Holy Cross Set To Face Siena On Saturday Afternoon

Nov. 16, 2006

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The Teams: Holy Cross (2-0, 0-0 PL) vs. Siena (0-1, 0-0 MAAC)
Date: November 18, 2006
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
Siena Radio: Robert Lee, play-by-play; Tom Huerter, color; WROW 590 AM, Albany, N.Y.
Series Record: Siena leads, 6-3
Last Meeting: Siena 68, Holy Cross 63 (December 1, 2005, Albany, N.Y.)

Pos.  No.  Name                Ht.   Wt.   Cl.
F      10  Keith Simmons       6-5   205   Sr.
F      21  Alex Vander Baan    6-8   205   So.
C      00  Tim Clifford       6-10   270   Jr.
G       1  Torey Thomas       5-11   185   Sr.
G      20  Pat Doherty        5-11   170   So.

THE SERIES WITH SIENA: This will be the 10th meeting between the Crusaders and the Saints on the hardwood, with Siena leading the all-time series 6-3. The Saints have won the last four games in the series and five of the last six, after Holy Cross was victorious in two of the first three meetings. For games played in Worcester, the Crusaders hold a 3-1 advantage, including a 2-1 mark at the Hart Center. The last meeting between the schools came on Dec. 1, 2005, with the Crusaders falling 68-63 in Albany. The schools first met on Feb. 6, 1990, with Holy Cross winning 103-76 at the Hart Center.

Overall: Siena leads, 6-3
In Worcester: Holy Cross leads, 3-1
At the Hart Center: Holy Cross leads, 2-1
Ralph Willard vs. Siena: 0-1
Fran McCaffery vs. Holy Cross: 1-0
Current Win Streak: Siena, four games
In Overtime: Holy Cross leads, 1-0

CRUSADERS OFF TO FAST START: Holy Cross has opened the season with two straight victories, marking the fourth straight year the Crusaders have started at 2-0, and the fifth time under Ralph Willard. The best start of the Willard era came in 2004-2005, when Holy Cross opened at 3-0, with victories over Boston University (58-48), Harvard (60-52) and Marist (79-52). Overall, the longest season-opening winning streak in school history came during the 1949-1950 season, when the Crusaders won their first 26 games. Holy Cross has also opened up the season with at least five straight victories on 10 occasions.

SIMMONS HAS STRONG START TO SEASON: Senior guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) has started the season hot, averaging 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals in the first two games of the year. He totaled 19 points, six rebounds and two assists against Hampton, after recording 18 points, five steals and two rebounds in the victory over Fairfield. Prior to the start of the year, Simmons was selected as a 2006-2007 preseason mid-major All-American by CollegeInsider.com (one of just 25 players from across the nation to be chosen to the squad). He was also named preseason All-Patriot League, after earning first team all-conference honors in both his sophomore and junior years. In 32 games played last season, Simmons averaged 14.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, while shooting 52.5 percent (158 of 301) from the field and 47.6 percent (60 of 126) from three-point range. He was even more effective in Patriot League regular season games, averaging 16.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists against conference foes, with a league-best 59.8 field goal percent (76 of 127) and a 51.8 mark (29 of 56) from beyond the arc. Simmons scored 20 or more points in a game eight times during the 2005-2006 season, while leading the team in scoring on 12 occasions. Entering the Siena game, Simmons has scored 1,115 career points as a Crusader, while making 49.7 percent of his field goal attempts (384 of 773) and 45.0 percent from three-point range (147 of 327). He is currently the all-time Patriot League leader in career three-point field goal percentage, and while ranking second all-time at Holy Cross in three-point field goals made and 30th in points scored.

CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross stands 2-0 at the Hart Center so far this season, and now owns an all-time record of 278-105 in the building. The Crusaders went 11-2 at the Hart Center last season with an 8-1 mark against Patriot League opponents, and stand 36-5 in Patriot League regular season home games over the last six seasons. In 2004-2005, Holy Cross posted an overall record of 12-3 at home, including a 10-game winning streak. Since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, the Crusaders now have an overall mark of 66-12 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 27 out of 31 seasons, while posting double-figure home victories 14 times.

