Crusaders To Take On Bucknell In League Championship Game
March 6, 2007
GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
Event: Patriot League Championship Game
The Teams: Holy Cross (24-8, 13-1 PL) vs. Bucknell (22-8, 13-1 PL)
Date: March 9, 2007
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
ESPN2 Television: Bob Wischusen, play-by-play; Tim McCormick, color
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Jeremy Lechan, color
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
Bucknell Radio: Doug Birdsong, play-by-play; Doug Byerly, color; WEGH 107.3 FM, Sunbury, Pa.
Series Record: Bucknell leads, 25-19
Last Meeting: Bucknell 48, Holy Cross 45 (Feb. 9, 2007; Lewisburg, Pa.)
PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS: Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. F 10 Keith Simmons 6-5 205 Sr. F 21 Alex Vander Baan 6-8 205 So. C 00 Tim Clifford 6-10 270 Jr. G 1 Torey Thomas 5-11 185 Sr. G 2 Kyle Cruze 6-2 175 Jr.
THE SERIES WITH BUCKNELL: This will be the 45th meeting between the Crusaders and the Bison on the hardwood, with Bucknell leading the all-time series 25-19. The teams split the regular season series this year, but prior to that the Bison had won four straight meetings and six of seven games played between the schools. For games played in Worcester, the series is tied at 9-9, although Holy Cross won earlier this season 65-60. The schools first met on January 12, 1991, with Holy Cross posting an 80-78 victory in Lewisburg.
SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Bucknell leads, 25-19
In Worcester: Tied, 9-9
At the Hart Center: Tied, 9-9
Ralph Willard vs. Bucknell: 10-11
Pat Flannery vs. Holy Cross: 21-12
Current Win Streak: Bucknell, one game
In Overtime: Tied, 1-1
CRUSADERS LOOK FOR FIFTH PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT CROWN: Holy Cross has a chance to win the fifth Patriot League Tournament title in school history against Bucknell on Friday. The Crusaders' 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). Holy Cross' four conference tournament championships are the most in Patriot League history, with Navy having the second most (three in 1994, 1997 and 1998). Holy Cross is also appearing in the championship game for the third straight season and the sixth time in the last seven years. Overall, the Crusaders are making their conference-record ninth appearance in the Patriot League championship game.
SIMMONS NAMED PATRIOT LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Senior guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) has been selected as the 2006-2007 Patriot League Player of the Year, in addition to being a first team all-conference and NABC first team All-District I selection. This marks the third straight season Simmons has been named first team All-Patriot League, becoming just the eighth player in conference history to earn first team all-league honors three times. During the 2006-2007 campaign, Simmons has averaged 17.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals in 32 games played. He has scored in double figures in 43 straight games dating back to last year, and has led the team in scoring 16 times this season. During Sunday's victory over American, Simmons scored the game-winning basket with 4.8 seconds remaining, while totaling 11 points and three assists. In the previous game against Lafayette, he recorded 12 points, five assists and four rebounds. Simmons also had a big game at Lehigh, posting his third double-double of the year with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. Some of Simmons' other top performances this season have come against Lafayette (26 points, six rebounds), Army (26 points, six rebounds), Niagara (23 points, three rebounds), Syracuse (game-high 22 points), Navy (22 points, seven rebounds), Bucknell (22 points, four rebounds), Hofstra (22 points, four rebounds), Boston University (21 points, 11 rebounds), Harvard (20 points, six rebounds) and Providence (20 points, four rebounds). Prior to the start of the year, Simmons was selected as a 2006-2007 preseason mid-major All-American by CollegeInsider.com (one of just 25 players from across the nation to be chosen to the squad). In 32 games played last season, Simmons averaged 14.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, while shooting 52.5 percent (158 of 301) from the field and 47.6 percent (60 of 126) from three-point range. Entering the Bucknell game, Simmons has scored 1,627 career points as a Crusader, while making 50.0 percent of his field goal attempts (555 of 1111) and 41.9 percent from three-point range (191 of 456).
CRUSADERS CAPTURE REGULAR SEASON TITLE: With the Feb. 25 victory at Lehigh, Holy Cross wrapped up 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 team's posted 13-1 records in league play. Prior to this 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).
