Crusaders To Face Army In Patriot League Quarterfinals
March 2, 2005
GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
Event: Patriot League Quarterfinals
Teams: Holy Cross (22-5, 13-1 PL) vs. Army (3-23, 1-13 PL)
Date: March 4, 2005
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Jeremy Lechan, color; WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Army Radio: Rich DeMarco, play-by-play; Bob Beretta, color; WBNR 1260 AM, Beacon, N.Y.; WLNA 1420 AM, Peekskill, N.Y.
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 45-14
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 66, Army 49 (February 26, 2005; Worcester, Mass.)
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 1 Torey Thomas 5-11 175 So. G 14 Kevin Hamilton 6-4 180 Jr.
THE SERIES WITH ARMY: This will be the 60th meeting between the Crusaders and the Black Knights on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 45-14. The Crusaders swept this year's season series with Army, and have won eight straight games overall against the Black Knights. Army's last victory in the series came on Jan. 23, 2002, when it posted a 57-46 win at home. For games played in Worcester, Holy Cross holds a 26-2 advantage, with seven straight victories. Army has not won at the Hart Center since Jan. 10, 1998, when it captured an 84-80 decision in overtime. The schools first met on Feb. 22, 1926, with Army posting a 41-27 victory at West Point.
SERIES QUICK FACTS
Overall: Holy Cross, 45-14
At Worcester: Holy Cross, 26-2
At the Hart Center: Holy Cross, 25-2
Ralph Willard vs. Army: 11-3
Jim Crews vs. Holy Cross: 0-7
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, eight games
HOLY CROSS TIES RECORD FOR LEAGUE WINS: The Crusaders posted a 13-1 mark in Patriot League regular season action this year, to tie the conference record for most victories in a single season. This marks only the third time in Patriot League history that a team has won 13 conference games, as the feat was previously accomplished by Bucknell in 1992-1993 (13-1) and Holy Cross in 2002-2003 (13-1). No school has ever gone undefeated in Patriot League history. If the Crusaders should win the Patriot League Tournament, they could tie their own record of 16 victories against conference foes, currently held by the 2002-2003 team which went 16-1 combined in the regular season and tournament.
HAMILTON NAMED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Junior guard Kevin Hamilton (Queens Village, N.Y.) has been named the 2004-2005 Patriot League Player of the Year, in addition to earning first team All-Patriot League honors, in voting by the conference's head coaches. He has turned in a some outstanding performances for Holy Cross this season, scoring in double figures 24 times in 27 games, and earning Patriot League Player of the Week honors twice (on Jan. 31 and Feb. 14). During last week's victory over Bucknell, Hamilton totaled 16 points and eight rebounds, while in the game at Colgate, he recorded 14 points and nine rebounds. He also played well in the home win over Lehigh, totaling 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 27 games this year, he is averaging 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals per contest. Hamilton has now scored in double figures on 48 occasions during his Holy Cross career, including 38 times in his last 43 games.
CRUSADERS CAPTURE REGULAR SEASON TITLE: With last week's victory over Bucknell, Holy Cross wrapped up the fourth Patriot League regular season championship in school history. By finishing first in the league during the regular season, the Crusaders will play all of their games in this year's Patriot League Tournament at the Hart Center. Prior to this season, Holy Cross won outright Patriot League regular season titles in 2001 and 2003, while sharing the regular season championship in 1994. The Crusaders are the only team in league history to win more than one outright title, while their four total championships are second only to Navy with five (one outright, four shared).
HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: The Crusaders are currently ranked 37th in the nation in the latest Ratings Percentage Index, according to Collegiate Basketball News. In the most recent ratings, through games of February 27, Holy Cross had an RPI of .5807, to place ahead of teams such as Maryland (40th, .5779), Georgia Tech (45th, .5738) and Pittsburgh (64th, .5595). The Crusaders' non-conference schedule ranks as the 47th-toughest in the country, including games against five teams which are presently ranked in the top 60 (No. 5 Boston College, No. 23 Vermont, No. 47 Minnesota, No. 49 Northeastern and No. 55 Boston University). Holy Cross is currently the top rated team in the Patriot League, coming in well ahead of Bucknell (75th, .5542) and American (147th, .5109). No other Patriot League school ranks better than 219th.
