Crusaders Open Patriot League Tournament Play At American
March 3, 2008
GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
Event: Patriot League Quarterfinals
The Teams: Holy Cross (15-13, 5-9 PL) vs. American (18-11, 10-4 PL)
Date: March 5, 2008
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Bender Arena (4,500), Washington, D.C.
Live Video Streaming: Crusader All-Access
Holy Cross Radio: www.sportsjuice.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
American Radio: WWRC 1260 AM, Washington, D.C.; Mike Vaillancourt, play-by-play; Jeremy Huber, color
Sirius Satellite Radio: Channel 161; Frank Santore, play-by-play
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 14-4
Last Meeting: American 62, Holy Cross 46 (February 6, 2008; Worcester, Mass.)
PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS: Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. F 33 Colin Cunningham 6-6 210 Jr. F 53 Eric Meister 6-8 230 So. C 00 Tim Clifford 6-11 260 Sr. G 2 Kyle Cruze 6-2 175 Sr. G 20 Pat Doherty 5-11 170 Jr.
THE SERIES WITH AMERICAN: This will be the 19th meeting between the Crusaders and the Eagles on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 14-4. The Crusaders had won the eight straight games played between the schools, before American posted a 62-46 victory in Worcester last month. Prior to that, the Eagles had not defeated Holy Cross since sweeping the season series in 2003-2004. The schools have met three times in the Patriot League Tournament, with the Crusaders winning all three of those games (55-53 at the Hart Center on March 4, 2007; 72-64 at the Hart Center on March 14, 2003; 58-54 at Bender Arena on March 8, 2002). Holy Cross and American first met on Dec. 21, 1967, with the Crusaders posting an 81-57 victory on the road.
SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 14-4
In Washington: Holy Cross leads, 7-2
At Bender Arena: Holy Cross leads, 6-2
Ralph Willard vs. American: 13-4
Jeff Jones vs. Holy Cross: 4-13
Current Win Streak: American, one game
In Overtime: Holy Cross leads, 2-0
CRUSADERS SET FOR PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT: Holy Cross opens up play in the 2008 Patriot League Tournament on Wednesday, March 5, when it travels to American at 7:30 p.m. The Crusaders are the eighth seed in the tournament, while the Eagles are seeded first. The winner of the Holy Cross-American game will move on to face the Army-Lehigh winner on Sunday, March 9, with the championship game set for Friday, March 14. All games in this year's tournament will be played on the campus of the higher seed.
THE SEEDINGS: Holy Cross will be the No. 8 seed in the 2008 Patriot League Championship. This marks the first time the Crusaders have ever been the lowest seed in the tournament. Prior to this year, Holy Cross had never been seeded lower than sixth. . . Throughout its history in the Patriot League, Holy Cross has been the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament four times (10-1 record). The Crusaders have also been seeded No. 2 three times (8-1 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 3-9 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games when it has been seeded lower than its opponent. The Crusaders have lost their last two games as the lower seed, with the last victory coming at American in the 2002 championship game (58-54).
HISTORY IS NOT ON OUR SIDE: Based on results from past years, the Crusaders chances in the Patriot League Tournament do not look good. The No. 8 seed has never won a conference tournament game, going 0-10 all-time. The closest calls for the No. 8 seed came in 2004 (Navy lost to Lehigh 62-60 in overtime) and 1993 (Lehigh lost to Bucknell 69-65 in overtime). . . During the first 17 years of the conference tournament, the highest seed has gone on to win the championship 12 times, including four of the last five seasons. In addition, the No. 1 seed has advanced to the championship game during each of the 17 years the Patriot League Tournament has been played... While the top seed has won the league tournament 12 times, the No. 2 has claimed the title during the other five 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 12 times over the last 16 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.
