January 14, 2005

Men's Basketball To Face Colgate On Saturday

Jan. 14, 2005

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (9-5, 1-1 PL) vs. Colgate (5-9, 1-1 PL)
Date: January 15, 2005
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Colgate Radio: Eric Malanoski, play-by-play; WKXZ 93.9 FM, Norwich, N.Y.
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 41-14
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 60, Colgate 49 (February 11, 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 COLGATE: This will be the 56th meeting between the Crusaders and the Raiders on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 41-14. The teams split a pair of games last season, and stand 12-12 against each other over the last 11 years, with neither team winning more than three straight games during that time. Previously, the Crusaders had won 29 of the first 31 meetings between the schools. For games played in Worcester, Holy Cross holds a 23-4 advantage, with two straight victories and a 14-4 mark at the Hart Center. The schools first met on Feb. 11, 1947, with Holy Cross posting a 67-39 victory at the Boston Garden.

CRUSADERS STEP UP ON DEFENSE: The Holy Cross defense has been outstanding so far this season, allowing its opponents to average just 55.9 points per game. The Crusaders have held 10 of their first 14 opponents this year under 60 points in regulation, with lows of 29 points by Army, 39 points by Fordham and 48 points by Boston University. In Wednesday's game, Holy Cross held Army to the lowest point total by an opponent (29) since the Crusaders defeated Tufts 71-29 on Jan. 11, 1947. Holy Cross has also forced its opponents to commit an average of 17.5 turnovers per game, including 26 by Harvard and 25 by both Minnesota and Fordham. In addition, the Crusaders have averaged 10.6 steals and 4.3 blocks per contest, while outrebounding the opposition by 4.8 boards per game and holding opponents to 39.8 percent shooting from the field. 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 58.6 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).

HAMILTON ENJOYING OUTSTANDING SEASON: Junior guard Kevin Hamilton (Queens Village, N.Y.) has turned in a some outstanding performances for Holy Cross so far this season, scoring in double figures 13 times in 14 games. During Wednesday's victory at Army, Hamilton had 18 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, while hitting five of eight attempts from three-point range. In the previous game at Bucknell, he led the team with 17 points, while also collecting three rebounds, three steals and two assists. 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), Dartmouth (16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals), 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 14 games so far this year, he is averaging 14.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.2 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 37 occasions during his Holy Cross career, including 27 times in his last 31 games.

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.

CRUSADERS IN PATRIOT LEAGUE HOME OPENERS: Holy Cross is now in its 15th season of play in the Patriot League, and will play its first league home game of the season against Colgate. During their first 14 years in the conference, the Crusaders have posted a 9-5 record in their opening Patriot League home game of the year. Holy Cross had won three straight conference home openers, before suffering a 60-58 overtime loss against Lafayette last season. The Crusaders also stand 10-5 all-time in their first overall Patriot League game of the season, following this season's 59-43 loss at Bucknell on Jan. 8.

SIMMONS HAVING STRONG 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. In Wednesday's victory at Army, Simmons had 18 points and five rebounds, while hitting eight of 10 field goal attempts. 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. Some of Simmons' other top performances this season have come against Vermont (15 points, eight rebounds), Boston University (13 points, three rebounds, two assists), Northeastern (12 points, three rebounds, three assists), Princeton (team-high 12 points), Boston College (nine points, three rebounds, three steals), Marist (nine points, two rebounds, two steals) and Dartmouth (nine points, three assists, two steals). Through 14 games, he is averaging 11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per contest, while hitting 50.9 percent of his field goals (56 of 110) and 42.9 percent of his three-pointers (21 of 49). 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).

STEALING THE SHOW: In its first 14 games so far this season, Holy Cross has recorded 149 steals, good for an average of 10.6 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.

ARMY RECAP: Kevin Hamilton and Keith Simmons both scored 18 points to lead the Crusaders to a 66-29 victory over Army at Christl Arena. The 29 points scored were the fewest by a Holy Cross opponent since a 71-29 victory over Tufts on Jan. 11, 1947. Army opened the night by hitting its first four three-point field goal attempts, and held a 12-11 advantage with nine minutes to play before the break. But Holy Cross closed out the first half on a 15-3 run to take an 11-point lead into the locker room. The Crusaders then outscored the Black Knights 13-5 over the first seven minutes of the second half, and never looked back. Holy Cross eventually led by as many as 39 points in the closing minutes, before finally winning by 37. Simmons made eight of 10 field goal attempts on the night, while Hamilton made five of eight tries from three-point range. Torey Thomas added nine points and eight rebounds, while Pat Doherty had eight points and four assists. The Black Knights made only nine of 46 field goal attempts in the game (19.6 percent), with Jimmy Sewell totaling team-highs of 11 points and seven rebounds.

