December 8, 2008

Holy Cross Travels To Massachusetts On Wednesday Night

Dec. 8, 2008

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (3-6, 0-0 PL) vs. Massachusetts (1-6, 0-0 A-10)
Date: December 10, 2008
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Date: William D. Mullins Memorial Center (9,493), Amherst, Mass.
Live Video Streaming: www.umassathletics.com
Live Stats: Gametracker
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; www.worcesterpike.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Jeremy Lechan, color
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
UMass Radio: WRNX 100.9 FM, Holyoke; Josh Maurer, play-by-play; Tim Collins, color
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 36-17
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 67, Massachusetts 56 (December 4, 2001; Amherst, Mass.)


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 MASSACHUSETTS: This will be 54th meeting between the Crusaders and the Minutemen on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 36-17. The Crusaders have won the only two meetings played in the last 15 years, posting a 67-56 victory at the Mullins Center on Dec. 4, 2001, and a 78-65 win at the DCU Center on Nov. 25, 2000. Prior to that, UMass won four straight games in the series from 1991-1993. The schools first met on Jan. 8, 1908, with Holy Cross winning 51-4 in Worcester.

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 36-17
In Amherst: Holy Cross leads, 12-6
At the Mullins Center: Holy Cross leads, 1-0
Ralph Willard vs. Massachusetts: 2-2
Derek Kellogg vs. Holy Cross: 0-0
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, two games
In Overtime: Tied, 1-1

CRUSADERS PLAY LAST GAME BEFORE FINALS AT UMASS: Holy Cross will play its last contest before final exams when it heads to Massachusetts for a 7:00 p.m. game on Wednesday, Dec. 10. After a 12-day break, the Crusaders will return to action when they travel to Ohio on Dec. 22. Next, Holy Cross comes home for a pair of games between Christmas and New Year's Day, playing host to San Francisco on Dec. 27 and Siena on Dec. 30. The Crusaders will then conclude their non-conference schedule with a pair of road contests, traveling to Boston University on Jan. 2 and Central Florida on Jan. 6.

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 12-4 against Atlantic 10 foes under Willard, including this season's 73-69 overtime victory against St. Joseph's. From 1999-2005, the Crusaders won eight straight against Atlantic 10 opponents, but that streak was snapped with a 68-60 loss at St. Joseph's in the 2005 National Invitation Tournament. The Crusaders own an all-time record of 127-108 against the 14 schools which are currently members of the Atlantic 10 (0-1 vs. Charlotte, 1-3 against Dayton, 3-5 vs. Duquesne, 39-41 against Fordham, 0-2 vs. George Washington, 6-16 against La Salle, 36-17 vs. Massachusetts, 26-12 against Rhode Island, 3-2 vs. St. Bonaventure, 2-3 against St. Joseph's, 2-3 vs. St. Louis, 6-3 against Temple and 3-0 vs. Xavier).

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 177-109 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 321-233. 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. During the Western Michigan game, he totaled a career-high 17 points, six rebounds and two steals. In the previous contest at Yale, Evans recorded 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. Earlier in the season, he also had big games against Sacred Heart (15 points on seven of 12 shooting), Fairfield (13 points, three steals), 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 10.7 points and 3.3 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.

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 Western Michigan game, Beinert totaled six points, five assists and five steals. In the previous contest at Yale, he tied his career-high with 15 points scored, while hitting five of seven shots from three-point range. Earlier in the year, Beinert recorded nine points and three assists against Brown, while posting eight points and four steals at Loyola (Ill.). Overall this season, he has averaged 7.1 points, 2.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game, while hitting 44.4 percent (12 of 27) 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.

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 7.8 points per game, while making a team-best 93.3 percent (28 of 30) of his free throws. Brown came to Holy Cross from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Fitchburg, Mass., after previously graduating from Baltimore City High School.

WESTERN MICHIGAN RECAP: R.J. Evans posted a career-high 17 points, six rebounds and two steals, to lead Holy Cross to a 69-63 victory over Western Michigan at the Hart Center on Dec. 6, 2008. Holy Cross opened the game by jumping out to a 6-1 lead, but Western Michigan responded with a 10-3 run of its own to claim the lead. The Broncos were still up by two (19-17) with eight minutes left in the first half, when they used a 7-3 spurt to claim a six-point lead. Evans would hit a three-pointer with just six seconds left in the half, cutting Western Michigan's lead to three points (30-27) heading into the locker room. The Crusaders started the second half hot, using a 7-2 run to regain the lead. Holy Cross would increase its lead to six points (44-38) with 12:56 remaining, when the Broncos scored seven straight points to go back in front. At the 8:40-mark, Colin Cunningham hit a three-pointer to ignite a 9-2 run, putting the Crusaders back in the lead for good. Western Michigan would get no closer than five points in the final three minutes of play, and Holy Cross hit six of eight free throws in the final two minutes to clinch the victory. Cunningham finished the game with 12 points, two rebounds and two steals, while Eric Meister added 10 points and seven rebounds. The Broncos were led by David Kool with 18 points, three rebounds and three steals.