CRUSADERS AND BISON TO TANGLE IN TOURNAMENT ONCE AGAIN: When Holy Cross and Bucknell meet in the Patriot League championship game, it will mark the sixth straight season in which the schools have met in the conference tournament. The Bison posted victories in 2006 (74-59 in the championship game), 2005 (61-57 in the title game) and 2004 (66-60 in the quarterfinals), while the Crusaders were victorious in 2003 (75-50 in the semifinals) and 2002 (64-57 in the semifinals). Overall, this will be the 11th meeting of the schools in the Patriot League Tournament, with Bucknell holding a 6-4 advantage in those contests. This will also mark the fourth time the Crusaders and the Bison have met in the conference title game, with Bucknell holding a 2-1 advantage in those games (Bucknell won 74-59 in 2006 and 61-57 in 2005, Holy Cross won 98-73 in 1993).
WILLARD EARNS COACH OF THE YEAR HONORS: Ralph Willard has been selected as the 2006-2007 Patriot League Coach of the Year, marking the third time he has won the honor. 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 is now in his eighth season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 158-88 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). 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 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 302-212. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.
THOMAS EARNS DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR HONORS: Senior point guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) has been named the 2006-2007 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and first team All-Patriot League, after being a second team all-conference selection in 2005-2006. In 32 games played this year, he is averaging 13.2 points, 4.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals per contest. In Sunday's victory over American, Thomas totaled 16 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals. During the previous game against Lafayette, he recorded 13 points, four assists and two rebounds. Thomas has also scored 20 points in a game three times this season, at Lehigh on Feb. 25 (21 points, six rebounds, five assists), against Siena on Nov. 18 (20 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals) and against Fairfield (20 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals). Some of his other top performances this season have come against Lafayette (19 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals), Lehigh (18 points, eight assists, seven steals, six rebounds), Lafayette (18 points, six assists, five rebounds), Hofstra (16 points, six steals, four rebounds, four assists), American (16 points, four rebounds, four assists), Army (16 points, three assists), Boston University (16 points, three assists), Niagara (15 points, seven assists, six rebounds), Army (14 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, five steals), La Salle (14 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals) and Providence (13 points, four rebounds, four steals). A year ago he averaged 11.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Thomas finished the 2005-2006 season as the Patriot League's leader in assists, while ranking second in steals, fourth in rebounding and 14th in scoring. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Thomas has now totaled 1,158 points, 505 rebounds, 461 assists and 262 steals.
CRUSADERS REACH DOUBLE-FIGURES IN LEAGUE WINS: Holy Cross finished the regular season with a record of 13-1 in Patriot League play. The Crusaders have tied the school record for most conference wins in a single season, matching the 13-1 marks previously posted by the 2002-2003 and 2004-2005 teams. Overall this marks the seventh time Holy Cross has reached double-figures in conference victories, since the Patriot League began play in the 1990-1991 season. In addition, the 1992-1993 team went 12-2, the 2005-2006 squad went 11-3, the 2000-2001 team was 10-2, and the 1991-1992 team had a 10-4 record. Holy Cross' seven seasons with double-figure victories are the most in Patriot League history, as no other school has accomplished the feat more than six times.
THE FIRST BUCKNELL GAME: Keith Simmons totaled 22 points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals, to lead the Holy Cross men's basketball team to a 65-60 victory over Bucknell at the Hart Center on Jan. 12, 2007. The Crusaders opened the game with a quick 5-0 lead, and were able to stay ahead for the remainder of the first half. The Holy Cross lead would range from four to eight points, until it eventually took a 31-25 advantage into the locker room. After the break, the Crusaders opened the second half with a 7-2 run to build their lead up to double figures (38-27). Bucknell came back with an 8-2 spurt a few minutes later to make it a four-point game (42-38 with 12:13 left), but Holy Cross responded with an 8-2 run of its own to build the lead back up to 10 points at the 8:23-mark (50-40). The Crusader lead would grow as large as 14 points (57-43 with 7:16 to play), before the Bison started to rally. Bucknell used a 9-1 run to get back into the game, and eventually cut the Holy Cross lead to one point (61-60) with just under a minute remaining. But the Bison would not score again, as the Crusaders hit four of five free throw attempts in the final minute to seal the win. Torey Thomas finished the night with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Tim Clifford added 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Bucknell was led by Justin Castleberry with 16 points, while Donald Brown added 13 points and eight rebounds. With the win, Holy Cross snapped Bucknell's streak of 23 straight victories against Patriot League foes.
