January 17, 2005

Holy Cross Set To Face Iona At The DCU Center

Jan. 17, 2005

Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (10-5, 2-1 PL) vs. Iona (5-10, 1-5 MAAC)
Date: January 18, 2005
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: DCU Center (13,008), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Dick Lutsk, play-by-play; Jeremy Lechan, color; WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Iona Radio: Gary Stanley, play-by-play; Ed Ingles, color; WRTN 93.5 FM, New Rochelle, N.Y.
Series Record: Iona leads, 15-14
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 68, Iona 55 (December 31, 2003; New Rochelle, N.Y.)

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     14  Kevin Hamilton  6-4   180   Jr.
G     20  Pat Doherty    5-11   165   Fr.

THE SERIES WITH IONA: This will be the 30th meeting between the Crusaders and the Gaels on the hardwood, with Iona leading the all-time series 15-14. The teams have played only twice since Holy Cross left the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference following the 1989-1990 season. The Crusaders won 68-55 in New Rochelle last year, while the Gaels posted a 71-59 victory at the Rainbow Classic in 2001-2002. From 1984-1990, Iona posted a 10-8 mark against Holy Cross when the schools were MAAC foes. For games played in Worcester, Holy Cross holds a 10-2 advantage, with six straight victories. This will be the third time the teams have met at the DCU Center, with the Crusaders winning 66-65 on Dec. 30, 1982, and the Gaels posting a 90-79 victory on Feb. 15, 1984. The schools first met on Dec. 20, 1974, with Holy Cross posting an 87-46 victory at the Worcester Auditorium.

HOLY CROSS AT THE DCU CENTER: The Crusaders will be making their 16th appearance at the DCU Center, formerly known as the Worcester Centrum. Holy Cross owns an all-time record of just 5-10 at the DCU Center, but stands 2-0 under the direction of head coach Ralph Willard. The most recent contest for the Crusaders at the DCU Center came on Dec. 1, 2002, when they posted a 71-70 victory over Boston College. Holy Cross previously defeated Massachusetts 78-65 on Nov. 25, 2000. Later this year, the DCU Center will serve as the site for first and second round games of the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament on March 18 and 20. The building previously hosted NCAA first and second round games on March 20 and 22, 1992, with Massachusetts and Kentucky advancing to the East Regional. Overall, a total of 33 Division I collegiate men's basketball games have been played at the DCU Center in its history. The first contests came on Dec. 29, 1982, when Holy Cross defeated Davidson 65-62 and Iona downed George Washington 65-57 in the Shawmut Worcester County Classic.

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 14 times in 15 games. During Saturday's victory over Colgate, he led the team with 19 points and six steals, in addition to posting five rebounds and two assists. Previously in the win at Army, Hamilton had 18 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, while hitting five of eight attempts from three-point range. And in the Patriot League opener 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 15 games so far this year, he is averaging 14.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.1 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 38 occasions during his Holy Cross career, including 28 times in his last 32 games.

HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: The Crusaders are currently ranked 58th in the nation in the latest Ratings Percentage Index, according to Collegiate Basketball News. In the most recent ratings, through games of January 16, Holy Cross had an RPI of .5710, to place ahead of nationally ranked teams such as Pittsburgh (79th, .5580). The Crusaders' schedule currently ranks as the 94th-best in the nation at .5398, including games against four teams which are presently ranked in the top 50 (No. 5 Boston College, No. 19 Vermont, No. 29 Princeton and No. 47 Minnesota). Holy Cross is currently the top rated team in the Patriot League, coming in ahead of Bucknell (78th, .5583) and American (140th, .5165). No other Patriot League school ranks better than 220th.

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 Saturday's victory over Colgate, he totaled 18 points and six rebounds, while hitting six of 12 field goal attempts and all five of his foul shots. In the previous game 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 15 games, he is averaging 11.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals per contest, while hitting 50.8 percent of his field goals (62 of 122) and 42.3 percent of his three-pointers (22 of 52). 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).

CRUSADERS STEP UP ON DEFENSE: The Holy Cross defense has been outstanding so far this season, allowing its opponents to average just 56.5 points per game. The Crusaders have held 10 of their first 15 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 last 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 17.7 turnovers per game, including 26 by Harvard and 25 by both Minnesota and Fordham. In addition, the Crusaders have averaged 10.9 steals and 4.3 blocks per contest, while outrebounding the opposition by 5.2 boards per game and holding opponents to 40.4 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 58.7 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).