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. During the victory over Western Michigan, Cunningham totaled 12 points, two rebounds and two steals. Previously at Loyola (Ill.), he led the team with 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Cunningham also played well against Brown, recording 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Overall this year, Cunningham has averaged 8.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and a team-best 3.0 assists per contest. 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 467 points, 284 rebounds, 132 assists and 67 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 rebounding. During the victory over Western Michigan, he totaled 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Previously at Harvard, Meister posted his second double-double of the year with 10 points and 11 boards. He also had big games earlier in the season against Sacred Heart (11 points, career-high 11 rebounds) and St. Joseph's (nine points, seven rebounds, three blocks). On the season, he is averaging 6.6 points, 6.2 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 259 points, 262 rebounds and 41 blocked shots.

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). Overall this season, he is now averaging 7.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals, while leading the team in field goal percentage (48.3 percent, 28 of 58). Last season, McCarthy averaged 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he has totaled 226 points and 119 rebounds, while hitting 93 of 190 (48.9 percent) field goal attempts.

THE LAST MEETING WITH UMASS: Ryan Serravalle scored a game-high 16 points to lead four Crusaders in double-figures, as Holy Cross posted a 67-56 win over previously unbeaten Massachusetts at the Mullins Center on Dec. 4, 2001. Holy Cross led by four early in the game before Massachusetts went on a 12-2 run to take a six-point lead with 11:04 left in the first half. The Crusaders continued to chip away at the lead, cutting it to one point (31-30) with 1:51 left before the break on a jumper by Tim Szatko. The Minutemen then ended the half with a 5-2 run to take a 36-32 lead into the locker room. Holy Cross opened the second half with a 4-0 run to tie the game at 36. The lead then went back and forth, until the Crusaders used a 9-0 run to take a 60-50 advantage with 3:51 remaining, sparked by four points from Michael Smiley. Holy Cross held Massachusetts scoreless for 7:19 during that run to take control of the game. The Crusaders would extend their lead to as many as 12 points late in the game, before finally winning by 11. Holy Cross held the Minutemen to just two field goals over the course of the final 10:53 of play, as UMass converted just 34.8 percent from the field in second half. Smiley and Nate Lufkin both scored 13 points for the Crusaders, while Szatko added 12 points and nine rebounds. Jave Meade added eight assists with just one turnover in 39 minutes played. UMass was led by Micah Brand (15 points) and Anthony Anderson (13 points, seven assists).

VANDER BAAN PLAYS KEY ROLE ON FRONT LINE: Senior forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) has been a key member of the Holy Cross lineup this year, despite missing three contests due to injury. 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. 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.

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.

CRUSADERS REACH 300 VICTORIES AT THE HART CENTER: Holy Cross currently owns an all-time record of 302-111 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 89-19 at home since the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, including a 54-10 record against Patriot League foes.

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders are once again an outstanding rebounding team this year, averaging 36.9 boards per contest and outrebounding their opponents by an average margin of 5.7 rebounds per game. So far this season, Holy Cross has outrebounded its opponent in eight out of nine games played. Junior forward Eric Meister currently leads the team with an average of 6.2 rebounds per game, while senior forward Alex Vander Baan has also 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 4.0 boards per contest. Three other Crusaders are averaging at least 2.6 rebounds per contest so far this season. In 2007-2008, Holy Cross was outrebounded only five times in 29 games, while averaging 33.5 rebounds per game and outrebounding the opposition by 5.6 boards per contest. The Crusaders were even more impressive in Patriot League play, outrebounding conference foes by 6.3 boards per game. Entering 2008-2009, the Crusaders have posted a positive rebounding margin in nine straight seasons, including seven years in which they outrebounded the opposition by at least four boards per game.

STEALING THE SHOW: Holy Cross has opened the 2008-2009 season by averaging 8.7 steals per game, including a high of 12 steals at Harvard. Sophomore guard Andrew Beinert currently leads the team with 15 steals, while senior forward Colin Cunningham ranks second with 12 steals. Senior center Greg McCarthy and freshman guard R.J. Evans both have 11 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 REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2008-2009. In nine games played so far this season, the Crusaders have allowed 66.0 points per game, while forcing 16.2 turnovers per contest and outrebounding the opposition by 5.7 boards per game. Holy Cross is also averaging 8.7 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   66.0   43.9   37.7    8.7   3.4

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 6.0 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 202 points, 77 rebounds, 37 assists and 23 steals.

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 1267-819 (.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.

SCOUTING THE MINUTEMEN: Massachusetts enters the game with an overall record of 1-6 on the year. The Minutemen have lost their last six games since defeating Division II Arkansas-Monticello in their season opener. Junior guard Ricky Harris leads the team with an average of 21.0 points per game, while hitting 26 of 56 shots (46.4 percent) from three-point range. Senior guard Chris Lowe has added 13.1 points and 5.3 assists per contest, while senior forward Tony Gaffney has averaged 12.7 points and a team-best 13.1 rebounds per game. Massachusetts is led by Derek Kellogg, who stands 1-6 in his first season as a collegiate head coach. Kellogg, who was previously an assistant coach at Memphis, Youngstown State and George Mason, is a 1995 UMass graduate who helped the Minutemen to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 1992-1995.

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: The Crusaders stand 2-2 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 ... Holy Cross was picked to finish third in the 2008-2009 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 68 total points and two first place votes. American placed first in the poll, while Lehigh was second ... The New England Basketball Hall of Fame has established the Ronald S. Perry New England Basketball Legend Award, which will be presented at each New England Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony to an individual who, in demonstrating uncommon basketball excellence, has made an extraordinary contribution to the sport in the New England region. The award is named in honor of former Holy Cross student-athlete and athletic director Ron Perry (Class of 1954) ... 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.