December 5, 2008

Men's Basketball Plays Host To Western Michigan On Saturday

Dec. 5, 2008

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-6, 0-0 PL) vs. Western Michigan (2-6, 0-0 MAC)
Date: December 6, 2008
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Live Video Streaming: Crusader All-Access
Holy Cross Radio: www.sportsjuice.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
Western Michigan Radio: WZUU 92.5 FM, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Robin Hook, play-by-play
Series Record: Western Michigan leads, 2-1
Last Meeting: Western Michigan 78, Holy Cross 65 (November 30, 1991; Kalamazoo, Mich.)



PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:

Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl.
F 33 Colin Cunningham 6-6 220 Sr.
F 53 Eric Meister 6-8 225 Jr.
C 45 Greg McCarthy 6-11 235 Sr.
G 10 R.J. Evans 6-3 200 Fr.
G 22 Andrew Beinert 6-4 185 So.

THE SERIES WITH WESTERN MICHIGAN: This will be only the fourth meeting between the Crusaders and the Broncos on the hardwood, with Western Michigan leading the all-time series 2-1. The Broncos have won the last two games, posting a 78-65 victory in Kalamazoo on Nov. 30, 1991, and a 79-69 win in Worcester on Nov. 27, 1990. The first meeting in the series came on Dec. 28, 1963, at the Motor City Classic in Detroit, with Holy Cross winning 91-82.

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Western Michigan leads, 2-1
In Worcester: Western Michigan leads, 1-0
At the Hart Center: Western Michigan leads, 1-0
Ralph Willard vs. Western Michigan: 0-0
Steve Hawkins vs. Holy Cross: 0-0
Current Win Streak: Western Michigan, two games
In Overtime: 0-0

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE: The Crusaders have enjoyed a great deal of success against teams from the Mid-American Conference, posting an all-time record of 9-3 against the 12 schools which currently compete in the league. Holy Cross has marks of 4-1 against Bowling Green, 1-0 vs. Buffalo, 1-0 against Ohio, 2-0 vs. Toledo and 1-2 against Western Michigan. The Crusaders' last game against a Mid-American Conference foe came on Nov. 26, 2007, when they defeated Ohio 62-60 at the Hart Center. Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard stands 4-1 all-time against Mid-American Conference opponents (1-0 vs. Ball State, 1-1 against Bowling Green, 1-0 vs. Buffalo and 1-0 against Ohio).

BEINERT TAKES OVER AT THE POINT: Sophomore guard Andrew Beinert (Floral Park, N.Y.) has been one of the Crusaders' top players in the backcourt this season. During the Yale game, Beinert tied his career-high with 15 points scored, while hitting five of seven shots from three-point range. Earlier in the year, he recorded nine points and three assists against Brown, while posting eight points and four steals at Loyola (Ill.). Overall this season, he has averaged 7.3 points per game, while hitting 46.2 percent (12 of 26) of his three-point field goal attempts. Last year, Beinert was selected to the Patriot League All-Rookie team, after averaging 3.9 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

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 Yale game, McCarthy scored 12 points and pulled down a career-best nine rebounds. Previously at Loyola (Ill.), he posted 13 points on six of 10 shooting, in addition to recording three rebounds and two steals. Earlier in the season, McCarthy also played well at Harvard (18 points, eight rebounds, four steals) and Northeastern (11 points, four rebounds). Through eight games played this season, he is now averaging 8.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals, while leading the team in field goal percentage (51.9 percent, 27 of 52). Last season, McCarthy averaged 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he has totaled 223 points and 115 rebounds, while hitting 92 of 184 (50.0 percent) field goal attempts.

BROWN PLAYS KEY MINUTES OFF THE BENCH: Freshman guard Devin Brown (Randallstown, Md.) has been the first player off the bench in the Holy Cross backcourt this season. He had a huge game against Fairfield, scoring a career-high 22 points 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 eight games played this year, he is now averaging 7.6 points per game, while making a team-best 96.4 percent (27 of 28) of his free throws. Brown came to Holy Cross from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Fitchburg, Mass., after previously attending Baltimore City High School.

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. During the Yale game, he totaled 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. Previously against Fairfield, Evans recorded 13 points, three steals and two rebounds. Earlier in the season, he also had big games against Sacred Heart (15 points on seven of 12 shooting), St. Joseph's (12 points, three rebounds) and Harvard (10 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals). 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. Overall this season, Evans is averaging a team-best 9.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. 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.

