February 1, 2007

Crusaders Set To Face Lafayette On Winter Homecoming

Feb. 1, 2007

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (17-6, 8-0 PL) vs. Lafayette (8-14, 2-5 PL)
Date: February 3, 2007
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: WCUW 91.3 FM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play, Jeremy Lechan, color
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
Lafayette Radio: WEST 1400 AM, Easton, Pa.; Dick Hammer, play-by-play; Phil LaBella, color
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 25-13
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 84, Lafayette 74 (January 6, 2007; Easton, Pa.)

PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:
Pos.  No.  Name                Ht.   Wt.   Cl.
F      10  Keith Simmons       6-5   205   Sr.
F      21  Alex Vander Baan    6-8   205   So.
C      00  Tim Clifford       6-10   270   Jr.
G       1  Torey Thomas       5-11   185   Sr.
G       2  Kyle Cruze          6-2   175   Jr.

THE SERIES WITH LAFAYETTE: This will be the 39th meeting between the Crusaders and the Leopards on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 25-13. The Crusaders have won the last five meetings between the schools, but in 2003-2004 Lafayette swept the season series. Prior to that, Holy Cross had won three straight and four out of five meetings. For games played in Worcester, the Crusaders hold a 13-4 advantage, including wins in five of the last six games. The schools first met on Feb. 4, 1947, with Holy Cross posting a 50-40 victory at the Boston Garden.

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 25-13
In Worcester: Holy Cross leads, 13-4
At the Hart Center: Holy Cross leads, 13-4
Ralph Willard vs. Lafayette: 10-6
Fran O'Hanlon vs. Holy Cross: 12-12
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, five games
In Overtime: Tied, 1-1

CRUSADERS CONCLUDE THREE-GAME HOMESTAND: Holy Cross will play the last of three straight games at the Hart Center this week, when it takes on Lafayette on Saturday, February 3, at 3:30 p.m. The homestand began with a pair of victories, over Lehigh last Friday (64-53) and American on Wednesday (58-47). Holy Cross enters the Lafayette game with a perfect 9-0 record at the Hart Center so far this year. Next week, the Crusaders will begin a string of four straight road games with a trip to Army on Tuesday, February 6. Holy Cross currently has an 8-6 mark away from the Hart Center so far this season, including five straight wins and a 7-4 mark on the opposing team's home court.

SIMMONS ENJOYING OUTSTANDING SENIOR YEAR: Senior guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) has been Holy Cross' top player this season, averaging 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals in 23 games played. He has scored in double figures in 34 straight games dating back to last year, and has led the team in scoring 12 times this season. During Wednesday's victory over American, Simmons recorded 11 points, six rebounds and three steals. In the previous game against Lehigh, he totaled 16 points and six rebounds. Simmons also had a big game at Colgate, posting 16 points, seven rebounds and four steals, while hitting the game-winning three-pointer with 20.6 seconds remaining. Some of Simmons' other top performances this season have come against Lafayette (26 points, six rebounds, three steals), Niagara (23 points, three rebounds), Syracuse (game-high 22 points), Navy (22 points, seven rebounds), Bucknell (22 points, four rebounds, three assists), Boston University (21 points, 11 rebounds), Harvard (20 points, six rebounds), Providence (20 points, four rebounds, three steals), Hampton (19 points, six rebounds), Siena (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Army (18 points, seven rebounds, four steals, three assists). Prior to the start of the year, Simmons was selected as a 2006-2007 preseason mid-major All-American by CollegeInsider.com (one of just 25 players from across the nation to be chosen to the squad). He was also named preseason All-Patriot League, after earning first team all-conference honors in both his sophomore and junior years. In 32 games played last season, Simmons averaged 14.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, while shooting 52.5 percent (158 of 301) from the field and 47.6 percent (60 of 126) from three-point range. Entering the Lafayette game, Simmons has scored 1,482 career points as a Crusader, while making 49.6 percent of his field goal attempts (503 of 1015) and 43.5 percent from three-point range (185 of 425).

CRUSADERS GET OFF TO FAST START IN LEAGUE PLAY: Holy Cross has opened Patriot League play with a perfect 8-0 mark in its first eight conference games. This is the best league start ever for the Crusaders, with the previous mark held by the 1992-1993 squad which won its first seven conference games. Prior to this season, the Crusaders' best conference start under Ralph Willard came during both the 2000-2001 and 2002-2003 campaigns, when Holy Cross started league play at 4-0. In Patriot League history, only two teams have ever began the conference season with more than eight straight victories: Bucknell won all 14 of its league games in 2005-2006, while Navy posted nine straight conference wins to open up 1997-1998.

