March 9, 2009
GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
Event: Patriot League Tournament Championship Game
The Teams: Holy Cross (18-13, 11-3 PL) vs. American (23-7, 13-1 PL)
Date: March 13, 2009
Time: 4:45 p.m.
Place: Bender Arena (4,500), Washington, D.C.
ESPN2 Television: Dave Barnett, play-by-play; Tim Welsh, color
Live Video Streaming: www.espn360.com
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; www.worcesterpike.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
American Radio: WFED 1500 AM, Washington, D.C.; Dan Laing, play-by-play; Jeremy Huber, color
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 15-6
Last Meeting: American 56, Holy Cross 50 (February 21, 2009; Washington, D.C.)
PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. F 12 Adam May 6-8 205 Jr. F 33 Colin Cunningham 6-6 220 Sr. C 53 Eric Meister 6-8 225 Jr. G 10 R.J. Evans 6-3 200 Fr. G 22 Andrew Beinert 6-4 185 So.
THE SERIES WITH AMERICAN: This will be the 22nd meeting between the Crusaders and the Eagles on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 15-6. American has won three of the last four games between the schools, but prior to that Holy Cross had won eight straight contests in the series. For games played in Washington the Crusaders hold a 7-4 advantage, but the Eagles have won two straight. Holy Cross and American first met on Dec. 21, 1967, with the Crusaders winning 81-57 on the road.
SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 15-6
In Washington: Holy Cross leads, 7-4
At Bender Arena: Holy Cross leads, 6-4
Ralph Willard vs. American: 14-6
Jeff Jones vs. Holy Cross: 6-14
Current Win Streak: American, one game
In Overtime: Holy Cross leads, 2-0
CRUSADERS LOOK FOR SIXTH PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT CROWN: Holy Cross is looking to win its sixth Patriot League Tournament title when it plays at American on Friday, March 13. Two years ago, the Crusaders captured their fifth Patriot League Tournament title 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 seven times in the last nine years. Overall, the Crusaders have made a conference-record 10 appearances in the Patriot League championship game.
HOLY CROSS TO PLAY IN TITLE GAME FOR SEVENTH TIME IN NINE YEARS: When the Crusaders face American for the Patriot League championship, it will mark the seventh time Holy Cross has appeared in the conference title game in the last nine years. The Crusaders have gone 4-2 in their first six championship game appearances during that time, winning the title in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007. Only six other teams in the nation have a chance to play in their conference championship game as many times as Holy Cross has over the last nine years. Here is a look at the teams with the most league title game appearances in the last nine seasons:
No. School Conference 9 of 9 Gonzaga West Coast Conference 7 of 9 Holy Cross Patriot League 7 of 9 Austin Peay Ohio Valley Conference 7 of 8 Pittsburgh * Big East Conference 6 of 8 Duke * Atlantic Coast Conference 6 of 8 Kent State * Mid-American Conference 6 of 8 Utah State * Western Athletic & Big West Conferences
* Denotes schools which still have a chance to play in their conference championship game in 2009.
2009 TOURNEY STAYS TRUE TO FORM: Based on results from past years, it is no surprise that second-seeded Holy Cross is playing in the league championship game this season. The No. 2 seed has now played in the conference title game 13 times in 19 seasons, winning the title five times... No team seeded lower than second has ever won a Patriot League Tournament title, with the 13 other championships all being captured by the No. 1 seed... The top seed in the tournament has advanced to the championship game in each of the 19 years the Patriot League Tournament has been played. The other title game appearances all belong to the No. 2 (13 times) and No. 3 (six times) seeds. No team seeded lower than third has ever advanced to the Patriot League championship game.
