Men's Basketball Set To Face Harvard In Home Opener

Nov. 22, 2005

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-0, 0-0 PL) vs. Harvard (1-0, 0-0 Ivy)
Date: November 22, 2005
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Harvard Radio: Dave Jageler, play-by-play; Jay Pearlman, color; WWZN 1510 AM, Boston
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 39-19
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 60, Harvard 52 (November 23, 2004, Cambridge, Mass.)

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 HARVARD: This will be the 57th meeting between the Crusaders and the Crimson on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 39-19. The Crusaders have won the last five meetings in the series, but every one of those games has been decided by less than 10 points. For games played in Worcester, Holy Cross holds a 15-12 advantage, including a 9-5 record at the Hart Center. Holy Cross and Harvard first met on January 15, 1901, with the Crimson posting a 20-10 victory in Worcester.

HOLY CROSS IN HOME OPENERS: The Crusaders have an all-time record of 70-13 in their opening home contest of the season. Since moving into the Hart Center, Holy Cross has posted a 24-6 mark in its home opener. The Crusaders have also been extremely success in home openers during the Ralph Willard era, posting a 5-1 record with five consecutive wins. Holy Cross has not lost its home opener since Willard's first season, when it dropped a 80-69 decision to Harvard on Nov. 23, 1999.

HAMILTON CLOSES IN ON 1,000-POINT MARK: Senior guard Kevin Hamilton (Queens Village, N.Y.) has put his name among the all-time leaders at Holy Cross in a number of statistical categories. Against Harvard, Hamilton has a chance to become the 41st player in school history to score 1,000 career points, and the first since Jave Meade scored his 1,000th point against Bucknell on Feb. 27, 2004. He currently has 985 points as a Crusader, needing just 15 against the Crimson to join the 1,000-point club. In addition, Hamilton is already the Crusaders' all-time leader in career three-point field goals made (162) and attempted (461). 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).

HOLY CROSS CAPTURES WILLIAM & MARY CLASSIC TITLE: Last weekend, the Crusaders won the championship of the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic, to claim the 12th regular season tournament title in school history. The last of Holy Cross' previous 11 regular season tournament championships came during the 1982-1983 season, when the Crusaders defeated Davidson (65-62) and Iona (66-65) to capture the crown of the Worcester County Classic, played at the Worcester Centrum. Holy Cross had gone 23 straight tournaments without a championship before winning last week. In December, the Crusaders will take part in the 73rd regular season tournament in school history at the San Juan Shootout in Carolina, Puerto Rico. Holy Cross now has an all-time record of 70-84 in regular season tournaments.

HAMILTON LOOKS TO HAVE ANOTHER OUTSTANDING SEASON: Senior guard Kevin Hamilton is once again one of the top players in the Patriot League this year. He began the 2005-2006 season by being named Patriot League Player of the Week and Most Valuable Player honors at the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic, after averaging 20.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in the two games. Hamilton scored 22 points on eight of 11 shooting in the victory over High Point, then had 18 points and nine rebounds in the win over William & Mary. Last season, Hamilton was named Patriot League Player of the Year, first team All-Patriot League, All-Patriot League Tournament and an honorable mention All-American (by 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 55 times during his Holy Cross career, including 45 times in his last 50 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).

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 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.

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. He was named to the All-Tournament Team at the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic, after averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in the two games. Simmons posted his second career double-double against High Point with 21 points and 10 rebounds, then added 16 points against William & Mary. 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). 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 Harvard game with a career field goal percentage of 48.4 (226 of 467), while hitting 43.8 percent (88 of 201) of his three-point attempts.

THOMAS RETURNS TO STARTING ROLE: Junior point guard Torey Thomas 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. Thomas then totaled 15 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals in the win over William & Mary. 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 Harvard game, Thomas has totaled 418 points, 196 rebounds, 171 assists and 103 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).