THE SECOND BUCKNELL GAME: Keith Simmons scored a game-high 15 points, but it was not enough as Holy Cross was defeated by Bucknell 48-45 at Sojka Pavilion on Feb. 9, 2007. After Bucknell's Chris McNaughton scored the first basketball of the game, the Crusaders ran off 12 straight points to take a 12-2 lead after just four minutes of play. Simmons scored seven of his points during that spurt. But the Bison refused to go away, and would eventually close out the first half with a 4-0 run cut the Holy Cross lead to 27-22 at the break. Bucknell started the second half with a 7-1 spurt, and the score would remain close for the rest of the game. The Bison were up 39-35 with eight minutes remaining, before the Crusaders used a 7-0 run to go back in front, 42-39 with 5:27 left. But Holy Cross then went cold on the offensive end of the floor, as Bucknell used a 9-0 run to apparently put the game away with less than a minute to play. However, after the Bison's McNaughton missed two free throws, Simmons hit a three-pointer to make the score 48-45 with 12 seconds left. Bucknell's Justin Castleberry would then miss two free throws of his own to give the Crusaders life, but a three-point attempt by Torey Thomas rimmed out as the final buzzer sounded. Thomas finished the night with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. The Bison were led by Castleberry with 10 points.
CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2006-2007. Through 32 games this year, the Crusaders have held their opponents to 57.1 points per game and 41.4 percent shooting from the floor. Holy Cross has also averaged 9.7 steals and 3.6 blocks per contest, while forcing the opposition to commit 17.0 turnovers per game and outrebounding its opponents by 4.6 boards per contest. In addition, the Crusaders have held 23 of their 32 opponents to under 60 points during regulation. Holy Cross has been particularly strong over the last 16 contests, holding its opponents to 52.2 points per game on 39.2 percent shooting during that span. Last season, the Crusaders allowed just 60.5 points per game, while holding their opponents to 40.2 percent shooting from the floor and 30.3 percent shooting from three-point range. Holy Cross also forced its opponents to commit 16.0 turnovers per game, while averaging 9.1 steals and 3.5 blocks per contest, and outrebounding the opposition by 3.9 boards per game. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Holy Cross has held the opposition to only 58.6 points per contest. In addition, the Crusaders ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense in four of the last five seasons (sixth in 2001-2002 at 59.6; third in 2002-2003 at 58.7; seventh in 2003-2004 at 58.6; and fifth in 2004-2005 at 56.8).
CRUSADERS BREAK HART CENTER WINNING STREAK: Holy Cross stands 13-0 at the Hart Center so far this season, and has won 17 consecutive games in the building. With the Feb. 28 victory over Lafayette, the Crusaders set a new record for the longest winning streak in Hart Center history. The previous record of 15 consecutive wins was set from Jan. 9, 1993-Jan. 12, 1994. Since the building opened on Dec. 1, 1975, Holy Cross has posted a winning record at home in 28 out of 32 seasons, while recording double-figure home victories 15 times. The Crusaders stand 289-105 all-time at the Hart Center, including a 77-12 mark since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season. Here is a look at the longest winning streaks in Hart Center history.
Rank Streak Dates 1. 17 games Feb. 15, 2006-present 2. 15 games Jan. 9, 1993-Jan. 12, 1994 3. 14 games Nov. 23, 2002-Nov. 25, 2003 14 games Dec. 22, 1980-Jan. 9, 1982 5. 11 games Dec. 28, 2000-Nov. 20, 2001 6. 10 games Jan. 5, 2005-March 6, 2005 10 games Dec. 1, 1975-Jan. 22, 1976
HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: Holy Cross is presently ranked 66th in the nation in the latest Ratings Percentage Index, with a rating of .5698 through games of March 4. The Crusaders are currently the highest ranked team in the Patriot League, with the second-highest ranking belonging to Bucknell (78th, .5552). In addition, Holy Cross' non-conference schedule ranks as the 102nd best in the country, and the hardest in the Patriot League. The Crusaders concluded the 2005-2006 season ranked 111th in the country in the RPI with a rating of .5304. Holy Cross also ranked 49th in the nation in the RPI at the end of the 2004-2005 season with a mark of .5657, to place ahead of four at large selections to the NCAA tournament.
