February 2, 2006

Holy Cross Set To Finish Off Road Swing At Lafayette

Feb. 2, 2006

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (12-10, 5-2 PL) vs. Lafayette (9-11, 3-4 PL)
Date: February 4, 2006
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Allan P. Kirby Sports Center (3,500), Easton, Pa.
Television: Lafayette Sports Network (RCN-TV4, WBPH-TV60, Easton, Pa.); Gary Laubach, play-by-play; John Leone, color
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
Lafayette Radio: Dick Hammer, play-by-play; Carl Schumacher, color; WEST 1400 AM, Easton
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 23-13
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 86, Lafayette 57 (January 7, 2006; Worcester, Mass.)

PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:
Pos.  No.  Name               Ht.   Wt.   Cl.    PPG   RPG
F      10  Keith Simmons      6-4   210   Jr.   12.7   4.6
F      21  Alex Vander Baan   6-8   195   Fr.    6.4   5.3
C      00  Tim Clifford      6-10   255   So.    7.0   4.0
G       1  Torey Thomas      5-11   170   Jr.   11.5   5.1
G      14  Kevin Hamilton     6-4   190   Sr.   17.8   6.0

THE SERIES WITH LAFAYETTE: This will be the 37th meeting between the Crusaders and the Leopards on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 23-13. The Crusaders have won the last three 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 Easton, the series is tied at 8-8, although the Crusaders have won two of their last three visits to the Kirby Sports Center. 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, 23-13
In Easton: Tied, 8-8
At the Kirby Sports Center: Tied, 8-8
Ralph Willard vs. Lafayette: 8-6
Fran O'Hanlon vs. Holy Cross: 12-10
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, three games

CRUSADERS HEAT UP ON OFFENSE: Holy Cross has turned some outstanding shooting performances in Patriot League play. At Navy on Wednesday, the Crusaders hit 28 of 51 shots from the floor (54.9 percent) and seven of 14 from three-point range (50.0 percent). Holy Cross previously made 27 of 47 field goals (57.4 percent) against Army on Jan. 11, and hit 34 of 61 shots (55.7 percent) against Lafayette on Jan. 7. Overall this season, Holy Cross has won all five games in which it has made at least half of its shots. Last year, the Crusaders had a perfect 12-0 record when shooting at least 50 percent from the floor. In fact, Holy Cross has now won its last 31 games when it hits at least half its shots from the field, since a 75-73 loss to Bucknell on Feb. 20, 2002.

HAMILTON ENJOYING ANOTHER OUTSTANDING SEASON: Senior guard Kevin Hamilton (Queens Village, N.Y.) is once again one of the top players in the Patriot League this year. In Wednesday's win at Navy, he totaled 26 points and seven rebounds. That marked the eighth straight contest in which Hamilton scored at least 17 points, as he also had big games against Lehigh (20 points, seven rebounds, four steals), Colgate (24 points, seven steals, four rebounds), American (17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, five steals), Boston College (17 points, seven rebounds, six steals, four assists), Bucknell (18 points, nine rebounds), Army (21 points, four assists) and Lafayette (18 points, six rebounds, nine assists, seven steals). Earlier in the season, Hamilton was named Patriot League Player of the Week and to the All-Tournament team following the San Juan Shootout, after averaging 26.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in three games, while shooting 54.5 percent from the floor and 57.1 percent from three-point range. He had a career-high 38 points against Tennessee-Chattanooga, recorded 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals against Clemson, and totaled 27 points, six assists and three steals against Mississippi State. Hamilton was also named Patriot League Player of the Week and Most Valuable Player at the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic, following games against High Point (22 points) and William & Mary (18 points, nine rebounds). Hamilton has now scored in double figures in 20 of the 21 games he has played this season. On the year, he is averaging 17.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.3 steals per contest. Last season, Hamilton was named Patriot League Player of the Year, first team All-Patriot League, All-Patriot League Tournament and an honorable mention All-American, after averaging 15.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.8 assists. He has now scored in double figures 73 times during his Holy Cross career, including 63 times in his last 70 games.

