 times. During Saturday's game at Bucknell, he led the team with 17 points, while also collecting three rebounds, three steals and two assists. In the previous game against Dartmouth, Hamilton totaled 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals. Earlier this year, he scored a career-high 22 points at Minnesota, hitting eight of 16 shots from the floor and six of eight attempts from three-point range, while also leading the team with six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Some of Hamilton's other top games this season came against Harvard (18 points, five rebounds, five steals, three assists), Fordham (17 points, eight rebounds), Boston University (17 points, six steals, five rebounds, three assists), Northeastern (13 points, six rebounds, five assists), Rhode Island (12 points, seven rebounds, three steals, Vermont (12 points, five rebounds, four assists), Brown (10 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, four steals) and Marist (10 points, nine rebounds, three assists). Through 13 games so far this year, he is averaging 13.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.9 steals per game. Prior to the start of the season, Hamilton was named to the 2004-2005 preseason All-Patriot League team, in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. He has now scored in double figures on 36 occasions during his Holy Cross career, including 26 times in his last 30 games.

CRUSADERS STEP UP ON DEFENSE: The Holy Cross defense has been outstanding so far this season, allowing its opponents to average just 58.0 points per game. The Crusaders have held nine of their first 13 opponents this year under 60 points in regulation, with lows of 39 points by Fordham, 48 points by Boston University and 50 points by Rhode Island. Holy Cross has also forced its opponents to commit an average of 17.9 turnovers per game, including 26 by Harvard and 25 by both Minnesota and Fordham. In addition, the Crusaders have averaged 10.8 steals and 4.0 blocks per contest, while outrebounding the opposition by 4.8 boards per game. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Holy Cross has never allowed its opponents to average over 60 points per game for a season, while holding the opposition to only 58.9 points per contest during that span. In addition, the Crusaders have ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense during each of the last three seasons (sixth in 2001-2002 at 59.6; third in 2002-2003 at 58.7; and seventh in 2003-2004 at 58.6).

WILLARD CONTINUES IMPRESSIVE RUN AT HOLY CROSS: Ralph Willard is now in his sixth season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 97-66 during his time in Worcester. Willard has led Holy Cross to three Patriot League tournament titles and three trips to the NCAA Tournament, during the 2000-2001, 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 seasons. He also guided the Crusaders to Patriot League regular season championships in 2000-2001 and 2002-2003, 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. With three more wins this season, Willard can become only the fifth coach in school history with 100 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 241-190. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

SIMMONS HAS GOOD START TO SOPHOMORE CAMPAIGN: Sophomore guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) has turned in some big games off the bench for Holy Cross so far this season. During the victory at Brown on Dec. 21, he scored a career-high 30 points, hitting 11 of 14 field goal attempts and six of six from three-point range. Simmons, who also recorded five rebounds, two steals and two assists, had the highest scoring total by a Crusader since Josh Sankes put up 30 points against Northeastern on Dec. 22, 1999, and was named the Patriot League Player of the Week. He also totaled 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in the win over Northeastern, while recording 15 points and eight rebounds against Vermont. Some of Simmons' other top performances this season have come against Boston University (13 points, three rebounds, two assists), Princeton (team-high 12 points), Boston College (nine points, three rebounds, three steals), Marist (nine points, two rebounds, two steals), Dartmouth (nine points, three assists, two steals) and Rhode Island (eight points, six rebounds, two steals). Through 13 games, he is averaging 10.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals per contest, while hitting 48.0 percent of his field goals (48 of 100) and 41.3 percent of his three-pointers (19 of 46). Simmons is coming off a strong freshman season in which he was named to the 2003-2004 Patriot League All-Rookie team, after averaging 8.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, and leading the Patriot League in three-point field goal percentage (.458, 33 of 72).

