Men's Basketball Returns To The Road To Face Yale

Dec. 2, 2008

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-5, 0-0 PL) vs. Yale (1-4, 0-0 Ivy)
Date: December 3, 2008
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: John J. Lee Amphitheater (2,532), New Haven, Conn.
Live Video Streaming: www.yalebulldogs.com
Holy Cross Radio: www.sportsjuice.com, internet; Dick Lutsk, play-by-play
Yale Radio: WYBC 1340 AM, New Haven, Conn.
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 35-28
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 60, Yale 39 (November 28, 2007; Worcester, Mass.)


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 YALE: This will be the 64th meeting between the Crusaders and the Bulldogs on the hardwood. Holy Cross holds a 35-28 advantage in the all-time series, including victories in eight of the last 11 games. Yale's last win in the series came on Dec. 11, 2002, when it posted a 70-66 victory in Hartford. For games played in New Haven, the all-time series is tied at 21-21. Holy Cross and Yale first met on Feb. 10, 1903, with the Bulldogs posting a 26-10 victory in Worcester.

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 35-28
In New Haven: Tied, 21-21
At the John J. Lee Amphitheater: Holy Cross leads, 20-16
Ralph Willard vs. Yale: 4-1
James Jones vs. Holy Cross: 1-4
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, two games
In Overtime: Holy Cross leads, 4-2

IMPRESSIVE AGAINST THE IVY LEAGUE: The Crusaders have enjoyed a great deal of success against schools from the Ivy League during Ralph Willard's tenure as head coach. Holy Cross stands 22-13 against Ivy League foes under Willard, including a 21-9 mark since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season. The Crusaders had won five straight games against Ivy League foes, before falling to Brown and Harvard earlier this season. Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 196-115 against the eight schools which are members of the Ivy League (42-17 vs. Brown, 4-6 against Columbia, 3-2 vs. Cornell, 66-31 against Dartmouth, 41-21 vs. Harvard, 3-3 against Pennsylvania, 2-7 vs. Princeton and 35-28 against Yale).

BROWN HAS BIG NIGHT AGAINST FAIRFIELD: Freshman guard Devin Brown (Randallstown, Md.) had a huge game against Fairfield on Monday night. He scored a career-high 22 points against the Stags, while hitting five of nine shots from the field, two of three attempts from three-point range, and all 10 of his shots at the foul line. Earlier in the season, Brown also played well against St. Joseph's, totaling 12 points, two rebounds and two assists. In seven games played this year, he is now averaging 7.9 points per game, while making a team-best 96.2 percent (25 of 26) of his free throws. Brown came to Holy Cross from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Fitchburg, Mass., after previously attending Baltimore City High School.

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 176-108 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 320-232. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

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. Against Fairfield on Monday, he recorded 13 points, three steals and two rebounds. Previously, Evans totaled 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals at Harvard, while scoring 12 points and pulling down three rebounds against St. Joseph's. He also played well in the season opening victory over Sacred Heart, scoring a team-high 15 points while hitting seven of 12 shots from the field. 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 seven games played, Evans is averaging a team-best 9.6 points, while hitting 45.5 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 six games played, Vander Baan is averaging 7.7 points and 6.2 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 622 points, 483 rebounds, 135 assists, 72 steals and 33 blocked shots.

FAIRFIELD RECAP: Devin Brown scored a career-high 22 points, but it was not enough as Holy Cross was defeated by Fairfield 78-66 at the Hart Center on Dec. 1, 2008. Brown hit five of nine shots from the field, two of three attempts from three-point range, and all 10 of his shots at the free throw line. Fairfield scored the first five points of the game, and eventually pulled out to a 16-6 lead after six minutes of play. Holy Cross scored the next four points to pull within four, before the Stags used a 9-0 run to extend their lead to 13 points (25-12). The Crusaders hung around and would make it a three-point game (31-28) with three and half minutes left before the break, but Fairfield closed out the half with a 9-5 spurt to take a 40-33 advantage into the locker room. The Stags scored the first seven points of the second half to build their lead back to double-figures, and eventually went up by 15 points (54-39) with 15 minutes remaining. Holy Cross responded with a 12-3 run of its own, to trim the lead to six points (57-51) with 11 minutes left to play. But a few minutes later, Fairfield went on a 10-2 run to put the game away. The Crusaders would get no closer than 11 points in the final eight minutes, as the Stags held on for the win. R.J. Evans finished the game with 13 points and three steals for Holy Cross. Fairfield was led by Anthony Johnson with 20 points, four rebounds and three blocks, while Jonathan Han added 18 points and 11 assists.

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 six games played this year, Cunningham has averaged 7.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and a team-best 3.3 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 447 points, 273 rebounds, 128 assists and 64 steals.