HAMILTON IN THE RECORD BOOKS: Senior guard Kevin Hamilton has put his name among the all-time leaders at Holy Cross in a number of statistical categories. During the Colgate game, Hamilton recorded the 247th steal of his collegiate career to set all-time Holy Cross and Patriot League records. He now has 259 steals, after breaking the marks of Jave Meade (246 steals, 2000-2004). Against Cincinnati, Hamilton hit a free throw at the 4:34 mark of the first half to become the 41st player in school history to score 1,000 career points. He now has 1,318 points during his four-year career as a Crusader, to stand in 17th-place on the school's all-time scoring list. In addition, Hamilton is the Crusaders' all-time leader in career three-point field goals made (205) and attempted (581). Hamilton has also tied the school single game records for steals (seven against Harvard, Lafayette and Colgate) and three-point field goals (seven against Tennessee-Chattanooga) this season.

SIMMONS SHINES AS A STARTER: Junior guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) has moved into the starting lineup for the Crusaders this season, after serving as Holy Cross' sixth man in 2004-2005. In Wednesday's win at Navy, Simmons totaled 14 points, four rebounds and three assists, while hitting five of seven shots from the floor. He previously recorded 26 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals at Army, while posting 26 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals in the first game with Lafayette. To open the year, Simmons was named to the All-Tournament Team at the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic, after averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games against High Point (21 points, 10 rebounds) and William & Mary (16 points). Some of his other top performances this season have come against Siena (20 points, seven rebounds), Vermont (18 points, five rebounds), American (15 points, six rebounds), Northeastern (15 points, five rebounds), Harvard (15 points, four rebounds) and Brown (14 points, five assists). On the year, he is averaging 12.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 48.3 percent (42 of 87) from three-point range. A year ago, Simmons earned first team All-Patriot League honors, after averaging 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals per contest. He enters the Lafayette game with a career field goal percentage of 48.7 (311 of 639), while hitting 45.0 percent (125 of 278) of his three-point attempts.

CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation this year. The Crusaders have been particularly impressive over their last 10 contests, allowing just 55.7 points per game, with the opposition shooting 38.9 percent from the floor and 26.2 percent from three-point range. Overall this season, Holy Cross is allowing 61.6 points per game, while holding its opponents to 41.8 percent shooting from the floor and 30.3 percent shooting from three-point range. Holy Cross has also forced its opponents to commit an average of 16.7 turnovers per game, including 25 by Fordham, 23 by Colgate and 22 by Harvard. In addition, the Crusaders are averaging 9.3 steals and 3.6 blocks per contest, while outrebounding the opposition by 2.3 boards per game. Last year, the Crusaders allowed their opponents to average just 56.8 points per game, while holding 22 of their 32 foes to under 60 points in regulation. 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 58.9 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 four 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).

NAVY RECAP: Kevin Hamilton totaled 26 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals to lead Holy Cross to an 81-67 victory over Navy at Alumni Hall on Feb. 1, 2006. Hamilton hit nine of 18 shots from the field and four of seven attempts from three-point range. The Crusaders opened the game with a 9-0 run over the first three and a half minutes of play, and would quickly expand their lead to double figures. After leading by 10 (22-12) with 4:15 left before the break, Holy Cross used a 13-0 run to expand its lead to 23 points at the one-minute mark. The Crusaders held a 20-point lead (35-15) at halftime. The Holy Cross lead would grow as large as 27 points on two occasions in the second half (56-29 and 58-31), before Navy rallied in the closing minutes to make the final score look respectable. Hamilton was one of five Crusaders with at least 10 points in the game, as the entire Holy Cross starting five scored in double digits. Keith Simmons had 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Torey Thomas added 13 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and three steals. Tim Clifford finished the game with 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks, and Alex Vander Baan chipped in with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists. Navy was led by Greg Sprink and Kaleo Kina with 19 points each.