THOMAS SHINES IN SENIOR SEASON: Senior point guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) looks to once again be among the top players in the Patriot League this season, and has been named to the preseason all-conference team. In Wednesday's victory over Hampton, he totaled 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. Thomas also had a big game against Fairfield, when he totaled 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals, while hitting a pair of free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining in overtime to win the game. A year ago he averaged 11.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.4 steals per contest, while making 34 of 96 attempts (35.4 percent) from three-point range. Thomas finished the 2005-2006 season as the Patriot League's leader in assists, while ranking second in steals, fourth in rebounding and 14th in scoring. He also scored 20 or more points in a game three times last season, and led the team in scoring on five occasions. In addition to his scoring, Thomas reached double figures in rebounds twice last year, as well as hitting double digits in assists twice. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Thomas has now totaled 766 points, 364 rebounds, 318 assists and 181 steals. He currently ranks fourth all-time at Holy Cross in career steals, and ninth in career assists.

CRUSADERS LOOK TO REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross should once again be among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2006-2007. Through the first two games of the year, the Crusaders have held their opponents to 56.0 points per game, in addition to averaging 14.0 steals per contest. Last season, Holy Cross allowed just 60.5 points per game, while holding its opponents to 40.2 percent shooting from the floor and 30.3 percent shooting from three-point range. The Crusaders were particularly impressive over the last 20 contests in 2005-2006, allowing just 56.8 points per game, with the opposition shooting 37.7 percent from the floor and 28.4 percent from three-point range. Holy Cross also forced its opponents to commit 16.0 turnovers per game, while averaging 9.1 steals and 3.5 blocks per contest, and outrebounding the opposition by 3.9 boards per game. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Holy Cross has held the opposition to only 58.9 points per contest. In addition, the Crusaders ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense in four of the last five seasons (sixth in 2001-2002 at 59.6; third in 2002-2003 at 58.7; seventh in 2003-2004 at 58.6; and fifth in 2004-2005 at 56.8).

HAMPTON RECAP: Keith Simmons totaled 19 points, six rebounds and two assists, to lead the Crusaders to a 62-47 victory over Hampton at the Hart Center on Nov. 15, 2006. Holy Cross started the game hot, jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead after just two minutes of play, as Simmons scored five points during that stretch. Hampton fought back to tie the score at 13-13, before the Crusaders used an 11-2 run to go up by 11 (24-13) with 7:20 left in the first half. The Pirates continued to hang tough, and trailed just 30-24 at the half, following a three-pointer by Junior Pehoua with just two seconds remaining. Hampton then came out of the locker room on fire to start the second half, using an 8-0 spurt to claim its first lead of the game, 32-30 with 16:43 left to play. The score stayed close for the next several minutes, and the Crusaders were up by two (46-44) with 7:58 remaining. But Holy Cross would then go on an 8-0 to put the game away, with Alex Vander Baan scoring five points during that spurt. Holy Cross went on to hold the Pirates to just three points over the final 7:58, and eventually pulled away for the 15-point victory, despite making just five of 11 free throws in the final four minutes of play. Vander Baan finished the night with nine points and six rebounds, while Torey Thomas added 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. Tim Clifford also had a solid game with six points, a team-high eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Hampton was led by Pehoua with 16 points and three rebounds, while Kevin Clark and Adrian Woodard both added six points.

WILLARD CONTINUES IMPRESSIVE RUN AT HOLY CROSS: Ralph Willard is now in his eighth season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 136-80 during his time in Worcester. He 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). 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. During the 2000-2001 and 2004-2005 seasons, Willard was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year, and in 2004-2005 he was also one of 10 finalists for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award. 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 280-204. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

HOLY CROSS TAKES SEASON OPENER: The Crusaders began the 2006-2007 season by posting a 67-65 overtime victory against Fairfield. With that win, Holy Cross improved its all-time record in its opening game of the season to 63-25, including a 37-6 mark at home. Since Ralph Willard took over as head coach, the Crusaders now stand 6-2 in season openers. 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) and High Point (85-73 in 2005-2006) on opening day, while falling to Providence (63-57 in 2000-2001) and Kansas (81-57 in 2002-2003).

SIMMONS AND THOMAS NAMED CAPTAINS: Senior guard Keith Simmons and senior guard Torey Thomas have been selected as the Crusaders' captains for the 2006-2007 season. Both players are three-year letterwinners for the Crusaders, and will take over the leadership role from Kevin Hamilton and Kevin Hyland, who served as the Crusaders' captains as seniors during the 2005-2006 season.