WILLIAM & MARY RECAP: Torey Thomas recorded 15 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals to lead Holy Cross to a 67-55 victory over William & Mary in the championship game of the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic at Kaplan Arena. Holy Cross started the game hot, jumping out to a 11-1 lead after just 3:18 of play. After William & Mary had cut the lead to six points, the Crusaders used a 11-0 run to go up 26-9. Holy Cross would lead by as many as 23 points in the opening half, before taking a 39-18 advantage into the locker room. After the intermission, the Crusaders extended their lead to as many as 25 points, before going cold from the floor. Holy Cross went over six minutes without scoring a point, and William & Mary used a 13-0 run to get back into the game. But the Tribe would get no closer than 10 points down the stretch, and the Crusaders made five of six free throws in the final to minutes to secure the victory. Kevin Hamilton led Holy Cross in scoring with 18 points, in addition to pulling down nine rebounds. Keith Simmons added 16 points for the Crusaders. Calvin Baker led the Tribe with 15 points, while Corey Cofield and Brian Hutt added 13 points each. The victory gave the Crusaders their first regular season tournament title since the 1982-1983 season, when they won the Worcester County Classic.

VANDER BAAN EARNS ROOKIE OF THE WEEK HONORS: Freshman forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week, following his performance at the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic. Vander Baan averaged 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in the two games, while shooting 60.0 percent from the field. His top game came against High Point in the first contest of his collegiate career, when he totaled 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Vander Baan came to Holy Cross from Whitinsville Christian School, where he averaged 16.1 points and 15.6 rebounds as a senior.

THE ROAD WARRIORS: The Crusaders continue to have success in games played away from the Hart Center, as shown by their 2-0 mark away from the Hart Center so far this season. Last year, Holy Cross posted an impressive 13-4 record 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.

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 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.

THE LAST MEETING WITH HARVARD: Kevin Hamilton scored a game-high 18 points and the Crusaders recorded 20 steals on their way to a 60-52 victory over Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion on Nov. 23, 2004. The game was close throughout the opening half, before Holy Cross went on a 12-7 run over the final six minutes of play to take a 34-30 lead into the locker room. The Crimson tied the score at 36-36 early on in the second half, before the Crusaders used an 8-0 run to take the lead for good, including a pair of baskets by Nate Lufkin. Holy Cross had a 12-2 run later in the half, increasing its lead to 14 points with a minute left to play. Harvard would scored 10 points in the final minute, but it was not enough as the Crusaders hit six of seven free throw attempts down the stretch to secure the victory. Torey Thomas totaled 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals for Holy Cross, while John Hurley added nine points, six steals and five rebounds. The 20 total steals by the Crusaders were their most since recording 21 steals against Texas A&M on Dec. 30, 1995. Harvard was led by Matt Stehle with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Brian Cusworth added 13 points and seven boards.

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.

WILLARD CONTINUES IMPRESSIVE RUN AT HOLY CROSS: Ralph Willard is now in his seventh season as the Crusaders' head coach, and currently owns a mark of 116-68 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 260-192. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

DOHERTY COMING OFF STELLAR ROOKIE SEASON: Sophomore guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) looks to once again be a key part of the Crusaders' backcourt this season, after earning Patriot League Rookie of the Year honors in 2004-2005. Through two games this year, he has handed out five assists while committing just two turnovers. In 32 games played last season, Doherty averaged 4.3 points and 2.2 assists per contest. He played particularly well in Patriot League regular season games, averaging 6.8 points and 2.8 assists, while hitting 41.9 percent of his three-point attempts (18 of 43). Doherty also finished his freshman campaign ranked 14th in the Patriot League in assists, despite playing just 15.6 minutes per contest.

STEALING THE SHOW: In the first two games of the 2005-2006 season, the Crusaders have totaled 20 steals for an average of 10.0 steals per game. Last year, Holy Cross recorded 329 steals in 32 games, good for an average of 10.3 steals per contest. 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).

CRUSADERS LOOK TO STAY TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross should once again be among the top defensive teams in the nation this year. Through two games, the Crusaders have allowed 64.0 points per game, while holding the opposition to 40.0 percent shooting from the floor and 22.9 percent shooting from three-point range. 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. 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 58.5 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).

