November 18, 2008

Crusaders Conclude Homestand With Brown On Wednesday

Nov. 18, 2008

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-0, 0-0 PL) vs. Brown (0-2, 0-0 Ivy)
Date: November 19, 2008
Time: 7:00 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
Brown Radio: WPRV 790 AM, Providence, R.I.; Scott Cordischi, play-by-play; Russ Tyler, color
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 42-16
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 64, Brown 41 (December 7, 2005, Worcester, Mass.)

 


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.

THE SERIES WITH BROWN: This will be the 59th meeting between the Crusaders and the Bears on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 42-16. Holy Cross has won the last six games played between the schools, with the most recent victory for Brown coming on Jan. 3, 2000, at the Hart Center (55-53). The Crusaders hold a 6-2 advantage in meetings played at the Hart Center, with three straight victories. For all games played in Worcester, Holy Cross has a 19-3 edge in the series. The schools first met on February 12, 1901, with Holy Cross posting a 9-8 victory in Worcester.

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 42-16
In Worcester: Holy Cross leads, 19-3
At the Hart Center: Holy Cross leads, 6-2
Ralph Willard vs. Brown: 7-1
Jesse Agel vs. Holy Cross: 0-0
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, six games
In Overtime: Brown leads, 1-0

CRUSADERS OFF TO FAST START: If Holy Cross can defeat Brown on Nov. 19, it would start the season 3-0 for the fourth time in the last five seasons. The Crusaders' best start during Ralph Willard's tenure as head coach came last season, when they won their first six games of the year. During the 2007-2008 campaign, Holy Cross opened with victories over Hofstra (61-47), Fairfield (67-54), Hampton (60-52), Harvard (80-69), Ohio (62-60) and Yale (60-39). The Crusaders also won their first five games in 2006-2007, and started 3-0 in 2004-2005. Holy Cross has not won seven straight games to open a season since 1976-1977, when it started 8-0.

IMPRESSIVE AGAINST THE IVY LEAGUE: The Crusaders have enjoyed a great deal of success against schools from the Ivy League during Ralph Willard's tenure as head coach. Holy Cross stands 22-11 against Ivy League foes under Willard, including a 21-7 mark since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season. The Crusaders have also won five straight games against Ivy League foes, since a 70-55 loss to Harvard on Nov. 22, 2005. Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 196-113 against the eight schools which are members of the Ivy League (42-16 vs. Brown, 4-6 against Columbia, 3-2 vs. Cornell, 66-31 against Dartmouth, 41-20 vs. Harvard, 3-3 against Pennsylvania, 2-7 vs. Princeton and 35-28 against Yale).

EVANS HAS BIG START TO COLLEGIATE CAREER: Freshman guard R.J. Evans (Salem, Conn.) has turned in two solid performances to start his Holy Cross career. In the season opening victory over Sacred Heart, Evans scored a team-high 15 points, hitting seven of 12 shots from the field. Then in the win over St. Joseph's on Sunday, he scored 12 points and pulled down three rebounds. Evans' 15 points against Sacred Heart were the most by a Crusader in his collegiate debut since Torey Thomas scored 18 points against Boston University on Nov. 22, 2003. He also became the first Crusader since Thomas to reach double-figures in the first two games of his collegiate career. Through two games played, Evans is averaging a team-best 13.5 points, while hitting 54.2 percent of his field goal attempts. 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.

CRUSADERS REACH 300 VICTORIES AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross currently owns an all-time record of 301-109 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 88-17 at home since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, including a 54-10 record against Patriot League foes.

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.

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 victory over St. Joseph's, he posted his third career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Vander Baan also played well in the season opener against Sacred Heart, finishing 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 last year's victory over Harvard, Vander Baan totaled a season-high 18 points and eight rebounds. He also had a huge game in last year's 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 598 points, 464 rebounds, 127 assists, 65 steals and 29 blocked shots.

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).