BUCKNELL RECAP: Kevin Hamilton recorded 17 points, three rebounds and three steals, but it was not enough as the Crusaders were defeated by Bucknell 59-43 at Sojka Pavilion. The score was tied 6-6 with 12:23 remaining in the first half, before the Bison went on an 11-0 run to build a 17-6 lead. Holy Cross was able to cut the lead down to seven points, before Bucknell built the advantage back up to 12 points heading into the locker room. In the second half, the Bison were still up by 11 with 14:07 left to play, when the Crusaders went on a 10-0 run to make it a one-point game at the 11:14 mark. But Holy Cross then went cold from the field and did not score again until just 4:30 remained, and Bucknell once again took a double figure lead. The Crusaders totaled only six points in the final 11 minutes of play, as the Bison expanded their lead to as many as 16 points in the closing minutes. Both teams made only 14 shots and five three-pointers on the day, but Bucknell was allowed to go to the free throw line 25 more times than Holy Cross, outscoring the Crusaders 26-10 at the charity stripe. Kevin Bettencourt led the Bison with 17 points and six steals, while Charles Lee added 12 points and six rebounds.

THOMAS SHINES IN STARTING ROLE: Sophomore point guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) has been one of the Crusaders' top players so far this season, while making the first 13 starts of his collegiate career. During last week's victory over Dartmouth, Thomas scored a season-high 15 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. In the previous game at Rhode Island, he totaled 11 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Thomas also had 14 points, three rebounds and three assists against Vermont, while totaling 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals against Northeastern. Earlier in the season at Boston College, he scored 10 points of five of eight shooting from the floor, while tying his career-high with eight assists. Some of Thomas' other top performances this season have come against Harvard (13 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals), Boston University (10 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals), Fordham (10 points, five rebounds, five steals, four assists), Minnesota (nine points, five rebounds, three assists), Marist (eight points, seven rebounds, eight assists) and Princeton (seven points, five steals, six rebounds). Through 13 games so far this year, he is averaging 10.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Last season, Thomas averaged 5.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game as the Crusaders' backup point guard.

LUFKIN LOOKS TO SHINE IN FINAL SEASON: Senior center Nate Lufkin (Austin, Texas) is once again enjoying a solid season for the Crusaders in 2004-2005. During last week's victory over Dartmouth, he scored 12 points while hitting five of six field goal attempts. In the previous game at Rhode Island, Lufkin totaled nine points and two rebounds, including a pair of baskets during a key 8-0 second half run. Previously, in the win over Northeastern, he scored 14 points on seven of 11 shooting, in addition to totaling six rebounds and three assists. Some of Lufkin's other top games this season have come against Boston College (12 points, nine rebounds), Harvard (eight points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks), Princeton (eight points, three rebounds) and Fordham (seven points, five rebounds, two assists). On the season, Lufkin is averaging 7.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per contest. Now in his third year as a starter for the Crusaders, Lufkin averaged 8.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game during the 2003-2004 season, while hitting 81 of 143 (56.6 percent) of his shots from the field. The 2001-2002 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, Lufkin has now totaled 710 points, 472 rebounds and 118 blocked shots during his Holy Cross career. He needs 18 more blocked shots this season to become the Crusaders' all-time career leader in blocks.

THE LAST MEETING WITH ARMY: In the last game between the Crusaders and the Black Knights, John Hurley totaled 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead Holy Cross to a 78-38 victory at the Hart Center on Feb. 7, 2004. Following the contest, Hurley earned the Martin O'Malley Award as the Most Valuable Player of Winter Homecoming. The Crusaders opened the game with a 20-3 run over the first 9:50 of play, then stretched the lead to 31-6 with 4:21 left before halftime, while holding Army to just one field goal during the first 16:35 of the game. By the break, Holy Cross had increased its lead to 30 points, 40-10. The second half was more of the same for Holy Cross, as it stretched its lead to as many as 43 points while cruising to the victory. The Crusaders went 13 for 29 from three-point range in the contest, tying the school record for three-point field goals made in a game. The feat had first been accomplished against Niagara on February 23, 1990. Holy Cross had five players reach double figures, as Hurley was joined by Kevin Hamilton (14 points), Jave Meade (10 points), Keith Simmons (10 points) and Torey Thomas (10 points). Army did not have any players score in double figures, as Travis Owsley totaled a team-best nine points.

