Crusaders To Face Tribe For William & Mary Classic Title

Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

Nov. 19, 2005

GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (1-0, 0-0 PL) vs. William & Mary (1-0, 0-0 CAA)
Event: William & Mary Tip-Off Classic
Date: November 19, 2005
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Place: Kaplan Arena (8,600), Williamsburg, Va.
Television: None
Holy Cross Radio: Dick Lutsk, play-by-play; WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
William & Mary Radio Network: Jay Colley, play-by-play; Bill McDonald, color; Charlie Woollum, color; WMBG 740 AM, Williamsburg, flagship
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 3-0
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 92, William & Mary 87 (February 22, 1995, Williamsburg, Va.)

PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:
Pos.  No.  Name               Ht.   Wt.   Cl.
F      10  Keith Simmons      6-4   210   Jr.
F      21  Alex Vander Baan   6-8   195   Fr.
C      41  Kevin Hyland       6-8   245   Sr.
G       1  Torey Thomas      5-11   170   Jr.
G      14  Kevin Hamilton     6-4   190   Sr.

THE SERIES WITH WILLIAM & MARY: This will be the fourth meeting between the Crusaders and the Tribe on the hardwood. Holy Cross won each of the three previous contests between the schools, which were played from 1993-1995. The Crusaders posted a pair of victories in Williamsburg (83-78 on Jan. 4, 1993; 92-87 on Feb. 22, 1995), in addition to taking the lone meeting between the schools in Worcester (80-74 on Jan. 5, 1994). Against current members of the Colonial Athletic Association, Holy Cross has an all-time record of 19-4 (1-0 vs. Georgia State, 4-0 vs. Hofstra, 11-4 vs. Northeastern and 3-0 vs. William & Mary).

CRUSADERS HAVE THREE 20-POINT SCORERS: In the season-opening 85-73 victory over High Point, Holy Cross had three different players score at least 20 points. Senior guard Kevin Hamilton (Queens Village, N.Y.) led the team with 22 points, junior guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) scored 21 points, and junior guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) added 20 points. That performance marked the first time that three different Crusaders scored 20 or more points in the same game since Feb. 9, 1994, against Lehigh. In that game, Rob Feaster led Holy Cross with 26 points, Gordon Hamilton scored 24 points, and John Young added 21 points.

HOLY CROSS LOOKS TO WIN WILLIAM & MARY CLASSIC TITLE: The Crusaders are taking part in a regular season tournament for the 72nd time in school history at this weekend's William & Mary Tip-Off Classic. Holy Cross has won the title of 11 regular season tournaments, but none since the 1982-1983 season, when the Crusaders defeated Davidson (65-62) and Iona (66-65) to capture the championship of the Worcester County Classic, played at the Worcester Centrum. Holy Cross has an all-time record of 69-84 in regular season tournaments, and is looking to end a streak of 23 straight tournaments without a championship.

SIMMONS LOOKS TO SHINE AS A STARTER: Sophomore guard Keith Simmons has moved into the starting lineup for the Crusaders this season, after serving as Holy Cross' sixth man in 2004-2005. In the season opener against High Point, he posted his second career double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. A year ago, Simmons earned first team All-Patriot League honors in voting by the conference's head coaches. In 32 games played, he averaged 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals per contest, while hitting 50.6 percent of his field goals (132 of 261) and 42.0 percent of his three-pointers (50 of 119). His top game during his sophomore season came at Brown, when he scored a career-high 30 points on 11 of 14 shooting from the floor, including a six of six performance from beyond the three-point line. Simmons also had a strong freshman season in which he was named to the 2003-2004 Patriot League All-Rookie team, after averaging 8.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, and leading the Patriot League in three-point field goal percentage (.458, 33 of 72). He enters the William & Mary game with a career field goal percentage of 48.4 (221 of 457), while hitting 43.7 percent (86 of 197) of his three-point attempts.