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 176-109 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 320-233. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

YALE RECAP: Yale's Alex Zampier totaled 28 points, four rebounds and four steals, as the Bulldogs posted a 76-66 victory over the Crusaders at the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Dec. 3, 2008. After Holy Cross scored the first basket of the game, Yale hit four straight three-point shots to take a 12-2 lead. The Crusaders scored the next four points, before the Bulldogs used a 10-2 spurt to build their lead back to double figures. Yale eventually led by as many as 16 points, and took a 42-28 advantage into the locker room. The Bulldogs increased their lead to 18 points (48-30) early in the second half, before Holy Cross used an 11-3 run to get back into the game. The Crusaders were still down by 12 (55-43) with just under 10 minutes left to play, when they scored five straight points to make it a seven-point game. But Holy Cross would not get any closer until there was less than a minute to play, and Yale made all 12 of its free throws in the final three minutes to hold on for the victory. Andrew Beinert led the Crusaders with 15 points, while hitting five of seven shots from three-point range. R.J. Evans and Greg McCarthy both added 12 points for Holy Cross.

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 seven games played this year, Cunningham has averaged 7.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and a team-best 3.4 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 455 points, 282 rebounds, 132 assists and 65 steals.

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 total rebounds. 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 6.1 points, 6.1 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 249 points, 255 rebounds and 41 blocked shots.

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.

THE LAST MEETING WITH WESTERN MICHIGAN: Scott Martzloff posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, but it was not enough as Holy Cross was defeated by Western Michigan 78-65 at University Arena on Nov. 30, 1991. The Broncos led 10-8 after the first five minutes of play, before going on an 8-1 run to increase their lead to nine points. The Crusaders responded with a 6-0 spurt of their own, and eventually trailed 28-26 with six minutes remaining in the half. Western Michigan then went on a 14-4 run over the next six minutes to take a 42-30 advantage into the locker room. Holy Cross trailed by at least eight points for most of the second half, before finally closing to within six (65-59) with 3:53 left to play. But the Broncos would hit seven of 10 free throws in the final three and a half minutes, eventually pulling away for a 13-point victory. Bill Walker finished with 13 points and four rebounds for the Crusaders, while Roger Breslin added 11 points on five of five shooting from the field. Western Michigan was led by Jim Havrilla with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Leon McGee chipped in with 15 points and five assists.

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders are once again an outstanding rebounding team this year, averaging 37.4 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 seven out of eight games. Senior forward Alex Vander Baan currently leads the team with an average of 6.2 rebounds per game, while junior forward Eric Meister has added 6.1 boards per contest. Senior forward Colin Cunningham is averaging 6.0 rebounds per game, while senior center Greg McCarthy is chipping in with 4.0 boards per contest. Three other Crusaders are averaging at least 2.5 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.

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.

MAY STEPS INTO PROMINENT ROLE: Junior forward Adam May (Mentor, Ohio) has started seven games for Holy Cross 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 6.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 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, 75 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. Senior center Greg McCarthy currently leads the team with 11 steals, while sophomore guard Andrew Beinert and senior forward Colin Cunningham are tied for second with 10 steals. Freshman guard R.J. Evans has nine steals, senior forward Alex Vander Baan has added eight steals, and three other Crusaders have at least six 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 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.

CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2008-2009. In eight games played so far this season, the Crusaders have allowed 66.4 points per game, while forcing 16.1 turnovers per contest and outrebounding the opposition by 6.3 boards per game. Holy Cross is also averaging 8.5 steals and 3.4 blocked shots per contest. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, the Crusaders have held their opponents to only 59.1 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 66.4 44.4 35.6 8.5 3.4

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 1266-819 (.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 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 BRONCOS: Western Michigan enters the game with an overall record of 2-6 on the year. The Broncos have lost three of their last four games, with the only win during that time coming at Sam Houston State (65-62) on Nov. 25. Junior guard David Kool leads the team with an average of 18.6 points per game, in addition to posting 3.1 rebounds per contest. Senior guard Shawntes Gary is also enjoying a fine year, averaging 12.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Western Michigan is led by head coach Steve Hawkins, who owns an overall record of 98-69 in six seasons with the Broncos. Hawkins' career record stands at 235-180, including eight seasons at Division II Quincy (Ill.).

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 nine games shown on live television during the 2008-2009 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. 6 Central Florida Bright House Sports Network
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 seven-game losing streak since the 1996-1997 season, when it lost seven straight games from Dec. 28-Jan. 18 against New Orleans, Hartford, La Salle, Siena, Army, Colgate and Lehigh. The longest losing streak in school history is nine games, Jan. 24-Feb. 27, 1973 ... The Crusaders stand 1-2 this season when wearing their white uniforms, while going 1-0 in their black uniforms and 0-4 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.