December 23, 2008

Men's Basketball Comes Home To Face San Francisco

Dec. 23, 2008

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (3-8, 0-0 PL) vs. San Francisco (7-5, 0-0 WCC)
Date: December 27, 2008
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; www.worcesterpike.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
San Francisco Radio: usfdons.com, internet; Pat Olson, play-by-play
Series Record: San Francisco leads, 2-1
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 67, San Francisco 63 (OT; January 5, 2008; San Francisco, Calif.)

 

PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:
Pos.  No.  Name               Ht.   Wt.   Cl.
F      21  Alex Vander Baan   6-9   205   Sr.
F      33  Colin Cunningham   6-6   220   Sr.
C      45  Greg McCarthy     6-11   235   Sr.
G      10  R.J. Evans         6-3   200   Fr.
G      22  Andrew Beinert     6-4   185   So.

THE SERIES WITH SAN FRANCISCO: This will be only the fourth meeting between the Crusaders and the Dons on the hardwood, with San Francisco leading the all-time series 2-1. The last game between the two schools came on Jan. 5, 2008, with Holy Cross winning 67-63 in overtime in San Francisco. Prior to that, the Dons posted a 58-42 home victory in the opening round of the Northwestern Mutual Classic on Dec. 4, 1998. The first meeting between the teams was on Dec. 28, 1955, during the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y. In that contest, No. 1 ranked San Francisco defeated No. 14 Holy Cross 67-51. The Crusaders' also stand 2-6 all-time against current members of the West Coast Conference (0-1 vs. Loyola Marymount, 1-1 against Portland, 1-2 vs. San Francisco and 0-2 against Santa Clara).

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: San Francisco leads, 2-1
In Worcester: First Meeting
At the Hart Center: First Meeting
Ralph Willard vs. San Francisco: 1-0
Rex Walters vs. Holy Cross: 0-0
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, one game
In Overtime: Holy Cross leads, 1-0

CRUSADERS RETURN TO THE HART CENTER: Following a four-day break for Christmas, Holy Cross will play at the Hart Center for the first time in three weeks when it takes on San Francisco on Dec. 27 at 7:00 p.m. The Crusaders will then stay at home to play host to Siena on Dec. 30 at 7:00 p.m. Next, Holy Cross will conclude its non-conference schedule with a pair of road contests, traveling to Boston University on Jan. 2 and Central Florida on Jan. 6. The Crusaders will begin Patriot League play at home against Lafayette on Jan. 10.

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 Ohio game, he led the team with 16 points, four rebounds and three steals. In the previous contest at Massachusetts, Evans totaled 17 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Earlier in the season, he also had big games against Western Michigan (17 points, six rebounds, two steals), 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 11.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 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.

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 177-111 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 321-235. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.

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 Ohio game, he recorded 10 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Previously at Loyola (Ill.), Vander Baan totaled nine points, three rebounds and two assists. Earlier in the season, he had big games against St. Joseph's (13 points, 11 rebounds), Sacred Heart (nine points, seven rebounds) and Brown (six points, eight rebounds, five assists). Overall this year, Vander Baan is averaging 7.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. 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 632 points, 490 rebounds, 135 assists, 74 steals and 35 blocked shots.

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 Ohio game, Keister totaled eight points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. In the previous contest at Massachusetts, he scored a career-high 10 points and pulled down six rebounds. Keister also had a big game against Western Michigan with nine points and 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 3.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

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 7.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.5 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 474 points, 298 rebounds, 139 assists and 70 steals.

OHIO RECAP: R.J. Evans totaled 16 points, four rebounds and three steals, but it was not enough as Holy Cross was defeated by Ohio University 58-53 at the Convocation Center on Dec. 22, 2008. The game was close throughout a first half which featured seven ties and nine lead changes. Neither school led by more than three points, before the teams went into the locker room tied at 26-26. Ohio opened the second half with an 8-2 run to take a six-point lead. The Crusaders responded with a 9-2 spurt to regain the lead, with Andrew Keister scoring back-to-back baskets to put Holy Cross in front. The Bobcats then scored nine straight points to go in front 45-37, and would increase their lead to 10 points (55-45) with two and half minutes remaining. The Crusaders came back with an 8-0 run to make it a two-point game (55-53) with less than a minute to play, with Andrew Beinert scoring five of those points. But Holy Cross would get no closer, as the Bobcats held on for a five-point victory. Alex Vander Baan totaled 10 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals for the Crusaders, while Keister added eight points and five rebounds. Ohio was led by Jerome Tillman with 18 points and five rebounds.

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 Ohio game, Beinert totaled seven points, five assists and three steals. Previously against Western Michigan game, he recorded six points, five assists and five steals. Beinert also had a big night at Yale, tying 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, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game, while hitting 39.4 percent (13 of 33) 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. 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 7.8 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.

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.

