Crusaders Return To Action On Friday Against Navy

Jan. 19, 2005

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (11-5, 2-1 PL) vs. Navy (4-12, 0-3 PL)
Date: January 21, 2005
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Navy Radio: Bob Socci, play-by-play; WNAV 1430 AM, Annapolis, Md.
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 22-14
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 76, Navy 47 (February 22, 2004; Annapolis, Md.)

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 NAVY: This will be the 37th meeting between the Crusaders and the Midshipmen on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 22-14. Holy Cross has been victorious the last 10 meetings between the two schools, winning by an average margin of 16.1 points during that time. Prior to that, Navy had won eight straight and 13 out of 15 meetings with the Crusaders. For games played in Worcester, Holy Cross holds a 10-5 advantage, with five straight victories. The schools first met on March 20, 1947, with Holy Cross posting a 55-47 victory at Madison Square Garden in the NCAA Tournament East Regional Semifinals.

SERIES QUICK FACTS
Overall: Holy Cross, 22-14
At Worcester: Holy Cross, 10-5
At the Hart Center: Holy Cross, 10-5
Ralph Willard vs. Navy: 11-3
Billy Lange vs. Holy Cross: 0-0
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, 10 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.

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 15 times in 16 games. Over the last five games, Hamilton has averaged 18.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.0 steals, while shooting 48.4 percent from the floor (30 of 62), 46.3 percent from three-point range (19 of 41) and 75.0 percent on the foul line (15 of 20). During Tuesday's victory over Iona, Hamilton scored a career-high 24 points, in addition to totaling five steals and three assists. Earlier in the year, he scored 22 points at Minnesota, while also leading the team with six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Some of Hamilton's other top games this season came against Colgate (19 points, six steals, five rebounds), Army (18 points, four rebounds), Bucknell (17 points, three rebounds, three steals), 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) and Vermont (12 points, five rebounds, four assists). Through 16 games so far this year, he is averaging 15.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.2 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 39 occasions during his Holy Cross career, including 29 times in his last 33 games.

CRUSADERS HEAT UP ON OFFENSE: Holy Cross has turned in some outstanding shooting performances over the last three games. During Tuesday's win over Iona, the Crusaders hit 26 of 44 shots from the floor (59.1 percent) and 12 of 19 attempts from three-point range (63.2 percent). In the previous game against 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). Holy Cross also shot well at Army, hitting 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 six times, in addition to making at least 50 percent from three-point range six times. 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.

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 100-66 during his time in Worcester. With Tuesday's victory over Iona, Willard became only the fifth coach in school history with 100 victories. He now needs seven more victories to more into third place on the all-time Holy Cross list for career coaching wins. Willard has led the Crusaders 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 Holy Cross 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 244-190. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

DOHERTY STEPPING UP IN BACKCOURT: Freshman Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) has turned in some solid performances at point guard this season. During Tuesday's win over Iona, he earned his first collegiate start, and totaled seven points, two steals and a career-high eight assists. During the previous game against Colgate, he set career highs for points (14), rebounds (four) and steals (three), while also recording five assists. Doherty also played well at Army, totaling eight points, four assists and two rebounds. Earlier in the season Doherty had solid games against Brown (nine points, five assists), Minnesota (six points) and Marist (two points, two rebounds, four assists, two steals). Through 16 games played so far this season, Doherty is now averaging 3.3 points and 2.1 assists per contest.

STEALING THE SHOW: In its first 16 games so far this season, Holy Cross has recorded 181 steals, good for an average of 11.3 steals per game. The Crusaders have already reached double figures in steals for a game nine times this season, with highs of 20 at Harvard, 18 against Iona and 16 at Fordham. Dating back to last season, Holy Cross has now posted 10 more steals 27 times in 44 games. The Crusaders are currently leading the Patriot League in steals, a feat which they accomplished during the 2002-2003 (10.7 steals per game) and 2003-2004 (7.9 steals per game) seasons.

IONA RECAP: Kevin Hamilton totaled 24 points, five steals and three assists to lead Holy Cross to a 78-53 victory over Iona at the DCU Center on Jan. 18, 2005. The Crusaders opened the game with a 4-0 lead, and gradually built up the advantage to 15 points with three minutes remaining in the first half. Iona cut the lead to 13 points (35-22) at the break, then scored the on its first shot of the second half to make it an 11-point game. But Holy Cross then went on an 11-2 run to take control, and led by at least 19 points the rest of the way. The Crusaders extended the team to as many as 32 points, before finally winning by 25. Hamilton made seven of 11 shots on the day, including five of eight from three-point range, in addition to connecting on all five of his free throw attempts. Keith Simmons added 14 points while hitting four of five three-pointers, while Kevin Hyland had 12 points on four of five shooting from the floor. Pat Doherty, starting for the first time in his collegiate career, added seven points and eight assists. As a team, Holy Cross made 12 of 19 three-point attempts (63.2 percent), coming up just one shy of the school record for made three-pointers. The Crusaders also totaled 18 steals, while forcing the Gaels into 24 turnovers. Iona was led by Greg Jenkins with 16 points, while Steve Burtt added 11 points.