CLIFFORD EARNS ALL-LEAGUE HONORS: Junior center Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.) has established himself as one of the top big men in the conference this season, and was named second team All-Patriot League. He has turned in some of his best performances late in the year, and was Holy Cross' top scorer during each of the team's first two games in the Patriot League Tournament. In the semifinal victory over American he totaled 19 points and eight rebounds, after recording 22 points, eight rebounds and three blocks against Lafayette in the quarterfinals. Clifford's biggest game of the season came on Feb. 15 at Navy, when he scored a career-high 33 points to go along with four rebounds and four blocked shots (hitting 12 of 19 field goals and all eight of his free throws). Some of Clifford's other top performances this season have come against Harvard (22 points on nine of 11 shooting from the field), Providence (21 points, seven rebounds), American (19 points, nine rebounds), Colgate (18 points, four rebounds), Boston University (16 points, three blocks, three assists), Colgate (14 points, four steals, three rebounds), Bucknell (13 points, eight rebounds), William & Mary (13 points, six rebounds), Lehigh (12 points, nine rebounds), George Mason (12 points, four rebounds), Army (11 points, eight rebounds, six blocked shots) and Lafayette (11 points, five assists, three rebounds). Through 32 games played this year, he is averaging 11.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per contest. Clifford was even more impressive in Patriot League regular season games, averaging 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest. Last year, he averaged 7.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game, while making 96 of 194 (49.5 percent) field goal attempts. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Clifford has now totaled 708 points, 350 rebounds and 137 blocked shots.
TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 88th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1248-797 (.610), while making 23 postseason tournament appearances -- 11 trips to the NCAA Tournament and 12 to the National Invitation Tournament. In the history of collegiate basketball, Holy Cross is one of only 16 schools to have won the NCAA Tournament (1946-1947) as well as the National Invitational Tournament (1953-1954). Throughout its history, Holy Cross has had six first team All-America selections, sent 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.
AMERICAN RECAP (PATRIOT LEAGUE SEMIFINALS): Keith Simmons drove the lane to score the winning basket with 4.8 seconds left in regulation, giving the Holy Cross men's basketball team a 55-53 victory over American in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament at the Hart Center on March 4, 2007. Simmons finished the game with 11 points, three assists and two rebounds. The game went back and forth during the first half, before the Eagles took a 26-21 lead into the locker room. After American extended its lead to 31-23 after the first two minutes of play of the second half, the Crusaders outscored the Eagles, 17-4, over the next 9:03 to move out to a 40-35 lead. But the Eagles then came back with a 5-0 run to tie the game at 40-40 with 8:31 remaining. The Crusaders responded with a 9-0 spurt to pull out to a 49-40 advantage with 5:08 left, but American then answered back with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 49-47 with 2:49 on the clock. After a layup by Tim Clifford to increase the Crusader lead to 51-47, American's Arvydas Eitutavicius hit a three-pointer to make it a 51-50 game with 1:22 remaining. Clifford then hit two free throws to give Holy Cross a 53-50 lead, but the Eagles tied the game with only 39 seconds to go with a three-pointer by Andre Ingram. After Simmons' basket, American's Brayden Billbe heaved a shot from his own three-point line that fell short as the game ended. Clifford led Holy Cross with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Torey Thomas totaled 16 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals. American was led by Ingram's 20 points and four rebounds.
LAFAYETTE RECAP (PATRIOT LEAGUE QUARTERFINALS): Tim Clifford totaled 22 points and eight rebounds, to lead Holy Cross to an 83-53 victory over Lafayette in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament at the Hart Center on Feb. 27, 2007. Lafayette held an 11-10 lead after five minutes of play, when the Crusaders went on a 9-0 run to go in front by eight points (19-11). After a basket by the Leopards to make it a 19-13 game, Holy Cross went on a 15-0 run to increase its lead to 34-13, while holding Lafayette scoreless for a span of 8:19. The Crusaders outscored the Leopards by an 8-2 margin in the final 3:11 to take a 42-18 lead into the locker room. The Leopards opened the second half with a 7-2 run to make it a 44-25 game. That is as close as Lafayette would come to Holy Cross as the Crusaders then went on a 14-0 run to extend their lead to 58-25 with 12:36 left in the second half. The Holy Cross lead would grow to 37 points (69-32) with 8:50 remaining, as the Crusaders would eventually win by 30 points (83-53). Torey Thomas finished the day with 13 points and four assists, while Keith Simmons chipped in with 12 points, four rebounds and five assists. Eric Meister was strong on the boards with a game-high nine rebounds, while Pat Doherty had five assists and five steals. Lafayette was led by Andrew Brown with 26 points.
