December 18, 2008

Crusaders Return To Action On Monday Night At Ohio

Dec. 18, 2008

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (3-7, 0-0 PL) vs. Ohio (4-6, 0-0 MAC)
Date: December 22, 2008
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Convocation Center (13,080), Athens, Ohio
Live Stats: Gametracker
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; www.worcesterpike.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
Ohio Radio: WXTQ 105.5 FM, Athens, Ohio; Russ Eisenstein, play-by-play
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 1-0
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 62, Ohio 60 (November 26, 2007; Worcester, 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 OHIO: This will be only the second meeting between the Crusaders and the Bobcats on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 1-0. The Crusaders won the first meeting between the schools on Nov. 26, 2007, in Worcester (62-60).

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 1-0
In Athens: First Meeting
At the Convocation Center: First Meeting
Ralph Willard vs. Ohio: 1-0
John Groce vs. Holy Cross: 0-0
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, one game
In Overtime: 0-0

CRUSADERS RETURN TO ACTION AFTER 12-DAY BREAK: Following 12 days off for final exams, Holy Cross returns to action when it travels to Ohio on Dec. 22. Next, the Crusaders come 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. Holy Cross will then conclude its non-conference schedule with a pair of road contests, traveling to Boston University on Jan. 2 and Central Florida on Jan. 6.

HOLY CROSS IN OHIO: The Crusaders will be playing in the state of Ohio for just the 13th time in school history. Holy Cross has a 5-7 record in its previous appearances in the Buckeye State, and has lost four straight since a 66-60 victory at Xavier on Dec. 5, 1981. The Crusaders stand 4-4 in road games in Ohio (2-0 at Xavier, 0-2 at Dayton, 1-1 at Cincinnati, 1-0 at Toledo and 0-1 at Ohio State), with a 1-3 mark in neutral site games (1-1 vs. Bowling Green in Cleveland, 0-1 vs. Southern Illinois in Columbus and 0-1 vs. Wyoming in Cleveland).

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 10-3 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 2-2 against Western Michigan. The Crusaders' last game against a Mid-American Conference foe came on Dec. 6, when they defeated Western Michigan 69-63 at the Hart Center. Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard stands 5-1 all-time against Mid-American Conference opponents (1-0 vs. Ball State, 1-1 against Bowling Green, 1-0 vs. Buffalo, 1-0 against Ohio and 1-0 vs. Western Michigan).

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 177-110 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 321-234. 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 Massachusetts game, he led the team with 17 points, eight rebounds and four steals. In the previous contest against Western Michigan, Evans totaled 17 points, six rebounds and two steals. Earlier in the season, he also had big games against Sacred Heart (15 points on seven of 12 shooting), Fairfield (13 points, three steals), Yale (12 points, three rebounds, three assists), 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 11.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals 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.

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. During the Massachusetts game, Brown totaled 14 points and three rebounds. He also 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 totaled 12 points, two rebounds and two assists against St. Joseph's. Overall this year, he is averaging 8.4 points per game, while making a team-best 94.6 percent (35 of 37) 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.

KEISTER BECOMING A FACTOR UP FRONT: Sophomore forward Andrew Keister (Galloway, N.J.) is developing into one of the Crusaders' top players at the low post positions. During the Massachusetts game, he scored a career-high 10 points and pulled down six rebounds. In the previous contest against Western Michigan, Keister had nine points and tied his career high with eight rebounds. Earlier in the season, he scored six points against Fairfield and grabbed eight rebounds at Northeastern. Overall this year, Keister is now averaging 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.

MASSACHUSETTS RECAP: UMass' Ricky Harris scored 23 points to lead the Minutemen to a 73-59 victory over Holy Cross at the Mullins Center on Dec. 10, 2008. After Andrew Beinert opened the game with a three-pointer, the Minutemen went on an 8-0 run to jump out to an 8-3 lead. With UMass leading 15-7 with 15:02 on the clock, Holy Cross scored nine straight points to move out to a 16-15 advantage. The Minutemen were back in front 21-20 a few minutes later, when the Crusaders went on a 9-0 run, ending in a three-pointer by Colin Cunningham to take a 29-21 lead with 4:43 left in the half. UMass concluded the half by outscoring Holy Cross by an 8-3 margin as the Crusaders brought a 32-29 advantage into the locker room. Holy Cross scored the first four points of the second half with layups by R.J. Evans and Eric Meister to increase its lead to 36-29, but the Minutemen answered with seven straight points to tie the game at 36-36. The Crusaders pulled back in front, 45-41, before UMass used a 12-0 run to take the lead for good. The Minutemen eventually extended their lead to 19 points (73-54) with 2:25 left on the clock, before finally winning by 14. Evans led the Crusaders with 17 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Devin Brown added 14 points, while Andrew Keister chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds.