TIP-INS: The Crusaders, who will face American in the quarterfinals, stand 3-0 all-time against the Eagles in Patriot League Tournament play. This marks the second straight season the two schools have met in the conference tournament, and the fourth time in the last seven years. Holy Cross and American played in the Patriot League championship game in 2002 and 2003, with the Crusaders winning both times (58-54 on the road in 2002, 72-64 at home in 2003). . . For the second year in a row, all games in the Patriot League Tournament will be played on the campus sites of the higher seed. . . Holy Cross stands 2-3 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games which have been played on the opposing team's home court. . . This will be only the second postseason appearance for the Crusaders at American, with the first being the 58-54 win in the 2002 championship game . . In the conference's history, teams playing on their home court have an overall record of 45-9 during the Patriot League Tournament. . . Five teams have won Patriot League championships in the past while playing at home for the entire tournament: Navy in 1994 and 1998, Lafayette in 2000, Bucknell in 2006 and Holy Cross in 2007.
SENIOR SALUTE: Three members of the Holy Cross basketball program are wrapping up their collegiate careers this month. Team captains Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.) and Kyle Cruze (Knoxville, Tenn.) and guard Victor Vaval (West Roxbury, Mass.) are the three members of the 2008 senior class. Over the last four years, the senior class has helped Holy Cross to an overall record of 85-41, two Patriot League regular season championships, one Patriot League tournament title, a trip to the NCAA Tournament and an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. The 85 total victories for the seniors are the most by Holy Cross in a four-year span since the Crusaders went 85-31 from 1974-1978.
CLIFFORD EARNS FIRST TEAM ALL-LEAGUE HONORS: Senior center Tim Clifford is once again among the top big men in the conference this year, and has been named first team All-Patriot League. In 28 games played this season, he has averaged 17.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per contest, while hitting 57.0 percent (195 of 342) of his field goal attempts. In the Lehigh game, Clifford led the team with 25 points on 10 of 14 shooting from the field. During the previous contest against Colgate, he recorded a team-high 14 points and six rebounds. Clifford also played well against Northeastern, scoring 26 points on 13 of 16 shooting from the floor, in addition to posting five rebounds and four blocked shots. Some of Clifford's other top games this season have been at Navy (career-high 34 points, seven rebounds and four blocks), at Siena (26 points on 11 of 16 shooting), at Sacred Heart (24 points, seven rebounds, two blocks), against American (24 points on nine of 11 shooting), against Yale (23 points, eight rebounds, six blocked shots, four assists), against Harvard (22 points, four rebounds), at Hampton (22 points, six rebounds), against Navy (20 points, nine rebounds), against Dayton (20 points), at Bucknell (18 points, six rebounds), against American (18 points), at San Francisco (17 points, five rebounds), at Army (17 points, four rebounds, two blocks), at St. Joseph's (16 points, seven rebounds), against Boston University (16 points, eight rebounds, six blocked shots) and against Lehigh (16 points, six rebounds, four assists, seven blocked shots). In 34 games played last year, Clifford averaged 11.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest, while earning second team All-Patriot League honors. He was even more impressive in Patriot League regular season games, averaging 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Clifford has now totaled 1,223 points, 508 rebounds and 207 blocked shots, while making 478 of 928 (51.5 percent) field goal attempts.
CLIFFORD BREAKS BLOCKED SHOT RECORD: Senior center Tim Clifford broke the Holy Cross record for career blocked shots during the victory over Yale on Nov. 28, 2007. Clifford's record-breaking block came at the 5:15-mark of the second half, when he swatted away an attempted jump shot by the Bulldogs' Porter Braswell. That block moved him past Nate Lufkin (2001-2005), who had 153 blocked shots during his Holy Cross career. Clifford, who currently has 207 blocked shots during his career as a Crusader, is also just the third player in Patriot League history with 200 career blocks. In addition, he tied the school single game record for blocks earlier this season, when he swatted away seven shots in the victory over Lehigh on Feb. 2, 2008. Clifford tied the mark of Josh Sankes, who had seven blocks against Colgate on Feb. 5, 2000. With 64 blocked shots so far this season, Clifford could also break the Holy Cross single season record for blocks, currently held by Sankes with 69 in 1999-2000.