THE SEEDINGS: Holy Cross is the No. 2 seed in the 2009 Patriot League Championship. This marks the fourth time the Crusaders have been the second seed in the tournament, with the previous occasions coming in 1993, 2002 and 2006. In two of those years (1993 and 2002), Holy Cross went on to win the Patriot League title... Throughout its history in the Patriot League, Holy Cross has been the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament four times (10-1 record). The Crusaders have also been seeded No. 1 four times (10-1 record), No. 3 three times (5-3), No. 4 three times (1-3), No. 5 twice (0-2), No. 6 twice (0-2) and No. 8 once (0-1)... Holy Cross stands 3-10 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games when it has been seeded lower than its opponent. The Crusaders have lost their last three games as the lower seed, with the last victory coming at American in the 2002 championship game (58-54).
TOURNAMENT TIP-INS: The Crusaders, who will face American in the championship game, stand 3-1 all-time against the Eagles in Patriot League Tournament play. This marks the third straight season the two schools have met in the conference tournament, and the fifth time in the last eight 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 third 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 2-4 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games which have been played on the opposing team's home court, including a 1-1 mark at American... The Crusaders own a 2-2 mark in Patriot League championship games played on the road. Holy Cross won at Bucknell in 1993 (98-73) and at American in 2002 (58-54), while falling at Colgate in 1996 (74-65) and at Bucknell in 2006 (74-59)... In the conference's history, teams playing on their home court have an overall record of 55-12 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.
MEISTER CLEANS THE GLASS FOR THE CRUSADERS: Junior forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.) has been a key player for Holy Cross in the low post this season. During the Patriot League semifinal victory over Colgate, Meister scored a career-high 19 points on nine of 10 shooting from the field, in addition to grabbing nine rebounds. Previously against Lehigh, he posted eight points and 10 rebounds. Meister also played well at Colgate in the regular season, totaling 10 points and seven rebounds. Some of his other top games this season have come at Lehigh (15 points, four rebounds), against American (12 points, eight rebounds), against Sacred Heart (11 points, 11 rebounds), at Harvard (10 points, 11 boards), against Western Michigan (10 points, seven rebounds, two assists), against St. Joseph's (nine points, seven rebounds, three blocks) and against Navy (nine points, three rebounds). On the season, he is averaging 6.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocked shots per game. Last year, Meister averaged 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds, while playing in 18 games with eight starts. As a freshman in 2006-2007, he was selected to the Patriot League All-Rookie team. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he has now totaled 381 points, 336 rebounds and 56 blocked shots.
EVANS NAMED ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Freshman guard R.J. Evans (Salem, Conn.) is enjoying an outstanding rookie season, and has been named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year. Overall this season, Evans is averaging a team-best 13.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals per contest, while scoring in double-figures in 20 of his last 25 games. In the Patriot League semifinal win over Colgate, he recorded 14 points, six rebounds and five assists. During the quarterfinal victory over Bucknell, Evans totaled a career-high 31 points, six rebounds and three steals. His 31 points against the Bison were the most ever by a Holy Cross freshman in a Patriot League Tournament game. Earlier in the season he had an outstanding night against San Francisco, posting a double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Some of Evans' other top games this year have come against Siena (21 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals), at Navy (19 points, career-high 11 rebounds), at Massachusetts (17 points, eight rebounds, four steals), against Navy (17 points, six rebounds), against Western Michigan (17 points, six rebounds), at Army (17 points, five rebounds, three steals), against American (16 points, five rebounds), at Ohio (16 points, four rebounds, three steals), against Lehigh (15 points, seven rebounds), at Lehigh (15 points, four rebounds, three steals), against Sacred Heart (15 points), at Central Florida (14 points, eight rebounds), against Fairfield (13 points, three steals), at Boston University (12 points, six rebounds), against Colgate (12 points, four steals), at Yale (12 points, three rebounds, three assists) and against St. Joseph's (12 points, three rebounds). Evans' 413 points scored this season are the second-most ever by a Holy Cross freshman, behind only Ronnie Perry with 574 points in 1976-1977. He will also become the first freshman to lead the Crusaders in scoring since Ryan Serravalle, who averaged 11.6 points per game in 1998-1999. Evans came to Holy Cross from Norwich (Conn.) Free Academy, where he was a two-time All-State selection and scored 2,030 career points.
