February 22, 2005

Crusaders Set For Rematch With Bucknell

Feb. 22, 2005

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (20-5, 11-1 PL) vs. Bucknell (18-8, 9-3 PL)
Date: February 23, 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
Bucknell Radio: Doug Birdsong, play-by-play; Doug Byerly, color WVLY 100.9 FM, Lewisburg
Series Record: Bucknell leads, 20-17
Last Meeting: Bucknell 59, Holy Cross 43 (January 8, 2005; Lewisburg, Pa.)

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 BUCKNELL: This will be the 38th meeting between the Crusaders and the Bison on the hardwood, with Bucknell leading the all-time series 20-17. Bucknell has won two straight and three out of four meetings over the last two years, including a 59-43 victory in Lewisburg earlier this season. Prior to last year, Holy Cross had won four straight and seven of the previous eight games in the series. For games played in Worcester, the series is tied at 7-7, although the Crusaders have won two straight and three out of the last four contests played at the Hart Center. The schools first met on January 12, 1991, with Holy Cross posting an 80-78 victory in Lewisburg.

SERIES QUICK FACTS
Overall: Bucknell, 20-17
At Worcester: Tied, 7-7
At the Hart Center: Tied, 7-7
Ralph Willard vs. Bucknell: 8-6
Pat Flannery vs. Holy Cross: 16-10
Current Win Streak: Bucknell, two games

CRUSADERS LOOKING TO CAPTURE REGULAR SEASON TITLE: With a victory over Bucknell, Holy Cross can wrap up the fourth Patriot League regular season championship in school history. The Crusaders have already clinched at least a share of first place in the league, but can claim the title outright with one more victory in their final two games of the regular season. If Holy Cross does win the regular season championship, it will be guaranteed to play all of its games in this year's Patriot League Tournament at the Hart Center. Prior to this season, the Crusaders won outright Patriot League regular season titles in 2001 and 2003, while sharing the regular season championship in 1994.

HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: The Crusaders are currently ranked 40th in the nation in the latest Ratings Percentage Index, according to Collegiate Basketball News. In the most recent ratings, through games of February 20, Holy Cross had an RPI of .5810, to place ahead of teams such as Notre Dame (41st, .5808), Florida (44th, .5748) and Iowa State (51st, .5696). The Crusaders' non-conference schedule ranks as the 50th-toughest in the country, including games against five teams which are presently ranked in the top 60 (No. 5 Boston College, No. 13 Vermont, No. 53 Minnesota, No. 57 Boston University and No. 60 Northeastern). Holy Cross is currently the top rated team in the Patriot League, coming in well ahead of Bucknell (79th, .5537) and American (154th, .5070). No other Patriot League school ranks better than 227th.

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 23 times in 25 games, and earning Patriot League Player of the Week honors twice (on Jan. 31 and Feb. 14). During Saturday's victory at Colgate, Hamilton tied for the team-lead in scoring with 14 points, in addition to pulling down a game-high nine rebounds. In the previous game against Lehigh, he totaled 20 points, six rebounds and three assists, while hitting three of four attempts from three-point range. Earlier in the year against Iona, Hamilton scored a career-high 24 points, in addition to totaling five steals and three assists. He also had a big game at Minnesota with 22 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Some of Hamilton's other top games this season came against American at home (23 points, seven assists, five steals, four rebounds), at Lafayette (22 points, six rebounds), against Colgate at home (19 points, six steals, five rebounds), at Army (18 points, four rebounds), at Harvard (18 points, five rebounds, five steals), at Lehigh (17 points, five rebounds), at Bucknell (17 points, three rebounds, three steals), at Fordham (17 points, eight rebounds), at Boston University (17 points, six steals, five rebounds), against Dartmouth (16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals), against Lafayette at home (16 points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals) and at American (14 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, first career double-double). Through 25 games this year, he is averaging 15.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.1 steals per contest. Prior to the start of the season, Hamilton was named to the 2004-2005 preseason All-Patriot League team. He has now scored in double figures on 47 occasions during his Holy Cross career, including 37 times in his last 41 games.

