Men's Basketball Returns Home For Game With Fordham
Dec. 2, 2005
GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-4, 0-0 PL) vs. Fordham (1-5, 0-0 A-10)
Date: December 4, 2005
Time: 1:00 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
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
Fordham Radio: WFUV 90.7 FM, Bronx, N.Y.
Series Record: Fordham leads, 41-38
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 53, Fordham 39 (December 6, 2004, Bronx, N.Y.)
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 FORDHAM: This will be the 80th meeting between the Crusaders and the Rams on the hardwood, with Fordham leading the all-time series 41-38. Holy Cross has won the last five games between the schools, with the last victory for the Rams coming on Nov. 27, 1999, at the Hart Center. The Crusaders hold a 16-7 advantage for games played at the Hart Center, including two straight victories. Holy Cross and Fordham first met on Jan. 16, 1908, with the Crusaders posting a 36-21 victory in Worcester.
SIMMONS SHINES 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. In the Crusaders' last game at Siena, Simmons recorded a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds, while hitting seven of 11 field goal attempts and three of four shots from three-point range. He previously totaled 18 points and five rebounds at Vermont, had 12 points at Cincinnati, and scored a team-high 15 points in the Harvard game. To open the year, Simmons 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. Simmons now leads the team with an average of 17.0 points per contest, to go along with 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 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). He enters the Fordham game with a career field goal percentage of 48.1 (250 of 520), while hitting 43.4 percent (96 of 221) of his three-point attempts.
AMAZING AGAINST THE ATLANTIC 10: The Crusaders have enjoyed a great deal of success against schools from the Atlantic 10 Conference during Ralph Willard's tenure as head coach. Holy Cross stands 8-2 against Atlantic 10 foes under Willard, winning eight straight before last season's 68-60 loss at St. Joseph's in the National Invitation Tournament. Prior to that, the Crusaders had not lost to an Atlantic 10 opponent since they were downed by Fordham 87-73 on Nov. 27, 1999, in what was only Willard's third game as Holy Cross' head coach. The Crusaders own an all-time record of 123-106 against the 14 schools which are currently members of the Atlantic 10 (0-1 vs. Charlotte, 1-1 against Dayton, 3-5 vs. Duquesne, 38-41 against Fordham, 0-2 vs. George Washington, 5-16 against La Salle, 36-17 vs. Massachusetts, 26-12 against Rhode Island, 3-2 vs. St. Bonaventure, 0-3 against St. Joseph's, 2-3 vs. St. Louis, 6-3 against Temple and 3-0 vs. Xavier).
HAMILTON LOOKS TO HAVE ANOTHER OUTSTANDING SEASON: Senior guard Kevin Hamilton (Queens Village, N.Y.) 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 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. He has now scored in double figures in all five games he has played this season, including 14 points at Vermont and 13 points at Cincinnati. Hamilton missed the Siena contest due to illness, and his status for the Fordham game is uncertain. On the year, he is averaging 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 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 58 times during his Holy Cross career, including 48 times in his last 53 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).
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 116-72 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 260-196. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.
STEALING THE SHOW: In the first six games of the 2005-2006 season, the Crusaders have totaled 63 steals for a Patriot League-best average of 10.5 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).
SIENA RECAP: Keith Simmons recorded 20 points and seven rebounds, but it was not enough as Holy Cross was defeated by Siena 68-63 at Pepsi Arena on Dec. 1, 2005. Siena started the game hot, and jumped out to a 12-2 lead after the first seven minutes of play. Holy Cross would respond with a 7-0 run later in the half, and trailed by just two points (26-24) at the break. The Crusaders tied the score at 29-29 early in the second half, but then the Saints went on an 8-0 to take control of the game. Siena would increase its lead to as many as 15 points (51-36) at the 10:35 mark, and was still up by 10 (60-50) with just over two minutes left to play. Holy Cross managed to make it a four-point game on a basket by Colin Cunningham with 54.7 seconds remaining, but turned the ball over on its next possession and would get no closer than five points the rest of the way. Cunningham finished the game with career-highs of 16 points and nine rebounds for the Crusaders, while junior guard Torey Thomas added five points, five assists, five steals and a career-high 11 rebounds. Siena was led by Tay Fisher and David Ryan with 18 points each. The Saints made 10 of 22 three-point field goal attempts on the night, including five by Fisher and four from Ryan.
CUNNINGHAM COMING OFF HUGE GAME AT SIENA: Freshman forward Colin Cunningham (Memphis, Tenn.) has made his presence felt in the Crusader lineup over the last three games, and has started Holy Cross' last two contests. On Thursday night at Siena, Cunningham posted career-highs of 16 points and nine rebounds, in addition to posting two assists and two steals in 30 minutes of action. He also played well in the first appearance of his collegiate career at Cincinnati, totaling four points, six rebounds and two assists. In three games played on the year, Cunningham is averaging 8.3 points and 5.7 rebounds, to go along with five assists and five steals. Cunningham came to Holy Cross from White Station High School, where he helped his team to two Tennessee state championships.