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 seven games played this season, he is now averaging 7.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals, while leading the team in field goal percentage (52.3 percent, 23 of 44). Last season, McCarthy averaged 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he has totaled 211 points and 106 rebounds, while hitting 88 of 176 (50.0 percent) field goal attempts.

MEISTER CLEANS THE GLASS FOR THE CRUSADERS: Junior forward Eric Meister (Boalsburg, Pa.) has been a key player for Holy Cross in the low post this season, and currently leads the team in rebounding. 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 5.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.1 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 240 points, 250 rebounds and 39 blocked shots.

THE LAST MEETING WITH YALE: Tim Clifford recorded 23 points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots, to lead Holy Cross to a 60-39 victory over Yale at the Hart Center on Nov. 28, 2007. Clifford's sixth blocked shot of the night was the 154th of his collegiate career, to set a new school career record. He broke the old mark of 153 blocked shots, set by Nate Lufkin from 2001-2005. The Crusaders opened the game with a 10-3 run, including a pair of three-pointers by Colin Cunningham. Holy Cross was still up by seven (19-12) with seven minutes left before the break, when it went on a 13-5 run to take a 32-17 advantage into the lockerroom. In the first six minutes of the second half, the Crusaders used a 10-1 run to build their lead up to 24 points (42-18). Yale would get no closer than 16 points the rest of the way, before Holy Cross finally won 60-39. The Crusaders turned in one of their top defensive efforts of the season, holding the Bulldogs to just 39 points and 26.7 percent shooting from the field. Holy Cross also recorded 10 steals and eight blocked shots, while forcing Yale to commit 18 turnovers. Cunningham finished the night with 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds, good for his first career double-double. Eric Meister also played well in the first start of his collegiate career, totaling eight points and nine boards. Yale was led by Eric Flato, Caleb Holmes and Nick Holmes with eight points each.

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders are once again an outstanding rebounding team this year, averaging 37.0 boards per contest and outrebounding their opponents by an average margin of 6.3 rebounds per game. So far this season, Holy Cross has outrebounded its opponent in six out of seven games. Junior forward Eric Meister currently leads the team with an average of 6.3 rebounds per game, while senior forward Alex Vander Baan has added 6.2 boards per contest. Senior forward Colin Cunningham is averaging 5.5 rebounds per game, while senior center Greg McCarthy is chipping in with 3.3 boards per contest. Three other Crusaders are averaging at least 2.4 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.

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 7.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.4 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 199 points, 74 rebounds, 35 assists and 23 steals.

STEALING THE SHOW: Holy Cross has opened the 2008-2009 season by averaging 9.1 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 forward Colin Cunningham, freshman guard R.J. Evans and senior center Greg McCarthy are tied for second with nine steals. Senior forward Alex Vander Baan has added eight steals, and three other Crusaders have at least 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 seven games played so far this season, the Crusaders have allowed 65.0 points per game, while forcing 16.4 turnovers per contest and outrebounding the opposition by 6.3 board per game. Holy Cross is also averaging 9.1 steals and 3.3 blocked shots per contest, while holding the opposition to 34.0 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   65.0   44.3   34.0    9.1   3.3

CRUSADERS REACH 300 VICTORIES AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross currently owns an all-time record of 301-111 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 88-19 at home since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, including a 54-10 record against Patriot League foes.

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 have taken over the leadership role from Tim Clifford and Kyle Cruze, who served as the Crusaders' captains as seniors during the 2007-2008 season.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in three statistical categories, through games of Nov. 30. In addition, freshman guard Devin Brown and junior forward Adam May both rank among the nation leaders in free throw percentage. The rankings:

 

Category          Rank  Player / Team   Avg.
Free Throw Percent  18  Devin Brown     93.8
                    44  Adam May        90.5
Steals              48  Holy Cross       9.2
Rebound Margin      52  Holy Cross      +6.8
Scoring Defense     80  Holy Cross      62.8

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 90th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1266-818 (.607), 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.

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 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).

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Yale enters the game with an overall record of 1-4 on the year. The Bulldogs are coming off a 63-57 loss to Sacred Heart, and stand 0-1 at home so far this season. Senior forward Ross Morin leads the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game, in addition to posting 6.0 rebounds per contest. Junior guard Alex Zampier chips in with 12.8 points and 2.2 steals per game, while sophomore forward Garrett Fiddler averages 8.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per contest. Yale is led by head coach James Jones, who owns an overall record of 118-138 in 10 seasons with the Bulldogs. During the 2001-2002 season, Jones led Yale to an overall record of 21-11 and the school's first Ivy League championship since 1962-1963.

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: Holy Cross has not had a six-game losing streak since the 1998-1999 season, when it lost six straight games from Dec. 4-30 against San Francisco, Rice, Brown, Boston College, Arizona and Penn State ... The Crusaders stand 1-2 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.