CUNNINGHAM ENJOYING SOLID SEASON: Junior forward Colin Cunningham (Memphis, Tenn.) has taken over as the starting small forward for Holy Cross this year, and has been one of the Crusaders' top players. During the game at Lehigh, he recorded 15 points, four rebounds and four assists. In the previous contest at Colgate, Cunningham posted 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds. He also played well at Bucknell, totaling nine points and six rebounds. Some of Cunningham's other top performances this season have come against Fairfield (career-high 17 points, 10 of 10 on the free throw line), against Boston University (16 points, four rebounds, three steals, four of five from three-point range), at Siena (15 points, four assists, three rebounds, three steals), against Yale (13 points, career-high 10 rebounds, first career double-double), against Harvard (13 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals), against Navy (13 points, seven rebounds, five assists), at Lafayette (12 points, seven rebounds, two steals), against Ohio (12 points, three rebounds), at Hampton (10 points, six rebounds, five assists) and at Sacred Heart (10 points, four rebounds). Overall this season, Cunningham is now averaging 7.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, while hitting 37.1 percent (26 of 70) of his three-point attempts.
THE FIRST AMERICAN GAME: Tim Clifford totaled 24 points, three rebounds and two blocked shots, to lead Holy Cross to a 66-64 victory over American at Bender Arena on Jan. 26, 2008. Holy Cross started the game hot, jumping out to a 7-0 lead after three minutes of play. The Crusaders would eventually expand their lead to eight points (11-3), before American began to get back into the game. At one point the Eagles would go on an 11-0 run to take the lead, and they eventually took a one-point advantage (30-29) into the locker room. American held onto the lead early in the second half, going up by six points (41-35) with 13:27 left to play. But Holy Cross scored the next five points, and went on to tie the game back up at 43-43 with 10:47 remaining on a three-pointer by Kyle Cruze. The Crusaders then claimed their first lead of the second half (52-50) at the 6:14-mark on a layup by Greg McCarthy. The final six minutes of the game went on to feature five ties and 12 lead changes, with both teams converting a number of clutch shots. American was up 62-61 with just over a minute to play, when Cruze hit a jumper to put Holy Cross back in front. After the Eagles regained a 64-63 lead on a pair of free throws from Jordan Nichols, Andrew Beinert made a 19-foot jumper off an offensive rebound with 18.5 seconds left to put the Crusaders on top for good. Colin Cunningham added a free throw with just 0.6 seconds on the clock to conclude the scoring. Cruze finished the game with 10 points, eight rebounds and three steals, while McCarthy added 10 points and two rebounds. American was led by Garrison Carr with 17 points and four rebounds, with Bryce Simon adding 14 points and six assists.
THE SECOND AMERICAN GAME: Tim Clifford scored a team-high 18 points, but it was not enough as Holy Cross was defeated by American 62-46 at the Hart Center on Feb. 6, 2008. The game went back in forth in the early parts of the first half, as the lead changed hands seven times in the first 13 minutes of play. The Crusaders were up 10-9 with eight minutes left before the break, when the Eagles went on a 12-4 run to take a seven-point lead (21-14). Holy Cross came back to score the final four points of the half, and trailed 21-18 at the break. The score stayed close early on in the second half, and was tied at 32-32 with 11 minutes remaining in regulation. But American then went on a 10-0 run to take the lead for good, with Garrison Carr scoring five points during that spurt. The Eagles would use a 6-0 run a few minutes later to increase their lead to 20 points (58-38) with two minutes left. Holy Cross did come up with three straight steals on the full court press in the closing minutes, but was able to get no closer than 12 points, before finally falling by 16. Kyle Cruze finished the game with 11 points and a team-best six rebounds. American was led by Carr with 22 points and six boards, while Brian Gilmore added 12 points, three rebounds and three assists.
CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2007-2008. In 28 games played this season, the Crusaders have held their opponents to 60.4 points per contest and 40.7 percent shooting from the field. Holy Cross is also outrebounding the opposition by 5.5 boards per game, while forcing 14.1 turnovers per contest. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Holy Cross has held its opposition to only 58.8 points per contest. In addition, the Crusaders have ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense in five of the last six seasons (sixth in 2001-2002 at 59.6; third in 2002-2003 at 58.7; seventh in 2003-2004 at 58.6; fifth in 2004-2005 at 56.8; and eighth in 2006-2007 at 57.5). Here is a look at Holy Cross' defensive statistics under Ralph Willard.