THOMAS ENJOYS STRONG START TO SEASON: Junior point guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) is once again one of the Crusaders' top players this season, averaging 10.0 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 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, while totaling 11 rebounds, five points, five assists and five steals at Siena. 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 Fordham game, Thomas has totaled 443 points, 215 rebounds, 188 assists and 118 steals.
HAMILTON RECORDS 1,000TH CAREER POINT: Senior guard Kevin Hamilton has put his name among the all-time leaders at Holy Cross in a number of statistical categories. Against Cincinnati, Hamilton hit a free throw at the 4:34 mark of the first half 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 now has 1,022 points during his four-year career as a Crusader. In addition, Hamilton is already the Crusaders' all-time leader in career three-point field goals made (165) and attempted (481). He also has a good chance to become Holy Cross' all-time leader in steals, as he currently has 202, standing just 45 behind current record-holder Jave Meade (246 steals, 2000-2004).
THE LAST MEETING WITH FORDHAM: Kevin Hamilton totaled 17 points and eight rebounds, to lead the Crusaders to a 53-39 victory over Fordham at Rose Hill Gymnasium on Dec. 6, 2004. The Holy Cross defense recorded 16 steals and forced 25 turnovers, while holding the Rams to 31.1 percent shooting from the field. The first half featured four ties and three lead changes, as neither team led by more than five points. The score remained close throughout most of the second half, and the Crusaders were up by just one point, 35-34, with five and a half minutes remaining. But after going just seven of 16 at the foul line during the first 34:30 of action, Holy Cross stepped up and hit its free throws down the stretch to secure the win. The Crusaders went 12 of 15 at the charity stripe during the final 5:30 of action, with Hamilton making all four of his attempts during that time, and Torey Thomas hitting five of his last six foul shots. Thomas finished the game with 10 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists. Fordham did not have any players score in double figures, with Mushon Ya'akosi and Jermaine Anderson both recording nine points. Fordham's 39 points were the fewest scored by a Holy Cross opponent since Army had only 38 points on Feb. 7, 2004, and were the least put up by the Rams since they managed only 35 points at St. Joseph's on Jan. 13, 2004.
VANDER BAAN EARNS ROOKIE OF THE WEEK HONORS: Freshman forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week on Nov. 21, 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. Through six games played this season, Vander Baan has averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest, while hitting 50.0 percent (14 of 28) of his field goal attempts. Vander Baan came to Holy Cross from Whitinsville Christian School, where he averaged 16.1 points and 15.6 rebounds as a senior.
HYLAND LOOKS TO BE A FORCE DOWN LOW: Senior forward Kevin Hyland (White Plains, N.Y.) 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 six contests of the season, he has averaged 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds. 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 Fordham game, Hyland has totaled 232 points, 151 rebounds and 50 blocks, while shooting 51.5 percent (100 of 194) from the floor.
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.
HOLY CROSS CAPTURES WILLIAM & MARY CLASSIC TITLE: On Nov. 18-19, 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 earlier this season. 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.
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).
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.
TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 87th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1206-781 (.607), 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 LOOK TO STAY TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross should once again be among the top defensive teams in the nation this year. Through six games, the Crusaders have allowed 68.5 points per game, while holding the opposition to 43.3 percent shooting from the floor and 30.9 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 58.9 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).
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 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.
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.
HOLY CROSS IN THE RPI: Through games of Dec. 1, Holy Cross is currently ranked 130th 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 RAMS: Fordham has an overall record of 1-5 so far this season, losing three straight. The Rams' lone victory so far this season came over Norfolk State (72-53), while Fordham has lost to Old Dominion (65-52), Georgia (79-68), St. Francis (66-60), Siena (64-54) and Iona (71-70). Senior guard Jermaine Anderson leads the team with an average of 15.5 points per game, while hitting 46.2 percent (18 of 39) of his three-point field goal attempts. Sophomore forward Bryant Dunston has averaged 15.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest, while sophomore guard Marcus Stout has added 14.8 points per game. Head coach Dereck Whittenburg has a record of 20-43 during this three seasons at Fordham. Whittenburg's career record stands at 87-93, including four years at Wagner College.
DRIBBLES: The starting time for Holy Cross' game at Northeastern on Dec. 30 has been changed to 3:00 p.m. ... 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 eight votes in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 Poll from CollegeInsider.com released on Nov. 28. Holy Cross finished the 2004-2005 season ranked 16th in the nation in the poll.