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 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds through 25 games. He has been hot over the last five contests, averaging 10.4 points per game while hitting 20 of 36 field goal attempts (55.6 percent) and five of eight shots from three-point range (62.5 percent). During Saturday's victory at Colgate, he tied for the team lead in scoring with 14 points, in addition to pulling down four rebounds. Kinsey also totaled 11 points, three rebounds and two assists in the previous game against Lehigh, while recording 13 points, three assists and two rebounds against Lafayette. Some of his other top performances this season have come against Princeton (11 points), Marist (10 points, five rebounds, two assists), Colgate (nine points, two rebounds, two assists), Navy (eight points, three rebounds, three steals) and Northeastern (seven points, five assists, three rebounds). Last season, Kinsey started all 28 of Holy Cross' games, averaging 5.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Kinsey has now totaled 470 points, 285 rebounds, 155 assists and 113 steals, while being in the starting lineup for 80 of the last 81 games the Crusaders have played.

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 109-66 during his time in Worcester. Willard currently 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). With the victory over Lafayette on Feb. 11, he moved past Roy Leenig (106-48 / 1955-1961) and Jack Donohue (106-66 / 1965-1972). 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 253-190. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

COLGATE RECAP: Greg Kinsey recorded 14 points and four rebounds, to lead Holy Cross to a 59-46 victory over Colgate at Cotterell Court on Feb. 19, 2005. Colgate's Alvin Reed opened the day by scoring the game's first five points, but the Crusaders responded with a 13-0 run to take an eight-point advantage, including seven points from Kevin Hamilton. Holy Cross extended the lead to as many as 14 points (23-9) in the opening half, before the Raiders used a 15-2 run to get back into the game. The Crusaders led by just two-points at the break (28-26), then Colgate scored the first two points of the second half to tie the score. But the Raiders were unable to regain the lead, as Holy Cross responded with a 6-0 run to move back in front, with Kinsey scoring four of those points. The score stayed close over the next several minutes, and the Crusaders were up by just three (43-40) with seven minutes left in regulation. But Holy Cross then used a 7-0 run to extend the advantage to double figures (including five points from Hamilton), and Colgate would get no closer than six points the rest of the way. The Crusaders hit 11 of 16 free throw attempts down the stretch to secure the victory. Hamilton totaled 14 points, nine rebounds and two steals, while Nate Lufkin added 10 points and five boards. Reed led Colgate with 16 points and three assists, while Andrew Zidar added 15 points and six rebounds.

CRUSADERS STEP UP ON DEFENSE: The Holy Cross defense has been outstanding so far this season, allowing its opponents to average just 56.7 points per game. The Crusaders have held 18 of their first 25 opponents this year under 60 points in regulation, with lows of 29 points by Army, 39 points by Fordham, 46 points by Colgate 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 17.3 turnovers per game, including 26 by Harvard and 25 by both Minnesota and Fordham. In addition, the Crusaders have averaged 10.6 steals and 5.0 blocks per contest, while outrebounding the opposition by 4.0 boards per game and holding opponents to 38.9 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 58.5 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).

LUFKIN BREAKS BLOCKED SHOT RECORD: Senior center Nate Lufkin (Austin, Texas) is once again enjoying a solid season for the Crusaders in 2004-2005. He currently has 138 blocked shots during his Holy Cross career, and has become the Crusaders' all-time leader in career blocks. Lufkin broke the record on Feb. 13 against Lehigh, when he swatted away a layup attempt by the Mountain Hawks' Kyle Neptune with 12:05 remaining in the second half. That block moved him past Josh Sankes (1999-2001), who had 135 blocked shots during his Holy Cross career. Over the course of the season, some of Lufkin's top performances have come against Northeastern (14 points, six rebounds, three assists), Boston College (12 points, nine rebounds), Dartmouth (12 points), Lafayette on the road (11 points, four rebounds, two blocks), Lehigh at home (10 points, six rebounds, three blocks), Navy at home (10 points, five blocks, three rebounds), Colgate on the road (10 points, five rebounds), Rhode Island (nine points, two 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 on the road (seven points, three rebounds, three blocks). On the year, Lufkin is averaging 7.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per contest. The 2001-2002 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, Lufkin has now totaled 784 points and 511 rebounds in his career at Holy Cross.