HOLY CROSS EXTENDS LEAGUE WINNING STREAK: The Crusaders enter the Lafayette game having won 12 straight Patriot League regular season contests, a mark which ties for the fifth-longest conference winning streak in league history. Holy Cross has not lost a regular season Patriot League game since Feb. 11, 2006, when it fell to Bucknell (57-52). The Crusaders have also become the only team in Patriot League history to win 10 conference regular season games in a row on three different occasions. Here is a look at the longest regular season conference winning streaks in Patriot League history:

Rank  Games  School      Dates
  1.     17  Bucknell    Feb. 26, 2005-Jan. 9, 2007
  2.     16  Navy        Jan. 29, 1997-Feb. 8, 1998
  3.     15  Holy Cross  Jan. 12, 2005-Jan. 11, 2006
  4.     13  Lafayette   Jan. 20, 1998-Jan. 20, 1999
  5.     12  Holy Cross  Feb. 15, 2006-present
         12  Navy        Jan. 23, 2000-Jan. 17, 2001
  7.     11  Fordham     Jan. 8, 1991-Feb. 16, 1991
  8.     10  Holy Cross  Jan. 31, 2003-Jan. 10, 2004
         10  Navy        Feb. 1, 1995-Jan. 17, 1996

CRUSADERS IN THE RECORD BOOKS: A number of Holy Cross players have placed their names in the school's all-time record book this season. Senior guard Keith Simmons ranks second on the school career list for three-point field goals made (185), second in three-point field goal attempts (425), fourth in three-point field goal percentage (43.5 percent), fifth in steals (172) and 10th in minutes played (3,140). He also ranks among the Patriot League's all-time leaders in three-point field goal percentage (43.5 percent, 1st), field goal percentage (49.6 percent, 7th), steals (172, 11th) and points scored (1,482, 18th). Senior guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) currently stands third all-time at Holy Cross in steals (230), seventh in assists (417) and sixth in minutes played (3,217). He also ranks fourth all-time in the Patriot League in steals and eighth in assists. In addition, Simmons tied the Holy Cross single game record for steals with seven against William & Mary on Nov. 25, 2006, while Thomas matched that record with seven steals against Lehigh on Jan. 26, 2007. Junior center Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.) has also placed his name in the record books, standing fourth all-time at Holy Cross and 11th all-time in the Patriot League in blocked shots (114).

AMERICAN RECAP: Torey Thomas totaled 16 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals, to lead Holy Cross to a 58-47 victory over American at the Hart Center on Jan. 31, 2007. Holy Cross opened the game strong, jumping out to a 12-5 lead after the first eight minutes of play. But American responded with a 7-0 run of its own to tie it up at 12-12, and the score remained close for the remainder of the opening half. The Eagles would eventually close out the half with a 9-2 spurt, to take a 25-22 advantage into the locker room. The Crusaders then held American without a point for the first five minutes of the second half, going on a 7-0 run to regain the lead. The Eagles would tie up the score at 29-29, but Holy Cross then used a 10-1 spurt to take the lead for good. The Crusaders were still up by just five points (39-34) with seven and a half minutes remaining, before going on a 10-2 run to put the game away. American would get no closer than eight points in the closing minutes, before Holy Cross finally won by 11. The Crusaders used another outstanding defensive effort to hold American to just 47 points. The Eagles hit just 36.7 percent of their shots (18 of 49) and 22.2 percent of their three-point attempts (four of 18), while committing 16 turnovers. Keith Simmons scored 11 points, all in the second half, in addition to totaling six rebounds, three steals and two assists. Alex Vander Baan added 10 points and seven rebounds, while Pat Doherty chipped in with 10 points and two steals. American was led by Andre Ingram with 11 points and six rebounds.

O'MALLEY AWARD ON THE LINE AGAINST LEOPARDS: The Martin J. O'Malley Award has been presented annually to the most outstanding player in Holy Cross' Winter Homecoming game since 1988. The honor has gone to a Holy Cross player in six of the last seven seasons, and 13 times in the past 15 years. All told, only three players from visiting teams have won the award, although Charles Lee of Bucknell took home the honor last season. There has only been one player who has won the honor two times in his career (Rob Feaster, in 1993 and 1995). Two years ago, guard Keith Simmons took home the trophy after totaling 18 points, six rebounds and three steals against Army.