SIMMONS NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL-LEAGUE: Sophomore guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) has earned first team All-Patriot League honors in voting by the conference's head coaches, after turning in some big games off the bench for Holy Cross this season. During last Saturday's victory over Army, he totaled 18 points, six rebounds and three assists, and was named the Most Valuable Player of Holy Cross' Winter Homecoming Game. Simmons also played well in the previous game against Bucknell, scoring 14 points, including a nine of 10 performance at the free throw line. 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 Navy on the road (22 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals), Colgate at home (18 points, six rebounds), Lafayette on the road (18 points, six rebounds), Army on the road (18 points, five rebounds), American at home (17 points, eight rebounds), Lafayette at home (16 points, 10 rebounds, first career double-double), Vermont (15 points, eight rebounds), Iona (14 points, three steals) and Lehigh on the road (14 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals). Through 27 games, he is averaging 12.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per contest, while hitting 52.0 percent of his field goals (116 of 223) and 43.7 percent of his three-pointers (45 of 103). 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).
THE FIRST ARMY GAME: In this year's first game between the Crusaders and the Black Knights, Kevin Hamilton and Keith Simmons both scored 18 points to lead the Crusaders to a 66-29 victory at Christl Arena on Jan. 12, 2005. The 29 points scored were the fewest by a Holy Cross opponent since a 71-29 victory over Tufts on Jan. 11, 1947. Army opened the night by hitting its first four three-point field goal attempts, and held a 12-11 advantage with nine minutes to play before the break. But Holy Cross closed out the first half on a 15-3 run to take an 11-point lead into the locker room. The Crusaders then outscored the Black Knights 13-5 over the first seven minutes of the second half, and never looked back. Holy Cross eventually led by as many as 39 points in the closing minutes, before finally winning by 37. Simmons made eight of 10 field goal attempts on the night, while Hamilton made five of eight tries from three-point range. Torey Thomas added nine points and eight rebounds, while Pat Doherty had eight points and four assists. The Black Knights made only nine of 46 field goal attempts in the game (19.6 percent), with Jimmy Sewell totaling team-highs of 11 points and seven rebounds.
THE SECOND ARMY GAME: In this year's second game between the Crusaders and the Black Knights, Keith Simmons totaled 18 points, six rebounds and three steals to lead Holy Cross to a 66-49 victory at the Hart Center on Feb. 26, 2005. After Army scored on its first possession of the game, the Crusaders went on a 12-0 run to take control of the game. Following the 13:30 mark of the opening half, the Holy Cross lead would not dip below double figures, as the Crusaders expanded their advantage to 22 points at the break. The Black Knights opened the second half on a 13-2 run to trim the Holy Cross lead down to 11 points with 15 minutes remaining, but that was as close as Army would get. The Crusaders went on a 7-0 run to build their advantage back to 18 points, and led by at least 14 points for the rest of the day. Following the contest, Simmons was honored as the Most Valuable Player of Holy Cross' Winter Homecoming game. Kevin Hamilton added nine points, four rebounds and three assists for the Crusaders, while John Hurley totaled seven points and four boards. The Black Knights were led by Matt Bell with 14 points, while Jimmy Sewell added 11 points.
WILLARD EARNS COACH OF THE YEAR HONORS: Ralph Willard has been named the Patriot League Coach of the Year for the second time during his tenure at Holy Cross, after leading the Crusaders to the 2004-2005 regular season league title. He is now in his sixth season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 111-66 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 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. 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 255-190. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.
DOHERTY SELECTED ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Freshman guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) has been named the 2004-2005 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, in voting by the conference's head coaches. During his first collegiate season, he 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. In the victory 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. Earlier in the season, he also played well in the home win over Colgate, totaling 14 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Through 27 games played so far this season, Doherty is now averaging 4.6 points and 2.3 assists per contest. He has played particularly well against Patriot League opponents, averaging 6.8 points and 2.8 assists, while hitting 41.9 percent of his three-point attempts (18 of 43).