THOMAS BREAKS OWN RECORD FOR MINUTES PLAYED: Senior guard Torey Thomas currently leads the team and the Patriot League in playing time this season, having played 1,199 minutes on the year. During Sunday's victory over American, he broke his own school record for playing time, which he set last season with 1,166 minutes played. Thomas has also averaged 37.5 minutes per contest this season, and is on pace to break his Holy Cross single season record for average minutes played. He also set that record last season with an average of 36.4 minutes per contest.
CRUSADERS IN THE RECORD BOOKS: A number of Holy Cross players have placed their names in the school's all-time record book this season. Senior guard Keith Simmons ranks first on the school career list for games played (124), second for three-point field goals made (191), second in three-point field goal attempts (456), fifth in three-point field goal percentage (41.9 percent), fifth in steals (189), fifth in minutes played (3,464) and 10th in points scored (1,627). He also ranks among the Patriot League's all-time leaders in three-point field goal percentage (41.9 percent, second), field goal percentage (50.0 percent, seventh), points scored (1,627, ninth) and steals (189, 10th). In addition, Simmons currently ranks third on the school single season list for minutes played (1,134), seventh for average minutes played (35.4), seventh for steals (75) and eighth for three-point field goal attempts (139). Senior guard Torey Thomas currently stands second all-time at Holy Cross in steals (262), second in games played (123), fourth in minutes played (3,548), fifth in assists (461), eighth in three-point field goal attempts (314), ninth in average minutes played (28.8) and 10th in three-point field goals made (107). On the school single season lists, he stands first for average minutes played (37.5), first for minutes played (1,199) and third for steals (89). Thomas also ranks second all-time in the Patriot League in career steals and sixth in career assists. In addition, Simmons tied the Holy Cross single game record for steals with seven against William & Mary on Nov. 25, 2006, while Thomas matched that record with seven steals against Lehigh on Jan. 26, 2007. Junior center Tim Clifford has also placed his name in the record books, standing second all-time at Holy Cross and ninth all-time in the Patriot League in blocked shots (137). He also stands third on the school single season list with his 58 blocked shots this year.
VANDER BAAN BUILDS ON ALL-ROOKIE SEASON: Sophomore forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) is once again a key member of the Holy Cross lineup this season, after being selected to the 2005-2006 Patriot League All-Rookie Team. In the regular season finale at Lehigh, Vander Baan recorded 14 points and eight rebounds. During the previous game against Colgate, he totaled 11 points, five rebounds and five assists. Some of Vander Baan's other top performances this season have come against Navy (13 points, six rebounds, three assists), Siena (11 points, 10 rebounds, first career double-double), Yale (10 points, seven rebounds, four assists), American (10 points, seven rebounds), Hampton (nine points, six rebounds), Lafayette (nine points, four rebounds), Lehigh (nine points, two rebounds) and Syracuse (eight points, career-high 11 rebounds, four assists). In 32 games played this season, Vander Baan is averaging 6.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest, while making 44.4 percent of his field goal attempts (71 of 160). In 32 games played last year, Vander Baan averaged 6.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest, to rank ninth in the conference in rebounding. He also led all Patriot League freshmen by earning league Rookie of the Week honors four times last season.
STEALING THE SHOW: Through 32 games played in the 2006-2007 season, Holy Cross has recorded 309 steals for an average of 9.7 steals per game. The Crusaders have reached double-figures in steals 15 times this year, including highs of 16 steals against Fairfield, and 15 steals against American, Lafayette and Navy. Senior guard Torey Thomas leads the team with 89 steals on the season, while senior guard Keith Simmons has totaled 75 steals. Both Thomas and Simmons have also tied the school single-game record with seven steals (Simmons vs. William & Mary, Thomas against Lehigh). Sophomore guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) has chipped in with 35 steals on the year, while junior center Tim Clifford has added 26 steals and junior guard Kyle Cruze (Knoxville, Tenn.) has 23 steals. In 32 games played last season, the Crusaders totaled 290 steals, for a Patriot League-best average of 9.1 steals per game. The school single season record for steals was set during the 2004-2005 campaign, when Holy Cross totaled 329 steals in 32 games.