THOMAS SCORES 1,000TH CAREER POINT: Senior guard Torey Thomas became the 43rd 1,000-point scorer in the history of Holy Cross men's basketball during the Jan. 26 victory over Lehigh. He hit a layup at the 11:51-mark of the first half to record the 1,000th point of his collegiate career. Thomas has now scored 1,029 points in 114 games as a Crusader, good for an average of 9.0 points per contest. Last season, senior guard Keith Simmons became the 42nd 1,000-point scorer at Holy Cross, netting his 1,000th point at Colgate on Feb. 22, 2006, when he threw down a slam dunk at the 17:46-mark of the second half. Simmons now stands in 12th place all-time at Holy Cross with 1,482 points, and has a chance to become only the 11th player in school history with 1,500 career points.

HOLY CROSS WINS 10TH STRAIGHT: With Wednesday's win over American, Holy Cross posted its 10th straight victory. This marks 16th time the Crusaders have won at least 10 consecutive games in school history. The last time Holy Cross had a double-figure winning streak came in the 2004-2005 season, when it won 16 games in a row. During their current 10-game streak, the Crusaders averaged 64.7 points per game, while shooting 43.9 percent from the floor, 41.1 percent from three-point range and outscoring the opposition by 9.3 points per contest. Here is a look at the longest winning streaks ever by Holy Cross:

Rank    Streak   Dates
  1.  29 games   March 4, 1949-March 3, 1950
  2.  26 games   Jan. 7, 1947-Dec. 13, 1947
  3.  20 games   Jan. 8, 1948-March 20, 1948
  4.  16 games   Jan. 12, 2005-March 6, 2005
  5.  13 games   Feb. 6, 1906-Jan. 29, 1908
  6.  12 games   Jan. 31, 2003-March 14, 2003
  7.  11 games   Feb. 4, 1961-March 17, 1961
      11 games   Jan. 2, 1960-Feb. 16, 1960
      11 games   Dec. 30, 1955-Feb. 8, 1956
      11 games   Jan. 16, 1954-Feb. 24, 1954
      11 games   Dec. 5, 1953-Jan. 12, 1954
 12.  10 games   Dec. 30, 2006-present
      10 games   Jan. 5, 1963-Feb. 8, 1963
      10 games   Feb. 10, 1953-March 13, 1953
      10 games   Feb. 4, 1952-March 1, 1952
      10 games   Feb. 12, 1930-Dec. 10, 1930

THE LAST MEETING WITH LAFAYETTE: Keith Simmons totaled a season-high 26 points, six rebounds and three steals, to lead Holy Cross to an 84-74 victory over Lafayette at the Allan P. Kirby Sports Center on Jan. 6, 2007. Simmons hit nine of 12 shots from the field, including four of six attempts from three-point range. Lafayette opened the game with an early 8-3 lead, but Holy Cross scored the next four points to keep the score close. The Leopards would eventually expand their lead to as many as six points, 24-18 with 10:52 left in the half. But the Crusaders then went on a 16-5 run to claim the lead for good. Holy Cross would lead by as many as nine points late in the half, before taking a 42-35 advantage into the locker room. The Crusaders opened the second half with a quick 8-3 run to go up by 12 (50-38), as Simmons hit a pair of three-pointers during that spurt. A few minutes later, Holy Cross used an 11-3 run to expand its lead to 20 points (67-47), putting the game away. Lafayette would get no closer than 11 points until rallying in the closing minutes of play to make the final score look closer than it really was. Torey Thomas finished the day with 18 points, six assists and five rebounds, while Tim Clifford added 11 points and Pat Doherty scored 10 points. The Leopards were led by Bilal Abdullah with 22 points.

THOMAS SHINES IN SENIOR SEASON: Senior point guard Torey Thomas is once again among the top players in the Patriot League this season, averaging 12.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.5 steals per contest. In Wednesday's victory over American, Thomas totaled 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. During the previous game against Lehigh, he recorded 18 points, eight assists, seven steals and six rebounds. Earlier this year, Thomas had 20 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals against Siena, while posting 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals against Fairfield, including a pair of free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining in overtime to win the game. Some of his other top performances this season have come against Lafayette (18 points, six assists, five rebounds), Army (16 points, three assists, two steals), Boston University (16 points, three assists), Niagara (15 points, seven assists, six rebounds), La Salle (14 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals), Providence (13 points, four rebounds, four steals), Bucknell (13 points, five rebounds, five assists), Dayton (13 points, four rebounds, four steals) and Harvard (12 points, six assists). Thomas was named preseason All-Patriot League prior to the start of the year, after being named second team all-conference last season. A year ago he averaged 11.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.4 steals per game, while making 34 of 96 attempts (35.4 percent) from three-point range. Thomas finished the 2005-2006 season as the Patriot League's leader in assists, while ranking second in steals, fourth in rebounding and 14th in scoring. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Thomas has now totaled 1,029 points, 457 rebounds, 417 assists and 230 steals.

CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2006-2007. Through the first 23 games of the year, the Crusaders have held their opponents to 58.9 points per game, 42.4 percent shooting from the floor, and 37.9 percent shooting from three-point range. Holy Cross has also averaged 9.3 steals and 3.3 blocks per contest, while forcing the opposition to commit 16.8 turnovers per game and outrebounding its opponents by 3.1 boards per contest. In addition, the Crusaders have held 15 of their first 23 opponents to under 60 points during regulation. Last season, Holy Cross allowed just 60.5 points per game, while holding its opponents to 40.2 percent shooting from the floor and 30.3 percent shooting from three-point range. The Crusaders also forced their opponents to commit 16.0 turnovers per game, while averaging 9.1 steals and 3.5 blocks per contest, and outrebounding the opposition by 3.9 boards per game. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Holy Cross has held the opposition to only 58.9 points per contest. In addition, the Crusaders ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense in four of the last five seasons (sixth in 2001-2002 at 59.6; third in 2002-2003 at 58.7; seventh in 2003-2004 at 58.6; and fifth in 2004-2005 at 56.8).

HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: Holy Cross is presently ranked 64th in the nation in the latest Ratings Percentage Index, with a rating of .5713 through games of January 31. The Crusaders are currently the highest ranked team in the Patriot League, with the second-highest ranking belonging to Bucknell (123rd, .5245). In addition, Holy Cross' non-conference schedule ranks as the 131st best in the country, and the hardest in the Patriot League. The Crusaders concluded the 2005-2006 season ranked 111th in the country in the RPI with a rating of .5304. Holy Cross also ranked 49th in the nation in the RPI at the end of the 2004-2005 season with a mark of .5657, to place ahead of four at large selections to the NCAA tournament.

CLIFFORD PLAYS BIG IN THE POST: Junior center Tim Clifford has established himself as one of the top big men in the Patriot League this season. During last Friday's victory over Lehigh, he totaled 12 points and nine rebounds. In the previous game at Colgate, Clifford posted 18 points, four rebounds and two assists. He also had a strong game at American, recording 19 points and nine rebounds. Some of Clifford's other top performances this season have come against Harvard (22 points on nine of 11 shooting from the field), Providence (21 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks), Boston University (16 points, three blocks, three assists), Bucknell (13 points, eight rebounds, two blocks), William & Mary (13 points, six rebounds, two blocks), George Mason (12 points, four rebounds), Lafayette (11 points) and Army (10 points, three rebounds, two assists). Through the first 23 games of the year, he is averaging 10.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest. Overall last year, Clifford averaged 7.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game, while making 96 of 194 (49.5 percent) field goal attempts. He was even more impressive against Patriot League opponents, averaging 9.7 points per contest and hitting 54.2 percent (52 of 96) of his shots from the floor. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Clifford has now totaled 573 points, 305 rebounds and 114 blocked shots.

WILLARD CONTINUES IMPRESSIVE RUN AT HOLY CROSS: Ralph Willard is now in his eighth season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 151-86 during his time in Worcester. He stands in third place on the all-time school list for career victories, behind only George Blaney (357-276 / 1972-1994) and Lester "Buster" Sheary (155-36 / 1948-1955). 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 has also guided Holy Cross to Patriot League regular season championships in 2000-2001, 2002-2003 and 2004-2005, 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. During the 2000-2001 and 2004-2005 seasons, Willard was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year, and in 2004-2005 he was also one of 10 finalists for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award. 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 295-210. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross stands 9-0 at the Hart Center so far this season, and now owns an all-time record of 285-105 in the building. The Crusaders currently have a 13-game home winning streak, after going 13-2 at the Hart Center last season with an 8-1 mark against Patriot League opponents. Holy Cross also stands 41-5 in Patriot League regular season home games since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, with an overall home record of 73-12 during that time. In 2004-2005, Holy Cross posted an overall record of 12-3 at home, including a 10-game winning streak. The building opened on Dec. 1, 1975, and since that time Holy Cross has posted a winning record at home in 27 out of 31 seasons, while posting double-figure home victories 14 times.