THE LAST MEETING WITH BUCKNELL: In the last game between the Crusaders and the Bison, Kevin Hamilton recorded 17 points, three rebounds and three steals, but it was not enough as Bucknell posted a 59-43 victory at Sojka Pavilion on Jan. 8, 2005. The score was tied 6-6 with 12:23 remaining in the first half, before the Bison went on an 11-0 run to build a 17-6 lead. Holy Cross was able to cut the lead down to seven points, before Bucknell built the advantage back up to 12 points heading into the locker room. In the second half, the Bison were still up by 11 with 14:07 left to play, when the Crusaders went on a 10-0 run to make it a one-point game at the 11:14 mark. But Holy Cross then went cold from the field and did not score again until just 4:30 remained, and Bucknell once again took a double figure lead. The Crusaders totaled only six points in the final 11 minutes of play, as the Bison expanded their lead to as many as 16 points in the closing minutes. Both teams made only 14 shots and five three-pointers on the day, but Bucknell was allowed to go to the free throw line 25 more times than Holy Cross, outscoring the Crusaders 26-10 at the charity stripe. Kevin Bettencourt led the Bison with 17 points and six steals, while Charles Lee added 12 points and six rebounds.

THE ROAD WARRIORS: Holy Cross returns home this week, after playing its final road game of the regular season at Colgate on Feb. 19. The Crusaders have posted an impressive 12-3 record this year in games away from the Hart Center, with a current seven-game winning streak away from home, including road wins over Colgate (59-46), American (76-67 in overtime), Navy (68-66), Lehigh (58-56), Lafayette (74-57) and Army (66-29), and a neutral court victory over Iona (78-53) at the DCU Center. The last time Holy Cross posted six straight victories away from the Hart Center came in 1989-1990, when the Crusaders downed St. Peter's (73-65), Canisius (88-85), Niagara (92-82), Manhattan (63-56) and Dartmouth (79-61) on the road, and Iona (89-60) and Georgia State (101-94) on neutral courts. Holy Cross' 12 wins away from home so far this season are the second-most in the nation, behind only top-ranked Illinois (14-0 on the road).

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 the Feb. 11 victory over Lafayette, Simmons posted his first career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while hitting six of eight shots from the floor. Previously in the win at Navy, he led the team with 22 points on seven of 12 shooting, in addition to totaling five rebounds, two assists and two steals. In this year's first meeting with Lehigh, Simmons recorded 14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals, while in the game at Lafayette, he totaled 18 points and six rebounds. 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 Colgate at home (18 points, six rebounds), Army (18 points, five rebounds), American at home (17 points, eight rebounds), Vermont (15 points, eight rebounds), Iona (14 points, three steals), Boston University (13 points, three rebounds), Navy at home (13 points, three assists, two boards), Northeastern (12 points, three rebounds, three assists) and Princeton (12 points). Through 25 games, he is averaging 12.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest, while hitting 52.2 percent of his field goals (106 of 203) and 44.7 percent of his three-pointers (42 of 94). 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).

HOLY CROSS WINS 12TH STRAIGHT: With Saturday's win at Colgate, Holy Cross posted its 12th straight victory. This marks the longest winning streak for the Crusaders since the 2002-2003 squad also won 12 games in a row, before falling to Marquette in the NCAA Tournament. During its current 12-game streak, Holy Cross has averaged 72.2points per game, while shooting 48.6 percent from the floor, 40.8 percent from three-point range and outscoring the opposition by 16.9 points per contest. During the first six games of the streak, the Crusaders won each contest by double figures. That marked the first time Holy Cross won by at least 10 points in six straight games since the 1964-1965 season (86-66 over Boston University, 93-74 over Dartmouth, 100-87 over Springfield, 99-62 over Amherst, 81-71 over Dartmouth and 95-74 over Assumption). With a victory over Bucknell, the Crusaders would tie for the fourth longest winning streak in school history. 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.  13 games  Feb. 6, 1906-Jan. 29, 1908
  5.  12 games  Jan. 12, 2005-present
      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  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

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. Through 25 games so far this year, he is averaging 7.7 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds per contest. Hurley has played well over the last few weeks, including some outstanding games against Navy (13 points, nine rebounds), American (15 points, six rebounds) and Lafayette (11 points, 11 rebounds). Some of Hurley's other top performances this season have come against Northeastern (18 points, five rebounds, two assists), Navy at home (12 points, seven rebounds), Boston College (11 points, seven rebounds), Vermont (10 points, 10 rebounds), Marist (10 points, eight rebounds), Harvard (nine points, five rebounds, six steals), Lafayette on the road (nine points, seven rebounds), Rhode Island (nine points, four rebounds, two steals), Dartmouth (seven points, eight rebounds), Fordham (seven points, six rebounds, three steals) and Boston University (seven points, seven rebounds, two steals). Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Hurley has now totaled 525 points, 390 rebounds, 69 assists, 49 blocks and 81 steals.