Season PPG FG% 3FG% SPG BPG 1999-2000 63.3 39.6 31.3 6.5 3.8 2000-2001 62.3 38.2 35.2 6.3 5.2 2001-2002 59.6 42.0 38.5 7.8 3.1 2002-2003 58.7 40.6 33.2 7.9 4.5 2003-2004 58.6 40.3 32.9 10.7 4.5 2004-2005 56.8 38.9 36.3 10.3 5.0 2005-2006 60.5 40.2 30.3 9.1 3.5 2006-2007 57.5 41.4 37.8 9.5 3.6
WILLARD CONTINUES IMPRESSIVE RUN AT HOLY CROSS: Ralph Willard is now in his ninth season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 174-102 during his time in Worcester. He now stands in second place on the all-time school list for career victories, behind only George Blaney (357-276 / 1972-1994). Last season, Willard was selected as the Patriot League Coach of the Year for the third time in his career. He was previously named the conference's Coach of the Year during the 2000-2001 and 2004-2005 seasons, and in 2004-2005 he was also one of 10 finalists for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award. Willard has led the Crusaders to four Patriot League tournament titles and four trips to the NCAA Tournament, during the 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003 and 2006-2007 seasons. He has also guided Holy Cross to four Patriot League regular season championships in 2000-2001, 2002-2003, 2004-2005 and 2006-2007, 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 318-226. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.
CRUZE PLAYS KEY MINUTES IN THE BACKCOURT: Senior guard Kyle Cruze has developed into a strong player in the Holy Cross backcourt. Through 28 games played this season, Cruze has averaged 6.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 steals per contest. He was even more productive in Patriot League regular season games, averaging 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds in those 14 contests. In the victory at Bucknell, Cruze totaled a career-high 16 points and six rebounds. Previously against Lafayette, he recorded 11 points, three rebounds and three assists. Cruze also played well against American, posting 11 points and a team-high six rebounds. Some of Cruze's other top games this season have come against Navy (14 points, five rebounds, three assists), against Lehigh (13 points, eight assists), at St. Joseph's (13 points, six assists), at American (10 points, eight rebounds, three steals), against Bucknell (10 points, three assists, two rebounds), against Hofstra (10 points, two rebounds, two steals), at Fairfield (nine points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals) and against Ohio (seven points, four assists, three rebounds, game-winning shot with 2.6 seconds remaining). During the 2006-2007 season, Cruze started 25 games for the Crusaders, averaging 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds per contest.
DOHERTY TAKES OVER AT THE POINT: Junior guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) has taken over as the top point guard for the Crusaders this year, after serving as the first guard off the bench in 2006-2007. He has averaged 7.4 points, 4.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 24 games played this season, despite missing a good deal of time due to injury. In the Navy game, Doherty totaled 11 points, five rebounds and two assists. Previously against Lafayette, he posted six points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, to earn the Martin J. O'Malley Award as the most valuable player of Holy Cross' winter homecoming game. Doherty also had a big day at San Francisco, recording 16 points and four rebounds, while hitting six of 10 shots from the field. Some of Doherty's other top performances this season have come against Boston University (career-high 20 points, three assists, three steals), against Hofstra (18 points, four assists, three rebounds), at Siena (15 points, seven assists, five rebounds, two steals), against Ohio (12 points, six assists, three steals) and at Fairfield (11 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals). In 28 games played last season, Doherty averaged 5.3 points, 2.2 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest. Doherty returned to the Holy Cross lineup last season, after missing the majority of the 2005-2006 campaign due to injury, and receiving a medical redshirt. As a freshman in 2004-2005, Doherty was honored as the Patriot League Rookie of the Year. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 482 points, 243 assists, 162 rebounds and 109 steals.
