Crusaders Set For ESPNU Game Against Bucknell

Jan. 17, 2008

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The Teams: Holy Cross (9-6, 0-2 PL) vs. Bucknell (7-9, 2-0 PL)
Date: January 18, 2008
Time: 9:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
ESPNU Television: Bob Socci, play-by-play; John Feinstein, color
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester;, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
Bucknell Radio: WEGH 107.3 FM, Sunbury, Pa.; Doug Birdsong, play-by-play; Doug Byerly, color
Sirius Satellite Radio: Frank Santore, play-by-play; Channel 121
Series Record: Bucknell leads, 25-20
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 74, Bucknell 66 (March 9, 2007; Worcester, Mass.; Patriot League Championship Game)

Pos.  No.  Name                Ht.   Wt.   Cl.
F      21  Alex Vander Baan    6-9   205   Jr.
F      33  Colin Cunningham    6-6   210   Jr.
C      00  Tim Clifford       6-11   260   Sr.
G       2  Kyle Cruze          6-2   175   Sr.
G      22  Andrew Beinert      6-2   175   Fr.

THE SERIES WITH BUCKNELL: This will be the 46th meeting between the Crusaders and the Bison on the hardwood, with Bucknell leading the all-time series 25-20. Holy Cross won two out of three games between the teams last year, but prior to that the Bison had won four straight meetings and six of seven games played between the schools. For games played in Worcester, the Crusaders hold a 10-9 advantage with two straight wins. The schools first met on January 12, 1991, with Holy Cross posting an 80-78 victory in Lewisburg.

Overall: Bucknell leads, 25-20
In Worcester: Holy Cross leads, 10-9
At the Hart Center: Holy Cross leads, 10-9
Ralph Willard vs. Bucknell: 11-11
Pat Flannery vs. Holy Cross: 21-13
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, one game
In Overtime: Tied, 1-1

HOLY CROSS CONTINUES HOMESTAND: The Crusaders will be playing the second contest of a three-game homestand when they play host to Bucknell on Friday, Jan. 18, at 9:00 p.m. Holy Cross began the homestand by falling to Army 53-39 on Wednesday night. Following the Bucknell game, the next contest for the Crusaders will come against Navy on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 7:00 p.m. Holy Cross will then return to the road, heading to Washington, D.C., to face American in a 2:00 p.m. contest on Saturday, Jan. 26.

CLIFFORD PLAYS BIG ROLE IN THE MIDDLE: Senior center Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.) is once again among the top big men in the conference this season, after earning second team All-Patriot League honors in 2006-2007. In the first 15 games of the season, he has averaged 16.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per contest, while hitting 55.6 percent (99 of 178) of his field goal attempts. During Wednesday's game against Army, Clifford recorded 13 points and eight rebounds. In the previous contest at Lafayette, he totaled 11 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. Clifford also played well at Maryland, leading the team with 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Some of Clifford's other top games this season have been against Siena (26 points on 11 of 16 shooting), Sacred Heart (24 points, seven rebounds and two blocks), Yale (23 points, eight rebounds, six blocked shots and four assists), Harvard (22 points and four rebounds), Hampton (22 points and six rebounds), Dayton (20 points), San Francisco (17 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two assists), St. Joseph's (16 points and seven rebounds), Boston University (16 points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots) and Ohio (11 points on five of six shooting). In 34 games played last year, Clifford averaged 11.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest. He was even more impressive in Patriot League regular season games, averaging 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Clifford has now totaled 971 points, 442 rebounds and 174 blocked shots.

CLIFFORD STANDS 29 POINTS AWAY FROM 1,000: Senior center Tim Clifford enters the Bucknell game needing just 29 points to become the 44th 1,000-point scorer in the history of Holy Cross men's basketball. Clifford has scored 971 points in 110 games as a Crusader, good for an average of 8.8 points per contest. Last season, Torey Thomas became the 43rd 1,000-point scorer at Holy Cross, netting his 1,000th point against Lehigh on Jan. 6, 2007, when he made a layup at the 11:51-mark of the first half.

CLIFFORD BREAKS BLOCKED SHOT RECORD: Senior center Tim Clifford broke the Holy Cross record for career blocked shots during the victory over Yale on Nov. 28, 2007. Clifford's record-breaking block came at the 5:15-mark of the second half, when he swatted away an attempted jump shot by the Bulldogs' Porter Braswell. That block moved him past Nate Lufkin (2001-2005), who had 153 blocked shots during his Holy Cross career. Clifford, who currently has 174 blocked shots during his career as a Crusader, also owns two of the top six spots on the school single season list for blocks (64 in 2006-2007; 48 in 2005-2006).

CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2007-2008. In 15 games played so far this season, the Crusaders have held their opponents to 59.9 points per contest, 41.4 percent shooting from the field and 37.2 percent shooting from three-point range. Holy Cross is also outrebounding the opposition by 6.0 boards per game, while forcing 14.9 turnovers per contest. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Holy Cross has held its opposition to only 58.7 points per contest. In addition, the Crusaders have ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense in five of the last six seasons (sixth in 2001-2002 at 59.6; third in 2002-2003 at 58.7; seventh in 2003-2004 at 58.6; fifth in 2004-2005 at 56.8; and eighth in 2006-2007 at 57.5). Here is a look at Holy Cross' defensive statistics under Ralph Willard.

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

VANDER BAAN PLAYS KEY ROLE ON FRONT LINE: Junior forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) is once again a key member of the Holy Cross lineup this year. In 12 games played so far this season, he has averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest. During the Siena game, Vander Baan posted 13 points, six rebounds and two steals. Previously at St. Joseph's, he totaled 16 points and seven rebounds, while making all four of his free throws in the final minute of play. Vander Baan also had a big night against Dayton, recording 11 points and seven rebounds, while hitting all three of his shots from the floor. Some of Vander Baan's other top performances this season have come against Harvard (18 points and eight rebounds), Hofstra (15 rebounds, 10 points, three assists and three blocks) and Fairfield (11 points and four rebounds). In 34 games played last year, Vander Baan averaged 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest, while making 36.2 percent of his three-point field goal attempts (17 of 47). His top performance of the 2006-2007 season came at Lehigh on Feb. 25, when he recorded 14 points and eight rebounds. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Vander Baan has now totaled 524 points, 419 rebounds, 115 assists, 59 steals and 26 blocked shots.

ARMY RECAP: Tim Clifford recorded 13 points and eight rebounds, but it was not enough as Holy Cross was defeated by Army 53-39 at the Hart Center on Jan. 16, 2008. The score was tied 9-9 after nine minutes of play, before Army used an 8-0 run to go in front 17-9. Holy Cross would rally to trim the lead down to one point (19-18) late in the half, before the Black Knights took a 22-19 advantage into the locker room. Army was still up by three (26-23) with 16:20 left to play, when the Crusaders went on a 6-2 run to reclaim the lead, 29-28 with 12 minutes remaining. But the Black Knights responded with a 9-0 spurt of their own to go back in front for good. Holy Cross would get no closer than six points the rest of the way, as Army eventually pulled away to win by 14. Andrew Beinert finished with 12 points, three assists and two rebounds, while Alex Vander Baan totaled eight points and 10 boards. Army was led by Cleveland Richard with 15 points, while Doug Williams posted 12 points and five rebounds. Jarell Brown also scored 12 points for the Black Knights, despite making just three of 14 field goal attempts.

WILLARD CONTINUES IMPRESSIVE RUN AT HOLY CROSS: Ralph Willard is now in his ninth season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 168-95 during his time in Worcester. He now stands in second place on the all-time school list for career victories, behind only George Blaney (357-276 / 1972-1994). Last season, Willard was selected as the Patriot League Coach of the Year for the third time in his career. He was previously named the conference's Coach of the Year during the 2000-2001 and 2004-2005 seasons, and in 2004-2005 he was also one of 10 finalists for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award. Willard has led the Crusaders to four Patriot League tournament titles and four trips to the NCAA Tournament, during the 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003 and 2006-2007 seasons. He has also guided Holy Cross to four Patriot League regular season championships in 2000-2001, 2002-2003, 2004-2005 and 2006-2007, with the 2002-2003 squad posting an overall record of 26-5 to come up just one win shy of the school single season record for victories. Prior to his time at Holy Cross, Willard spent five seasons as the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, and four years as head coach at Western Kentucky University. He led Western Kentucky to the NCAA Tournament during each of his final two seasons (advancing to the Sweet 16 in 1992-1993), and his overall career record stands at 312-219. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

CUNNINGHAM STARTS SEASON STRONG: Junior forward Colin Cunningham (Memphis, Tenn.) has taken over as the starting small forward for Holy Cross this year, and has been one of the Crusaders' top players. In the Lafayette game, he recorded 12 points, a team-high seven rebounds and two steals. Previously against Boston University, Cunningham totaled 16 points, four rebounds and three steals, while hitting four of five attempts from three-point range. Earlier in the season against Yale, he posted his first career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds, while making all three of his three-point attempts. Some of Cunningham's other top performances this season have come against Fairfield (career-high 17 points, 10 of 10 on the free throw line), Siena (15 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals), Harvard (13 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals), Ohio (12 points and three rebounds), Hampton (10 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Sacred Heart (10 points and four rebounds). Overall this season, Cunningham is now averaging 8.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while hitting 40.9 percent (18 of 44) of his three-point attempts.