DOHERTY PROVIDES DEPTH IN BACKCOURT: Sophomore guard Pat Doherty has been the first guard off the bench for the Crusaders this season. In the Jan. 31 victory over American, Doherty scored 10 points on three of three shooting from the field. Earlier in the season at Yale, he led the team with a career-high 18 points, four assists and three steals, while making five of six shots from the floor, all four of his attempts from three-point range, and all four of his free throws. Doherty also scored 10 points in the game at Lafayette, while totaling nine points and three assists at Dayton. In 26 games played this season, he is now averaging 5.2 points, 2.0 assists, 1.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest. Doherty returned to the Holy Cross lineup this year, 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.
MEISTER EARNS ALL-ROOKIE HONORS: Freshman forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.) has been selected to the 2006-2007 Patriot League All-Rookie team. Meister has averaged 3.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game this season, as the first big man off the bench for the Crusaders. In the Patriot League quarterfinal victory over Lafayette, he just missed a double-double with nine points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Meister also played well in this year's first game with American, totaling nine points, five rebounds and two blocks. Earlier this season, he pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds at Harvard, and had nine rebounds at Boston University. With Meister's selection, Holy Cross has now placed a player on the Patriot League All-Rookie team in five straight seasons, and nine times in the last 10 years.
THOMAS SCORES 1,000TH CAREER POINT: Senior guard Torey Thomas became the 43rd 1,000-point scorer in the history of Holy Cross men's basketball during the Jan. 26 victory over Lehigh. He hit a layup at the 11:51-mark of the first half to record the 1,000th point of his collegiate career. Thomas now ranks 27th on the all-time Crusader scoring list with 1,158 points in 123 games, good for an average of 9.4 points per contest. Last season, senior guard Keith Simmons became the 42nd 1,000-point scorer at Holy Cross, netting his 1,000th point at Colgate on Feb. 22, 2006, when he threw down a slam dunk at the 17:46-mark of the second half. Simmons now stands in 10th place all-time at Holy Cross with 1,627 points, needing seven more points to move into ninth place in school history.
HOLY CROSS HAVING GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders have averaged 32.4 rebounds per game during the 2006-2007 season, and are currently outrebounding their opponents by an average of 4.6 boards per game. Holy Cross really stepped things up in Patriot League regular season play, outrebounding the opposition by 8.0 boards per game, while allowing opponents to average just 25.2 rebounds per contest. The Crusaders' top rebounding games this year have come against Siena (43-21 edge on the glass) and against Lafayette in the Patriot League Tournament (40-19 rebounding advantage). The rebounding load has been well balanced, with five different players currently averaging at least 3.5 boards per contest. Senior guard Keith Simmons leads the team with 5.8 rebounds per game, while sophomore forward Alex Vander Baan has averaged 5.1 boards per contest. Senior guard Torey Thomas (4.8 rebounds per game) and junior center Tim Clifford (4.8 rebounds per game) are also enjoying fine seasons on the glass, while freshman forward Eric Meister is chipping in with 3.5 boards per game.
HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in five statistical categories, through games of March 4. Senior guard Keith Simmons and senior guard Torey Thomas are also listed among the national leaders in steals. The rankings:
Category Rank Player / Team Avg. Steals 6 Torey Thomas 2.8 12 Holy Cross 9.7 23 Keith Simmons 2.3 Scoring Defense 7 Holy Cross 57.1 Winning Percentage 31 Holy Cross 75.0 Rebound Margin 45 Holy Cross +4.6 Free Throw Percentage 46 Holy Cross 72.9
CRUSADERS GET OFF TO FAST START IN LEAGUE PLAY: Holy Cross opened Patriot League play with 10 victories in its first 10 conference games. That was good for the best league start ever for the Crusaders, with the previous mark held by the 1992-1993 squad which won its first seven conference games. Prior to this season, the Crusaders' best conference start under Ralph Willard came during both the 2000-2001 and 2002-2003 campaigns, when Holy Cross started league play at 4-0. In Patriot League history, only one other team has ever started the conference season with at least 10 straight victories. That came in 2005-2006, when Bucknell won all 14 of its league games. The next best start prior to this season belongs to Navy, which posted nine straight conference wins to open up the 1997-1998 campaign.