MEISTER RETURNS TO ACTION: Sophomore forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.), who missed 11 games due to injury from Dec. 22-Jan. 30, made his return to the court against Lehigh on Feb. 2. In nine games played since his return, Meister has averaged 5.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per contest, while hitting 52.6 percent (20 of 38) of his field goal attempts. During the victory at Army, he scored 11 points on four of four shooting from the field. Meister also had a big game against Lehigh, totaling 10 points, a team-high nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Some of Meister's top performances earlier in the season came against Yale (eight points, nine rebounds), Ohio (eight points, six rebounds) and Hofstra (seven points, nine boards). In 17 games played overall this year, Meister is averaging 5.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest, while hitting 50.0 percent (37 of 74) of his field goal attempts. Last season, he was selected to the Patriot League All-Rookie team, after averaging 3.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game as the first big man off the bench for the Crusaders. Meister's top game last year came against Southern Illinois in the NCAA Tournament, when he scored a career-high 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
LEHIGH RECAP: Tim Clifford scored 25 points on 10 of 14 shooting from the field, but it was not enough as Holy Cross was defeated by Lehigh 65-58 at Stabler Arena on Feb. 29, 2008. The Crusaders started the game with a 10-4 run over the first six minutes of play, with Colin Cunningham scoring eight of those points. The Mountain Hawks came back to tie the score up at 12-12, before an 11-3 Holy Cross spurt put the Crusaders back up by eight points (23-15). Holy Cross would stay in front for the remainder of the first half, eventually taking a 32-26 advantage into the locker room. The Crusaders held onto a small lead through the early parts of the second half, and they were up 42-37 with 10 minutes left to play. But Lehigh went on a 12-0 run over the next five minutes to claim its first lead of the day. Holy Cross was able to get no closer than four points down the stretch, as the Mountain Hawks made 17 of 23 free throw attempts in the second half. Cunningham finished the game with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists. Lehigh was led by Marquis Hall with 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in six statistical categories, through games of March 2. In addition, senior center Tim Clifford stands among the national leaders in field goal percentage, blocked shots and scoring. The rankings:
Category Rank Player / Team Avg. Scoring Defense 17 Holy Cross 60.4 Rebound Margin 28 Holy Cross +5.5 Blocked Shots 28 Tim Clifford 2.3 87 Holy Cross 3.9 Field Goal Percent 29 Tim Clifford 57.0 Field Goal Percent Defense 41 Holy Cross 40.7 Free Throw Percent 64 Holy Cross 72.6 Scoring 75 Tim Clifford 17.8 Steals 94 Holy Cross 7.5
VANDER BAAN PLAYS KEY ROLE ON FRONT LINE: Junior forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) is once again a key member of the Holy Cross lineup this year. He has averaged 8.5 points and 5.7 rebounds in 19 games played this season, despite missing a good deal of time since the beginning of January due to injury. In the victory at Bucknell, Vander Baan totaled 14 points and five rebounds, while making 10 of 12 free throw attempts. During the previous contest at Army, he recorded 13 points and seven rebounds, and hit four of five shots from the floor. Vander Baan also had a big night earlier in the season at St. Joseph's, totaling 16 points and seven rebounds, while making all four of his free throws in the final minute of play. Some of Vander Baan's other top performances this season have come against Harvard (18 points, eight rebounds), against Hofstra (15 rebounds, 10 points, three assists, three blocks), at Siena (13 points, six rebounds, two steals), against Dayton (11 points, seven rebounds), against Bucknell (11 points, five rebounds, three assists) and at Fairfield (11 points, four rebounds). In 34 games played last year, Vander Baan averaged 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest, while making 36.2 percent of his three-point field goal attempts (17 of 47). Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 576 points, 446 rebounds, 123 assists, 64 steals and 27 blocked shots.
HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders have once again shown themselves to be an outstanding rebounding team this year. Holy Cross has been outrebounded only five times in 28 games this season, while averaging 33.6 rebounds per game and outrebounding the opposition by 5.5 boards per contest. The Crusaders have been even more impressive in Patriot League play, outrebounding conference foes by 6.3 boards per game. The rebounding load has been well balanced, with five different players averaging at least 3.6 rebounds per game. Junior forward Alex Vander Baan leads the team with an average of 5.7 rebounds per game, followed by senior center Tim Clifford with 5.4 boards per contest. Sophomore forward Eric Meister has totaled 4.9 rebounds per game, while junior forward Colin Cunningham has added 4.5 boards per contest, and senior guard Kyle Cruze has contributed 3.6 rebounds per game. Last season, the Crusaders averaged 32.1 rebounds per game, and outrebounded their opponents by an average of 4.3 boards per game. Holy Cross really stepped things up in Patriot League regular season play last year, outrebounding the opposition by 8.0 boards per game, while allowing opponents to average just 25.2 rebounds per contest. Five different players averaged at least 3.6 boards per contest for Holy Cross in 2006-2007.
