January 22, 2005

Men's Basketball Plays Host To American On Sunday

Jan. 22, 2005

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (12-5, 3-1 PL) vs. American (10-6, 3-1 PL)
Date: January 23, 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
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 6-3
Last Meeting: American 65, Holy Cross 51 (February 20, 2004; Washington, D.C.)

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 AMERICAN: This will be the 10th meeting between the Crusaders and the Eagles on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 6-3. Last year, American swept the season series from the Crusaders, winning 65-51 in Washington and 62-59 in Worcester. Prior to that, Holy Cross had won two straight and six of the first seven meetings. The schools have met in the Patriot League championship game twice in three years, since American joined the conference prior to the 2001-2002 season. The Crusaders won both those games, 72-64 at the Hart Center on March 14, 2003, and 58-54 at Bender Arena on March 8, 2002. The schools first met on Dec. 21, 1967, with Holy Cross posting an 81-57 victory on the road.

SERIES QUICK FACTS
Overall Holy Cross, 6-3
At Worcester: Holy Cross, 3-1
At the Hart Center: Holy Cross, 3-1
Ralph Willard vs. American: 5-3
Jeff Jones vs. Holy Cross: 3-5
Current Win Streak: American, two 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 16 times in 17 games. In Friday's victory over Navy, he totaled 12 points and six rebounds, while tying his career high with six steals. In the previous game against 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 17 games so far this year, he is averaging 14.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 3.0 assists 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 40 occasions during his Holy Cross career, including 30 times in his last 34 games.

CRUSADERS HEAT UP ON OFFENSE: Holy Cross has turned in some outstanding shooting performances over the last four games, hitting at least half of its field goal attempts in each contest. During Friday's win over Navy, the Crusaders made 56.0 percent of their shots (28 of 50), while scoring 79 points. In the previous game against Iona, Holy Cross hit 26 of 44 shots from the floor (59.1 percent) and 12 of 19 attempts from three-point range (63.2 percent). Last week 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, Holy Cross has now hit at least 50 percent of its field goal attempts seven 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.

DOHERTY STEPPING UP IN BACKCOURT: Freshman Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) has turned in some solid performances at point guard this season. During Friday's victory over Navy, Doherty led the team with 16 points, six assists and five steals, while committing only one turnover. In the previous game against Iona, he earned his first collegiate start, and totaled seven points, two steals and a career-high eight assists. Last Saturday against Colgate, Doherty set totaled 14 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. He 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 17 games played so far this season, Doherty is now averaging 4.1 points and 2.4 assists per contest.

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 101-66 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 six 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 245-190. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

STEALING THE SHOW: In its first 17 games so far this season, Holy Cross has recorded 193 steals, good for an average of 11.4 steals per game. The Crusaders have already reached double figures in steals for a game 10 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 or more steals 28 times in 45 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.

NAVY RECAP: Pat Doherty totaled 16 points, six assists and five steals, to lead Holy Cross to a 79-56 victory over Navy at the Hart Center on Jan. 21, 2005. The score was tied at 11-11 after five and a half minutes of play, before the Crusaders went on a 15-0 run to take control of the game. The Midshipmen came back a few minutes later with a 9-0 spurt to make it a five-point game, before Holy Cross closed out the halt on a 7-0 run to take a 38-26 lead into the locker room. Navy stayed close early in the second half, trimming the Crusader lead to nine points. But Holy Cross then went on an 11-0 run to take a 20-point lead (57-37) and put the game away. The Crusaders' lead grew to as many as 27 points late in the contest, before they finally won by 23. Keith Simmons totaled 13 points and three assists for Holy Cross, while John Hurley added 12 points and seven rebounds. In addition, Kevin Hamilton had 12 points, six rebounds and six steals, while Nate Lufkin recorded 10 points, five blocks and three rebounds. Navy was led by Corey Johnson with 13 points and three steals, while George O'Garro added 10 points and two rebounds.

