November 15, 2008

Holy Cross To Face St. Joseph's At The Hart Center On Sunday

Nov. 15, 2008

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (1-0, 0-0 PL) vs. St. Joseph's (1-0, 0-0 A-10)
Date: November 16, 2008
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Live Video Streaming: Crusader All-Access
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; www.worcesterpike.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
St. Joseph's Radio: Tom McCarthy, play-by-play; Joe Lunardi, color; WNTP 990 AM, Philadelphia, Pa.
Series Record: St. Joseph's leads, 3-1
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 71, St. Joseph's 66 (December 4, 2007, Philadelphia, Pa.)

 


PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl.
F 21 Alex Vander Baan 6-9 205 Sr.
F 33 Colin Cunningham 6-6 220 Sr.
C 53 Eric Meister 6-8 225 Jr.
G 12 Adam May 6-8 205 Jr.
G 22 Andrew Beinert 6-4 185 So.

HOLY CROSS TO HONOR FOUR ALL-TIME GREATS AT HALFTIME CEREMONY: Four all-time Crusader basketball greats will be honored at halftime of the game between Holy Cross and St. Joseph's. George Kaftan (Class of 1949), Bob Cousy (Class of 1950), Togo Palazzi (Class of 1954) and Tom Heinsohn (Class of 1956) will all be on hand to witness their jerseys being lifted to the Hart Center rafters -- the first time Holy Cross has held such a ceremony for any former student-athlete. The former Crusader standouts are the only four basketball players in school history to twice earn first team All-America honors. In addition, each of the four played on a Holy Cross national championship team -- Kaftan and Cousy were part of the 1947 NCAA championship squad, while Palazzi and Heinsohn were members of the 1954 NIT champions. While the jerseys of the four players are being lifted to the rafters, their numbers are not officially being retired. While at Holy Cross, Kaftan wore No. 12, Cousy wore No. 17, Palazzi wore No. 22 and Heinsohn wore No. 24. Current Crusader junior forward Adam May (Mentor, Ohio) is wearing No. 12 this season, while sophomore guard Andrew Beinert (Floral Park, N.Y.) wears No. 22. No player is currently wearing No. 24, while Cousy's No. 17 is no longer an eligible jersey number per NCAA regulations established in 1957.

EVANS HAS BIG NIGHT IN COLLEGIATE DEBUT: Freshman guard R.J. Evans (Salem, Conn.) had an outstanding performance against Sacred Heart in the first game of his Holy Cross career. Evans scored a team-high 15 points against the Pioneers, hitting seven of 12 shots from the field. His 15 points were the most by a Crusader in his collegiate debut since Torey Thomas scored 18 points against Boston University on Nov. 22, 2003. Evans came to Holy Cross from Norwich (Conn.) Free Academy, where he was a two-time All-State selection and score 2,030 career points.

THE SERIES WITH ST. JOSEPH'S: This will be only the fifth meeting between the Crusaders and the Hawks on the hardwood. The last contest came on Dec. 4, 2007, when Holy Cross posted a 71-66 victory at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse. The Hawks previously defeated the Crusaders 82-63 in Philadelphia on Dec. 26, 1964; 62-58 in College Park, Md., on Dec. 30, 1978; and 68-60 in Philadelphia on March 25, 2005, in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: St. Joseph's leads, 3-1
In Worcester: First Meeting
At the Hart Center: First Meeting
Ralph Willard vs. St. Joseph's: 1-1
Phil Martelli vs. Holy Cross: 1-1
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, one game

AMAZING AGAINST THE ATLANTIC 10: The Crusaders have enjoyed a great deal of success against schools from the Atlantic 10 Conference during Ralph Willard's tenure as head coach. Holy Cross stands 11-4 against Atlantic 10 foes under Willard, including last season's 71-66 victory at St. Joseph's. From 1999-2005, the Crusaders won eight straight against Atlantic 10 opponents, but that streak was snapped with a 68-60 loss at St. Joseph's in the 2005 National Invitation Tournament. The Crusaders own an all-time record of 126-108 against the 14 schools which are currently members of the Atlantic 10 (0-1 vs. Charlotte, 1-3 against Dayton, 3-5 vs. Duquesne, 39-41 against Fordham, 0-2 vs. George Washington, 6-16 against La Salle, 36-17 vs. Massachusetts, 26-12 against Rhode Island, 3-2 vs. St. Bonaventure, 1-3 against St. Joseph's, 2-3 vs. St. Louis, 6-3 against Temple and 3-0 vs. Xavier).