STEALING THE SHOW: Through the first 23 games of the 2006-2007 season, Holy Cross has averaged 9.3 steals per game, including highs of 16 steals against Fairfield and 15 steals at American. Senior guard Keith Simmons leads the team with 58 steals on the season, while senior guard Torey Thomas has totaled 57 steals, and have also both tied the school single-game record with seven steals (Simmons vs. William & Mary, Thomas against Lehigh). Sophomore guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) has added 23 steals on the year, while junior guard Kyle Cruze (Knoxville, Tenn.) has chipped in with 19 steals. In 32 games played last season, the Crusaders totaled 290 steals, for a Patriot League-best average of 9.1 steals per game. Holy Cross reached double figures in steals 11 times last year, with highs of 16 against Harvard and 15 against Lafayette. Kevin Hamilton led the team with 102 steals last year, while Thomas added 77 steals last season. With his 102 total steals, Hamilton set new Holy Cross and Patriot League single season records.

DOHERTY PROVIDES DEPTH IN BACKCOURT: Sophomore guard Pat Doherty has been the first guard off the bench for the Crusaders this season. In Wednesday's victory over American, Doherty scored 10 points on three of three shooting from the field. Earlier in the season at Yale, he led the team with a career-high 18 points, four assists and three steals, while making five of six shots from the floor, all four of his attempts from three-point range, and all four of his free throws. Doherty also scored 10 points in the game at Lafayette, while totaling nine points and three assists at Dayton. In 17 games played this season, he is now averaging 6.2 points, 2.2 assists, 1.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals per contest. Doherty returned to the Holy Cross lineup this year, 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.

VANDER BAAN BUILDS ON ALL-ROOKIE SEASON: Sophomore forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) is once again a key member of the Holy Cross lineup this season, after being selected to the 2005-2006 Patriot League All-Rookie Team. In Wednesday's victory over American, Vander Baan totaled 10 points and seven rebounds. Earlier this year in the victory over Navy, he scored a season-high 13 points on five of nine shooting, to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Some of Vander Baan's other top performances this season have come against Siena (11 points, 10 rebounds, first career double-double), Yale (10 points, seven rebounds, four assists), Hampton (nine points, six rebounds), Lafayette (nine points, four rebounds), Lehigh (nine points, two rebounds) and Syracuse (eight points, career-high 11 rebounds, four assists). In 23 games played so far this season, Vander Baan is averaging 6.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest, while making 45.6 percent of his field goal attempts (52 of 114). In 32 games played last year, Vander Baan averaged 6.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest, to rank ninth in the conference in rebounding. He also led all Patriot League freshmen by earning league Rookie of the Week honors four times last season (Nov. 21, Dec. 27, Feb. 6, Feb. 20).

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 88th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1241-795 (.610), while making 23 postseason tournament appearances -- 11 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 to coach professionally, and had 15 players who have coached in college, including current Crusader coach Ralph Willard.

CRUSADERS PICKED SECOND IN PRESEASON POLL: In the 2006-2007 Patriot League preseason poll, Holy Cross was picked to finish in second place in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. The Crusaders received 86 total points in the poll, to trail only first-place Bucknell (96 points). Holy Cross received three first-place votes in the poll, with the Bison earning 12 first-place votes and American one. Following the Crusaders in the poll were American (third, 70 points), Lehigh (fourth, 64 points), Colgate (fifth, 48 points), Lafayette (sixth, 35 points), Navy (seventh, 31 points) and Army (eighth, 18 points).

HOLY CROSS HAVING GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders have averaged 32.0 rebounds through the first 23 games of the 2006-2007 season, and are currently outrebounding their opponents by an average of 3.1 boards per game. Holy Cross has really stepped things up in Patriot League play, outrebounding the opposition by 7.1 boards per game, while allowing opponents to average just 25.5 rebounds per contest. The Crusaders' top rebounding game so far this year came against Siena, when it held a 43-21 advantage on the glass. The rebounding load has been well balanced, with five different players currently averaging at least 3.5 boards per contest. Senior guard Keith Simmons leads the team with 5.8 rebounds per game, while sophomore forward Alex Vander Baan has averaged 5.3 boards per contest. Junior center Tim Clifford (4.7 rebounds per game) and senior guard Torey Thomas (4.5 rebounds per game) are also enjoying fine seasons on the glass, while freshman forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.) is chipping in with 3.5 boards per game.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in three statistical categories, through games of Jan. 28. Senior guard Keith Simmons and senior guard Torey Thomas are also listed among the national leaders in steals. The rankings:

Category            Rank  Player / Team   Avg.
Steals                16  Keith Simmons    2.5
                      16  Torey Thomas     2.5
                      21  Holy Cross       9.3
Scoring Defense       21  Holy Cross      59.5
Winning Percentage    45  Holy Cross      72.7

SCOUTING THE LEOPARDS: Lafayette enters the game with an overall record of 8-14 on the year, including a 2-6 mark in the Patriot League. The Leopards have lost seven of their last nine games, with their last victory coming on Jan. 24 against Army (76-68). Junior forward Matt Betley currently leads the team in scoring with an average of 10.9 points per game, in addition to pulling down a team-best 4.5 rebounds per contest. Junior guard Bilal Abdullah is averaging 9.4 points per contest, while sophomore guard Andrew Brown is chipping in with 9.7 points and 3.2 assists per game. As a team, the Leopards have hit 37.7 percent from three-point range, while taking nearly half their shots from behind the arc. Lafayette is led by head coach Fran O'Hanlon, who owns an overall record of 170-166 in 13 seasons with the Leopards.

HOLY CROSS ON THE RADIO: Once again this season, the majority of the Crusaders' basketball contests will be carried by WTAG 580 AM in Worcester. For the 18th 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 third 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 22 of the Crusaders' 30 regular season games. In addition, WCUW 91.3 FM in Worcester will air seven Holy Cross contests which are not included as part of the WTAG package. All 30 regular season games will also be carried live over the internet at "www.sportsjuice.com". In addition, the Holy Cross student station, WCHC 88.1 FM, is scheduled carry a number of games this year.

CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: Holy Cross is currently scheduled to have 10 games shown on live television during the 2006-2007 season, with other television appearances still to be announced. During each of the last two years, the Crusaders had 10 television appearances, including four games on ESPN2. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2006-2007 campaign:

Date     Opponent           Television Outlet
Nov. 27  Syracuse           ESPNU
Dec. 6   Duke               ESPN2
Jan. 3   Boston University  CN8
Jan. 6   Lafayette          CSTV / Lafayette Sports Network
Jan. 9   Army               WCTR-TV3
Jan. 12  Bucknell           ESPNU
Jan. 26  Lehigh             ESPNU
Jan. 31  American           WCTR-TV3
Feb. 9   Bucknell           ESPNU
Feb. 25  Lehigh             Service Electric

DRIBBLES: The Crusaders stand 3-0 in overtime games this season, and have now won their last six overtime contests ... Senior guard Keith Simmons and senior guard Torey Thomas are the Crusaders' captains for the 2006-2007 season ... On Jan. 6 and 9, Holy Cross held its opponents to 16 rebounds (at Lafayette) and 17 rebounds (against Army). Prior to that, the lowest rebounding total by a Crusader opponent during Ralph Willard's tenure as head coach was 18 ... The Crusaders were a perfect 13 of 13 at the free throw line against Niagara on Dec. 29, marking the first time in school history Holy Cross has made all of its free throw attempts ... The crowd of 19,235 at the Holy Cross-Syracuse game on Nov. 27 was the largest to ever witness a Crusader game during the regular season (attendance records are not available prior to the 1982-1983 season). It is also the third largest overall crowd to ever see Holy Cross play, behind the Kansas game in the 2002 NCAA Tournament (26,612) and the Marquette game in the 2003 NCAA Tournament (20,960) ... Sophomore forward Colin Cunningham (Memphis, Tenn.) had eight points and two assists in the overtime victory at Boston University, including a pair of key three-pointers late in regulation. Earlier in the year, he scored a season-high 11 points at Syracuse ... Junior guard Kyle Cruze scored a career-high 15 points in the victory at La Salle, then had career-highs of six assists and six rebounds against Niagara ... Sophomore center Greg McCarthy (Mansfield, Mass.) has totaled 37 points and 22 rebounds, while playing 163 minutes in 22 games this season. Last year, he totaled four points and one rebound in 15 minutes of action all season ... Freshman forward Eric Meister has started his collegiate career strong, averaging 3.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest. He pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds at Harvard, and had nine rebounds at Boston University ... With a pair of victories to open the conference season, Holy Cross now stands 12-5 all-time in Patriot League openers, 12-5 in conference home openers, and 11-6 in league road openers ... Senior guard Keith Simmons and senior guard Torey Thomas were both named preseason All-Patriot League this year, in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors ...The Crusaders are ranked 17th in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 Poll from CollegeInsider.com, released on Jan. 29.