March 8, 2005
GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
Event: Patriot League Championship Game
The Teams: Holy Cross (24-5, 13-1 PL) vs. Bucknell (21-9, 10-4 PL)
Date: March 11, 2005
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
ESPN2 Television: Dave Revsine, play-by-play; Jay Williams, color
Holy Cross Radio: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Jeremy Lechan, color; WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Bucknell Radio: Doug Birdsong, play-by-play; Doug Byerly, color WVLY 100.9 FM, Lewisburg
Series Record: Bucknell leads, 20-18
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 69, Bucknell 54 (February 23, 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 BUCKNELL: This will be the 39th meeting between the Crusaders and the Bison on the hardwood, with Bucknell leading the all-time series 20-18. Holy Cross won the last meeting on Feb. 23, but prior to that Bucknell had won two straight and three out of four games in the series. For games played in Worcester, the Crusaders hold an 8-7 advantage, winning three straight and four out of the last five contests played at the Hart Center. The schools first met on January 12, 1991, with Holy Cross posting an 80-78 victory in Lewisburg.
SERIES QUICK FACTS
Overall: Bucknell, 20-18
At Worcester: Holy Cross, 8-7
At the Hart Center: Holy Cross, 8-7
Ralph Willard vs. Bucknell: 9-6
Pat Flannery vs. Holy Cross: 16-11
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, one game
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. 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). In the history of the Patriot League, Holy Cross is the only school to defeat the No. 1 seed on its home court in the championship game (in 1993 and 2002). The Crusaders' 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 making its conference-record seventh appearance in the Patriot League championship game this season.
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 defeat Bucknell in the Patriot League title game, they will tie their own record of 16 total 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 26 times in 29 games, and earning Patriot League Player of the Week honors twice (on Jan. 31 and Feb. 14). During Holy Cross' Patriot League tournament victories over Army and Lehigh, Hamilton has averaged 16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per contest. In the regular season victory over Bucknell, he totaled 16 points and eight rebounds, and in the home win over Lehigh, he recorded 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), at American (14 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, first career double-double) and at Colgate (14 points, nine rebounds). Through 29 games this year, he is averaging 15.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.9 steals per contest. Hamilton has now scored in double figures on 50 occasions during his Holy Cross career, including 40 times in his last 45 games.
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 the regular season finale against 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 regular season win over 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 29 games, he is averaging 12.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest, while hitting 51.5 percent of his field goals (123 of 239) and 42.7 percent of his three-pointers (47 of 110). 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).
CRUSADERS CAPTURE REGULAR SEASON TITLE: With the Feb. 23 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 earned the right to 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).
LEHIGH RECAP: Kevin Hamilton totaled 16 points and five rebounds, to lead Holy Cross to a 57-53 overtime victory over Lehigh in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament at the Hart Center on March 6, 2005. Hamilton was eight of nine at the free throw line in the game, including a perfect six of six performance in overtime. As a team, the Crusaders scored all eight of their overtime points on free throws, making eight of nine attempts. The Mountain Hawks were four of four at the line in the extra session, to account for all four of their overtime points. The first half featured six ties and eight lead changes, before Lehigh took a two-point lead (29-27) into the locker room. The Mountain Hawks extended their lead to as many as seven points after the break, but Holy Cross refused to go away. After a deflected pass went into the basket to put Lehigh up 49-44 with 3:45 remaining, the Crusaders did not allow the Mountain Hawks to score again in regulation. Hamilton then hit a three-pointer, and Keith Simmons made a pair of free throws with 42 seconds left to send the game into overtime. Holy Cross held Lehigh to zero for six shooting in the extra session, while Hamilton made six straight free throws to turn a 53-51 deficit into a 57-53 lead. John Hurley finished the game with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Simmons added 11 points and three boards. Joe Knight led Lehigh with 11 points on three of 14 shooting.
HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: The Crusaders are currently ranked 45th in the nation in the latest Ratings Percentage Index, according to Collegiate Basketball News. In the most recent ratings, through games of March 6, Holy Cross had an RPI of .5724, to place ahead of teams such as Maryland (50th, .5678) and DePaul (57th, .5623). The Crusaders' non-conference schedule ranks as the 53rd-toughest in the country, including games against four teams which are presently ranked in the top 50 (No. 9 Boston College, No. 23 Vermont, No. 43 Northeastern and No. 47 Minnesota). Holy Cross is currently the top rated team in the Patriot League, coming in well ahead of Bucknell (61st, .5606) and American (133rd, .5172). No other Patriot League school ranks better than 233rd.
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. Willard is also one of 10 finalists for the 2005 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award. He is now in his sixth season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 113-66 during his time in Worcester. Willard 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 257-190. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.