HOLY CROSS NAMES CAPTAINS: Senior forward Colin Cunningham (Memphis, Tenn.), senior guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) and senior forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) have been selected as the Crusaders' captains for the 2008-2009 season. These three players will take over the leadership role from Tim Clifford and Kyle Cruze, who served as the Crusaders' captains as seniors during the 2007-2008 season.

HOLY CROSS TAKES SEASON OPENER: The Crusaders began the 2008-2009 season by posting a 67-58 victory over Sacred Heart. With that win, Holy Cross improved its all-time record in its opening game of the season to 65-25, including a 39-6 mark at home. Since Ralph Willard took over as head coach, the Crusaders now stand 8-2 in season openers with six straight victories. During the Willard era, Holy Cross has defeated Providence (54-43 in 1999-2000), Quinnipiac (85-57 in 2001-2002), Boston University (59-57 in 2003-2004; 58-48 in 2004-2005), High Point (85-73 in 2005-2006), Fairfield (67-65 in overtime in 2006-2007) and Hofstra (61-47 in 2007-2008) on opening day, while falling to Providence (63-57 in 2000-2001) and Kansas (81-57 in 2002-2003).

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 175-103 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 319-227. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

SACRED HEART RECAP: R.J. Evans totaled 15 points and two rebounds, to lead Holy Cross to a 67-58 victory over Sacred Heart at the Hart Center on Nov. 14, 2008. Playing in the first game of his collegiate career, Evans made seven of 12 shots from the field, including one of three from three-point range. Holy Cross opened the game with a 9-4 run, before Sacred Heart responded with an 8-2 spurt of its own to go up by one, 12-11, with 10 minutes left in the half. The score stayed close for the next several minutes, and the Pioneers were still up by one point, 21-20, with just under three minutes left before the break. The Crusaders then went on an 11-3 run to close out the half, including seven straight points by Evans, taking a 31-24 advantage into the locker room. Early the second half, Holy Cross used a 9-4 run to increase its lead to double figures, eventually going in front by 12 points, 45-33, with 14 minutes left to play. But Sacred Heart refused to go away, responding with a 9-0 run of its own to make it a three-point game. The Crusaders eventually led by just two points, 57-55, with left than five minutes remaining, before Colin Cunningham scored four straight points to put Holy Cross back up by six. The Pioneers would get no closer than five points the rest of the way, as the Crusaders pulled away to win by nine, 67-58. Eric Meister posted his first career double-double with 11 points and a career-best 11 rebounds. Cunningham added nine points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Alex Vander Baan finished with nine points and seven rebounds. Sacred Heart was led by Joey Henley with 18 points and nine rebounds.

MEISTER MOVES INTO STARTING LINEUP: Junior forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.) looks to take over as a starter for Holy Cross in the low post this season. He opened the year strong against Sacred Heart, posting his first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Last year, Meister averaged 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds, while playing in 18 games with eight starts. During the 2007-2008 victory at Army, he scored 11 points on four of four shooting from the field. Meister also had a big game in the victory over Lehigh, totaling 10 points, a team-high nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Some of Meister's other top performances last season came against Yale (eight points, nine rebounds), Ohio (eight points, six rebounds) and Hofstra (seven points, nine boards). As a freshman in 2006-2007, Meister was selected to the Patriot League All-Rookie team. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he has now totaled 211 points, 217 rebounds and 33 blocked shots.

CUNNINGHAM COMING OFF SOLID SEASON: Senior forward Colin Cunningham returns to the Holy Cross lineup at small forward this year, and should once again be one of the Crusaders' top players. In the season opener against Sacred Heart, Cunningham totaled nine points, six rebounds and a career-high seven assists. 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. Cunningham's top game in 2007-2008 came at American in the Patriot League quarterfinals, when he scored a career-high 20 points, to go along with four rebounds and three assists. He also had a big night at Lehigh in the regular season finale, recording 15 points, four rebounds and four assists. Some of Cunningham's other top performances last season have come against Fairfield (career-high 17 points, 10 of 10 on the free throw line), Boston University (16 points, four rebounds, three steals, four of five from three-point range) and Siena (15 points, four assists, three rebounds, three steals). Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Cunningham has totaled 412 points, 246 rebounds, 115 assists and 57 steals.