CRUSADERS STEP UP ON DEFENSE: The Holy Cross defense has been outstanding so far this season, allowing its opponents to average just 56.3 points per game. The Crusaders have held 20 of their 27 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 10.5 steals and 5.0 blocks per contest, while outrebounding the opposition by 4.5 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 58.4 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 143 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 7.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest. The 2001-2002 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, Lufkin has now totaled 794 points and 525 rebounds in his career at Holy Cross.
HOLY CROSS WINS 14TH STRAIGHT: With last Saturday's win over Army, Holy Cross posted its 14th straight victory. This marks the fourth-longest winning streak in school history, and the longest since the Crusaders won 29 straight contests from March 4, 1949-March 3, 1950. During its current 14-game streak, Holy Cross has averaged 71.5 points per game, while shooting 47.2 percent from the floor, 39.7 percent from three-point range and outscoring the opposition by 16.8 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). 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. 14 games Jan. 12, 2005-present 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 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 ROAD WARRIORS: Holy Cross has 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. During that time, the Crusaders have recorded 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 seven straight victories away from home came in 1960-1961, when the Crusaders downed Dartmouth (106-95), Rhode Island (96-72), Connecticut (98-89) and Boston University (78-76) on the road, and defeated Syracuse (100-71), Detroit (86-82) and Memphis State (81-69) 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).
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 27 games this year, he is averaging 7.8 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds per contest. Hurley has played well over the last few weeks, including some outstanding games against Bucknell (11 points, nine rebounds, three assists), 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 543 points, 403 rebounds, 73 assists, 50 blocks and 81 steals.
CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross stands 10-2 at the Hart Center so far this season, improving its all-time record in the building to 263-102. The Crusaders have won their last eight games at the Hart Center, including a perfect 7-0 mark in Patriot League home games. During its home conference games, Holy Cross has won by an average of 18.6 points per contest, with all seven games being decided by at least 10 points. Since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, the Crusaders now have an overall mark of 51-9 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 26 out of 30 seasons, while posting double-figure home victories 13 times. In addition, the Crusaders are 8-1 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games at the Hart Center, with six straight victories.
STEALING THE SHOW: In 27 games played this season, Holy Cross has recorded 284 steals, good for an average of 10.5 steals per game. The Crusaders have already reached double figures in steals for a game 14 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 80 steals this year. Hamilton has set a new Holy Cross single season record for steals (breaking the mark of 78 by Gordon Hamilton in 1993-1994), and has a shot at the Patriot League single season record (94 by Mike Bright of Bucknell in 1992-1993). As a team, the Crusaders stand 20 steals away from the school single season record of 304 (1992-1993) and 68 steals away from the Patriot League single season record of 352 (Navy, 1999-2000).
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 28. 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 14 Scoring Defense 5 Holy Cross 56.3 Steals 5 Holy Cross 10.5 7 Kevin Hamilton 3.0 Field Goal Percentage Defense 12 Holy Cross 38.9 Won-Lost Percentage 18 Holy Cross 81.5 Scoring Margin 25 Holy Cross +10.8 Blocked Shots 29 Holy Cross 5.0 Rebound Margin 46 Holy Cross +4.4
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. During last week's win over Bucknell, Thomas totaled 12 points, seven assists, four steals and three rebounds. Previously, in the Feb. 13 victory over Lehigh, he 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. Earlier this season, in the victory at American, Thomas totaled 15 points and six rebounds, including points 10 and an eight of 10 performance at the free throw line during overtime. Some of Thomas' other top performances this season have come against Dartmouth (15 points, four rebounds, four assists), 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), Rhode Island (11 points, five rebounds, five assists), 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) and Army (nine points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals). Through 26 games this year, he is averaging 7.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.0 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.
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 5.0 points and 2.6 rebounds through 27 games. He has been hot over the last seven contests, averaging 9.6 points per game while hitting 26 of 49 field goal attempts (53.1 percent) and eight of 16 shots from three-point range (50.0 percent). During last week's victory over Bucknell, he totaled 10 points and four rebounds, while previously at Colgate, he had 14 points and four rebounds. Kinsey also totaled 11 points, three rebounds and two assists 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 475 points, 287 rebounds, 158 assists and 115 steals, while being in the starting lineup for 82 of the last 83 games the Crusaders have played.
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 1201-775 (.608), 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, had 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 24 games played this year, he is now averaging 2.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per contest.