HOLY CROSS ON THE RADIO: Once again this season, the majority of the Crusaders' basketball contests will be carried by WTAG 580 AM in Worcester. For the 18th 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 third 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 22 of the Crusaders' 30 regular season games. In addition, WCUW 91.3 FM in Worcester will air seven Holy Cross contests which are not included as part of the WTAG package. All 30 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, is scheduled carry a number of games this year.
CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: Holy Cross is currently scheduled to have 12 games shown on live television during the 2006-2007 season. During each of the last two years, the Crusaders had 10 television appearances, including four games on ESPN2. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2006-2007 campaign:
Date Opponent Television Outlet Nov. 27 Syracuse ESPNU Dec. 6 Duke ESPN2 Jan. 3 Boston University CN8 Jan. 6 Lafayette CSTV / Lafayette Sports Network Jan. 9 Army WCTR-TV3 Jan. 12 Bucknell ESPNU Jan. 26 Lehigh ESPNU Jan. 31 American WCTR-TV3 Feb. 9 Bucknell ESPNU Feb. 17 Hofstra ESPNU Feb. 25 Lehigh Service Electric Mar. 9 Bucknell ESPN2
SCOUTING THE BISON: Bucknell has an overall record of 22-8 on the season, with a 13-1 mark in the Patriot League. The Bison are currently riding a 14-game winning streak, since falling on their last visit to Holy Cross (65-60). Bucknell's leading scorer is senior forward Donald Brown, who has averaged 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Junior guard John Griffin has added 10.3 points and 2.8 assists per contest, while senior center Chris McNaughton is chipping in with 12.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Bucknell is led by head coach Pat Flannery, who owns a 222-158 record during his 13 seasons with the Bison. Flannery's career record stands at 317-201, including five years as the head coach at Lebanon Valley College.
DRIBBLES: In the Patriot League championship game against Bucknell, Tim Clifford, Keith Simmons, Torey Thomas and Alex Vander Baan can tie the all-time Holy Cross single season records for games played (33) and games started (33). Eric Meister can also tie the record for games played ... The Crusaders stand 4-0 in overtime games this season, and have now won their last seven overtime contests ... Holy Cross won 14 straight Patriot League regular season contests from Feb. 15, 2006-Feb. 6, 2007, good for the fourth-longest conference winning streak in league history ... From Dec. 30-Feb. 6, Holy Cross won 12 consecutive games, tying for the sixth-longest winning streak in school history ... Senior guard Keith Simmons and senior guard Torey Thomas are the Crusaders' captains for the 2006-2007 season ... The Crusaders were a perfect 13 of 13 at the free throw line against Niagara on Dec. 29, marking the first time in school history Holy Cross has made all of its free throw attempts ... The crowd of 19,235 at the Holy Cross-Syracuse game on Nov. 27 was the largest to ever witness a Crusader game during the regular season (attendance records are not available prior to the 1982-1983 season). It is also the third largest overall crowd to ever see Holy Cross play, behind the Kansas game in the 2002 NCAA Tournament (26,612) and the Marquette game in the 2003 NCAA Tournament (20,960) ... Junior guard Kyle Cruze scored a career-high 15 points in the victory at La Salle, then had career-highs of six assists and six rebounds against Niagara ... Sophomore forward Colin Cunningham (Memphis, Tenn.) had eight points and two assists in the overtime victory at Boston University, including a pair of key three-pointers late in regulation. Earlier in the year, he scored a season-high 11 points at Syracuse ... Sophomore center Greg McCarthy (Mansfield, Mass.) scored a career-high 11 points on four of five shooting from the field in the Feb. 3 victory over Lafayette ... Holy Cross was picked to finish second in this year's Patriot League preseason poll, behind Bucknell ... Senior guard Keith Simmons and senior guard Torey Thomas were both named preseason All-Patriot League this year, in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors ... The Crusaders are ranked 13th in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 Poll from CollegeInsider.com, released on March 5.