THOMAS CONTINUES TO HAVE STRONG SEASON: Junior point guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) is once again one of the Crusaders' top players this season. He has averaged 11.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.6 steals per contest through the first 22 games of the year. Thomas has also been shooting well as of late, making 21 of 48 attempts (43.8 percent) from three-point range over the Crusaders' last 14 contests. In Wednesday's victory at Navy, he had an excellent all-around game with 13 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and three steals. Previously, in the first meeting with Lafayette, Thomas posted his second double-double of the season with 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Earlier this year, Thomas was named to the All-Tournament team at the San Juan Shootout, after averaging 10.3 points, 4.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds over three games. He had 11 points, six assists and five rebounds against Tennessee-Chattanooga, and added 13 points, four rebounds and three assists against Mississippi State. Some of Thomas' other top performances this season came against Fordham (career-high 23 points, five assists, five steals, four rebounds), High Point (20 points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals), Boston College (16 points, three assists), George Mason (16 points, six rebounds), Army (16 points, seven assists, five rebounds) and William & Mary (15 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, four steals). Entering the Lafayette game, Thomas has career totals of 635 points, 300 rebounds, 262 assists and 154 steals.

CLIFFORD PLAYING BIG IN THE POST: Sophomore center Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.) has moved into the starting lineup for the last four games, and has responded with some excellent performances. In Wednesday's victory at Navy, he recorded 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Previously against American, Clifford totaled 27 points, four rebounds and four blocks, while hitting nine of 15 shots from the floor and eight of nine attempts from the foul line. He also posted 19 points and seven rebounds at Lehigh, while recording 11 points and two rebounds against Boston College. Earlier in the season against Brown, Clifford recorded 21 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, while hitting nine of 12 field goal attempts. Through 22 games played this year, Clifford has averaged 7.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. In 28 games played last season, he averaged 2.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per contest. Clifford also finished the 2004-2005 season ranked fifth in the Patriot League with his 31 blocked shots.

THE LAST MEETING WITH LAFAYETTE: Keith Simmons scored 26 points on nine of 11 shooting from the field, to lead Holy Cross to an 86-57 victory over Lafayette at the Hart Center on Jan. 7, 2006. Simmons was also four of five from three-point range, in addition to recording seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. After Lafayette scored the opening points of the game on a three-pointer by Bilal Abdullah, Holy Cross went on a 9-0 run to take a lead it would never relinquish. After leading 14-10 at the 14:48 mark of the first half, Holy Cross used an 18-0 run to build its lead up to 22 points, and would lead by double figures the rest of the way. Simmons scored seven points during that spurt, as the Crusaders made 14 of their 17 field goal attempts in the first nine minutes of play. The Leopards would get no closer than 14 points for the remainder of the opening half, before Holy Cross took a 47-23 advantage into the locker room. Lafayette then trimmed the Crusader lead to 19 points early in the second half, before Holy Cross expanded its advantage up to 42 points (82-40) with seven minutes left. Kevin Hamilton finished the game with 18 points and six rebounds, in addition to setting a career-high with nine assists, and tying the school single game record with seven steals. Torey Thomas added 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Crusaders. Lafayette was led by Abdullah with 12 points and five rebounds.

STEALING THE SHOW: In the first 22 games of the 2005-2006 season, the Crusaders have totaled 205 steals, for a Patriot League-best average of 9.3 steals per game. Holy Cross has reached double figures in steals eight times this year, with highs of 16 against Harvard and 15 against Lafayette. Senior guard Kevin Hamilton currently leads the team with 69 steals on the year, while junior guard Torey Thomas has added 58 steals this season. Last year, the Crusaders recorded 329 steals in 32 games, good for an average of 10.3 steals per contest. Hamilton led the team with 92 steals during the 2004-2005 campaign, to set a new Holy Cross single season record for steals (breaking the mark of 78 by Gordon Hamilton in 1993-1994). As a team, the Crusaders also broke the school single season record for steals last season.

