Keith Simmons Named Patriot League Player Of The Year

Feb. 26, 2007

WORCESTER, Mass. - Senior guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) has been named the 2006-2007 Patriot League Player of the Year in men's basketball. Simmons was also selected first team All-Patriot League, along with senior guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.), while junior center Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.) was named to the all-conference second team. In addition, Thomas was chosen as the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, head coach Ralph Willard received Patriot League Coach of the Year honors, and freshman forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.) was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie team.

Simmons led the team and the Patriot League in scoring with an average of 17.5 points per game this season. He also led the team with 6.0 rebounds per game and was second on the squad with 2.5 steals per game, marks which ranked third and second in the conference, respectively. Simmons has scored in double figures in 41 straight games dating back to last year, and has also led the team in scoring 16 times this season. He currently ranks first on the school career list for games played (122), second for three-point field goals made (191), second for three-point field goal attempts (454), fifth for three-point field goal percentage (42.1 percent), fifth for steals (188), sixth for minutes played (3,397) and 11th for points scored (1,604). In addition, Simmons is one of only eight players in Patriot League history to earn first team all-conference honors three years in a row.

Thomas ranked second on the team and eighth in the league in scoring with an average of 13.1 points per game, in addition to leading the conference with an average of 2.8 steals per game. He also ranked first on the team in assists (4.8 assists per game) and third in rebounding (4.7 rebounds per game), marks which placed him second and 11th in the conference, respectively. On the season, Thomas has scored in double-figures 24 times, while leading the team in scoring six times. He currently stands second all-time at Holy Cross in career steals (257), fourth in minutes played (3,482), fifth in assists (451), fifth in games played (121) and eighth in three-point field goal attempts (308), while scoring 1,133 career points.

Clifford averaged 11.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and a Patriot League best 1.8 blocked shots per game on the year for the Crusaders, while shooting a team-best 82.5 percent at the foul line (66 of 80). He was even more effective in conference games, averaging 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game against Patriot League foes. Clifford scored in double figures 16 times on the season, while leading the team in scoring six times. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Clifford has now totaled 667 points, 334 rebounds and 133 blocked shots, to rank third all-time in Holy Cross history in blocks.

Meister averaged 2.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest as the top big man off the bench for the Crusaders. He also shot 53.4 percent (39 of 73) from the field on the season. Meister pulled down five or more rebounds in a game nine times this year, including a career-high 10 rebounds at Harvard on Nov. 21, and nine rebounds at Boston University on Jan. 3. He also scored a career-high nine points at American on Jan. 20.

Willard earns Patriot League Coach of the Year honors for the third time in the last seven years, after previously taking home the award in 2001 and 2005. He has led the Crusaders to an overall mark of 22-8 and a 13-1 record in Patriot League action this year, tying the school record for most regular season league wins. The team has also won the Patriot League regular season title for the fourth time during Willard's eight seasons as head coach, after previously taking the crown in 2001, 2003 and 2005. Willard owns a mark of 156-88 during his time at Holy Cross, while his career record stands at 300-212, including five seasons at the University of Pittsburgh and four years at Western Kentucky University.

The Patriot League regular season co-champion, Holy Cross (22-8, 13-1 Patriot League) returns to action on Wednesday, February 28, when it plays host to Lafayette in a quarterfinal round game of the Patriot League Tournament. The contest between the Crusaders and the Leopards is scheduled to tip-off at 7:00 p.m. at the Hart Center.

A complete list of the 2006-2007 All-Patriot League teams follows.

All-Patriot League First Team
Andre Ingram, American, Sr., G
Chris McNaughton, Bucknell, Sr., C
Jose Olivero, Lehigh, Sr., G
Keith Simmons, Holy Cross, Sr., G
Torey Thomas, Holy Cross, Sr., G

Second Team All-Patriot League
Donald Brown, Bucknell, Sr., F
Jarrell Brown, Army, Jr., G
Tim Clifford, Holy Cross, Jr., C
Jon Simon, Colgate, Sr., G
Greg Sprink, Navy, Jr., F

Patriot League All-Rookie Team
Zahir Carrington, Lehigh, F
Marquis Hall, Lehigh, G
Eric Meister, Holy Cross, F
Marcus Nelson, Army, G
Trey Stanton, Navy, F

Patriot League Player of the Year: Keith Simmons, Holy Cross, Sr., G
Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year: Torey Thomas, Holy Cross, Sr., G
Patriot League Rookie of the Year:
Marquis Hall, Lehigh, Fr., G
Patriot League Coach of the Year: Ralph Willard, Holy Cross