STEALING THE SHOW: In 25 games played this season, Holy Cross has recorded 264 steals, good for an average of 10.6 steals per game. The Crusaders have already reached double figures in steals for a game 13 times this season, with highs of 20 at Harvard, 18 against Iona and 16 at Fordham. Leading the way is junior guard Kevin Hamilton, who has 77 steals this year, the second-highest single season total in school history. Hamilton has a chance to break both the Holy Cross (78 by Gordon Hamilton in 1993-1994) and Patriot League (94 by Mike Bright of Bucknell in 1992-1993) single season records for steals. As a team, the Crusaders stand 40 steals away from the school single season record of 304 (1992-1993) and 88 steals away from the Patriot League single season record of 352 (Navy, 1999-2000).

CRUSADERS HEAT UP ON OFFENSE: Holy Cross has turned in some outstanding shooting performances so far this season. The Crusaders have hit at least 50 percent of their field goal attempts 11 times this year, including the games against Lafayette on Feb. 11 (29 of 56, 51.8 percent) and Lehigh on Feb. 13 (27 of 51, 52.9 percent). This includes a string of six consecutive games from Jan. 12-28, when Holy Cross made at least half of its shots every time. The Crusaders have a perfect 11-0 record this year when shooting at least 50 percent from the floor, while winning those game by an average of 20.3 points. In fact, Holy Cross has now won its last 25 games when it hits at least half its shots from the field, since a 75-73 loss to Bucknell on Feb. 20, 2002.

DOHERTY STEPPING UP IN BACKCOURT: Freshman guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) is enjoying a solid season, and has been named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week twice, on Jan. 24 and Jan. 31. In the five games Holy Cross played during those two weeks, Doherty averaged 11.2 points, 4.2 assists and 2.8 steals per contest, while shooting 47.2 percent from the floor and posting a 1.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. During the win at Navy, Doherty had nine points, five assists and three rebounds, while hitting a pair of key three-pointers in the final three minutes of the game. Previously at Lehigh, he recorded 14 points and three assists, while hitting a pair of free throws with 1:32 remaining to break a 54-54 tie. During this season's first game against American, Doherty totaled 15 points, five steals, two rebounds and two assists, while in the first Navy game, he led the team with 16 points, six assists and five steals, while committing only one turnover. Against Iona, in his first collegiate start, he totaled seven points, two steals and a career-high eight assists. Doherty also played well off the bench against Colgate, totaling 14 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Earlier in the season he had solid games against Army (eight points, four assists, two rebounds), Brown (nine points, five assists), Minnesota (six points) and Marist (two points, two rebounds, four assists, two steals). Through 25 games played so far this season, Doherty is now averaging 4.8 points and 2.4 assists per contest.

CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross stands 8-2 at the Hart Center so far this season, improving its all-time record in the building to 261-102. Since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, the Crusaders now have an overall mark of 49-9 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.

THOMAS SHINES IN SOPHOMORE YEAR: Sophomore point guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) has been one of the Crusaders' top players so far this season. In the Feb. 13 victory over Lehigh, Thomas handed out a career-high 11 assists (the highest single-game total by a Crusader since Jave Meade had 11 assists against Marquette on March 20, 2003), in addition to recording eight points and five steals. Previously, in the victory at American, he totaled 15 points and six rebounds, including points 10 and an eight of 10 performance at the free throw line during overtime. Earlier this season in the victory over Dartmouth, Thomas scored 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), Army (nine points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals), Minnesota (nine points, five rebounds, three assists), Colgate (nine points, three rebounds, three assists), Marist (eight points, seven rebounds, eight assists) and Princeton (seven points, five steals, six rebounds). Through 24 games this year, he is averaging 7.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.8 steals per contest. 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.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders currently rank among the NCAA Division I leaders in seven different statistical categories, through games of February 21. In addition, junior guard Kevin Hamilton is listed among the nation's leaders in steals. The rankings:

Category                     Rank  Player / Team   Avg. / No.
Current Winning Streak          5  Holy Cross              12
Scoring Defense                 5  Holy Cross            56.7
Steals                          6  Holy Cross            10.6
                                6  Kevin Hamilton         3.1
Field Goal Percentage Defense  13  Holy Cross            38.9
Won-Lost Percentage            24  Holy Cross            80.0
Blocked Shots                  25  Holy Cross             5.0
Scoring Margin                 32  Holy Cross           +10.4

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 have had seven games shown on live television so far in the 2004-2005 season. On two occasions, Holy Cross has been featured on the Patriot League Game of the Week, which was shown on College Sports Television. The January 8 game at Bucknell and the February 13 contest against Lehigh at the Hart Center were both carried. The Lehigh game was also 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 was shown by the Lafayette Sports Network, the January 30 contest at Lehigh was carried by Service Electric Television and the February 19 game at Colgate was shown on Time Warner Sports Television.

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 86th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1199-775 (.607), 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.

CLIFFORD PLAYS BIG OFF THE BENCH: Freshman center Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.) has turned into a key player for the Crusaders in the low post positions. During the Feb. 11 victory over Lafayette, he totaled eight points and five rebounds, while tying his career high with six blocked shots. In the previous game at American, Clifford posted his first career double-double with career-highs of 13 points and 13 rebounds. He also recorded five blocked shots, while recording six of his points and six of his rebounds in overtime. Earlier this season against Marist, Clifford totaled nine points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots. His six blocks against both Lafayette and Marist are tied for the second-highest single game total in school history, coming in just behind the seven blocks by Josh Sankes against Colgate on Feb. 5, 2000. In 22 games played this year, he is now averaging 3.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per contest.

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 the Feb. 11 win over Lafayette, he scored a career-high 15 points on six of nine shooting from the floor. In the victory over Iona, Hyland totaled 12 points (four of five shooting) and four rebounds, while at Brown, he scored 14 points (seven of seven from the field). 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 25 games played so far this year, Hyland is averaging 4.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.4 blocks per game, while shooting 64.9 percent (48 of 74) from the field.

DOUBLING UP: During the games against American and Lafayette on Feb. 6 and 11, Holy Cross has had four different players post double-doubles. This came after the Crusaders had only one double-double in the first 21 games of the season. In the Lafayette game, Keith Simmons posted his first career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while John Hurley added 11 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth career double-double. In the American game, Tim Clifford (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Kevin Hamilton (14 points, 10 rebounds) both recorded the first double-double of their careers. Prior to those two games, the only double-double of the season by a Holy Cross player came against Vermont, when Hurley had 10 points and 10 rebounds. In addition, the last time the Crusaders had two players with double-doubles in the same game was on Feb. 15, 2003, when Tim Szatko (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Patrick Whearty (17 points, 11 rebounds) accomplished the feat against Lafayette.

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 BISON: Bucknell has an overall record of 18-8 on the season, including a 9-3 mark in the Patriot league. The Bison have already wrapped up at least the No. 2 seed in this year's Patriot League Tournament, but stand only 2-4 in their last six road games. Bucknell's leading scorer is junior guard Kevin Bettencourt, who has averaged 13.5 points per game while hitting 38.0 percent (63 of 166) of his three-point attempts. Sophomore center Chris McNaughton has averaged 12.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest, while junior guard Charles Lee is chipping in with 12.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Bucknell is led by head coach Pat Flannery, who owns a 167-144 record during his 11 seasons with the Bison. Flannery's career record stands at 262-187, including five years as the head coach at Lebanon Valley College.

DRIBBLES: The Crusaders are ranked No. 18 in the most recent Mid-Major Top 25 Poll from CollegeInsider.com , released on Feb. 21 ... 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) ... During the Boston College game on Dec. 9, the Crusaders became the first team to outrebound the Eagles this year (41-39), and forced Boston College to commit 18 turnovers. In addition, Holy Cross held Boston College to 53 points in regulation, after the Eagles entered the game with a scoring average of 79.2, and a previous low of 72 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.