HURLEY ENJOYING ANOTHER STRONG SEASON: Senior forward John Hurley (South Boston, Mass.) is once again among the top players for the Crusaders during the 2004-2005 season. During last week's victory over Dartmouth, Hurley had seven points and eight rebounds, while at Rhode Island, he totaled nine points, four rebounds and two steals. Against Vermont, Hurley recorded his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and against Northeastern, he tied his career-high with 18 points on eight of 12 shooting from the field, while also totaling five rebounds and two assists. Earlier this year, in the Boston College game, he scored 11 points while pulling down seven rebounds, including six at the offensive end of the floor. Some of Hurley's other top games this year came against Marist (10 points, eight rebounds), Harvard (nine points, five rebounds, six steals), Fordham (seven points, six rebounds, three steals) and Boston University (seven points, seven rebounds, two steals). Through 13 games so far this year, he is averaging 7.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals per contest. A year ago, Hurley started 27 games for Holy Cross, averaging 8.2 points and a team-high 5.0 rebounds per contest. He finished last year as the Patriot League's leader in offensive rebounds (85), while ranking seventh in overall rebounding and ninth in field goal percentage (.469, 97 of 207). Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Hurley has now totaled 436 points, 317 rebounds, 48 assists, 34 blocks and 72 steals.

KINSEY STARTING FOR THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR: Senior guard Greg Kinsey (Hatboro, Pa.) is in the Holy Cross starting lineup for the third consecutive season this year, and has averaged 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds over the first 13 games. During the win over Northeastern, he tied his career high with five assists, in addition to totaling seven points and three rebounds. In the Princeton game, Kinsey scored a season-best 11 points, while against Marist, he totaled 10 points, five rebounds and two assists. Last season, Kinsey started all 28 of Holy Cross' games, averaging 5.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest. He ranked 14th in the Patriot League in assists, while his 1.6-to-1 assist to turnover ratio was the second-best on the team. One of the top defensive players on the team, Kinsey also recorded 31 steals during the 2003-2004 season. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Kinsey has now totaled 399 points, 249 rebounds, 139 assists and 98 steals, while being in the starting lineup for 68 of the last 69 games the Crusaders have played.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders currently rank among the NCAA Division I leaders in two different statistical categories, through games of January 3. In addition, junior guard Kevin Hamilton and sophomore guard Torey Thomas are listed among the nation's leaders in steals. The rankings:

Category       Rank  Player / Team  Avg.
Steals           12  Holy Cross     11.0
                 22  Kevin Hamilton  2.9
                 33  Torey Thomas    2.6
Scoring Defense  23  Holy Cross     58.5

HYLAND BECOMING A FORCE DOWN LOW: Junior forward Kevin Hyland (White Plains, N.Y.) has turned in some big games so far this season as the first big man off the bench for the Crusaders. In the victory at Brown, Hyland scored a career-high 14 points, while hitting all seven of his field goal attempts. Previously, at Boston College, he scored 11 points on five of seven shooting from the floor, in addition to pulling down five rebounds. Earlier in the year against Marist, Hyland earned a start and responded with 13 points and two blocks, while shooting a perfect five of five from the field in 28 minutes of action. Through 13 games played so far this year, Hyland is averaging 4.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game, while shooting 68.6 percent (24 of 35) from the field.

CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross stands 3-2 at the Hart Center so far this season, improving its all-time record in the building to 256-102. Since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, the Crusaders now have an overall mark of 44-9 at the Hart Center. The building opened on Dec. 1, 1975, and since that time Holy Cross has posted a winning record at home in 25 out of 29 seasons, while posting double-figure home victories 12 times.