CRUSADERS WILL LOOK FOR SIXTH PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT CROWN: Beginning this week, Holy Cross will attempt to win the Patriot League Tournament for the sixth time in school history. Last year, the Crusaders captured their fifth Patriot League Tournament with their 74-66 victory over Bucknell on March 9, 2007. Holy Cross' previous tournament titles came in 2003 (72-64 over American), 2002 (58-54 at American), 2001 (68-64 over Navy in overtime) and 1993 (98-73 at Bucknell). The Crusaders' five conference tournament championships are the most in Patriot League history, with Navy having the second most (three in 1994, 1997 and 1998). Holy Cross has also appeared in the championship game in each of the last three seasons and the six times in the last seven years. Overall, the Crusaders have made a conference-record nine appearances in the Patriot League championship game.
CRUSADERS OWN FIVE PATRIOT LEAGUE REGULAR SEASON TITLES: Last year, Holy Cross won a share of the fifth Patriot League regular season championship in school history. The Crusaders tied for first place in the conference with Bucknell, as both teams posted 13-1 records in league play. Prior to last season, Holy Cross won outright Patriot League regular season titles in 2001, 2003 and 2005, while sharing the regular season championship in 1994. The Crusaders are the only team in league history to win more than two outright titles, while their five total championships are tied for the most in conference history with Navy (one outright, four shared) and Bucknell (two outright, three shared).
CLIFFORD SCORES 1,000TH CAREER POINT: Senior center Tim Clifford became the 44th 1,000-point scorer in the history of Holy Cross men's basketball during the Jan. 23 game against Navy. He hit a layup while being fouled at the 3:43-mark of the first half to record the 1,000th point of his collegiate career. Clifford has now scored 1,223 points in 122 games as a Crusader, good for an average of 10.0 points per contest. He now stands in 21st place on the all-time Holy Cross scoring list, just 11 points behind 20th-place Jim Nairus, who scored 1,234 points from 1987-1991.
HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: Holy Cross is currently ranked 152nd in the nation in the Ratings Percentage Index, with a rating of .5107 through games of March 2. The Crusaders are the second-highest ranked team in the Patriot League, behind only American (101st, .5362). In addition, Holy Cross' non-conference schedule ranks as the 128th-best in the country, and the hardest in the Patriot League. The Crusaders concluded the 2006-2007 season ranked 59th in the country in the RPI with a rating of .5730. Holy Cross was also ranked 111th in the RPI in 2005-2006 (.5304) and 49th in 2004-2005 (.5657).
CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross posted an 8-5 mark at the Hart Center this season, and now owns an all-time record of 299-109 in the building. The Crusaders recently had a 23-game winning streak at the Hart Center, which was the longest streak in the history of the building and the sixth-longest home court winning streak in the nation at the time. Last season Holy Cross posted a perfect 14-0 mark at the Hart Center, setting a school record for the most home victories since it moved into the building. During the Hart Center's history, Holy Cross has posted a winning record at home in 29 out of 33 seasons, while recording double-figure home victories 15 times. The Crusaders stand 86-17 at home since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, including a 54-10 record against Patriot League foes.
TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 89th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1264-812 (.609), while making 24 postseason tournament appearances -- 12 trips to the NCAA Tournament and 12 to the National Invitation Tournament. In the history of collegiate basketball, Holy Cross is one of only 16 schools to have won the NCAA Tournament (1946-1947) as well as the National Invitational Tournament (1953-1954). Throughout its history, Holy Cross has had six first team All-America selections, sent 10 players to the National Basketball Association, had four players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, had 23 players drafted by professional teams, had three players go on to coach professionally, and had 15 players who have coached in college, including current Crusader coach Ralph Willard.