THE LAST MEETING WITH SIENA: Keith Simmons recorded 20 points and seven rebounds, but it was not enough as Holy Cross was defeated by Siena 68-63 at Pepsi Arena on Dec. 1, 2005. Siena started the game hot, and jumped out to a 12-2 lead after the first seven minutes of play. Holy Cross would respond with a 7-0 run later in the half, and trailed by just two points (26-24) at the break. The Crusaders tied the score at 29-29 early in the second half, but then the Saints went on an 8-0 to take control of the game. Siena would increase its lead to as many as 15 points (51-36) at the 10:35 mark, and was still up by 10 (60-50) with just over two minutes left to play. Holy Cross managed to make it a four-point game on a basket by Colin Cunningham with 54.7 seconds remaining, but turned the ball over on its next possession and would get no closer than five points the rest of the way. Cunningham finished the game with career-highs of 16 points and nine rebounds for the Crusaders, while Torey Thomas added five points, five assists, five steals and a career-high 11 rebounds. Siena was led by Tay Fisher and David Ryan with 18 points each. The Saints made 10 of 22 three-point field goal attempts on the night, including five by Fisher and four from Ryan.

STEALING THE SHOW: Holy Cross has opened the 2006-2007 season by averaging 14.0 steals per game, after recording 16 steals against Fairfield and 12 in the win over Hampton. Senior guard Torey Thomas currently has a team-high eight steals so far this season, while senior guard Keith Simmons and sophomore guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) have added six steals each. In 32 games played last season, the Crusaders totaled 290 steals, for a Patriot League-best average of 9.1 steals per game. Holy Cross reached double figures in steals 11 times last year, with highs of 16 against Harvard and 15 against Lafayette. Kevin Hamilton led the team with 102 steals last year, while Thomas added 77 steals last season. With his 102 total steals, Hamilton set new Holy Cross and Patriot League single season records. Hamilton's average of 3.3 steals per game last year also set a new Patriot League single season record.

CRUSADERS PICKED SECOND IN PRESEASON POLL: In the 2006-2007 Patriot League preseason poll, Holy Cross was picked to finish in second place in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. The Crusaders received 86 total points in the poll, to trail only first-place Bucknell (96 points). Holy Cross received three first-place votes in the poll, with the Bison earning 12 first-place votes and American one. Following the Crusaders in the poll were American (third, 70 points), Lehigh (fourth, 64 points), Colgate (fifth, 48 points), Lafayette (sixth, 35 points), Navy (seventh, 31 points) and Army (eighth, 18 points).

SIMMONS AND THOMAS NAMED PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE: Senior guard Keith Simmons and senior guard Torey Thomas were both named preseason All-Patriot League, in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. Holy Cross was the only team in the league to place more than one player on the preseason all-conference team. Along with Simmons and Thomas, other selections to the squad were Bucknell senior center Chris McNaughton, American senior guard Andre Ingram and Lehigh senior guard Jose Olivero. All five players on the preseason All-Patriot League squad were named either first or second team all-conference at the conclusion of the 2005-2006 season.

VANDER BAAN LOOKS TO BUILD ON ALL-ROOKIE SEASON: Sophomore forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) should once again be a key member of the Holy Cross lineup this season, after being selected to the 2005-2006 Patriot League All-Rookie Team. He is averaging 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds through the first two games of the season, including a nine-point, six-rebound performance in the victory over Hampton. In 32 games played last year, Vander Baan averaged 6.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest, to rank ninth in the conference in rebounding. He also led all Patriot League freshmen by earning league Rookie of the Week honors four times last season (Nov. 21, Dec. 27, Feb. 6, Feb. 20). Vander Baan's top week of last year came at the San Juan Shootout, where he averaged 15.7 points and 7.0 rebounds over three games, while shooting 55.6 percent from the floor.

CLIFFORD PLAYS BIG IN THE POST: Junior center Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.) looks to be one of the top big men in the Patriot League this season, after moving into the Crusaders' starting lineup for the final 13 games last season. Through the first two games of 2006-2007, he is averaging 6.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per contest. Overall last year, Clifford averaged 7.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game, while making 96 of 194 (49.5 percent) field goal attempts. He was even more impressive against Patriot League opponents, averaging 9.7 points per contest and hitting 54.2 percent (52 of 96) of his shots from the floor. Clifford's top game of 2005-2006 came against American, when he totaled 27 points, four rebounds and four blocks, while hitting nine of 15 shots from the floor and eight of nine attempts from the foul line. He also had a huge night in the victory over Brown, recording 21 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, while making nine of 12 field goal attempts. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Clifford has now totaled 340 points, 211 rebounds and 86 blocked shots. He currently ranks seventh all-time at Holy Cross in career blocks.

