Nov. 23, 2005
GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-1, 0-0 PL) vs. Cincinnati (2-0, 0-0 Big East)
Date: November 25, 2005
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Place: Fifth Third Arena (13,176), Cincinnati, Ohio
Holy Cross Radio: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Cincinnati Radio: Dan Hoard, play-by-play; Chuck Machock, color; WLW 700 AM, Cincinnati
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 3-0
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 69, Cincinnati 58 (December 20, 1980, Cincinnati, Ohio)
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 CINCINNATI: This will be only the fourth meeting between the Crusaders and the Crimson on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 3-0. The teams first met on Dec. 29, 1975, at the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, with the Crusaders upsetting the sixth-ranked Bearcats 66-65. The next meeting came on Dec. 16, 1978, at the Boston Garden, where Holy Cross won 110-88. The only previous contest between the schools in Cincinnati came on Dec. 20, 1980, with Holy Cross posting a 69-58 victory.
HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE BIG EAST: The Crusaders have played 265 games in their history against the 16 schools which are presently members of the Big East Conference. Holy Cross' all-time record against current Big East members stands at 126-139. Head coach Ralph Willard has a record of 3-8 against Big East foes during his time with the Crusaders, including victories over Notre Dame, Providence and former Big East member Boston College.
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 Cincinnati, 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 995 points as a Crusader, needing just five against the Bearcats 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 (467). He also has a good chance to become Holy Cross' all-time leader in steals, as he currently has 200, standing just 46 behind current record-holder Jave Meade (246 steals, 2000-2004).
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. 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. Through three games this year, he is averaging 16.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.3 steals per contest. 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 56 times during his Holy Cross career, including 46 times in his last 51 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).
SIMMONS LOOKS TO SHINE AS A STARTER: Sophomore guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) 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. He also scored a team-high 15 points in the Harvard game, and leads the team with an average of 17.3 points per contest, to go along with 5.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. 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 48.1 (232 of 482), while hitting 43.1 percent (90 of 209) of his three-point attempts.
THOMAS RETURNS TO STARTING ROLE: Junior point guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) is once again one of the Crusaders' top players this season, averaging 15.3 points, 6.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 steals per game. 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. He also recorded 11 points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists against Harvard. 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 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 429 points, 201 rebounds, 174 assists and 107 steals.
THE ROAD WARRIORS: The Crusaders continue to have success in games played on the road, 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 road games, 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.
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).
HARVARD RECAP: All five Harvard starters scored in double figures, as the Crimson posted a 70-55 victory over Holy Cross at the Hart Center. Jim Goffredo led Harvard with 17 points, while Keith Simmons had a team-high 15 points for the Crusaders. Both teams struggled to score during a first half which featured 14 lead changes. Neither team led by more than three points at any time in the half, before the Crimson took a 24-23 lead into the locker room. Harvard increased its lead to three points (29-26) early in the second half, before Holy Cross went on a 16-4 run to build a nine-point lead (42-33). Six different players scored for the Crusaders during that spurt, and Holy Cross appeared to have the momentum with 10:30 left to play. But the Crusaders then went cold from the field, and would make only one shot from the floor in the next nine minutes. Harvard used a 10-0 run during that time to reclaim the lead, and would gradually build its advantage up to double figures with just 1:32 remaining in the game. The Crimson made 11 of 13 free throw attempts over the final four minutes of play to help secure the victory. Torey Thomas totaled 11 points, five rebounds and four steals for the Crusaders, while Kevin Hamilton added 10 points and six rebounds, while tying a school single-game record with seven steals.
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.
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 scored 21 points, and junior guard Torey Thomas 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.
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.
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 116-69 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 260-193. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.
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).
STEALING THE SHOW: In the first three games of the 2005-2006 season, the Crusaders have totaled 36 steals for an average of 12.0 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).
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.
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.
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 three games this year, he has totaled four points, five rebounds and six assists. 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.
CRUSADERS LOOK TO STAY TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross should once again be among the top defensive teams in the nation this year. Through three games, the Crusaders have allowed 66.0 points per game, while holding the opposition to 43.9 percent shooting from the floor and 26.1 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 58.6 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).
TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 87th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1206-778 (.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 stands 0-1 at the Hart Center so far season, but posted a 12-3 mark at home last year, and now owns an all-time record of 265-104 in the building. 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 three contests of the season, he has averaged 3.7 points and 3.7 rebounds, while shooting 62.5 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 Cincinnati game, Hyland has totaled 220 points, 139 rebounds and 50 blocks, while shooting 54.7 percent (94 of 172) 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 three games played, he has averaged 4.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 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 ranked 18th in the nation in the latest Ratings Percentage Index. The Crusaders concluded the 2004-2005 season ranked 49th in the nation in the Ratings Percentage Index, 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 BEARCATS: Cincinnati has an overall record of 1-0 so far this season, having posted a pair of home victories over Murray State (79-75 in overtime) and Illinois State (76-59). Senior guard James White has averaged 19.5 points in the two games, while senior forward Eric Hicks has averaged 13.0 points and 10.5 rebounds. The Bearcats are coming off a 2004-2005 season in which they posted an overall record of 25-8, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Four starters off last year's team return this season, with the only loss being Jason Maxiell (15.3 points, 7.7 rebounds). Cincinnati is led by interim head coach Andy Kennedy, who owns a 2-0 record. Prior to this season, Kennedy served as an assistant coach with the Bearcats for four seasons. He also spent time as an assistant at Alabama-Birmingham and South Alabama.
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.