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 98-66 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 242-190. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

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 14 starts of his collegiate career. During Wednesday's win at Army, he totaled nine points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. Previously in the victory over Dartmouth, Thomas scored a season-high 15 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. He also played well at Rhode Island, totaling 11 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Some of Thomas' other top performances this season have come against Vermont (14 points, three rebounds, three assists), Harvard (13 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals), Northeastern (12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals), Boston College (10 points, eight assists), 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 14 games so far this year, he is averaging 9.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.4 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.

THE LAST MEETING WITH COLGATE: In the last game between the Crusaders and the Raiders, John Hurley scored 16 points to lead Holy Cross to a 60-49 victory at the Hart Center on Feb. 11, 2004. Colgate opened the game hot, jumping out to a 14-7 lead just 7:33 into the first half. The Crusaders responded with a 12-1 run, before the teams went into the locker room tied at 28-28. The second half was all about defense for Holy Cross, as it held Colgate to just 21 points and 31.6 percent shooting from the floor. The score was tied at 36-36 until a layup by Kevin Hamilton with 13:54 left in the game gave the Crusaders a lead they would never relinquish. Holy Cross then allowed the Raiders to make just four field goals for the remainder of the game, including only one over the final 9:03 of action. The Crusaders also forced 13 Colgate turnovers in the second half, while recording 11 steals. Holy Cross shot 51.1 percent (23 of 45) from the field in the game, including 50.0 percent (four of eight) from three-point range. Hurley was joined in double figures by Hamilton, who totaled 15 points and five steals. Colgate was led by Kendall Chones with 19 points, while Mark Linebaugh added 13 points and four assists.

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 the victory over Dartmouth, he scored 12 points while hitting five of six field goal attempts. Previously at Rhode Island, Lufkin totaled nine points and two rebounds, including a pair of baskets during a key 8-0 second half run. And 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), Fordham (seven points, five rebounds, two assists) and Army (seven points, three rebounds, three blocks). On the season, Lufkin is averaging 7.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 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 717 points, 475 rebounds and 121 blocked shots during his Holy Cross career. He needs 15 more blocked shots this season to become the Crusaders' all-time career leader in blocks.

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 the 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. Some of Hurley's other top games this year came against Boston College (11 points, seven rebounds), 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 14 games so far this year, he is averaging 7.4 points, 5.8 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 437 points, 321 rebounds, 51 assists, 35 blocks and 73 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 3.7 points and 2.4 rebounds over the first 14 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 401 points, 255 rebounds, 141 assists and 99 steals, while being in the starting lineup for 69 of the last 70 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 10. In addition, junior guard Kevin Hamilton is listed among the nation's leaders in steals. The rankings:

Category       Rank  Player / Team   Avg.
Steals           10  Holy Cross      10.8
                 13  Kevin Hamilton   2.9
Scoring Defense  11  Holy Cross      58.0

DOHERTY STEPPING UP IN BACKCOURT: Freshman Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) has turned in some solid performances as the backup to Torey Thomas at point guard. In Wednesday's victory at Army, Doherty totaled eight points, four assists and two rebounds, while hitting three of four field goal attempts and two of three shots from three-point range. Earlier this season in the win at Brown, he posted career-highs of nine points and five assists. Doherty also played well against Minnesota (six points) and Marist (two points, two rebounds, four assists, two steals). Through 14 games played so far this season, Doherty is now averaging 2.3 points and 1.5 assists per contest.

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 RAIDERS: Colgate has an overall record of 5-9 on the season, including a 1-1 mark in the Patriot League. The Raiders are coming off a tough 71-69 loss against Bucknell on Wednesday night. Prior to that, Colgate had won two straight games, against Florida Atlantic (81-75) and Army (60-56). The Raiders' leading scorer is senior forward Andrew Zidar, who has averaged 14.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per contest. Sophomore guard Jon Simon (13.8 points per game), junior guard Alvin Reed (12.4 points per game) and freshman guard Kyle Roemer (10.0 points per game) are also averaging in double figures. Colgate is led by head coach Emmett Davis, who owns a 91-93 record during his seven seasons with the Raiders. Prior to his time at Colgate, Davis served as an assistant coach at Navy and St. Lawrence for 16 years.

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 1188-775 (.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: The Crusaders have 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 ... 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.