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 last 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. Previously 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), Iona (14 points, three steals), Boston University (13 points, three rebounds), Northeastern (12 points, three rebounds, three assists) and Princeton (12 points). Through 16 games, he is averaging 11.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per contest, while hitting 52.0 percent of his field goals (66 of 127) and 45.6 percent of his three-pointers (26 of 57). 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 56.2 points per game. The Crusaders have held 11 of their first 16 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 18.1 turnovers per game, including 26 by Harvard and 25 by both Minnesota and Fordham. In addition, the Crusaders have averaged 11.3 steals and 4.4 blocks per contest, while outrebounding the opposition by 4.6 boards per game and holding opponents to 40.5 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).

THE LAST MEETING WITH NAVY: In the last game between the Crusaders and the Midshipmen, Holy Cross totaled 11 blocked shots en route to a 76-47 victory at Alumni Hall on Feb. 22, 2004. The Crusaders held Navy to just 27.9 percent shooting from the floor, in addition to recording 14 steals. Holy Cross opened the game on an 11-2 run, then used an 8-0 spurt a few minutes later to go up by 15 with 11:16 remaining before the break. The Midshipmen would get no closer than 13 points the rest of the half, before the Crusaders took a 22-point lead (33-11) into the locker room. Holy Cross pushed the lead to as many as 29 points in the second half as Navy would never get the deficit to less than 17 points. Jave Meade had a fine all-around game for the Crusaders, finishing with 13 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Kevin Hamilton added 13 points and six steals, while Keith Simmons totaled 13 points and five rebounds. As a team, Holy Cross shot 53.3 percent from three-point range (eight of 15), with Hamilton, Meade and Simmons all hitting a pair of treys. Navy was led by David Hooper with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Carlton Baldwin added nine points and nine rebounds.

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. During Tuesday's victory over Iona, he totaled 12 points and four rebounds, while hitting four of five shots from the floor. In the victory at Brown, Hyland scored a career-high 14 points, while hitting all seven of his field goal attempts. Earlier in the season he had 11 points and five rebounds at Boston College, in addition to recording 13 points and two blocks against Marist. Through 16 games played so far this year, Hyland is averaging 4.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 70.0 percent (28 of 40) from the field.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders currently rank among the NCAA Division I leaders in three different statistical categories, through games of January 17. In addition, junior guard Kevin Hamilton is listed among the nation's leaders in steals. The rankings:

Category      Rank  Player / Team     Avg.
Scoring Defense  5  Holy Cross        56.5
Steals           8  Kevin Hamilton     3.1
                 9  Holy Cross        10.9
Rebound Margin  50  Holy Cross        +5.2

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 2.6 rebounds over the first 16 games. During Tuesday's victory over Iona, he recorded a season-best five steals and five rebounds. In the win over Colgate, Kinsey totaled nine points, two rebounds and two assists, while hitting four of seven shots from the floor. Earlier in the season, he also had some strong performances against Northeastern (seven points, five assists, three rebounds), Princeton (11 points) and Marist, (10 points, five rebounds, 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, 262 rebounds, 143 assists and 105 steals, while being in the starting lineup for 71 of the last 72 games the Crusaders have played.

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.

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), Iona (eight points, four rebounds, four assists), 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 1.5 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 730 points, 482 rebounds and 125 blocked shots during his Holy Cross career. He needs 11 more blocked shots this season to become the Crusaders' all-time career leader in blocks.

HOLY CROSS ON THE RADIO: Once again this season, several Crusader basketball contests will be carried by WTAG 580 AM in Worcester. For the 16th straight season, Bob Fouracre will call the play-by-play for the majority of the games. In addition, Jeremy Lechan and Dick Lutsk have joined the Holy Cross broadcast crew this season, and will handle either play-by-play or color commentary for selected games. Most games will be carried over the internet at "www.sportsjuice.com", including many games which are not on WTAG. The Holy Cross student station, WCHC 88.1 FM, will also carry a number of games this year.

CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: The Crusaders will have six games shown on live television during the 2004-2005 season. On two occasions, Holy Cross will be featured on the Patriot League Game of the Week, which will be shown on College Sports Television. The January 8 game at Bucknell and the February 13 contest against Lehigh at the Hart Center will both be carried. The Lehigh game will also be shown on WLVI-TV 56 in Boston. In addition, the December 4 game at Minnesota was shown by Fox Sports Net North, the January 2 contest at Rhode Island was carried by Cox Sports Television, the January 28 game at Lafayette will be shown by the Lafayette Sports Network, and the January 30 contest at Lehigh will be carried by Service Electric Television.

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 16 games so far this year, he is averaging 7.2 points, 5.5 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 448 points, 328 rebounds, 59 assists, 36 blocks and 76 steals.

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. In the last two games, he has seen limited action due to injury. 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 16 games so far this year, he is averaging 8.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.1 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 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 MIDSHIPMEN: Navy has an overall record of 4-12 on the season, including an 0-3 mark in the Patriot League. The Midshipmen have lost their last six games, since posting a 90-81 victory over Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 21. Navy's other victories this season have come against Loyola (Md.), Morgan State and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The leading scorer for the Midshipmen is senior forward Laramie Mergerson (12.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game), who is not expected to play due to injury. Junior forward Matt Fannin and junior forward David Hooper are also enjoying fine seasons, as both players are averaging 10.8 points per game. Navy is led by head coach Billy Lange, who is in his first season with the Midshipmen. Lange's career record stands at 43-31, including two seasons at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 86th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1189-775 (.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 ... On Dec. 21 and 27, Holy Cross scored over 80 points in consecutive games for the first time in seven years against Brown (84 points) and Northeastern (82 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.