CRUSADERS AND EAGLES IN THE POSTSEASON: The championship game between Holy Cross and American will mark the fifth meeting between the schools in the Patriot League Tournament. The teams have met twice in the conference championship game, with the Crusaders winning both times -- 58-54 at Bender Arena in 2002 and 72-64 at the Hart Center in 2003. Other postseason meetings between the schools came in the 2007 semifinals (Holy Cross won 55-53 at the Hart Center) and in the 2008 quarterfinals (American won 62-60 at Bender Arena).
CUNNINGHAM STEPS UP IN SENIOR SEASON: Senior forward Colin Cunningham (Memphis, Tenn.) has returned to the Holy Cross lineup at small forward this year, and is once again one of the Crusaders' top players. In the Patriot League quarterfinal victory over Bucknell, Cunningham recorded 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Previously against Navy, he totaled 12 points and six rebounds. Earlier in the season, Cunningham had a huge night against San Francisco, scoring a career-high 26 points and handing out six assists. Some of his other top games have come against American (20 points, seven rebounds, four steals), against Army (16 points, four rebounds, three steals), at Loyola (13 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals), against Bucknell (13 points, six assists, five rebounds, three steals), at Boston University (13 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals), against Colgate (13 points, five steals, three assists), against Western Michigan (12 points, two rebounds, two steals), against Brown (11 points, eight rebounds, six assists), against Lafayette (10 points, nine rebounds, eight assists) and at Lafayette (10 points, five assists, three steals). Overall this year, Cunningham has averaged 8.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals per contest. Last season, he averaged 8.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game, while hitting 36.8 percent (28 of 76) of his three-point attempts. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Cunningham has totaled 660 points, 386 rebounds, 216 assists and 111 steals.
BEINERT ENJOYING STRONG SOPHOMORE SEASON: Sophomore guard Andrew Beinert (Floral Park, N.Y.) has been one of the Crusaders' top players in the backcourt this season. During the Patriot League quarterfinal victory over Bucknell, he totaled 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. Previously at Colgate, Beinert recorded 12 points and four rebounds. He also had a big game at American, leading the team with 18 points and three assists, while hitting seven of 11 field goal attempts. Some of Beinert's other top performances this season have come against Bucknell (18 points, three assists), at Boston University (18 points), against Lafayette (16 points), at Yale (15 points, five of seven from three-point range), at Central Florida (14 points, three rebounds), at Army (14 points), at Lafayette (10 points, three rebounds), against Brown (nine points, three assists), at Loyola (eight points, four steals), against Colgate (eight points, two rebounds, two assists), against San Francisco (seven points, career-high 10 assists, three rebounds) and at Ohio (seven points, five assists three steals). Overall this season, he has averaged 8.5 points, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game, while hitting a Patriot League-best 45.7 percent (48 of 105) of his three-point field goal attempts. Last year, Beinert was selected to the Patriot League All-Rookie team, after averaging 3.9 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
THE FIRST MEETING WITH AMERICAN: Colin Cunningham totaled 20 points, seven assists and four steals to lead Holy Cross to a 71-62 victory over American at the Hart Center on Jan. 24, 2009. R.J. Evans added 16 points and five rebounds for the Crusaders, while Eric Meister had 12 points and eight rebounds. American led 3-2 in the opening minutes of the game, when Holy Cross went on a 12-2 run to pull in front by nine (14-5). The Crusaders would lead by at least five points for the remainder of the first half, and closed out the period with an 8-1 run over the last three minutes to take a 36-24 advantage into the locker room. Holy Cross then went on a 9-2 spurt coming out of the locker room, to pull in front by 19 points (45-26) with 15 minutes left to play. But American refused to go quietly, responding with 14-2 run to get back into the game. The Eagles eventually cut the lead down to two points (50-48) with 7:29 on the clock, before the Crusaders began to regain control. Evans hit a put-back lay up, then Pat Doherty made two free throws to bring the Holy Cross lead back to six points (54-48) with six minutes left. American would get no closer than five points the rest of the way, as the Crusaders eventually pulled away for a nine-point victory. The Eagles were led by Derrick Mercer with 19 points and five assists, while Brian Gilmore added 17 points and eight rebounds.