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 87th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1206-777 (.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.

CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross posted a 12-3 mark at the Hart Center last season, improving its all-time record in the building to 265-103. The Crusaders had a 10-game winning streak at the Hart Center last year, including nine straight victories against Patriot League foes. During those games against conference opponents, Holy Cross won by an average of 18.7 points per contest, with all but one game being decided by at least 10 points. Since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, the Crusaders now have an overall mark of 53-10 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 26 out of 30 seasons, while posting double-figure home victories 13 times.

HYLAND LOOKS TO BE A FORCE DOWN LOW: Senior forward Kevin Hyland was the first big man off the bench for the Crusaders a year ago, and has taken over a starting role for Holy Cross in 2005-2006. Through the first two contests of the season, he has averaged 4.5 points and 4.0 rebounds, while shooting 66.7 percent from the field. In 32 games played last year, Hyland averaged 4.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per contest. He was also one of the most accurate shooters on the team, hitting on 59.8 percent (55 of 92) of his field goal attempts. Entering the Harvard game, Hyland has totaled 218 points, 136 rebounds and 47 blocks, while shooting 54.7 percent (93 of 170) from the floor.

CLIFFORD LOOKS TO PLAY KEY MINUTES IN THE MIDDLE: Sophomore center Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.) has been the first player off the Crusaders' bench at the low post positions this year. Through two games played, he has average 2.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. In 28 games played last season, Clifford averaged 2.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per contest. He was particularly impressive in the three games starting center Nate Lufkin missed due to injury, averaging 10.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.7 blocks in those contests. Clifford also finished last year ranked fifth in the Patriot League with his 31 blocked shots.

HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: Although most teams have only played a few games, Holy Cross is currently tied for first in the nation in the latest Ratings Percentage Index. The Crusaders concluded the 2004-2005 season ranked 49th in the nation in the RPI, according to Collegiate Basketball News. In the final ratings, Holy Cross had an RPI of .5657, to place ahead of NCAA tournament participants Alabama-Birmingham (54th), North Carolina State (56th), Iowa (59th) and Iowa State (70th). The Crusaders' non-conference schedule ranked as the 84th-toughest in the country, including games against three teams which finished the year ranked in the top 50 (No. 13 Boston College, No. 21 Vermont and No. 50 Northeastern). Holy Cross was the second-highest rated team out of the Patriot League, coming in behind only Bucknell (39th, .5709).

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in six different statistical categories at the conclusion of the 2004-2005 season. In addition, guard Kevin Hamilton was listed among the nation's leaders in steals. The rankings:

Category                     Rank  Player / Team    Avg. / No.
Scoring Defense                 5  Holy Cross             55.8
Steals                          6  Holy Cross             10.3
                                8  Kevin Hamilton          2.9
Field Goal Percentage Defense   7  Holy Cross             38.9
Won-Lost Percentage            20  Holy Cross             78.1
Scoring Margin                 23  Holy Cross            +10.1
Blocked Shots                  26  Holy Cross              5.0

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

SCOUTING THE CRIMSON: Harvard has an overall record of 1-0, after opening the season with a 65-57 victory over Vermont on Saturday. Junior center Brian Cusworth led the team with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while junior guard Jim Goffredo (15 points) and freshman guard Drew Housman (13 points) also scored in double figures. The Crimson is coming off a 2004-2005 season in which it posted an overall record of 12-15, with a 7-7 mark in the Ivy League. The top two scorers and rebounders off last year's team are both back, in senior forward Matt Stehle (13.7 points, 8.9 rebounds) and Brian Cusworth (13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds). Harvard is led by head coach Frank Sullivan, who has a 154-215 mark in his 15 years with the Crimson.

DRIBBLES: Holy Cross' 85 points against High Point were its most in a season opener since an 85-57 victory over Quinnipiac in 2001-2002. The Crusaders received 52 votes in the preseason Mid-Major Top 25 Poll from CollegeInsider.com. Holy Cross finished the 2004-2005 season ranked 16th in the nation in the poll.