THE LAST MEETING WITH BUCKNELL: Torey Thomas scored a career-high 28 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists and three steals, while leading Holy Cross to a 74-66 victory over Bucknell in the championship game of the Patriot League Tournament at the Hart Center on March 9, 2007. The Bison opened the game with a 9-2 run over the first four minutes of play, but the Crusaders immediately responded with a 7-0 spurt of their own to tie the score at 9-9. Holy Cross would use runs of 12-2 and 9-0 later in the half to build a 35-22 advantage heading into the locker room. The Crusaders then opened the second half with an 11-5 spurt, taking what appeared to be an insurmountable 46-27 lead with 16 minutes left to play. But Bucknell came right back with a 13-0 run of its own to get back into the game, and would eventually tie up the score at 53-53 with just under six minutes remaining. However, Keith Simmons would put Holy Cross back in front with four free throws over two consecutive possessions, then Thomas nailed a three-pointer to put the Crusaders up by seven, 60-53. The Bison would get no closer than four points the rest of the way, as Holy Cross made all 16 of its free throw attempts in the final five minutes. Simmons finished the day with 23 points, three rebounds and two assists, while Tim Clifford added eight points, six blocks and four rebounds. Bucknell was led by John Griffin with 15 points and three boards. As a team, the Crusaders shot 53.7 percent (22 of 41) from the field, 50.0 percent (seven of 14) from three-point range, and 88.5 percent (23 of 26) on the foul line.

CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross stands 5-1 at the Hart Center so far this season, and now owns an all-time record of 296-105 in the building. The Crusaders recently had a 23-game winning streak at the Hart Center, 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. Last season Holy Cross posted a perfect 14-0 mark at the Hart Center, setting a school record for the most home victories since it moved into the building. During the Hart Center's history, Holy Cross has posted a winning record at home in 28 out of 32 seasons, while recording double-figure home victories 15 times. The Crusaders stand 83-13 at home since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, including a 52-6 record against Patriot League foes.

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

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

DOHERTY TAKES OVER AT THE POINT: Junior guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) has taken over as the starting point guard for the Crusaders this year, after serving as the first guard off the bench in 2006-2007. In 13 games played this season, Doherty has averaged 9.2 points, 4.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per contest. During the San Francisco game, Doherty recorded 16 points and four rebounds, while hitting six of 10 shots from the field. In the previous contest against Boston University, he led the team with a career-high 20 points, in addition to posting three assists and three steals. Doherty also had a big day against Siena, totaling 15 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals. Some of Doherty's other top performances this season have come against Hofstra (18 points, four assists and three rebounds), Ohio (12 points, six assists and three steals) and Fairfield (11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals). In 28 games played last season, Doherty averaged 5.3 points, 2.2 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest. Doherty returned to the Holy Cross lineup last season, after missing the majority of the 2005-2006 campaign due to injury, and receiving a medical redshirt. As a freshman in 2004-2005, Doherty was honored as the Patriot League Rookie of the Year. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 424 points, 196 assists, 132 rebounds and 91 steals.

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders have once again shown themselves to be an outstanding rebounding team this year. Holy Cross has been outrebounded only once in 15 games this season, while averaging 34.0 rebounds per game and outrebounding the opposition by 6.0 boards per contest. The Crusaders have been even more impressive in Patriot League play, outrebounding conference foes by 10.0 boards per game. The rebounding load has been well balanced, with five different players averaging at least 3.2 rebounds per game. Junior forward Alex Vander Baan leads the team with an average of 6.8 rebounds per game, followed by senior center Tim Clifford with 5.7 boards per contest. Sophomore forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.) has totaled 4.6 rebounds per game, while junior forward Colin Cunningham has added 4.3 boards per contest, and junior guard Pat Doherty has contributed 3.2 rebounds per game. Last season, the Crusaders averaged 32.1 rebounds per game, and outrebounded their opponents by an average of 4.3 boards per game. Holy Cross really stepped things up in Patriot League regular season play last year, outrebounding the opposition by 8.0 boards per game, while allowing opponents to average just 25.2 rebounds per contest. Five different players averaged at least 3.6 boards per contest for Holy Cross in 2006-2007.

CRUZE PLAYS KEY MINUTES IN THE BACKCOURT: Senior guard Kyle Cruze (Knoxville, Tenn.) has developed into a strong player in the Holy Cross backcourt. Through the first 15 games of the season, he has averaged 3.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals per contest. During the St. Joseph's game, Cruze posted season-highs of 13 points and six assists, while hitting four of five field goal attempts (including three of four three-pointers). Previously against Ohio, he hit the game-winning shot with 2.6 seconds remaining, while totaling seven points, four assists and three rebounds. Earlier this season, Cruze recorded 10 points, two rebounds and two steals against Hofstra, while finishing with nine points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in the win at Fairfield. During the 2006-2007 season, Cruze started 25 games for the Crusaders, averaging 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds per contest.