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.
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 27 games played so far this year, Hyland is averaging 4.5 points and 2.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 63.8 percent (51 of 80) 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.
THE SEEDINGS: Holy Cross enters the 2005 Patriot League Championship as the overall No. 1 seed. This marks the third time the Crusaders have been the top seed in the tournament, with the previous occasions coming in 2001 and 2003. During each of those years, Holy Cross went on to win the Patriot League title. . . Throughout its history in the Patriot League, Holy Cross has a 5-0 record as the top seed in the conference tournament. The Crusaders have also been seeded No. 2 twice (6-0 record), No. 3 three times (5-3), No. 4 three times (1-3), No. 5 twice (0-2) and No. 6 twice (0-2). . . Holy Cross stands 11-2 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games when it has been seeded higher than its opponent. The Crusaders have won seven straight contests as the higher seed, with the last loss coming against Lafayette in the 1997 quarterfinals (70-65).
HISTORY IS ON OUR SIDE: Based on results from past years, the Crusaders have an excellent chance of winning this year's Patriot League title. During the first 14 years of the conference tournament, the highest seed has gone on to win the championship 10 times, including each of the last two seasons. In addition, the No. 1 seed has advanced to the championship game during each of the 14 years the Patriot League Tournament has been played. . . While the top seed has won the league tournament 10 times, the No. 2 has claimed the title during the other four years. No team seeded lower than second has ever won a Patriot League championship. In fact, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds have both advanced to the championship game nine times over the last 14 seasons. During the other five years, the No. 1 seed and the No. 3 seed met for the title. No. team seeded lower than third has ever advanced to the Patriot League title game.
TOURNAMENT TIP-INS: The Crusaders, who will face Army in the quarterfinals, stand 3-0 all-time against the Black Knights in Patriot League Tournament play. Holy Cross defeated Army in the quarterfinals in 2003 (54-40) and 1993 (85-68), in addition to winning in the semifinals in 1996 (68-65). . . This year marks the first time Patriot League quarterfinal or semifinal games have been played on campus sites since 2001, when those rounds were held at Navy. During each of the last three seasons, all of the tournament except for the championship game took place at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md. . . Holy Cross stands 8-1 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games which have been played at the Hart Center. That includes a 3-0 mark in quarterfinal games (defeating Colgate in 1991, Army in 1993 and Lehigh in 1996), a 3-0 record in semifinal games (downing Lehigh in 1991, Fordham in 1993 and Army in 1996) and a 2-1 mark in championship games (defeating American in 2003 and Navy in 2001, while falling to Fordham in 1991). Overall, teams playing on their home court have an overall record of 30-7 during the Patriot League Tournament. . . Holy Cross has a chance to win the Patriot League title this season while playing every game in the tournament on its home court. Three teams have won Patriot League championship in the past while playing at home for the entire tournament: Navy in 1994 and 1998, and Lafayette in 2000.
SCOUTING THE BLACK KNIGHTS: Army has an overall record of 3-23 and a 1-13 mark in the Patriot League. The Black Knights have lost their last nine games, and stand 0-12 on the year away from Christl Arena. The Black Knights' leading scorer is sophomore guard Matt Bell, who has averaged 14.3 points per game while hitting 39.0 percent (39 of 100) of his three-point attempts. Sophomore forward Colin Harris has averaged 9.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per contest, while sophomore guard Cory Sinning leads the team with 59 assists and 30 steals. Army is led by head coach Jim Crews, who owns a 14-66 record during his three seasons with the Black Knights. Crews' career record stands at 308-275, including 17 years as the head coach at Evansville, where he led the Purple Aces to four NCAA Tournament appearances.
DRIBBLES: The Crusaders are ranked No. 16 in the most recent Mid-Major Top 25 Poll from CollegeInsider.com, released on Feb. 28 ... Seniors John Hurley and Greg Kinsey are serving as Holy Cross' co-captains this season ... On Dec. 21 and 27, Holy Cross scored over 80 points in consecutive games for the first time in seven years against Brown (84 points) and Northeastern (82 points) ... Holy Cross was picked to finish fourth in this year's Patriot League preseason poll of head coaches and sports information directors, behind Bucknell, Lehigh and American ... 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.