THE SECOND MEETING WITH AMERICAN: Andrew Beinert totaled 18 points and three assists, but it was not enough as the Holy Cross men's basketball team was defeated by American 56-50 at Bender Arena. Beinert made seven of 11 field goal attempts on the day, including four of six shots from three-point range. The Crusaders played outstanding defense early in game, allowing American to make just one of its first 17 shots from the field, but led just 6-2 with nine minutes left in the first half. The Eagles came back with a 15-4 run of their own to pull in front by seven points (17-10), before Holy Cross closed out the half with an 8-2 spurt to cut the lead to one point (19-18) heading into the locker room. American then started the second half on fire, using an 11-0 run to go in front 30-18 with 17 minutes left to play. The Eagles eventually led by 13 points, before the Crusaders used a 12-4 spurt to make the score 40-35 with 10 minutes remaining. Beinert scored nine points during that run, sinking three three-point shots. Holy Cross was able to close within three points (49-46) with two and a half minutes left, but was not able to get any closer before American made five of seven free throws in the final minute of play to hold on for the win. Andrew Keister finished the game with 13 points and 12 rebounds, for his seventh double-double of the season. The Eagles were led by Garrison Carr with 28 points.
KEISTER EARNS FIRST TEAM ALL-LEAGUE HONORS: Sophomore forward Andrew Keister (Galloway, N.J.) has developed into the Crusaders' top player at the low post positions, and has been named first team All-Patriot League. In Patriot League regular season play, Keister averaged 12.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest, while hitting 67.3 percent (72 of 107) of his field goal attempts. During the American game, he totaled 13 points and a team-high 12 rebounds. Previously against Navy, Keister recorded 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. He also had a solid game against Bucknell, posting 13 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots. Earlier in the season, he had good games at Navy (27 points, 14 rebounds), against Army (21 points and 12 rebounds), at Bucknell (18 points, 10 rebounds), at Central Florida (18 points, five rebounds), against Lafayette (17 points, nine rebounds), at Lafayette (16 points, 11 rebounds), at Boston University (15 points, 11 rebounds), at Lehigh (10 points, seven rebounds, five assists), at Massachusetts (10 points, six rebounds), against Western Michigan (nine points, eight rebounds), against San Francisco (eight points, nine rebounds), at Ohio (eight points, five rebounds, two blocks) and against Fairfield (six points, eight rebounds). Overall this year, Keister is now averaging 8.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 59.4 percent (104 of 181) from the field and posting a team-high seven double-doubles.
VANDER BAAN PLAYS KEY ROLE ON FRONT LINE: Senior forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) has been a key member of the Holy Cross lineup this year, despite missing six contests due to injury. During the victory over Navy, he had eight points and three rebounds, while scoring all eight of his points in the final 10 minutes as the Crusaders came back to win. Earlier in the season at Bucknell, Vander Baan scored 11 points while hitting both of his three-point field goal attempts. He also played well at Ohio, recording 10 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Some of Vander Baan's other top games this season came against St. Joseph's (13 points, 11 rebounds), Sacred Heart (nine points, seven rebounds), Loyola (nine points, three rebounds, two assists) and Brown (six points, eight rebounds, five assists). Overall this year, Vander Baan is averaging 5.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, while hitting 35.7 percent (20 of 56) of his three-point field goal attempts. During the 2007-2008 season, he averaged 8.5 points and 5.7 rebounds in 19 games played. As a freshman in 2005-2006, Vander Baan was selected to the Patriot League All-Rookie team. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 710 points, 532 rebounds, 152 assists, 87 steals and 38 blocked shots.