COLGATE RECAP: Kevin Hamilton totaled 19 points, five rebounds, six steals and two assists to lead the Crusaders to a 74-64 victory over Colgate at the Hart Center. Holy Cross started the game on fire, hitting four of its first six shots to take a 10-0 lead after only three minutes of play. The Crusaders would extend their lead to as many as 11 points in the opening half, before the Raiders came back to make it a five-point game at the break. Holy Cross was still up by five points (49-44) with 14 minutes left to play, before going on an 8-1 run to take a 12-point advantage at the 12-minute mark. But a few minutes later, Colgate went on a 10-2 run of its own, and the Crusaders were up by just two (66-64) with two minutes left in regulation. Hamilton then hit a three-pointer from the corner to start an 8-0 Holy Cross run to close out the game. Keith Simmons totaled 18 points and six rebounds for the Crusaders, while Pat Doherty added 14 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Colgate, which made 11 of 15 three-point attempts (73.3 percent) on the afternoon, was led by Alvin Reed (16 points, six assists) and Kyle Roemer (15 points, 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 99-66 during his time in Worcester. With a victory over Iona, Willard can become only the fifth coach in school history with 100 victories. 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. 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 243-190. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

CRUSADERS HEAT UP ON OFFENSE: Holy Cross has turned in some outstanding shooting performances over the last few games. During Saturday's victory over Colgate, the Crusaders made 51.9 percent of their field goal attempts (27 of 52) and 50.0 percent of their shots from three-point range (nine of 18). In the previous contest at Army, Holy Cross hit on 26 of 52 attempts from the floor (50.0 percent) and 10 of 20 shots from behind the arc (50.0 percent). On the season, the Crusaders have now hit at least 50 percent of their field goal attempts five times, in addition to making at least 50 percent from three-point range five times. Holy Cross' top performance came at Brown, when it hit 33 of 56 field goal attempts (58.9 percent) and eight of 13 three-point attempts (61.5 percent). Last season, the Crusaders only shot 50 percent or better from the floor three times all year, in addition to making at least 50 percent of their three-point attempts five times in the 2003-2004 campaign.

THE LAST MEETING WITH IONA: In the last game between the Crusaders and the Gaels, John Hurley totaled 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead Holy Cross to a 68-55 victory at the Mulcahy Center on Dec. 31, 2003. The Crusaders played outstanding defense in the first half, holding Iona to just 20.0 percent shooting from the floor. Holy Cross would lead by as many as 13 points before the break (23-10), before eventually taking a 25-18 advantage into the locker room. Early in the second half, Iona went on a 15-6 run, tying the score at 38-38 with 11:54 left in the game. But Greg Kinsey then hit a three-pointer to ignite a 24-10 Holy Cross run, giving the Crusaders a 14-point lead with just 1:40 remaining in regulation. The Crusaders then connected on all six of their free throw attempts down the stretch to capture the victory. Holy Cross outrebounded Iona 45-36 on the day, while forcing the Gaels into 17 turnovers. Keith Simmons scored 11 points off the bench, while hitting three of five attempts from three-point range, and Nate Lufkin added 10 points and eight rebounds. DeShaun Williams had 14 points and nine rebounds for Iona, while Steve Smith added 14 points and six boards.

STEALING THE SHOW: In its first 15 games so far this season, Holy Cross has recorded 163 steals, good for an average of 10.9 steals per game. The Crusaders have already reached double figures in steals for a game eight 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.

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. During Saturday's victory over Colgate, he set career highs for points (14), rebounds (four), steals (three) and minutes played (29), while tying his career high with five assists. In the previous game 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 nine points and five assists. Doherty also played well against Minnesota (six points) and Marist (two points, two rebounds, four assists, two steals). Through 15 games played so far this season, Doherty is now averaging 3.1 points and 1.7 assists per contest.

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

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 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds over the first 15 games. During Saturday's victory over Colgate, Kinsey totaled nine points, two rebounds and two assists, while hitting four of seven shots from the floor Previously in 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 410 points, 257 rebounds, 143 assists and 100 steals, while being in the starting lineup for 70 of the last 71 games the Crusaders have played.

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 Saturday's victory over Colgate, he totaled five points, three steals and a career-best six assists. Previously in 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 15 games so far this year, he is averaging 7.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 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 442 points, 323 rebounds, 57 assists, 35 blocks and 76 steals.

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 7.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 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 722 points, 478 rebounds and 124 blocked shots during his Holy Cross career. He needs 12 more blocked shots this season to become the Crusaders' all-time career leader in blocks.

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 15 starts of his collegiate career. He suffered an injury during Saturday's victory over Colgate, and is questionable for the Iona game. During last week'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 15 games so far this year, he is averaging 9.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.2 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.

CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross stands 4-2 at the Hart Center so far this season, improving its all-time record in the building to 257-102. Since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, the Crusaders now have an overall mark of 45-9 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 GAELS: Iona has an overall record of 5-10 on the season, including a 1-5 mark in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Gaels had lost four straight, before posting a 69-67 win at Manhattan on Saturday. Iona's other victories this season have come against Rhode Island, Virginia Commonwealth, St. Bonaventure and Northern Arizona. The Gaels' leading scorer is junior guard Steve Burtt, who has averaged 16.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest. Senior center Greg Jenkins (14.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game) and junior guard Ricky Soliver (14.0 points and 4.7 assists per game) are also enjoying strong seasons. Iona is led by head coach Jeff Ruland, who owns a 104-93 record during his seven seasons with the Gaels. Ruland, a 1991 graduate of Iona, played for eight seasons in the National Basketball Association with the Washington Bullets, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons.

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.

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: Seniors John Hurley and Greg Kinsey are serving as Holy Cross' co-captains this season ... 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 in two straight games against Brown (84 points) and Northeastern (82 points). That marked the first time the Crusaders scored 80 points in consecutive games in seven 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.