CRUSADERS PICKED THIRD IN PRESEASON POLL: In the 2008-2009 Patriot League preseason poll, Holy Cross was picked to finish in third place in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. The Crusaders received 68 total points in the poll, including two first place votes. American placed first in the poll with 98 points and 14 first place votes, while Lehigh was second with 75 points. Following Holy Cross in the poll were Colgate (fourth, 67 points), Bucknell (fifth, 47 points), Navy (sixth, 46 points), Army (seventh, 29 points) and Lafayette (eighth, 18 points).

VANDER BAAN PLAYS KEY ROLE ON FRONT LINE: Senior forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) is once again a key member of the Holy Cross lineup this year. In the season opener against Sacred Heart, Vander Baan finished with nine points and seven rebounds. During the 2007-2008 season, he averaged 8.5 points and 5.7 rebounds in 19 games played, while missing a good deal of time in the second half of the year due to injury. During the 2007-2008 victory over Harvard, Vander Baan totaled a season-high 18 points and eight rebounds. He also had a huge game in the win at St. Joseph's, recording 16 points and seven rebounds, while making all four of his free throws in the final minute of play. Some of Vander Baan's other top performances last year came against Hofstra (15 rebounds, 10 points, three assists, three blocks), at Bucknell (14 points, five rebounds) and at Army (13 points, seven rebounds). 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 585 points, 453 rebounds, 124 assists, 64 steals and 28 blocked shots.

CRUSADERS POST 300TH VICTORY AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross enters the St. Joseph's game with an all-time record of 300-109 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 29 out of 33 seasons, while recording double-figure home victories 15 times. The Crusaders stand 87-17 at home since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, including a 54-10 record against Patriot League foes.

CRUSADERS LOOK TO REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross should once again be among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2008-2009. In the season opener against Sacred Heart, the Crusaders allowed just 58 points, while forcing 20 turnovers and posting 11 steals. Last year, the Crusaders held their opponents to 60.5 points per contest and 41.0 percent shooting from the field. Holy Cross also outrebounded the opposition by 5.6 boards per game, while forcing 13.9 turnovers per contest. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Holy Cross has held its opposition to only 58.9 points per contest. In addition, the Crusaders have 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 Holy Cross' defensive statistics under Ralph Willard.

 

Season       PPG    FG%   3FG%    SPG   BPG
1999-2000 63.3 39.6 31.3 6.5 3.8
2000-2001 62.3 38.2 35.2 6.3 5.2
2001-2002 59.6 42.0 38.5 7.8 3.1
2002-2003 58.7 40.6 33.2 7.9 4.5
2003-2004 58.6 40.3 32.9 10.7 4.5
2004-2005 56.8 38.9 36.3 10.3 5.0
2005-2006 60.5 40.2 30.3 9.1 3.5
2006-2007 57.5 41.4 37.8 9.5 3.6
2007-2008 60.5 41.0 36.9 7.4 3.9

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders look to once again be an outstanding rebounding team this year, after outrebounding Sacred Heart 40-32 in the season opener. 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. The Crusaders were even more impressive in Patriot League play, outrebounding conference foes by 6.3 boards per game. The rebounding load was well balanced, with five different players averaging at least 3.6 rebounds per game. Forward Alex Vander Baan led the team with an average of 5.7 rebounds per game, followed by center Tim Clifford with 5.4 boards per contest. Forward Eric Meister totaled 4.7 rebounds per game, while forward Colin Cunningham added 4.4 boards per contest, and guard Kyle Cruze contributed 3.6 rebounds per game. The Crusaders have now 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 finished the 2007-2008 season ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in six statistical categories. In addition, center Tim Clifford stood among the national leaders in field goal percentage, blocked shots and scoring. The rankings:

 

Category                   Rank  Player / Team    Avg.
Scoring Defense 16 Holy Cross 60.5
Rebound Margin 26 Holy Cross +5.6
Field Goal Percent 28 Tim Clifford 57.1
Blocked Shots 29 Tim Clifford 2.3
80 Holy Cross 3.9
Field Goal Percent Defense 47 Holy Cross 41.0
Free Throw Percent 58 Holy Cross 72.9
Scoring 71 Tim Clifford 18.0
Steals 99 Holy Cross 7.4

HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: Holy Cross finished the 2007-2008 season ranked 149th in the nation in the Ratings Percentage Index, with a rating of .5107. The Crusaders were the second-highest ranked team in the Patriot League, behind only American (91st, .5441). In addition, Holy Cross' non-conference schedule ranked as the 113th-best in the country, and the hardest in the Patriot League. The Crusaders concluded the 2006-2007 season ranked 59th in the country in the RPI with a rating of .5730. Holy Cross was also ranked 111th in the RPI in 2005-2006 (.5304) and 49th in 2004-2005 (.5657).