HAMILTON LOOKS TO HAVE ANOTHER OUTSTANDING SEASON: Senior guard Kevin Hamilton should contend for All-America honors this year, after being named the Patriot League Player of the Year in 2004-2005. He began the 2005-2006 season strong, scoring 22 points on eight of 11 shooting in the victory over High Point. Last season, Hamilton was a first team All-Patriot League selection, while being named to the All-Patriot League Tournament team and earning honorable mention All-America honors from the Associated Press. In 32 games played last year, Hamilton averaged 15.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.8 assists. He has now scored in double figures 54 times during his Holy Cross career, including 44 times in his last 49 games. This season, Hamilton can become only the third two-time Patriot League Player of the Year selection in conference history, as the only previous players to accomplish the feat are Adonal Foyle (Colgate, 1996 and 1997) and Brian Ehlers (Lafayette, 1999 and 2000).

HAMILTON AND HYLAND NAMED CAPTAINS: Senior guard Kevin Hamilton has been selected as the Crusaders' captain for the 2005-2006 season, while senior forward Kevin Hyland (White Plains, N.Y.) will serve as Holy Cross' co-captain. Both players are three-year letterwinners for the Crusaders, and have taken over the leadership role from John Hurley and Greg Kinsey, who served as the Crusaders co-captains as seniors during the 2004-2005 season.

THOMAS RETURNS TO STARTING ROLE: Junior point guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) is once again be one of the Crusaders' top players this season. He opened up the year by scoring a career-high 20 points against High Point, in addition to totaling six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Last year, Thomas played in 31 games with 22 starts, averaging 7.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 steals per contest. He also posted a 2.04-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, a mark which was the best in the Patriot League. Thomas also led the team and ranked third in the league in assists, while placing second on the team and fifth in the conference in steals. Entering the William & Mary game, Thomas has totaled 403 points, 191 rebounds, 161 assists and 99 steals.

HOLY CROSS TAKES SEASON OPENER: The Crusaders began the 2005-2006 season by posting an 85-73 victory over High Point. With that win, Holy Cross improved its all-time record in its opening game of the season to 62-25, including a 29-18 mark away from home. Since Ralph Willard took over as head coach, the Crusaders now stand 5-2 in season openers. During the Willard era, Holy Cross has defeated Providence (54-43 in 1999-2000), Quinnipiac (85-57 in 2001-2002) and Boston University (59-57 in 2003-2004; 58-48 in 2004-2005) on opening day, while falling to Providence (63-57 in 2000-2001) and Kansas (81-57 in 2002-2003).

THE ROAD WARRIORS: The Crusaders continue to have success in games played away from the Hart Center, as show by their season-opening neutral site victory over High Point. Last year, Holy Cross posted an impressive 13-4 record last year in games away from home, including an eight-game winning streak. During that eight-game span, the Crusaders recorded road wins over Notre Dame (78-73), Colgate (59-46), American (76-67 in overtime), Navy (68-66), Lehigh (58-56), Lafayette (74-57) and Army (66-29), and a neutral court victory over Iona (78-53) at the DCU Center. That marked the longest road winning streak for Holy Cross since the 1953-1954 NIT championship team won 12 straight away from home, downing Springfield (92-68), Yale (87-57), Canisius (88-76) and Dartmouth (76-60) on the road; Niagara (93-85 in overtime), Boston College (82-77), St. John's (78-58), Fordham (68-54) and Temple (85-73) at Boston Garden; and St. Francis (93-69), Western Kentucky (75-69) and Duquesne (71-62) at Madison Square Garden.