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 7.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.7 steals 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 470 points, 291 rebounds, 137 assists and 70 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 6.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 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 267 points, 264 rebounds and 43 blocked shots.

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. Previously 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 6.7 points, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game, while hitting 43.3 percent (13 of 30) 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.

THE LAST MEETING WITH OHIO: Kyle Cruze drove the lane and hit a layup with 2.6 seconds remaining, to break a 60-60 tie and lead Holy Cross to a 62-60 victory over Ohio at the Hart Center on Nov. 26, 2007. Cruze finished the game with seven points, four assists and three rebounds, while making all three of his field goal attempts. The game was tight throughout a first half which featured four ties and five lead changes. After the score was tied at 19-19 with 5:22 left in the half, Ohio went on a 5-0 run to go up 24-19. The Bobcats would eventually take a three-point lead (31-28) into the lockerroom. Ohio increased its lead to six points early in the second half, before the Crusaders went on a 6-0 run to tie up the score at 34-34. The Bobcats were able to go back in front, and still held a 46-43 advantage with nine minutes left to play. Holy Cross then went on a 9-0 run, including five points by Colin Cunningham, to take its first lead of the second half (52-46 with 6:32 remaining). The Crusaders were still up by six (59-53) at the 2:43-mark, before Ohio went on a 7-1 run, and Michael Allen's three-pointer with 9.4 seconds left tied up the score at 60-60. But Cruze then drove the length of the court for the game winning shot. Pat Doherty finished with 12 points, six assists and three steals for Holy Cross, while Cunningham added 12 points and three rebounds. Tim Clifford also had a solid night with 11 points and three rebounds. Ohio was led by Justin Orr with 18 points and four rebounds, while Leon Williams added 12 points and 10 boards.

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 5.9 rebounds per game. So far this season, Holy Cross has outrebounded its opponent in nine out of 10 games played. Junior forward Eric Meister currently leads the team with an average of 5.8 rebounds per game, while senior forward Colin Cunningham has added 5.7 boards per contest. Senior forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) is averaging 5.3 rebounds per game, while senior center Greg McCarthy (Mansfield, Mass.) is chipping in with 4.2 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.

MCCARTHY PLAYS BIG ROLE UP FRONT: Senior center Greg McCarthy 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 6.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals, while leading the team in field goal percentage (47.5 percent, 28 of 59). 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 125 rebounds, while hitting 93 of 191 (48.7 percent) field goal attempts.

STEALING THE SHOW: Holy Cross has opened the 2008-2009 season by averaging 8.9 steals per game, including a high of 12 steals at Harvard. Sophomore guard Andrew Beinert currently leads the team with 16 steals, while senior forward Colin Cunningham and freshman guard R.J. Evans are tied for second with 15 steals each. Senior center Greg McCarthy has 12 steals, senior forward Alex Vander Baan has added eight steals, and three other Crusaders have at least seven 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).

VANDER BAAN PLAYS KEY ROLE ON FRONT LINE: Senior forward Alex Vander Baan 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 seven games played, Vander Baan is averaging 6.6 points and 5.3 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.

CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2008-2009. In 10 games played so far this season, the Crusaders have allowed 66.7 points per game, while forcing 16.1 turnovers per contest and outrebounding the opposition by 5.9 boards per game. Holy Cross is also averaging 8.9 steals and 3.3 blocked shots per contest. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, the Crusaders have held their opponents to only 59.2 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 66.7 44.5 36.9 8.9 3.3

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 IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in two statistical categories, through games of Dec. 14. In addition, freshman guard Devin Brown ranks among the national leaders in free throw percentage. The rankings:

 

Category          Rank  Player / Team   Avg.
Free Throw Percent 2 Devin Brown 94.6
Steals 46 Holy Cross 8.9
Rebound Margin 58 Holy Cross +5.9

TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: This year marks the 90th season of Holy Cross men's basketball. The Crusaders own an overall record of 1267-820 (.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 BOBCATS: Ohio enters the game with an overall record of 4-6 on the year. The Bobcats have lost five of their last six games, but stand 2-0 at home this season. Senior forward Jerome Tillman leads the team by averaging 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, while senior forward Justin Orr has added 12.2 points and 3.5 boards per contest. The Bobcats are led by John Groce, who stands 4-6 in his first season as a collegiate head coach. Groce, who was previously an assistant coach at Ohio State, Xavier, Butler and North Carolina State, is a 1994 graduate of Taylor University, where he led the Trojans to an 86-18 overall record and three trips to the NAIA Tournament as a player.

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 is 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 0-5 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.