WILLARD CONTINUES IMPRESSIVE RUN AT HOLY CROSS: Ralph Willard is now in his seventh season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 126-78 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 270-202. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

HOLY CROSS HAS FIVE DIFFERENT 20-POINT SCORERS: In only 22 games played so far this season, Holy Cross has had five different players score 20 or more points in a single contest. Senior guard Kevin Hamilton leads the way with seven 20-point games this season, while junior guard Keith Simmons has four 20-point efforts. Hamilton broke the 20-point barrier against Tennessee-Chattanooga (38 points), Mississippi State (27 points), Navy (26 points), Colgate (24 points), High Point (22 points), Army (21 points) and Lehigh (20 points), while Simmons scored 20 points against Army (26 points), Lafayette (26 points), High Point (21 points) and Siena (20 points). Junior guard Torey Thomas and sophomore center Tim Clifford also have a pair of 20-point games each this year. Thomas totaled 23 points against Fordham and 20 points against High Point, while Clifford had 27 points against American and 21 points against Brown. In addition, freshman forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) recorded 21 points against Mississippi State. Against High Point, the Crusaders had three 20-point scorers in a single game for the first time since Feb. 9, 1994 (against Lehigh). In addition, Holy Cross' five different 20-point scorers this year are its most since five players had 20-point games during the 1996-1997 season (Chris Rojik six times, Damion Ezell three times, John Hightower twice, Jon Kerr twice and Carlos Clark once). Also, the 16 total 20-point games by Crusaders this season are the most since the 1995-1996 season, when Holy Cross players had 20-point performances on 20 occasions.

HOLY CROSS BREAKS THREE-POINT SHOOTING MARK: In the Jan. 11 victory at Army, the Crusaders set a school single game record by making 15 three-point field goals on only 22 attempts. Junior guard Keith Simmons led the way by hitting six of seven attempts from behind the arc, while senior guard Kevin Hamilton made four of six shots from three-point range. The previous school record for most team three-pointers made in a single game was set on Dec. 2, 1994, when the Crusaders made 14 of 32 shots from behind the arc against Boston College. Holy Cross also came up just short of the Patriot League single game record of 18 three-pointers made, which is held by Lafayette (on Dec. 11, 2000, against Fordham, and on Dec. 30, 2001, against Howard). In addition, the Crusaders have made a total of 143 three-point field goals on the year, and are on a pace to break the school single season record of 198, set in 2004-2005.

HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: Holy Cross is currently ranked 132nd in the nation in the latest Ratings Percentage Index, with a rating of .5180 through games of Feb. 1. The Crusaders are currently the second-highest rated team in the Patriot League, behind only Bucknell (42nd, .5879). In addition, Holy Cross' non-conference schedule ranks as the 91st hardest in the country. The Crusaders concluded the 2004-2005 season ranked 49th in the nation in the RPI with a mark of .5657, to place ahead of four at large selections to the NCAA tournament. The Crusaders' 2004-2005 non-conference schedule ranked as the 84th-toughest in the country, including games against three teams which finished the year ranked in the top 50.

CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross stands 6-1 at the Hart Center so far this season, and now owns an all-time record of 271-104 in the building. The Crusaders have also won their last 14 Patriot League regular season games played at home, including a 3-0 mark so far in 2005-2006. Holy Cross has not lost a regular season game to a conference opponent at the Hart Center since Jan. 25, 2004, when it was defeated by American 62-59. The Crusaders also have a 33-4 mark in Patriot League regular season home games over the last six seasons. Last year, Holy Cross posted an overall record of 12-3 at home, including a 10-game winning streak. Since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, the Crusaders now have an overall mark of 58-11 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 26 out of 30 seasons, while posting double-figure home victories 13 times.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in two statistical categories, through games of Jan. 30. Junior guard Torey Thomas and senior guard Kevin Hamilton are also ranked among the national steal leaders. The rankings:

Category       Rank  Player / Team     Avg.
Steals            5  Kevin Hamilton     3.3
                 22  Torey Thomas       2.6
                 26  Holy Cross         9.4
Scoring Defense  39  Holy Cross        61.3

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 87th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1216-787 (.607), 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 nine players on to professional basketball, 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.