HIGH POINT RECAP: Keith Simmons posted the second double-double of his collegiate career with 21 points and 10 rebounds, to lead Holy Cross to an 85-73 victory over High Point at the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic. Simmons was one of three Crusaders to score 20 or more points on the night, as Kevin Hamilton finished with 22 points, and Torey Thomas added a career-high 20 points. The first 11 minutes of action featured five ties and six lead changes, before Holy Cross took the lead for good, 21-20 at the 9:05 mark on a three-point field goal by Hamilton. That shot by Hamilton started a 27-13 Crusader run to close out the half, as Holy Cross took a 45-33 advantage into the locker room. Simmons scored 16 of the Crusaders' 27 points during the run, and led all scorers at halftime with 18 points. Holy Cross expanded its lead to 19 points (59-40) at the 14:34 mark of the second half, before High Point began to claw its way back into the game. The Panthers used a 17-4 run to make the score 65-61 with only 7:12 left to play, before the Crusaders once again took control of the game. Alex Vander Baan hit a base-line jumper to end a Holy Cross scoring drought of 3:18, and the Crusaders quickly built their lead back up to 11 points. High Point would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way, as Holy Cross made seven of 10 free throws over the final three minutes to secure the win. The Crusaders shot 52.7 percent from the field on the night (29 of 55), led by an eight of 11 shooting performance by Hamilton. Holy Cross also outrebounded High Point 45-29 on the evening.

CRUSADERS PICKED SECOND IN PRESEASON POLL: In the 2005-2006 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 (98 points). Holy Cross received two first-place votes in the poll, with the Bison accounting for the other 14 first-place votes. Following the Crusaders in the poll were Lehigh (third, 65 points), Colgate (fourth, 59 points), American (fifth, 55 points), Navy (sixth, 42 points), Lafayette (seventh, 26 points) and Army (eighth, 17 points).

HAMILTON AND SIMMONS NAMED PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE: Senior guard Kevin Hamilton and junior guard Keith Simmons were both named preseason All-Patriot League, in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. Holy Cross was one of only two teams in the league to place more than one player on the preseason all-conference team. Along with Hamilton and Simmons, other selections to the squad were Bucknell junior center Chris McNaughton, American junior guard Andre Ingram and Bucknell senior guard Charles Lee. All five players on the preseason All-Patriot League squad were also on last year's postseason All-Patriot League first team.

STEALING THE SHOW: The Crusaders opened the season by totaling 11 steals in their victory over High Point. In 32 games played last season, Holy Cross recorded 329 steals, good for an average of 10.3 steals per game. The Crusaders reached double figures in steals for a game 15 times last season, with highs of 20 at Harvard, 18 against Iona and 16 at Fordham. Leading the way was guard Kevin Hamilton, who totaled 92 steals last year. Hamilton set a new Holy Cross single season record for steals (breaking the mark of 78 by Gordon Hamilton in 1993-1994), and nearly broke the Patriot League single season record (94 by Mike Bright of Bucknell in 1992-1993). As a team, the Crusaders broke the school single season record for steals (the old mark was 304 in 1992-1993) and came close to the Patriot League single season record of 352 (Navy, 1999-2000).

HAMILTON CLIMBS THE CAREER CHARTS: Senior guard Kevin Hamilton has put his name among the all-time leaders at Holy Cross in a number of statistical categories. Entering the William & Mary game, Hamilton is already the Crusaders' all-time leader in career three-point field goals made (160) and attempted (453). He also has a good chance to become Holy Cross' all-time leader in steals, as he currently has 193, standing just 53 behind current record-holder Jave Meade (246 steals, 2000-2004). In addition, within the next few games Hamilton should become the 41st player in school history to score 1,000 career points. He currently has 967 points as a Crusader, needing just 33 more to join the 1,000-point club.

THE LAST MEETING WITH WILLIAM & MARY: Gordon Hamilton totaled 16 points and six assists, all in the second half, to lead Holy Cross to a 92-87 victory over William & Mary in Williamsburg on Feb. 22, 1995. Holy Cross fell behind 18-5 early, but rallied to trail by just three points (44-41) at halftime. With the Tribe still up 59-55 at the 13:30 mark of the second half, the Crusaders went on a 12-0 run to build an eight-point lead. But William & Mary would not go away, coming back to take an 83-82 lead with just 3:30 left to play. Hamilton then scored a fast break layup off a steal to put Holy Cross back on top for good, and Keith Driscoll hit a pair of free throws with six seconds remaining to ice the victory. Driscoll finished the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Rob Feaster added 17 points and eight boards. The Tribe was led by Matt Verkey with 27 points, while David Cully had a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds.