DOHERTY RETURNS TO THE COURT: Senior guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) has seen action in Holy Cross' last 17 games, after missing the first 14 contests of the year due to injury. During the victory at Bucknell, he totaled 18 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals. Doherty also recorded eight points, three assists and two steals at home against Lafayette, while posting seven points and five assists in the home victory over Lehigh. On the year, he is averaging 4.1 points, 3.7 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, with a 1.97-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Last season, Doherty averaged 7.4 points, 4.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. His top performance during the 2007-2008 campaign came against Boston University with a career-high 20 points, three assists and three steals. As a freshman in 2004-2005, Doherty was honored as the Patriot League Rookie of the Year. He currently ranks 10th all-time at Holy Cross with 311 career assists and 129 career steals. Doherty has also totaled 558 career points and 205 career rebounds.
CRUSADERS REACH DOUBLE-FIGURES IN LEAGUE WINS: Holy Cross finished the regular season with a record of 11-3 in Patriot League play. This marks the eighth time the Crusaders have reached double-figures in conference victories, since the Patriot League began play in the 1990-1991 season. The school record for most conference wins is held by the 2002-2003, 2004-2005 and 2006-2007 teams, which all posted 13-1 marks in the Patriot League. 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' eight seasons with double-figure victories are the most in Patriot League history, as no other school has accomplished the feat more than six times.
WILLARD CONTINUES IMPRESSIVE RUN AT HOLY CROSS: Ralph Willard is now in his 10th season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 192-116 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). In 2006-2007, 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 336-240. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.
PATRIOT LEAGUE SEMIFINALS VS. COLGATE: Eric Meister had a career-high 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots, to lead Holy Cross to a 61-44 victory over Colgate at the Hart Center in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament on March 8, 2009. Meister hit nine out of 10 shots from the floor on the day, setting a new school-record for best field goal percentage in a Patriot League Tournament game (90.0 percent). The Crusaders jumped out to a 7-0 lead after the first five minutes of play, before the Raiders scored four straight points to keep things interesting early on. Holy Cross was then up 16-11 with six minutes left before the intermission, before closing out the half on a 12-3 run to take a 28-14 advantage into the locker room. Colgate was able to trim the Crusaders' lead to 12 points (36-24) with 16 minutes remaining in the game, before Holy Cross used an 8-0 spurt to increase the lead to 20 points and put the game away. The Crusaders would eventually lead by as many as 27 points (53-26 with 9:55 left to play), before finally posting a 17-point victory. Holy Cross posted a 40-26 rebounding advantage on the day, while holding the Raiders to just 31.9 percent (15 of 47) shooting from the field. R.J. Evans finished the game with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Crusaders, while Andrew Beinert added eight points, six assists and five rebounds. Colgate was led by Yaw Gyawu with 13 points and four rebounds.
PATRIOT LEAGUE QUARTERFINALS VS. BUCKNELL: R.J. Evans totaled a career-high 31 points, six rebounds and three steals, to lead Holy Cross to a 75-56 victory over Bucknell at the Hart Center in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament on March 4, 2009. Evans hit 12 of 17 shots from the field, including two of three attempts from three-point range. The Crusaders started the game hot, jumping out to a quick 12-6 lead with 13:42 remaining in the first half. The Bison responded with an 8-3 spurt to close the gap to one point (15-14), and would eventually claim a 21-20 lead with 6:54 left before the break. Holy Cross then closed out the half with a 12-4 run to take a 32-25 advantage into the locker room. After the Crusaders increased their lead to nine points (34-25) early in the second half, Bucknell scored 10 of the next 14 points to close to within three (38-35) with 15:54 remaining. Evans scored the next six points to put Holy Cross back up by nine, and a few minutes later Andrew Beinert two straight three-point field goals to extend the lead to double-figures (50-39). The Bison would get no closer than 11 points the rest of the way, as the Crusaders pulled away to win by 19 points. Beinert finished the night with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists, while hitting six of nine field goal attempts. Colin Cunningham added 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals for Holy Cross. Bucknell was led by Patrick Behan with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the Patriot League in 2008-2009. In 31 games played this season, the Crusaders have allowed 61.9 points per game, while forcing 15.2 turnovers per contest and outrebounding the opposition by 6.7 boards per game. Holy Cross is also averaging 8.6 steals and 3.1 blocked shots per contest. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, the Crusaders have held their opponents to only 59.2 points per contest. In addition, Holy Cross has ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense in five of the last seven 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 the Crusaders' 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 2007-2008 60.5 41.0 36.9 7.4 3.9 2008-2009 61.9 41.8 33.3 8.6 3.1
TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 90th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1282-826 (.608), 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 HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders are once again a strong rebounding team this year, averaging 35.9 boards per contest and outrebounding their opponents by an average margin of 6.7 rebounds per game. So far this season, Holy Cross has outrebounded its opponent in 25 out of 31 games played. The Crusaders were even more impressive in Patriot League regular season play, outrebounding their opponents by 7.4 boards per game. Sophomore forward Andrew Keister leads the team with an average of 6.4 rebounds per game, while freshman guard R.J. Evans stands second with 5.1 boards per contest. Senior forward Colin Cunningham is averaging 4.9 rebounds per game, while junior forward Eric Meister is averaging 4.6 boards per contest and senior forward Alex Vander Baan is chipping in with 3.4 rebounds per game. In 2007-2008, Holy Cross was outrebounded only five times in 29 games, while averaging 33.5 rebounds per game and outrebounding the opposition by 5.6 boards per contest. Entering 2008-2009, the Crusaders have posted a positive rebounding margin in nine straight seasons, including seven years in which they outrebounded the opposition by at least four boards per game.
HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in three statistical categories, through games of March 5. In addition, senior forward Colin Cunningham stands 80th in steals. The rankings:
Category Rank Player / Team Avg. Rebound Margin 16 Holy Cross +6.5 Steals 32 Holy Cross 8.6 80 Colin Cunningham 1.9 Scoring Defense 51 Holy Cross 62.5
STEALING THE SHOW: Through 31 games played this season, Holy Cross has averaged a Patriot League-best 8.6 steals per game, including highs of 14 steals against Colgate and 13 steals at Boston University. Senior forward Colin Cunningham leads the team with 56 steals, and freshman guard R.J. Evans has added 52 steals. Sophomore guard Andrew Beinert has totaled 35 steals, and seven other Crusaders have at least 13 steals. Holy Cross has led the Patriot League in steals five times in the last six seasons, while averaging over 10 steals per game in both 2003-2004 (10.7 steals per game) and 2004-2005 (10.3 steals per game).
MAY STEPS INTO PROMINENT ROLE: Junior forward Adam May (Mentor, Ohio) has become a key part of the Holy Cross rotation this season, and has been a solid player on the offensive end of the court. So far this year, he is averaging 4.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. During the victory at Army, May had a strong all-around game with eight points, seven rebounds, four assists, four blocks and two steals. Previously against Siena, he totaled 15 points, three rebounds and three steals. Some of May's other top performances earlier in the season came against St. Joseph's (15 points, seven rebounds, four assists) and Northeastern (11 points, two rebounds, two assists). Last season, he averaged 5.2 points and 2.0 rebounds, while playing in 23 games with one start. May scored in double-figures three times in 2007-2008, including a career-best 16 points against Harvard. Over the course of his collegiate career, May has now totaled 267 points, 119 rebounds, 53 assists and 33 steals.
BROWN PLAYS KEY MINUTES OFF THE BENCH: Freshman guard Devin Brown (Randallstown, Md.) has been one of the first players off the bench in the Holy Cross backcourt this season. During the victory at Colgate, Brown led the team with 13 points on five of eight shooting from the field. Previously against San Francisco, he recorded 22 points and five assists, while making 11 of 12 free throw attempts. Brown also played well at Massachusetts, totaling 14 points and three rebounds. Some of his other top games this season have come against Fairfield (22 points, five of nine shooting from the field, 10 of 10 shooting at the foul line), St. Joseph's (12 points, two rebounds, two assists) and Siena (10 points, three rebounds, two assists). Overall this year, he is averaging 6.0 points per game, while making a team-best 88.0 percent (73 of 83) of his free throws. Brown came to Holy Cross from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Fitchburg, Mass., after previously graduating from Baltimore City High School.