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 89th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1258-805 (.610), while making 24 postseason tournament appearances -- 12 trips to the NCAA Tournament and 12 to the National Invitation Tournament. In the history of collegiate basketball, Holy Cross is one of only 16 schools to have won the NCAA Tournament (1946-1947) as well as the National Invitational Tournament (1953-1954). Throughout its history, Holy Cross has had six first team All-America selections, sent 10 players to the National Basketball Association, had four players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, had 23 players drafted by professional teams, had three players go on to coach professionally, and had 15 players who have coached in college, including current Crusader coach Ralph Willard.

MAY PLAYS KEY MINUTES OFF THE BENCH: Sophomore forward Adam May (Mentor, Ohio) has been the first Holy Cross player off the bench this season at the wing positions. In 15 games played, he has averaged 6.7 points and 2.5 rebounds, while hitting 70.8 percent (34 of 48) of his free throw attempts. In the Maryland game, May totaled 14 points, six rebounds and two steals. During the previous contest at San Francisco, he scored 12 points on four of five shooting, including the Crusaders' final nine points in overtime. May also had an outstanding game earlier in the season against Harvard, with a career-high 16 points and six rebounds. In addition, he had nine points and two rebounds at Fairfield, while scoring eight points against Ohio. Last season, May played in 18 games for the Crusaders, totaling 29 points and eight rebounds.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in three statistical categories, through games of January 13. In addition, senior center Tim Clifford is ranked among the national leaders in field goal percentage and blocked shots. The rankings:

Category          Rank  Player / Team   Avg.
Scoring Defense     30  Holy Cross      60.4
Blocked Shots       35  Tim Clifford     2.1
Field Goal Percent  43  Tim Clifford    56.3
Rebound Margin      46  Holy Cross      +5.4
Free Throw Percent  49  Holy Cross      73.2

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

HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: Holy Cross is currently ranked 123rd in the nation in the Ratings Percentage Index, with a rating of .5296 through games of Jan. 16. The Crusaders are the highest ranked team in the Patriot League, with the second-highest ranking belonging to Lafayette (129th, .5262). In addition, Holy Cross' non-conference schedule ranks as the 188th-best in the country, and the hardest in the Patriot League. The Crusaders concluded the 2006-2007 season ranked 59th in the country in the RPI with a rating of .5730. Holy Cross was also ranked 111th in the RPI in 2005-2006 (.5304) and 49th in 2004-2005 (.5657).

CRUSADERS LOOK TO DEFEND REGULAR SEASON TITLE: Last year, Holy Cross won a share of the fifth Patriot League regular season championship in school history. The Crusaders tied for first place in the conference with Bucknell, as both teams posted 13-1 records in league play. Prior to last season, Holy Cross won outright Patriot League regular season titles in 2001, 2003 and 2005, while sharing the regular season championship in 1994. The Crusaders are the only team in league history to win more than two outright titles, while their five total championships are tied for the most in conference history with Navy (one outright, four shared) and Bucknell (two outright, three shared).

SCOUTING THE BISON: Bucknell has an overall record of 7-9 on the season, with a 2-0 mark in the Patriot League. After struggling in non-league play, the Bison have won their first two conference games against Navy (85-77) and American (66-62). Bucknell's leading scorer is senior guard John Griffin, who has averaged 12.4 points and 2.9 assists per game. Junior guard Justin Castleberry has added 12.3 points per contest, while sophomore forward Patrick Behan is chipping in with 8.3 points per game. Bucknell is led by head coach Pat Flannery, who owns a 229-168 record during his 14 seasons with the Bison. Flannery's career record stands at 324-211, including five years as the head coach at Lebanon Valley College.

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

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

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

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

DRIBBLES: The Crusaders' 39 points against Army on Wednesday night were the team's fewest ever for a game played at the Hart Center. The previous low came in a 46-42 loss to Colgate on Jan. 16, 2002 ... Holy Cross has not lost back-to-back games at the Hart Center since the 1999-2000 season, when it fell to Colgate (57-54) and Bucknell (54-48) ... With the victory at San Francisco, Holy Cross improved to 1-1 on the season in overtime games. The Crusaders now stand 11-3 in overtime contests under Ralph Willard ... Holy Cross posted a perfect 6-0 record in the month of November ... With the victory over Hofstra on Nov. 10, the Crusaders improved to 64-25 all-time in their opening game of the season, including a 7-2 mark under Ralph Willard, Holy Cross also upped its record to 26-7 in home openers since moving into the Hart Center ... Last year, Tim Clifford and Alex Vander Baan both broke the all-time Holy Cross single season records for games played and games started. They both had 34 appearances and starts last year. Eric Meister also broke the record for games played, as he has appeared in all 34 contests last season ... The Crusaders are ranked 21st in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 Poll from, released on January 14.