THE LAST MEETING WITH SAN FRANCISCO: Adam May scored 12 points, including nine points in overtime, to lead the Holy Cross men's basketball team to a 67-63 victory over San Francisco at War Memorial Gymnasium on Jan. 5, 2008. After the score was tied at 4-4 four minutes into the game, Holy Cross went on a 7-0 run to take an 11-4 lead. A few minutes later, the Crusaders used an 8-1 spurt to build their lead up to double figures, 22-10 with 7:30 left before the break. Holy Cross would eventually increase its lead to 17 points (31-14), before taking a 33-18 advantage into the locker room. San Francisco chipped away at the Holy Cross lead throughout the early parts of the second half, but the Crusaders were still up by six (55-49) with less then two minutes to play. But Manny Quezada hit a pair of three-pointers down the stretch to tie the score at 55-55 and force overtime. In the extra session, the Dons scored the first six points to take a 61-55 lead. But Holy Cross would not going away, scoring eight straight points to claim a 63-61 lead. May scored five of those points, hitting a pair of free throws and a three-pointer to put the Crusaders in front. After San Francisco tied up the score at 63-63, May hit a jump shot to put Holy Cross in the lead for good. May then stole the ball and converted a fast break layup for the final points of the day. Tim Clifford recorded 17 points and five rebounds for the Crusaders, while Pat Doherty added 16 points and four boards. San Francisco was led by Dior Lowhorn with 24 points and nine rebounds.

HOLY CROSS HAS GOOD SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS: The Crusaders are once again an outstanding rebounding team this year, averaging 36.7 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 10 out of 11 games played. Junior forward Eric Meister and senior forward Colin Cunningham are currently tied for the team lead in rebounding, with both players averaging 5.8 boards per contest. Senior forward Alex Vander Baan is averaging 5.5 rebounds per game, while senior center Greg McCarthy (Mansfield, Mass.) is chipping in with 4.0 boards per contest. Three other Crusaders are averaging at least 2.4 rebounds per contest so far this season. In 2007-2008, Holy Cross was outrebounded only five times in 29 games, while averaging 33.5 rebounds per game and outrebounding the opposition by 5.6 boards per contest. The Crusaders were even more impressive in Patriot League play, outrebounding conference foes by 6.3 boards per game. Entering 2008-2009, the Crusaders have posted a positive rebounding margin in nine straight seasons, including seven years in which they outrebounded the opposition by at least four boards per game.

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 6.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals, while leading the team in field goal percentage (46.9 percent, 30 of 64). Last season, McCarthy averaged 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, he has totaled 230 points and 127 rebounds, while hitting 95 of 196 (48.5 percent) field goal attempts.

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.

STEALING THE SHOW: Through 11 games played so far this season, Holy Cross has averaged 8.8 steals per game, including a high of 12 steals at Harvard. Sophomore guard Andrew Beinert currently leads the team with 19 steals, while freshman guard R.J. Evans stands second with 18 steals each. Senior forward Colin Cunningham has totaled 15 steals, senior center Greg McCarthy has recorded 12 steals, senior forward Alex Vander Baan has added 10 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).

CRUSADERS REMAIN TOUGH ON DEFENSE: Holy Cross is once again among the top defensive teams in the nation in 2008-2009. In 11 games played so far this season, the Crusaders have allowed 65.9 points per game, while forcing 16.2 turnovers per contest and outrebounding the opposition by 5.9 boards per game. Holy Cross is also averaging 8.8 steals and 3.6 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   65.9   43.9   35.4    8.8   3.6

HOLY CROSS NAMES CAPTAINS: Senior forward Colin Cunningham, senior guard Pat Doherty (Scranton, Pa.) and senior forward Alex Vander Baan have been selected as the Crusaders' captains for the 2008-2009 season. These three players have taken over the leadership role from Tim Clifford and Kyle Cruze, who served as the Crusaders' captains as seniors during the 2007-2008 season.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in two statistical categories, through games of Dec. 21. 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  3  Devin Brown      94.6
Steals             41  Holy Cross        8.9
Rebound Margin     54  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 1267-821 (.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.

THE JESUIT BASKETBALL SPOTLIGHT: The matchup between Holy Cross and San Francisco is part of the nationwide Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project, using Jesuit basketball to raise awareness of Jesuit education. Both Holy Cross and San Francisco are Jesuit schools. The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project highlights more than 90 games this season between men's and women's teams from the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the United States. Each of the 28 is dedicated to strong academics and teaching women and men to serve others and live a faith that does justice. The spotlight project includes awareness announcements during these designated games and during gamecasts on radio and television. Jesuit, Catholic colleges and universities in the United States have more than 200,000 students currently and more than 1.7 million living alumni. The Jesuit educational mission began in Europe approximately 500 years ago. For more information on Jesuit higher education in the United States, visit `www.ajcunet.edu'.

SCOUTING THE DONS: San Francisco enters the game with an overall record of 7-5 on the year. The Dons have lost four of their last six games, and are just 2-5 this season in road games. Junior forward Dior Lowhorn currently leads the team with averages of 19.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while hitting 51.6 percent (16 of 31) of his three-point field goal attempts. Freshman guard Kwame Vaughn (12.1 points per game), junior forward Blake Wallace (10.6 points per game) and senior guard Manny Quezada (10.3 points per game) are also scoring in double-figures for San Francisco. Head coach Rex Walters owns a 7-5 record in his first year leading the Dons. Walters' career mark stands at 38-38, including two seasons as the head coach at Florida Atlantic.

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 0-6 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.