CRUSADERS PICKED FOURTH IN PRESEASON POLL: In the 2004-2005 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 66 total points in the poll, to trail first place Bucknell (92 points), second place Lehigh (79 points) and third place American (74 points). Following Holy Cross, Colgate placed fifth with 57 points, Lafayette came in sixth with 38 points, Navy was seventh with 24 points and Army finished eighth with 18 points.

SCOUTING THE BLACK KNIGHTS: Army has an overall record of 2-11 on the season, and enters the Holy Cross contest with a five-game losing streak. The Black Knights have not won a game since Dec. 9, when they downed New York Maritime 75-59. Army also has a 2-5 record at Christl Arena so far this season, having lost two straight. The Black Knight's leading scorer is sophomore guard Matt Bell, who has averaged 14.9 points per game while hitting 43.4 percent (23 of 53) of his three-point attempts. Sophomore forward Colin Harris has averaged 10.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest, while sophomore guard Cory Sinning leads the team with 34 assists and 16 steals. Army is led by head coach Jim Crews, who owns a 13-54 record during his three seasons with the Black Knights. Crews' career record stands at 307-263, including 17 years as the head coach at Evansville, where he led the Purple Aces to four NCAA Tournament appearances.

CRUSADERS TOUR SOME OF THE NATION'S OLDEST GYMS: In its first six games this season, Holy Cross played in three of the five oldest college basketball arenas in the nation. The Crusaders traveled to Harvard on Nov. 23 for a contest at Ray Lavietes Pavilion (opened in 1926, second oldest), went to Minnesota on Dec. 4 for a game at Williams Arena (opened in 1928, fifth oldest), then visited Fordham on Dec. 6 for a contest at Rose Hill Gymnasium (opened in 1925, oldest). Of the five oldest arenas in the nation which are still used today, the only ones Holy Cross is not scheduled to play in this season are McArthur Court (1926) in Eugene, Ore., and the Palestra (1927) in Philadelphia.

HURLEY AND KINSEY NAMED CAPTAINS: Senior forward John Hurley and senior guard Greg Kinsey have been selected as the Crusaders' co-captains for the 2004-2005 season. Both players are three-year letterwinners and returning starters for Holy Cross, and have taken over the leadership role from Jave Meade, who served as the Crusaders' captain as a senior during the 2003-2004 season.

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 86th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1187-775 (.605), while making 22 postseason tournament appearances -- 11 trips to the NCAA Tournament and 11 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 nine players on to professional basketball, had four players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, has 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.

DRIBBLES: With last Saturday's loss at Bucknell, Holy Cross dropped its Patriot League opener for the first time since the 1998-1999 season. The Crusaders now stand 10-5 all-time in Patriot League openers ... The Crusaders have now won their last eight contests against opponents from the Atlantic 10 Conference, following this year's victories against Fordham and Rhode Island ... On Dec. 21 and 27, Holy Cross scored over 80 points and shot over 50.0 percent from the field in two straight games against Brown (84 points, 58.9 percent shooting) and Northeastern (82 points, 54.2 percent shooting). That marked the first time the Crusaders scored 80 points in consecutive games in seven years, in addition to being the first time they hit over 50.0 percent of their shots in consecutive games in two years ... During the Boston College game on Dec. 9, the Crusaders became the first team to outrebound the Eagles this year (41-39), and forced Boston College to commit 18 turnovers. In addition, Holy Cross held Boston College to 53 points in regulation, after the Eagles entered the game with a scoring average of 79.2, and a previous low of 72 points ... Holy Cross' 3-0 start to this season was its best since the 1992-1993 Crusaders also began the year at 3-0 ... Holy Cross will serve as the host institution for first and second round games of the 2005 NCAA Tournament at the DCU Center in Worcester on March 18 and 20.