SCOUTING THE SAINTS: Siena enters the game with an overall record of 0-1 on the year, following a season-opening 92-72 loss at Stanford on Nov. 11. Freshman forward Alex Franklin led the Saints with 20 points, six rebounds and four steals in the season opener, while hitting eight of 11 shots from the floor. Sophomore guard Kenny Hasbrouck (12 points), senior center Michael Haddix (12 points), senior forward David Ryan (11 points) and freshman guard Ronald Moore (10 points) also scored in double figures against Stanford. The Saints are led by Fran McCaffery, who is now in his second season at Siena with a 15-14 overall record. McCaffery's career record stands at 154-141, including six years at North Carolina-Greensboro and three seasons at Lehigh.

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 88th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1226-789 (.608), while making 23 postseason tournament appearances -- 11 trips to the NCAA Tournament and 12 to the National Invitation Tournament. In the history of collegiate basketball, Holy Cross is one of only 16 schools to have won the NCAA Tournament (1946-1947) as well as the National Invitational Tournament (1953-1954). Throughout its history, Holy Cross has had six first team All-America selections, sent 10 players to the National Basketball Association, had four players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, had 23 players drafted by professional teams, had three players go to coach professionally, and had 15 players who have coached in college, including current Crusader coach Ralph Willard.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders finished the 2005-2006 season ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in eight statistical categories. In addition, guard Kevin Hamilton and guard Torey Thomas were both ranked among the national leaders in two categories. The rankings:

Category                   Rank  Player / Team   Avg.
Steals                        5  Kevin Hamilton   3.3
                             26  Torey Thomas     2.4
                             26  Holy Cross       9.1
Field Goal Percent Defense   29  Holy Cross      40.2
Scoring Defense              29  Holy Cross      60.5
Rebound Margin               52  Holy Cross      +3.9
Assists                      60  Torey Thomas     4.8
Scoring Margin               62  Holy Cross      +5.9
Free Throw Percentage        81  Holy Cross      71.8
Three-Point Percentage       82  Holy Cross      36.6
Scoring                      84  Kevin Hamilton  17.6
Winning Percentage           87  Holy Cross      62.5

CRUSADERS REACH DOUBLE-FIGURES IN LEAGUE WINS: Holy Cross finished the 2005-2006 regular season with an 11-3 mark in Patriot League play. That marked the sixth time the Crusaders 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 and 2004-2005 teams, which both posted 13-1 marks in the Patriot League. In addition, the 1992-1993 team went 12-2, the 2000-2001 team was 10-2, and the 1991-1992 team had a 10-4 record. Holy Cross' six seasons with double-figure victories are the most in Patriot League history, as no other school has accomplished the feat more than five times.

HOLY CROSS ON THE RADIO: Once again this season, the majority of the Crusaders' basketball contests will be carried by WTAG 580 AM in Worcester. For the 18th straight season, Bob Fouracre will call the play-by-play for most of the games. In addition, Jeremy Lechan and Dick Lutsk are in their third year on the Holy Cross broadcast crew, and will handle either play-by-play or color commentary for selected games. WTAG is currently scheduled to air 22 of the Crusaders' 30 regular season games. In addition, WCUW 91.3 FM in Worcester will air seven Holy Cross contests which are not included as part of the WTAG package. All 30 regular season games will also be carried live over the internet at "www.sportsjuice.com". In addition, the Holy Cross student station, WCHC 88.1 FM, is scheduled carry a number of games this year.

CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: Holy Cross is currently scheduled to have nine games shown on live television during the 2006-2007 season, with other television appearances still to be announced. During each of the last two years, the Crusaders had 10 television appearances, including four games on ESPN2. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2006-2007 campaign:

Date     Opponent    Television Outlet
Nov. 27  Syracuse    ESPNU
Dec. 6   Duke        ESPN2
Jan. 6   Lafayette   CSTV / Lafayette Sports Network
Jan. 9   Army        WCTR-TV3
Jan. 12  Bucknell    ESPNU
Jan. 26  Lehigh      ESPNU
Jan. 31  American    WCTR-TV3
Feb. 9   Bucknell    ESPNU
Feb. 25  Lehigh      Service Electric

DRIBBLES: Sophomore center Greg McCarthy (Mansfield, Mass.) has averaged 4.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 11.0 minutes through the first two games of the season, after totaling four points, one rebound and 15 minutes all of last year ... Freshman forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.) has started his collegiate career strong, averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest, while his 21.0 minutes per game are the most of any Holy Cross reserve ... The Crusaders received 64 votes in the preseason Mid-Major Top 25 Poll from CollegeInsider.com.