November 30, 2008

Crusaders Return Home To Face Fairfield On Monday Night

Nov. 30, 2008

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-4, 0-0 PL) vs. Fairfield (3-3, 0-0 MAAC)
Date: December 1, 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
Fairfield Radio: WVOF 88.5 FM, Fairfield, Conn.; WGCH 1490 AM, Greenwich, Conn.; Bob Heussler, play-by-play; John Cummings, color
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 21-15
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 67, Fairfield 54, (November 13, 2007; Bridgeport, Conn.)


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      45  Greg McCarthy     6-11   235   Sr.
G      12  Adam May           6-8   205   Jr.
G      22  Andrew Beinert     6-4   185   So.

THE SERIES WITH FAIRFIELD: This will be the 37th meeting between the Crusaders and the Stags on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 21-15. The Crusaders have won the last seven games between the schools, including last year's 67-54 victory in Bridgeport. For games played in Worcester, Holy Cross holds a 13-6 advantage, with four straight victories and a 7-4 mark at the Hart Center. The schools first met on March 18, 1950, with Holy Cross posting an 89-41 victory at the Worcester Auditorium.

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 21-15
In Worcester: Holy Cross leads, 13-6
At the Hart Center: Holy Cross leads, 7-4
Ralph Willard vs. Fairfield: 2-0
Ed Cooley vs. Holy Cross: 0-2
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, seven games

CRUSADERS AGAINST THE METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE: Holy Cross has an all-time record of 99-74 against the 10 schools which currently compete in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Over the last four seasons, the Crusaders have a 5-3 mark against MAAC foes. Holy Cross stands 13-4 all-time against Canisius, 21-15 vs. Fairfield, 15-15 against Iona, 2-2 vs. Loyola (Md.), 21-9 against Manhattan, 1-2 vs. Marist, 8-7 against Niagara, 14-13 vs. St. Peter's and 4-7 against Siena. The Crusaders played in the MAAC for seven seasons from 1983-1990, posting a 52-48 record in conference play. Holy Cross top season in the league came in 1989-1990, when it posted a 14-2 mark to win the MAAC North Division title.

MCCARTHY PLAYS BIG ROLE UP FRONT: Senior center Greg McCarthy (Mansfield, Mass.) has seen a good deal of action for Holy Cross at the low post positions this season. During the Loyola (Ill.) game, McCarthy scored 13 points on six of 10 shooting, in addition to recording three rebounds and two steals. In the previous contest at Harvard, he posted new career highs with 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals, while hitting eight of 13 shots from the floor. McCarthy also played well at Northeastern, finishing with 11 points and four boards. Through six games played this season, he is now averaging 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals, while leading the team in field goal percentage (51.2 percent, 22 of 43). Last season, McCarthy averaged 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he has totaled 209 points and 106 rebounds, while hitting 87 of 175 (49.7 percent) field goal attempts.

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 176-107 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 320-231. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

CUNNINGHAM STEPS UP IN SENIOR SEASON: Senior forward Colin Cunningham (Memphis, Tenn.) has returned to the Holy Cross lineup at small forward this year, and is once again one of the Crusaders' top players. In five games played this year, Cunningham has averaged 7.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and a team-best 3.6 assists per contest. During the Loyola (Ill.) game, he led the team with 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Cunningham also played well against Brown, totaling 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists. 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. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Cunningham has totaled 442 points, 268 rebounds, 126 assists and 62 steals.

MAY STEPS INTO STARTING ROLE: Junior forward Adam May (Mentor, Ohio) has moved into the Holy Cross starting lineup this season, and has been one of the team's top players on the offensive end of the court. So far this year, he is averaging 8.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. In the victory over St. Joseph's, May led the team with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He also played well at Northeastern, totaling 11 points, two rebounds and two assists. Last season, May averaged 5.2 points and 2.0 rebounds, while playing in 23 games with one start. He scored in double-figures three times in 2007-2008, including a career-best 16 points against Harvard. Over the course of his collegiate career, May has now totaled 196 points, 72 rebounds, 34 assists and 23 steals.

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. He opened the year strong against Sacred Heart, posting his first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Meister then recorded nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks in the victory over St. Joseph's. He also had a big game at Harvard, posting his second double-double with 10 points and 11 boards. On the season, he is averaging 6.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game. Last year, Meister averaged 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds, while playing in 18 games with eight starts. As a freshman in 2006-2007, he was selected to the Patriot League All-Rookie team. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he has now totaled 236 points, 243 rebounds and 39 blocked shots.

LOYOLA (ILL.) RECAP: Colin Cunningham totaled 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals, but it was not enough as Holy Cross was defeated by Loyola (Ill.) 58-53 at the Gentile Center on Nov. 29, 2008. Holy Cross started the game with an 8-3 run, but Loyola came back with an 11-3 spurt of its own to claim the lead. The Crusaders tied the score up at 14-14, before the Ramblers used a 6-0 run to pull back in front. Loyola would hold onto the lead for the remainder of the first half, eventually taking a 31-26 advantage into the locker room. The Ramblers scored the first four points of the second half, to build their lead to nine points (35-26). Loyola was still up by nine (39-30) with 14 minutes remaining, when Holy Cross went on a 14-5 run to tie the score at 44-44. The Crusaders then claimed their first lead of the second half at the 6:04-mark (48-47), when Cunningham converted a three-point play. But the Ramblers scored the next seven points to go back in front (54-48) with 3:33 left to play. The Crusaders would cut the lead to 54-53 with one minute to play on a pair of baskets by Greg McCarthy, but Loyola made all four of its free throw attempts in the final 30 seconds to hold on for the win. McCarthy finished the game with 13 points, three rebounds and two steals. The Ramblers were led by J.R. Blount with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists.

EVANS HAS BIG START TO COLLEGIATE CAREER: Freshman guard R.J. Evans (Salem, Conn.) has turned in some 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. He also scored 12 points and pulled down three rebounds against St. Joseph's, while totaling 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals at Harvard. 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 six games played, Evans is averaging a team-best 9.0 points, while hitting 46.4 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.

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. During the Loyola (Ill.) game, he totaled nine points, three rebounds and two assists. Previously in the victory over St. Joseph's, Vander Baan posted his third career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He also recorded nine points and seven rebounds against Sacred Heart, while totaling six points, eight rebounds and five assists against Brown. In five games played, Vander Baan is averaging 7.8 points and 6.4 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. 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 615 points, 478 rebounds, 134 assists, 69 steals and 32 blocked shots.

CRUSADERS REACH 300 VICTORIES AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross currently owns an all-time record of 301-110 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 88-18 at home since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, including a 54-10 record against Patriot League foes.

THE LAST MEETING WITH FAIRFIELD: Colin Cunningham scored 17 points, to lead Holy Cross to a 67-54 victory over Fairfield at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Nov. 13, 2007. Cunningham scored 15 of his points in the second half, including a perfect 10 of 10 performance on the free throw line. After Fairfield opened the game with an early 4-2 lead, Holy Cross went on a 11-0 run to go in front by nine points (13-4). The Stags were able to get as close as five points, before a 7-0 spurt by the Crusaders built their lead up to 12 points, 27-15 with five minutes left in the first half. Holy Cross eventually led 36-27 at the break. The Crusaders increased their lead back up to 12 points (43-31) with 14:51 left to play, before Fairfield went on a 7-0 run to get back into the game. The Stags eventually trimmed the lead down to four points (48-44) with nine minutes remaining, before Holy Cross turned up its play on defense. The Crusaders would go on a 15-2 spurt over the next six minutes to put the game away, including five points by Cunningham. Holy Cross would lead by as many as 13 points, eventually winning 67-54. Pat Doherty totaled 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Crusaders, while Alex Vander Baan added 11 points and four rebounds. Fairfield was led by Yorel Hawkins with 11 points and four boards.

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders are once again an outstanding rebounding team this year, averaging 37.7 boards per contest and outrebounding their opponents by an average margin of 6.8 rebounds per game. So far this season, Holy Cross has outrebounded its opponent in five out of six games. Senior forward Alex Vander Baan currently leads the team with an average of 6.4 rebounds per game, while junior forward Eric Meister has added 6.2 boards per contest. Senior forward Colin Cunningham is averaging 5.6 rebounds per game, while senior center Greg McCarthy is chipping in with 3.8 boards per contest. Three other Crusaders are averaging at least 2.7 rebounds per contest so far this season. 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. Entering 2008-2009, the Crusaders have 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.

STEALING THE SHOW: Holy Cross has opened the 2008-2009 season by averaging 9.2 steals per game, including a high of 12 steals at Harvard. Sophomore guard Andrew Beinert (Floral Park, N.Y.) currently leads the team with 10 steals so far this season, while senior center Greg McCarthy ranks second with nine steals. Senior forward Colin Cunningham and junior forward Adam May have both posted seven steals, freshman guard R.J. Evans has added six steals, and three other Crusaders have five steals. Holy Cross has led the Patriot League in steals five times in the last six seasons, while averaging over 10 steals per game in both 2003-2004 (10.7 steals per game) and 2004-2005 (10.3 steals per game).

CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2008-2009. In six games played so far this season, the Crusaders have allowed 62.8 points per game, while forcing 16.7 turnovers per contest and outrebounding the opposition by 6.8 board per game. Holy Cross is also averaging 9.2 steals and 3.3 blocked shots per contest, while holding the opposition to 31.9 percent shooting from three-point range. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, the Crusaders have held their opponents to only 59.0 points per contest. In addition, Holy Cross has 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 the Crusaders' 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
2008-2009   62.8   42.2   31.8    9.2   3.3

THE JESUIT BASKETBALL SPOTLIGHT: The matchup between Holy Cross and Fairfield is part of the nationwide Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project, using Jesuit basketball to raise awareness of Jesuit education. Both Holy Cross and Fairfield are Jesuit schools. The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project highlights more than 90 games this season between men's and women's teams from the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the United States. Each of the 28 is dedicated to strong academics and teaching women and men to serve others and live a faith that does justice. The spotlight project includes awareness announcements during these designated games and during gamecasts on radio and television. Jesuit, Catholic colleges and universities in the United States have more than 200,000 students currently and more than 1.7 million living alumni. The Jesuit educational mission began in Europe approximately 500 years ago. For more information on Jesuit higher education in the United States, visit `www.ajcunet.edu'.

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).

HOLY CROSS NAMES CAPTAINS: Senior forward Colin Cunningham, senior guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) and senior forward Alex Vander Baan 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.

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 90th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1266-817 (.608), 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.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders finished the 2007-2008 season ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in six statistical categories. In addition, center Tim Clifford stood among the national leaders in field goal percentage, blocked shots and scoring. The rankings:

 

Category                  Rank  Player / Team    Avg.
Scoring Defense             16  Holy Cross       60.5
Rebound Margin              26  Holy Cross       +5.6
Field Goal Percent          28  Tim Clifford     57.1
Blocked Shots               29  Tim Clifford      2.3
                            80  Holy Cross        3.9
Field Goal Percent Defense  47  Holy Cross       41.0
Free Throw Percent          58  Holy Cross       72.9
Scoring                     71  Tim Clifford     18.0
Steals                      99  Holy Cross        7.4

CRUSADERS OWN FIVE PATRIOT LEAGUE REGULAR SEASON TITLES: Throughout its first 18 years of play in the conference, Holy Cross has won five Patriot League regular season titles. The last championship for the Crusaders came in 2006-2007, when they tied for first place in the conference with Bucknell, as both teams posted 13-1 records in league play. Prior to that, Holy Cross won outright Patriot League regular season titles in 2001, 2003 and 2005, while sharing the regular season championship in 1994. The Crusaders are the only team in league history to win more than two outright titles, while their five total championships are tied for the most in conference history with Navy (one outright, four shared) and Bucknell (two outright, three shared).

CRUSADERS HAVE FIVE PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT CROWNS: Two years ago, the Crusaders captured their fifth Patriot League Tournament with their 74-66 victory over Bucknell on March 9, 2007. Holy Cross' previous tournament titles came in 2003 (72-64 over American), 2002 (58-54 at American), 2001 (68-64 over Navy in overtime) and 1993 (98-73 at Bucknell). The Crusaders' five conference tournament championships are the most in Patriot League history, with Navy having the second most (three in 1994, 1997 and 1998). Holy Cross has also appeared in the championship game in six times in the last eight years. Overall, the Crusaders have made a conference-record nine appearances in the Patriot League championship game.

SCOUTING THE STAGS: Fairfield enters the game with an overall record of 3-3 on the season. After starting the season 1-3, the Stags have won their last two games against Tennessee-Chattanooga (61-42) and American (82-73). Sophomore forward Warren Edney currently leads the team an average of 13.2 points per game, while junior forward Greg Nero is averaging 12.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest. Senior guard Jonathan Han is also enjoying a fine season, with averages of 11.0 points and 5.8 assists per game. Fairfield is led by Ed Cooley, who is in his third season as a collegiate head coach with a 30-38 record. Prior to his time with the Stags, Cooley spent nine seasons as an assistant coach at Boston College.

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: The Crusaders stand 1-1 this season when wearing their white uniforms, while going 1-0 in their black uniforms and 0-3 in their purple uniforms ... 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 ... 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 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.