CRUSADERS HAVE THREE 20-POINT SCORERS: In the 97-88 victory over San Francisco on Dec. 27, Holy Cross had three different players score at least 20 points. Senior forward Colin Cunningham and freshman guard R.J. Evans tied for the team lead with 26 points each, while freshman guard Devin Brown added 22 points. That performance marked the first time that three different Crusaders scored 20 or more points in the same game since Nov. 18, 2005, against High Point. In that game, Kevin Hamilton led Holy Cross with 22 points, Keith Simmons scored 21 points, and Torey Thomas added 20 points.
CRUSADERS REACH 300 VICTORIES AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross currently owns an all-time record of 311-113 at the Hart Center, after posting its 300th win in the building against Sacred Heart on Nov. 14. The Crusaders had a 23-game winning streak at the Hart Center from Feb. 15, 2006-Jan. 2, 2008, 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. In 2006-2007 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 30 out of 34 seasons, while recording double-figure home victories 16 times. The Crusaders stand 98-21 at home since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, including a 62-11 record against Patriot League foes and an 12-4 mark in 2008-2009.
CRUSADERS HEAT UP ON OFFENSE: Holy Cross has turned in some outstanding shooting performances during the second half of the season. In the Patriot League quarterfinal victory over Bucknell, the Crusaders hit 50.0 percent (27 of 54) of their field goal attempts. Some of Holy Cross' other top shooting games in Patriot League action came in the home games against Navy (27 of 47, 57.4 percent), Colgate (25 of 48, 52.1 percent), American (25 of 48, 52.1 percent) and Lafayette (27 of 51, 52.9 percent). In non-conference play, the Crusaders shot 54.5 percent (24 of 44) from the field at Boston University, while making 51.8 percent (29 of 56) of their shots against San Francisco. Overall this season, Holy Cross has won all seven games in which it has made at least half of its shots. In fact, the Crusaders have now won 51 out of 52 games in which they have shot at least 50 percent from the field since the beginning of the 2002-2003 season.
MCCARTHY PLAYS BIG ROLE UP FRONT: Senior center Greg McCarthy (Mansfield, Mass.) has seen a good deal of action for Holy Cross at the low post positions this season. During the Yale game, McCarthy scored 12 points and pulled down a career-best nine rebounds. Previously at Loyola (Ill.), he posted 13 points on six of 10 shooting, in addition to recording three rebounds and two steals. Earlier in the season, McCarthy also played well at Harvard (18 points, eight rebounds, four steals) and Northeastern (11 points, four rebounds). Overall this season, he is now averaging 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds, while ranking second on the team in field goal percentage (50.0 percent, 44 of 88). Last season, McCarthy averaged 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he has totaled 261 points and 148 rebounds, while hitting 109 of 220 (49.5 percent) field goal attempts.
SENIOR SALUTE: Six members of the Holy Cross basketball program are wrapping up their collegiate careers this month. Senior forward Colin Cunningham, senior guard Lawrence Dixon (Columbia, Md.), senior guard Pat Doherty, senior center Greg McCarthy, senior forward Alex Vander Baan and senior manager Jamie Reynolds (Worcester, Mass.) are the six members of the 2009 senior class. Over the last four years, the senior class has helped Holy Cross to an overall record of 78-48, a Patriot League regular season championship, a Patriot League tournament title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
THE CRUSADER CAPTAINS: Senior forward Colin Cunningham, senior guard Pat Doherty and senior forward Alex Vander Baan are serving as the Crusaders' captains for the 2008-2009 season. These three players took over the leadership role from Tim Clifford and Kyle Cruze, who served as the Crusaders' captains as seniors during the 2007-2008 season.