VANDER BAAN ENJOYING STRONG FRESHMAN YEAR: Freshman forward Alex Vander Baan has been a key part of the Holy Cross starting lineup throughout the 2005-2006 season. In Wednesday's victory at Navy, Vander Baan totaled 10 points, six rebounds and three assists. He previously had three outstanding games for the Crusaders at the San Juan Shootout, and was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week on Dec. 27. Vander Baan had a career-high 21 points and nine rebounds against Mississippi State, while totaling 15 points and seven rebounds against Clemson, and scoring 11 points against Tennessee-Chattanooga. Over the three games at the San Juan Shootout, he averaged 15.7 points and 7.0 rebounds, while shooting 55.6 percent from the floor. Earlier in the season, Vander Baan was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week (Nov. 21) following his performance at the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic. He averaged 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in the two games, while shooting 60.0 percent from the field. His top game came against High Point, when he totaled 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Through 22 games played this season, Vander Baan has averaged 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest. Vander Baan came to Holy Cross from Whitinsville Christian School, where he averaged 16.1 points and 15.6 rebounds as a senior.

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 17th 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 second year on the Holy Cross broadcast crew, 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 a few 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: Holy Cross is currently scheduled to have nine games shown on live television during the 2005-2006 season. Last year the Crusaders had 10 television appearances, including three games which were shown on ESPN2. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2005-2006 campaign:

Date     Opponent           Television Outlet
Dec. 1   Siena              Time Warner
Jan. 2   Boston University  New England Sports Network
Jan. 14  Bucknell           College Sports Television / WLVI-TV56
Jan. 17  Boston College     New England Sports Network
Jan. 25  Colgate            WCTR-TV3
Jan. 28  Lehigh             Service Electric
Feb. 4   Lafayette          Lafayette Sports Network
Feb. 8   Army               WCTR-TV3
Feb. 26  Lehigh             College Sports Television / WLVI-TV56

SCOUTING THE LEOPARDS: Lafayette has an overall record of 9-11 on the season, including a 3-4 mark in the Patriot League. The Leopards have lost four of their last five games, with the lone victory during that time coming at Army (82-61 on Jan. 25). The leading scorer for Lafayette is senior forward Andrei Capusan, who has averaged 10.4 points per game while hitting 59.4 percent (85 of 143) of his field goal attempts. Freshman guard Andrew Brown is also enjoying a fine season, averaging 9.9 points and 3.2 assists per contest. The Leopards are led by head coach Fran O'Hanlon, who owns a 159-147 record in 11 seasons at Lafayette. Prior to his time with the Leopards, O'Hanlon spent six seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania.

DRIBBLES: Holy Cross played the 2,000th game in the history of its men's basketball program against American on Jan. 21 ... Senior guard Kevin Hamilton has been selected as the Crusaders' captain for the 2005-2006 season, while senior forward Kevin Hyland (White Plains, N.Y.) will serve as Holy Cross' co-captain ... From Jan. 12, 2005-Jan. 11, 2006, the Crusaders had a 15-game winning streak in Patriot League regular season contests, the second longest streak in conference history ... With the victories over Lafayette and Army, Holy Cross now stands 11-5 all-time in Patriot League openers, 11-5 in conference home openers, and 10-6 in league road openers ... Holy Cross was picked to finish second in this year's Patriot League preseason poll, behind Bucknell ... Senior guard Kevin Hamilton and junior guard Keith Simmons were both named preseason All-Patriot League this year, in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors ... When the Crusaders won the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 18-19, it marked the 12th regular season tournament title in school history.