HOLY CROSS SHOWS BALANCE ON OFFENSE: The Crusaders graduated the top two scorers off of their 2006-2007 team in Keith Simmons and Torey Thomas, but a number of players have stepped up on the offensive end to make up for those losses. Holy Cross currently has seven players averaging over five points per game this season. Senior center Tim Clifford leads the team in scoring at 17.8 points per game, followed by junior forward Alex Vander Baan at 8.5 points per contest. Junior forward Colin Cunningham has averaged 7.7 points per game, junior guard Pat Doherty has added 7.4 points per contest, and senior guard Kyle Cruze is chipping in with 6.4 points per game. In addition, sophomore forward Adam May (Mentor, Ohio) has averaged 5.2 points per contest, and sophomore forward Eric Meister has added 5.1 points per game.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES: American has an overall record of 18-11 on the season, including a 10-4 mark in the Patriot League. The Eagles have won seven of their last eight games, with the only loss during that time coming at Navy on Feb. 27 (83-68). The leading scorer for American is junior guard Garrison Carr, who has averaged 18.1 points while hitting 117 of 262 (44.7 percent) shots from three-point range. Junior guard Derrick Mercer is also enjoying a fine season, averaging 12.9 points and 4.1 assists per contest, while junior forward Brian Gilmore has added 8.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. The Eagles are led by head coach Jeff Jones, who owns a 122-112 record in eight seasons at American. Jones' career record stands at 268-216, including eight years as the head coach at the University of Virginia.
HOLY CROSS ON THE RADIO: Once again this season, a number of the Crusaders' basketball contests will be carried by WTAG 580 AM in Worcester. For the 19th 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 fourth year on the Holy Cross broadcast crew, and will handle either play-by-play or color commentary for selected games. WTAG is currently scheduled to air 17 of the Crusaders' 28 regular season games. All 28 regular season games will also be carried live over the internet at "www.sportsjuice.com". In addition, the Holy Cross student station, WCHC 88.1 FM, will carry a number of games this year.
CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: Holy Cross is currently scheduled to have eight games shown on live television during the 2007-2008 season. The Crusaders had 13 television appearances last year, and 10 television games during both the 2005-2006 and 2004-2005 campaigns. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2007-2008 season:
Date Opponent Television Outlet Jan. 2 Boston University WCTR-TV3 Jan. 8 Maryland Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Jan. 12 Lafayette Lafayette Sports Network Jan. 18 Bucknell ESPNU Feb. 2 Lehigh ESPNU Feb. 16 Bucknell ESPN2 Feb. 27 Colgate WCTR-TV3 Feb. 29 Lehigh ESPNU
CRUSADER ALL-ACCESS: Live video streaming of a number of Holy Cross basketball games will be available over the internet through Crusader All-Access. The package, done in association with College Sports Television Online, is available for a $9.95 monthly subscription. For details on how to sign up for Crusader All-Access, click here.
DRIBBLES: The Crusaders finished the season in last place in the Patriot League for the first time in school history ... Holy Cross also ended the regular season with a losing record in Patriot League play for just the fifth time in school history, and the first time since 1999-2000 ... The Crusaders have a 2-2 record this season when wearing their new black uniforms, winning at American and Bucknell, while losing at Maryland and Lehigh. Holy Cross also stands 8-6 on the year when wearing white, and 5-5 in purple ... Holy Cross' victory at Bucknell on Feb. 16 was its first at Sojka Pavilion in five years, breaking a five-game losing streak in the building ... The Crusaders' 0-4 start in Patriot League play was their worst since 1998-1999, when they opened conference action at 0-5 ... The Crusaders' 39 points against Army on Jan. 16 were the team's fewest ever for a game played at the Hart Center. The previous low came in a 46-42 loss to Colgate on Jan. 16, 2002 ... With the victory at San Francisco, Holy Cross improved to 1-1 on the season in overtime games. The Crusaders now stand 11-3 in overtime contests under Ralph Willard ... Senior center Tim Clifford and senior guard Kyle Cruze are serving as the Crusaders' captains for the 2007-2008 season, while junior guard Pat Doherty and junior forward Alex Vander Baan are co-captains ... Holy Cross was picked to finish first in this year's Patriot League preseason poll ... Senior center Tim Clifford was named this season's Patriot League preseason Player of the Year, in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors.