December 6, 2005

Men's Basketball To Face Brown On Wednesday Night

Dec. 6, 2005

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (3-4, 0-0 PL) vs. Brown (1-4, 0-0 Ivy)
Date: December 7, 2005
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Jeremy Lechan, color; WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
Brown Radio: Scott Cordischi, play-by-play; Russ Tyler, color; WSKO 790 AM, Providence, R.I.
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 41-16
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 84, Brown 71 (December 21, 2004, Providence, R.I.)

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 BROWN: This will be the 58th meeting between the Crusaders and the Bears on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 41-16. Holy Cross has won the last five games played between the schools, with the most recent victory for Brown coming on Jan. 3, 2000, at the Hart Center (55-53). The Crusaders hold a 5-2 advantage in meetings played at the Hart Center, with two straight victories. For all games played in Worcester, Holy Cross has a 18-3 edge in the series. The schools first met on February 12, 1901, with Holy Cross posting a 9-8 victory in Worcester.

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. He has averaged 11.9 points, 5.4 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 3.9 steals per game, while posting a 2.38-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Against Fordham on Sunday, Thomas scored a career-high 23 points, in addition to totaling five assists, five steals and four rebounds. He previously had 11 rebounds, five points, five assists and five steals at Siena, while recording 11 points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists against Harvard. Thomas opened up the year by scoring 20 points against High Point, in addition to totaling six rebounds, six assists and three steals. He also posted 15 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals in the win over William & Mary. 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 Brown game, Thomas has career totals of 466 points, 219 rebounds, 193 assists and 123 steals.

CUNNINGHAM NAMED ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Freshman forward Colin Cunningham (Memphis, Tenn.) was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week on Dec. 5, following his performances against Fordham, Siena and Vermont. Against Fordham, he totaled 15 points, four rebounds and two assists, while scoring all five of the Crusaders' points in the last 10 seconds of regulation to force overtime. In the previous game at Siena, Cunningham posted career-highs of 16 points and nine rebounds, in addition to recording 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, and had five points, two rebounds and two steals at Vermont. In four games played on the year, including two starts, Cunningham is averaging 10.0 points and 5.3 rebounds, to go along with seven assists and five steals. Cunningham came to Holy Cross from White Station High School, where he helped his team to two Tennessee state championships.

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 against Fordham, he totaled 12 points and six rebounds, while making three of four shots from beyond the three-point line. In the contest 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 Brown game with a career field goal percentage of 48.1 (254 of 528), while hitting 44.0 percent (99 of 225) of his three-point attempts.

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 also scored 14 points at Vermont, while recording 13 points at Cincinnati. After missing the Siena contest due to illness, Hamilton totaled nine points and seven rebounds in the victory over Fordham. He has now scored in double figures in five of the six games he has played this season. On the year, Hamilton is averaging 14.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals per contest. Last season, Hamilton was named Patriot League Player of the Year, first team All-Patriot League, All-Patriot League Tournament and an honorable mention All-American (by the Associated Press). In 32 games played last year, Hamilton averaged 15.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.8 assists. He has now scored in double figures 58 times during his Holy Cross career, including 48 times in his last 54 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).

STEALING THE SHOW: In the first seven games of the 2005-2006 season, the Crusaders have totaled 75 steals for a Patriot League-best average of 10.7 steals per game. Holy Cross has reached double figures in steals four times this season, with a high of 16 against Harvard. Last year, the Crusaders 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).

FORDHAM RECAP: Torey Thomas totaled a career-high 23 points, five assists, five steals and four rebounds to lead Holy Cross to a 71-63 victory over Fordham in double overtime at the Hart Center. Fordham led for most of the game and was up by five (55-50) with 16 seconds left in regulation, before freshman forward Colin Cunningham hit a three-pointer to make the score 55-53 with just nine seconds remaining. Fordham's Marcus Stout was then called for a player control foul before the Rams could inbound the ball, giving possession back to Holy Cross. Thomas then drove the lane and dished to Cunningham for a layup, sending the game to overtime tied at 55-55. The Rams held a 59-56 lead with one minute left in the first overtime session, before the Crusaders rallied once again. Thomas drove to the basket for a layup, before Fordham's Marcus Stout made one of two free throw attempts to give the Rams a 60-58 lead. Holy Cross missed two shots on its next possession, but came up with a pair of offensive rebounds to stay in the game. Thomas was then fouled driving the lane, and hit a pair of free throws to send the game to a second overtime tied at 60-60. The second overtime session was all Thomas, as he made a three-pointer, a layup and a pair of free throws to give Holy Cross a 67-60 lead with 56 seconds remaining. Thomas added one more free throw in the closing seconds, while Kevin Hamilton made three of four free throw attempts down the stretch to help secure the win.