THE LAST MEETING WITH BUCKNELL: In the last game between the Crusaders and the Bison, five players scored in double figures and the Crusaders hit 20 of 22 attempts from the free throw line, as Holy Cross posted a 69-54 victory at the Hart Center on Feb. 23, 2005. With the victory, the Crusaders clinched the Patriot League regular season title and the top seed in the conference tournament. The Crusaders started the game hot, and led 24-12 with 8:58 left in the first half. But the Bison responded with a 12-0 run to tie the score, before Holy Cross took a five-point lead into the locker room. The Crusaders were up by just one point with 16 minutes left to play, when they used an 11-2 run to build their lead back to double digits. Bucknell would make one more attempt at the comeback, cutting the lead to six points with seven minutes remaining in regulation, before Holy Cross used a 9-0 spurt to put the game away. The Crusaders extended their lead to as many as 18 points, before finally winning by 15. Kevin Hamilton led Holy Cross with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Keith Simmons added 14 points and three boards. Torey Thomas (12 points, seven assists, four steals), John Hurley (11 points, nine rebounds) and Greg Kinsey (10 points, four boards) rounded out the Crusaders in double figures. John Griffin led Bucknell with 15 points. Holy Cross' 90.9 percentage at the free throw line marked the best foul shooting performance by the Crusaders since hitting 16 of 17 attempts (94.1 percent) against Dartmouth on Jan. 21, 2003.
HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders currently rank among the NCAA Division I leaders in eight different statistical categories, through games of March 7. 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 3 Holy Cross 16 Scoring Defense 4 Holy Cross 55.7 Field Goal Percentage Defense 6 Holy Cross 38.2 Steals 6 Holy Cross 10.3 9 Kevin Hamilton 2.9 Won-Lost Percentage 13 Holy Cross 82.8 Scoring Margin 21 Holy Cross +11.4 Blocked Shots 26 Holy Cross 5.1 Rebound Margin 49 Holy Cross +4.4
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 was 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, five steals and 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 29 games played this season, Doherty is now averaging 4.4 points and 2.2 assists per contest. He played particularly well in Patriot League regular season games, averaging 6.8 points and 2.8 assists, while hitting 41.9 percent of his three-point attempts (18 of 43).
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 150 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) and Lehigh in the Patriot League semifinals (seven points, seven rebounds, four blocks). On the year, Lufkin is averaging 7.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per contest, while shooting 48.3 percent from the field (69 of 143). The 2001-2002 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, Lufkin has now totaled 804 points and 540 rebounds in his career at Holy Cross.
HOLY CROSS WINS 16TH STRAIGHT: With Sunday's win over Lehigh, Holy Cross posted its 16th 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 16-game streak, Holy Cross has averaged 70.9 points per game, while shooting 46.4 percent from the floor, 38.8 percent from three-point range and outscoring the opposition by 17.1 points per contest. During two different stretches in the streak, the Crusaders won six straight contests 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. 16 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
CRUSADERS STEP UP ON DEFENSE: The Holy Cross defense has been outstanding so far this season, allowing its opponents to average just 55.7 points per game. The Crusaders have held 22 of their 29 opponents this year under 60 points in regulation, with lows of 29 points by Army (Jan. 12), 39 points by Fordham, 42 points by Army (March 4), 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 17.1 turnovers per game, including 26 by Harvard and 25 by both Minnesota and Fordham. In addition, the Crusaders have averaged 10.3 steals and 5.1 blocks per contest, while outrebounding the opposition by 4.4 boards per game and holding opponents to 38.2 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 58.2 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).
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 tied for the fourth-most in the nation, behind only Illinois (14-1 on the road), Pacific (13-1 on the road) and Oral Roberts (13-5 on the road).
THOMAS SHINES IN SOPHOMORE YEAR: Sophomore point guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) has been one of the Crusaders' top players this season. During Holy Cross' first two contests in the Patriot League Tournament, he averaged 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Previously, in the win over Bucknell, Thomas totaled 12 points, seven assists, four steals and three rebounds. During regular season home meeting with 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) and Fordham (10 points, five rebounds, five steals, four assists). Through 28 games this year, he is averaging 7.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.9 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.
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 29 games this year, he is averaging 7.8 points and a team-high 6.1 rebounds per contest. Hurley has played well over the last month, including some outstanding games against Bucknell (11 points, nine rebounds, three assists), Navy (13 points, nine rebounds), American (15 points, six rebounds), Lehigh in the Patriot League semifinals (11 points, nine 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). Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Hurley has now totaled 559 points, 417 rebounds, 74 assists, 54 blocks and 82 steals.
CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross stands 12-2 at the Hart Center so far this season, improving its all-time record in the building to 265-102. The Crusaders have won their last 10 games at the Hart Center, including a perfect 9-0 mark at home against Patriot League foes. During those games against conference opponents, Holy Cross has won by an average of 18.7 points per contest, with all but one game being decided by at least 10 points. Since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, the Crusaders now have an overall mark of 53-9 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 10-1 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games at the Hart Center, with eight straight victories.
STEALING THE SHOW: In 29 games played this season, Holy Cross has recorded 300 steals, good for an average of 10.3 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 84 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 four steals away from the school single season record of 304 (1992-1993) and 52 steals away from the Patriot League single season record of 352 (Navy, 1999-2000).
TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 86th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1203-775 (.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.
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 Patriot League championship game against Bucknell will mark the eighth time the Crusaders have been shown on live television during the 2004-2005 season, as the contest will be televised live to a national audience on ESPN2. Earlier this season, Holy Cross was twice 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.
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 29 games played so far this year, Hyland is averaging 4.4 points and 2.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 62.4 percent (53 of 85) from the field.
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 26 games played this year, Clifford is now averaging 2.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per contest.
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 5.2 points and 2.6 rebounds through 29 games. He has been hot over the last nine contests, averaging 9.2 points per game while hitting 33 of 63 field goal attempts (52.4 percent) and 10 of 22 shots from three-point range (45.5 percent). During the Patriot League quarterfinal win over Army, Kinsey recorded 13 points, three rebounds and two assists. He previously totaled 10 points and four rebounds in the victory over Bucknell, while posting 14 points and four rebounds at Colgate. 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 491 points, 293 rebounds, 160 assists and 117 steals, while being in the starting lineup for 84 of the last 85 games the Crusaders have played.
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 12 times this year, including the Patriot League quarterfinal victory over Army (28 of 52, 53.8 percent). That 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 12-0 record this year when shooting at least 50 percent from the floor, while winning those game by an average of 21.4 points. In fact, Holy Cross has now won its last 26 games when it hits at least half its shots from the field, since a 75-73 loss to Bucknell on Feb. 20, 2002.
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 is the No. 1 overall seed in the 2005 Patriot League Championship. 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 7-0 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 13-2 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games when it has been seeded higher than its opponent. The Crusaders have won nine 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 now advanced to the championship game during each of the 15 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 10 times over the last 15 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.
ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT SELECTIONS: The following Holy Cross players have been selected to the Patriot League All-Tournament team over the years:
1991 Aaron Jordan, G 1992 Bill Walker, G 1993 Roger Breslin, G Rob Feaster, F * Bill Walker, F 1994 Rob Feaster, F 1996 Ted Bettencourt, G Walter Brown, F 2001 Jared Curry, F Josh Sankes, C * 2002 Tim Szatko, F * Brian Wilson, G 2003 Kevin Hamilton, G Patrick Whearty, C *
* Tournament Most Valuable Player
TOURNAMENT TIP-INS: The Crusaders, who will face Bucknell in the championship game, stand 4-4 all-time against the Bison in Patriot League Tournament play. Holy Cross and Bucknell have played in the Patriot League championship game only once before, with the Crusaders winning 98-73 on the road in 1993. . . 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 10-1 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games which have been played at the Hart Center. That includes a 4-0 mark in quarterfinal games (defeating Army in 1993 and 2005, Colgate in 1991 and Lehigh in 1996), a 4-0 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). In the conference's history, teams playing on their home court have an overall record of 34-7 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 BISON: Bucknell has an overall record of 21-9 on the season, including a 10-4 mark in the Patriot league. The No. 2 seed in this year's Patriot League Tournament, the Bison stand only 2-5 in their last seven road games. Bucknell's leading scorer is junior guard Kevin Bettencourt, who has averaged 12.7 points per game while hitting 36.3 percent (70 of 193) of his three-point attempts. Sophomore center Chris McNaughton has averaged 12.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest, while junior guard Charles Lee is chipping in with 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Bucknell is led by head coach Pat Flannery, who owns a 170-145 record during his 11 seasons with the Bison. Flannery's career record stands at 265-188, including five years as the head coach at Lebanon Valley College.
DRIBBLES: The Crusaders are ranked No. 16 in the current Mid-Major Top 25 Poll from CollegeInsider.com, released on March 7 ... Seniors John Hurley and Greg Kinsey are serving as Holy Cross' co-captains this year ... Holy Cross was picked to finish fourth in this year's Patriot League preseason poll, behind Bucknell, Lehigh and American ... 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.