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year will mark the 87th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1205-777 (.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 nine players on to professional basketball, had four players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, had 23 players drafted by professional teams, had three players go on to coach professionally, and had 15 players who have coached in college, including current Crusader coach Ralph Willard.

SCOUTING THE TRIBE: William & Mary opened the season with an 89-55 victory over Maine last night. Junior forward Corey Cofield led the team with 19 points and nine rebounds, while freshman guard Calvin Baker totaled 16 points and four assists, and sophomore guard Nathan Mann added 11 points and five steals off the bench. The Tribe is coming off a 2004-2005 season in which it posted an overall record of 8-21, with a 3-15 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association. Head coach Tony Shaver is in his third season at William & Mary, and owns an overall record of 16-42. His career record stands at 374-163, including 17 years at Division III Hampden-Sydney.

CRUSADERS LOOK TO STAY TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross should once again be among the top defensive teams in the nation this year, after having an outstanding defensive season in 2004-2005. Last year, the Crusaders allowed their opponents to average just 56.8 points per game, while holding 22 of their 32 foes to under 60 points in regulation. On Jan. 12, Holy Cross held Army to the lowest point total by an opponent (29) since the Crusaders defeated Tufts 71-29 on Jan. 11, 1947. Holy Cross also forced its opponents to commit an average of 17.1 turnovers per game, including 26 by Harvard and 25 by both Minnesota and Fordham. In addition, the Crusaders averaged 10.3 steals and 5.0 blocks per contest, while outrebounding the opposition by 4.3 boards per game and holding opponents to 38.9 percent shooting from the field. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Holy Cross has never allowed its opponents to average over 60 points per game for a season, while holding the opposition to only 58.6 points per contest during that span. In addition, the Crusaders have ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense during each of the last four 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).

HEAD COACH Ralph Willard: Ralph Willard is now in his seventh season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 115-68 during his time in Worcester. Willard stands in third place on the all-time school list for career victories, behind only George Blaney (357-276 / 1972-1994) and Lester "Buster" Sheary (155-36 / 1948-1955). With last year's victory over Lafayette on Feb. 11, he moved past Roy Leenig (106-48 / 1955-1961) and Jack Donohue (106-66 / 1965-1972). Willard has led the Crusaders to three Patriot League tournament titles and three trips to the NCAA Tournament, during the 2000-2001, 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 seasons. He has also guided Holy Cross to Patriot League regular season championships in 2000-2001, 2002-2003 and 2004-2005, with the 2002-2003 squad posting an overall record of 26-5 to come up just one win shy of the school single season record for victories. 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 259-192. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

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 17th 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 second year on the Holy Cross broadcast crew, and will handle either play-by-play or color commentary for selected games. Most games will be carried over the internet at "www.sportsjuice.com", including a few games which are not on WTAG. The Holy Cross student station, WCHC 88.1 FM, will also carry a number of games this year.

CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: Holy Cross is currently scheduled to have seven games shown on live television during the 2005-2006 season, with a number of other television appearances still to be announced. Last year the Crusaders had 10 television appearances, including three games which were shown on ESPN2. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2005-2006 campaign:

Date      Opponent            Television Outlet
Dec. 1    Siena               Time Warner
Jan. 2    Boston University   NESN
Jan. 14   Bucknell            CSTV
Jan. 17   Boston College      NESN
Jan. 28   Lehigh              Fox College Sports / Service Electric
Feb. 4    Lafayette           Lafayette Sports Network
Feb. 26   Lehigh              CSTV

DRIBBLES: Freshman forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) had an outstanding collegiate debut against High Point, totaling 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals ... Holy Cross' 85 points against High Point were its most in a season opener since an 85-57 victory over Quinnipiac in 2001-2002.