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 117-72 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 261-196. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

CRUSADERS PICK UP DEFENSE AGAINST FORDHAM: During Sunday's 73-61 double overtime victory over Fordham, Holy Cross turned in one of its top defensive performances of the 2005-2006 season. The Crusaders forced the Rams to commit 25 turnovers, while holding Fordham to 42.6 percent shooting from the field. Holy Cross really picked things up on the defensive end during the final five minutes of regulation and the two overtime periods, when it rallied from a seven-point deficit to win the game. During the final 15 minutes of play, the Crusaders allowed the Rams to score just 14 points, with Fordham making only three of 17 field goal attempts and committing seven turnovers.

THE LAST MEETING WITH BROWN: Keith Simmons scored a career-high 30 points, hitting 11 of 14 field goals and six of six three-pointers, to lead the Crusaders to an 84-71 victory over Brown at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Dec. 21, 2004. Brown started the game hot, jumping out to an 18-11 lead in the first six and a half minutes of play. But the Crusaders then used a 7-0 run to tie the score, and a few minutes later went on an 11-2 run to build an 11-point lead. The Bears cut the lead to eight points at the break, then outscored Holy Cross 14-8 over the first eight minutes of the second half to make it a two-point game. But Brown was never able to tie the score, and the Crusaders soon followed with a 12-1 run to put the game away. Kevin Hyland scored a career-best 14 points for Holy Cross, hitting all seven of his shots from the field, while Kevin Hamilton added 10 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Jason Forte led Brown with 19 points despite making only three shots, as he was allowed to go to the free throw line 13 times and made all 13 attempts. The Crusaders shot 58.9 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from three-point range, while outrebounding the Bears 33-18. Brown did hit 21 of 25 free throw attempts to keep it close, while Holy Cross was 10 of 15 on the line.

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 1,031 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 (487). He also has a good chance to become Holy Cross' all-time leader in steals, as he currently has 204, standing just 42 behind current record-holder Jave Meade (246 steals, 2000-2004).

CRUSADERS LOOK TO STAY TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross should once again be among the top defensive teams in the nation this year. Through seven games, the Crusaders have allowed 7.7 points per game, while holding the opposition to 43.2 percent shooting from the floor and 32.4 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).

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 seven contests of the season, he has averaged 4.4 points and 3.7 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 Brown game, Hyland has career totals of 240 points, 154 rebounds and 51 blocks, while shooting 51.0 percent (103 of 202) from the floor.

VANDER BAAN HAS SOLID START TO FRESHMAN SEASON: 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 seven games played this season, Vander Baan has averaged 4.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest, while hitting 45.2 percent (14 of 31) 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.

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.

CRUSADERS KEEP WINNING AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross stands 1-1 at the Hart Center so far this season, and now owns an all-time record of 266-104 in the building. The Crusaders posted a 12-3 mark at home last year, including a 10-game winning streak and 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 54-11 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.

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 87th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1207-781 (.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.

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 IN THE RPI: Through games of Dec. 5, Holy Cross is currently ranked 163rd 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).

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.

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 BEARS: Brown has an overall record of 1-4 so far this season, and has lost its last two games. The Bears' lone victory so far this season came at Hartford (70-60), while Brown has lost to Northeastern (67-53), Birmingham Southern (63-62), Rhode Island (57-40) and Wagner (72-59). Sophomore guard Damon Huffman leads the team with an average of 11.2 points per game. Senior guard Luke Ruscoe has averaged 9.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest, while junior guard Marcus Becker has added 7.2 points per game. Head coach Glen Miller has a record of 84-86 during his seven seasons at Brown. Miller's career record stands at 179-144, including six years at Connecticut College.

DRIBBLES: 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 ... 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.