SIMMONS PROVIDES A SPARK AS SIXTH MAN: Sophomore guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) has turned in some big games off the bench for Holy Cross so far this season. In Friday's victory over Navy, he totaled 13 points, three assists and two rebounds. Previously against Colgate, Simmons totaled 18 points and six rebounds, while hitting six of 12 field goal attempts and all five of his foul shots. 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 Army (18 points, five rebounds), 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 17 games, he is averaging 11.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals per contest, while hitting 52.2 percent of his field goals (70 of 134) and 44.1 percent of his three-pointers (26 of 59). 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 12 of their first 17 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. On Jan. 12, 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 18.2 turnovers per game, including 26 by Harvard and 25 by both Minnesota and Fordham. In addition, the Crusaders have averaged 11.4 steals and 4.5 blocks per contest, while outrebounding the opposition by 4.2 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 58.6 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 AMERICAN: In the last game between the Crusaders and the Eagles, American used a 12-2 midway through the second half to pull away for a 65-51 victory at Bender Arena on Feb. 20, 2004. The Eagles started the game hot, jumping out to a 10-2 lead after just 4:19 of play. The Crusaders stayed close and eventually took a 25-23 lead, before the teams went into the locker room tied at 25-25. The two squads then exchanged baskets for the early part of the second, and the score was tied at 38-38 with 9:17 remaining in regulation. The Eagles then went on the 12-2 run to take the lead for good, and outscored Holy Cross 27-13 over the final nine minutes of play. The Crusaders would get no closer than six points down the stretch, as American converted all eight of its free throw attempts in the final 1:27 to secure the win. Kevin Hamilton led the way for Holy Cross with 14 points and three steals, while Keith Simmons chipped in with 11 points. Jason Thomas and Jernavis Draughn both scored 12 points to lead American. The Crusaders made only 17 of 53 field goal attempts in the game (32.1 percent), and also committed 20 turnovers.

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 17 games played so far this year, Hyland is averaging 4.4 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game, while shooting 68.2 percent (30 of 44) 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 414 points, 265 rebounds, 144 assists and 105 steals, while being in the starting lineup for 72 of the last 73 games the Crusaders have played.

LUFKIN CLOSES IN ON BLOCKED SHOT RECORD: Senior center Nate Lufkin (Austin, Texas) is once again enjoying a solid season for the Crusaders in 2004-2005. He enters the American game with 130 blocked shots during his Holy Cross career, needing just six more to become the Crusaders' all-time career leader in blocks. During Friday's victory over Navy, Lufkin totaled 10 points, five blocks and three rebounds. In the victory over Dartmouth, he scored 12 points while hitting five of six field goal attempts. Lufkin also totaled nine points and two rebounds at Rhode Island, while recording 14 points, six rebounds and three assists against Northeastern. 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 7.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 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 740 points and 485 rebounds in his career at Holy Cross.

CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross stands 5-2 at the Hart Center so far this season, improving its all-time record in the building to 258-102. Since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, the Crusaders now have an overall mark of 46-9 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 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.

HOLY CROSS 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 Friday's victory over Navy, he totaled 12 points and seven rebounds, while making five of nine shots from the floor. 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), Boston University (seven points, seven rebounds, two steals) and Colgate (six assists, five points, three steals). Through 17 games so far this year, he is averaging 7.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 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 460 points, 335 rebounds, 60 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 three games, he has seen limited action due to injury. During the 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 EAGLES: American has an overall record of 10-6 on the season, including a 3-1 mark in the Patriot League. The Eagles have won their last four games, since suffering a 56-53 loss against Lehigh on Jan. 8. The leading scorer for American is sophomore guard Andre Ingram, who has averaged 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Senior guard Jason Thomas is also enjoying a fine season, averaging 11.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest. The Eagles are led by head coach Jeff Jones, who owns a 69-63 record in five seasons at American. Jones' career record stands at 215-167, including eight years as the head coach at the University of Virginia.

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 86th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1190-775 (.606), 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 ... 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 ... 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.