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 90th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1265-813 (.609), while making 24 postseason tournament appearances -- 12 trips to the NCAA Tournament and 12 to the National Invitation Tournament. In the history of collegiate basketball, Holy Cross is one of only 16 schools to have won the NCAA Tournament (1946-1947) as well as the National Invitational Tournament (1953-1954). Throughout its history, Holy Cross has had six first team All-America selections, sent 10 players to the National Basketball Association, had four players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, had 23 players drafted by professional teams, had three players go on to coach professionally, and had 15 players who have coached in college, including current Crusader coach Ralph Willard.

THE JESUIT BASKETBALL SPOTLIGHT: The matchup between Holy Cross and St. Joseph's is part of the nationwide Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project, using Jesuit basketball to raise awareness of Jesuit education. Both Holy Cross and St. Joseph's are Jesuit schools. The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project highlights more than 90 games this season between men's and women's teams from the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the United States. Each of the 28 is dedicated to strong academics and teaching women and men to serve others and live a faith that does justice. The spotlight project includes awareness announcements during these designated games and during gamecasts on radio and television. Jesuit, Catholic colleges and universities in the United States have more than 200,000 students currently and more than 1.7 million living alumni. The Jesuit educational mission began in Europe approximately 500 years ago. For more information on Jesuit higher education in the United States, visit `www.ajcunet.edu'.

SCOUTING THE HAWKS: St. Joseph's enters the game with an overall record of 1-0 on the year, after posting a 69-57 victory over Rider on Friday night. Senior forward Ahmad Nivins led the Hawks with 25 points and 13 rebounds, while junior guard Darrin Govens totaled 19 points and four assist. The Hawks are coming off a 2007-2008 season in which they advanced to the NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 21-13 and a 9-7 mark in the Atlantic 10. St. Joseph's is led by head coach Phil Martelli, who owns an overall record of 262-142 in 14 seasons with the Hawks. Martelli has been named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year four times, while leading St. Joseph's to five NCAA Tournament appearances.

CRUSADERS OWN FIVE PATRIOT LEAGUE REGULAR SEASON TITLES: Throughout its first 18 years of play in the conference, Holy Cross has won five Patriot League regular season titles. The last championship for the Crusaders came in 2006-2007, when they tied for first place in the conference with Bucknell, as both teams posted 13-1 records in league play. Prior to that, 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 HAVE FIVE PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT CROWNS: Two years ago, the Crusaders captured their fifth Patriot League Tournament with their 74-66 victory over Bucknell on March 9, 2007. Holy Cross' previous tournament titles came in 2003 (72-64 over American), 2002 (58-54 at American), 2001 (68-64 over Navy in overtime) and 1993 (98-73 at Bucknell). The Crusaders' five conference tournament championships are the most in Patriot League history, with Navy having the second most (three in 1994, 1997 and 1998). Holy Cross has also appeared in the championship game in six times in the last eight years. Overall, the Crusaders have made a conference-record nine appearances in the Patriot League championship game.

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 will be 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 is currently scheduled to air 23 of the Crusaders' 29 regular season games. All games aired on The Pike can also be heard live over the internet at `www.worcesterpike.com'. The six games not carried on The Pike will be broadcast exclusively over the internet at `www.sportsjuice.com'. In addition, the Holy Cross student station, WCHC 88.1 FM, will carry a number of games this year.

CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: Holy Cross is currently scheduled to have eight games shown on live television during the 2007-2008 season. The Crusaders had 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. 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

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: With Friday's 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 ... Holy Cross wore its black uniforms at home for the first time ever against Sacred Heart, as part of the Black Out Night promotion ... The Crusaders had a 2-2 record last season when wearing the black uniforms, winning at American and Bucknell, while losing at Maryland and Lehigh. Holy Cross also stood 8-6 on the year when wearing white, and 5-6 in purple in 2007-2008 ... Holy Cross' victory at Bucknell on Feb. 16, 2008, was its first at Sojka Pavilion in five years, breaking a five-game losing streak in the building ... With the victory at San Francisco, Holy Cross improved to 1-1 on the season in overtime games. The Crusaders now stand 11-3 in overtime contests under Ralph Willard.