ST. JOSEPH'S RECAP: Adam May totaled 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists, to lead Holy Cross to a 73-69 overtime victory over St. Joseph's at the Hart Center on Nov. 16, 2008. Alex Vander Baan also had an outstanding game for the Crusaders, posting his third career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. The game went to overtime tied at 63-63, before Holy Cross went on a 7-0 run to take a 70-63 lead, with Devin Brown scoring three points during that stretch. The Hawks would close to within one point (70-69) with less than a minute to play, before Eric Meister hit one of two free throws, and Vander Baan added a pair of foul shots to secure the win. The Crusaders had started the game hot, jumping out to a 20-10 lead with 8:43 remaining in the first half. Holy Cross was still up by six (24-18) with six minutes left before the break, when St. Joseph's went on a 17-4 run to take a 35-28 advantage into the locker room. The Hawks were able to expand their lead to 12 points (51-39) with 10 minutes remaining in regulation. The Crusaders then went on a 14-1 run over the next four minutes, with May hitting a three-pointer to put Holy Cross in front. Neither team led by more than two points for the remainder of the second half, and May hit another three-pointer with just 36.2 seconds remaining to put the Crusaders up 62-61. But after a free throw by May gave Holy Cross a two-point lead, the Hawks' Tasheed Carr drove the lane in the closing seconds to tie the score at 63-63 and force overtime. Brown finished the game with 12 points, two rebounds and two steals, while R.J. Evans added 12 points and three rebounds. St. Joseph's was led by Ahmad Nivins with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

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 two games played so far this season, the Crusaders have allowed 63.5 points per game, while forcing 19.0 turnovers per contest and outrebounding the opposition by 9.5 board per game. 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

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 two games played so far this year, Cunningham has averaged 7.5 points 6.5 rebounds and a team-best 4.5 assists 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. 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 came 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 418 points, 253 rebounds, 117 assists and 58 steals.

THE LAST MEETING WITH BROWN: Tim Clifford scored a career-high 21 points to go along with seven rebounds and four blocked shots, leading Holy Cross to a 64-41 victory over Brown at the Hart Center on Dec. 7, 2005. Clifford made nine of 12 attempts from the floor, including his only three-point attempt, and was also a perfect two of two at the free throw line. Brown opened the game with a 9-5 lead after four minutes of play, but Holy Cross responded with a 10-0 run of its own to take the lead for good. The Crusaders were still up by just five points (26-21) with five minutes left until the intermission, before closing out the half with an 11-1 spurt to take a 15-point lead into the locker room. The Bears scored the first four points of the second half to trim the Holy Cross lead to 11, but that was as close as Brown would get the rest of the night. The Crusaders used a 15-6 run to increase their lead to 20 points with just under 10 minutes remaining, before eventually expanding the lead to 23 points in the final minute. Keith Simmons finished the game with 14 points and five assists, while Kevin Hamilton added 12 points, six rebounds and two steals. Brown was led by junior forward Sam Manhanga with 18 points and five rebounds. The Crusaders made eight of 19 shots from three-point range on the day (42.1 percent), and also outrebounded the Bears 37-29. In addition, Holy Cross held Brown to just 28.6 percent shooting from the field (14 of 49), including just 12.5 percent from three-point range (two of 16).

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders look to once again be an outstanding rebounding team this year, after outrebounding their first two opponents by an average margin of 9.5 boards 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. 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.

MEISTER MOVES INTO STARTING LINEUP: Junior forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.) has taken over as a starter for Holy Cross in the low post this season. Meister opened the year strong against Sacred Heart, posting his first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. He then recorded nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks in the victory over St. Joseph's. 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 220 points, 224 rebounds and 36 blocked shots.

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 176-103 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 320-227. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 90th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1266-813 (.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.

SCOUTING THE BEARS: Brown enters the game with an overall record of 0-2 on the year, falling to Rhode Island (76-74) and George Mason (89-52) in its first two games of the season. Sophomore forward Peter Sullivan leads the Bears with averages of 15.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, while junior forward Matt Mullery is averaging 13.0 points per game while shooting 68.8 percent from the field. Brown is coming off a 2007-2008 season in which it advanced to the Collegiate Basketball Invitational with an overall record of 19-10 and an 11-3 mark in the Ivy League. The Bears are led by Jesse Agel, who is in his first season as a collegiate head coach. Agel was previously an assistant coach at Brown for two years, and also spent 17 seasons as an assistant coach at Vermont.

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: 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 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 ... 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 ... 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.