OFFENSE LIGHTS UP SCOREBOARD AGAINST SAN FRANCISCO: In the Dec. 27 victory over San Francisco, the Crusaders scored a season-best 97 points. That performance marked the most points scored by Holy Cross in a single game since Nov. 23, 2002, when it defeated Dowling 101-61. The 97 points were also the most by the Crusaders against a Division I opponent since they defeated Lehigh 100-81 on Jan. 27, 1996. Overall this season, Holy Cross is now averaging 64.8 points per game.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES: American has an overall record of 23-7 on the season, including a 13-1 mark in the Patriot League. The Eagles have won their last 12 games, since falling to Holy Cross 71-62 on Jan. 24. The leading scorer for American is senior guard Garrison Carr, who has averaged 17.6 points while hitting 102 of 271 (37.6 percent) shots from three-point range. Senior guard Derrick Mercer is also enjoying a fine season, averaging 11.5 points and 4.4 assists per contest, while senior forward Brian Gilmore has added 12.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. The Eagles are led by head coach Jeff Jones, who owns a 148-120 record in nine seasons at American. Jones' career record stands at 294-224, including eight years as the head coach at the University of Virginia.
HOLY CROSS ON THE RADIO: Most of the Crusaders' basketball contests during the 2008-2009 season will be carried by The Pike, WWFX 100.1 FM in Worcester. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre is in his 22nd season calling the play-by-play for Crusader basketball on the radio. In addition, Jeremy Lechan and Dick Lutsk are in their fifth year on the Holy Cross broadcast crew, and will handle either play-by-play or color commentary for selected games. The Pike has aired 26 of the Crusaders' 32 games so far this season. All games aired on The Pike can also be heard live over the internet at `www.worcesterpike.com'. Five games not carried on The Pike were broadcast exclusively over the internet at `www.sportsjuice.com'. In addition, the Holy Cross student station, WCHC 88.1 FM, has carried a number of games this year.
CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: Ten of Holy Cross' games have been shown on live television during the 2008-2009 season. The Crusaders had eight television appearances last year, while appearing on television 13 times in 2006-2007, 10 times in 2005-2006 and 10 times in 2004-2005. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2008-2009 season:
Date Opponent Television Outlet Nov. 29 Loyola (Ill.) Lakeshore Public Television Dec. 30 Siena WCTR-TV3 Jan. 6 Central Florida Bright House Sports Network Jan. 17 Bucknell ESPNU Jan. 24 American ESPNU Jan. 31 Lehigh Service Electric Cable Feb. 7 Lafayette Lafayette Sports Network Feb. 11 Army WCTR-TV3 Feb. 25 Colgate Time Warner Cable Mar. 13 American ESPN2
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 CBS College Sports 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 stand 11-4 this season when wearing their white uniforms, while going 1-1 in their black uniforms and 6-8 in their purple uniforms ... With the victory over St. Joseph's, Holy Cross is 1-0 this season in overtime games. The Crusaders now stand 12-3 in overtime contests under Ralph Willard ... Holy Cross was picked to finish third in the 2008-2009 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 68 total points and two first place votes. American placed first in the poll, while Lehigh was second ... The New England Basketball Hall of Fame has established the Ronald S. Perry New England Basketball Legend Award, which will be presented at each New England Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony to an individual who, in demonstrating uncommon basketball excellence, has made an extraordinary contribution to the sport in the New England region. The award is named in honor of former Holy Cross student-athlete and athletic director Ron Perry (Class of 1954) ... At halftime of the game between Holy Cross and St. Joseph's on Nov. 16, four all-time Crusader basketball greats were honored. George Kaftan (Class of 1949), Bob Cousy (Class of 1950), Togo Palazzi (Class of 1954) and Tom Heinsohn (Class of 1956) were all be on hand to witness their jerseys being lifted to the Hart Center rafters -- the first time Holy Cross held such a ceremony for any former student-athlete ... With the Nov. 14 victory over Sacred Heart, Holy Cross improved to 27-7 in home openers at the Hart Center, with an 8-2 mark under Ralph Willard ... The Crusaders also improved their all-time mark in season openers to 65-25, including a 39-6 mark at home and an 8-2 record under Ralph Willard ... Holy Cross wore its black uniforms at home for the first time ever against Sacred Heart, as part of the Black Out Night promotion.