Women's Basketball Plays No. 1 Connecticut In Storrs Sunday

Kaitlin Cole
Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams:
Holy Cross (0-1, 0-0 PL) vs. Connecticut (0-0, 0-0 Big East)
Date: November 14, 2010
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Place: Gampel Pavilion (10, 167), Storrs, Conn.
Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio; Dick Lutsk, play-by-play; Listen Here
Connecticut Television:
CPTV; Bob Picozzi and Meg Culmo
Connecticut Radio: WTIC-UConn Radio Network
Unofficial Live Statistics: Gametracker
Series Record: Connecticut leads, 18-2
Last Meeting: Connecticut 87, Holy Cross 34 (November 20, 2009, Worcester, Mass.)

THE SERIES WITH CONNECTICUT: Connecticut has been an annual competitor for the Holy Cross women's basketball team ever since Bill Gibbons became head coach in the 1985-1986 season. This year marks the 21st meeting between the two teams, with the Huskies taking an all-time 18-2 advantage. The first meeting between the two teams occurred on Dec. 20, 1982 on Connecticut's home court. The Huskies won that first meeting, 75-72. Holy Cross nabbed its two victories, first winning at home 89-57 on Feb. 1, 1984 and then following with a 65-49 victory on Dec. 4, 1986 again at the Hart Center in coach Gibbons' first season. The 89 points scored in 1984 was a series-high points scored for the Crusaders. Connecticut has gone on to win the last 17 meetings, outscoring Holy Cross in those contests 1,440-884. The Huskies scored a series-high 107 points against the Crusaders on Nov. 30, 1998. Eleven of the contests have been held in Storrs, Conn., while five contests have been played at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. and three held at the DCU Center in Worcester, including last season's 87-34 defeat. The Crusaders scored just 12 points in the second half last season, marking a low team record for points in a half. The last time Holy Cross took on the Huskies at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn., was on Dec. 3, 2008, dropping a 96-37 decision. Connecticut has won every game at the Gampel Pavilion as the two teams have played a total of nine times on the hardwood, dating back to Nov. 14, 1997.

PLAYING RANKED OPPONENTS: Over the last five seasons, the Crusaders have competed against four ranked opponents; Boston College, Connecticut, DePaul and Duke. The squad has faced a ranked Connecticut team in six meetings, falling in all competitions. The Huskies, who enter Sunday's match-up with a No. 1 ranking, have been the highest-ranked team Holy Cross has faced. Dating back to the 2004-2005 season, UConn has been ranked as low as No. 9 (2005-2006 and 2006-2007) and as high as No. 1 (2007-2008 and 2008-2009). Holy Cross has also faced a nationally-ranked Duke team twice, competing against the No. 2 Blue Devils on Jan. 4, 2005 and Jan. 16, 2006. The Crusaders played a No. 21 Boston College team on Dec. 1, 2004 and a No. 18 DePaul squad on Jan. 2, 2005. Holy Cross lost by just eight points, its smallest losing margin, against the Eagles in 2004.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE BIG EAST: In program history, Holy Cross has played against 10 of the 14 teams that make up the Big East conference. The Crusaders have played in a total of 52 games against Big East foes, winning 15 games in all. Holy Cross boasts a winning percentage in series against Cincinnati (1-0), Syracuse (3-2), Georgetown (1-0), Marquette (1-0) and Seton Hall (1-0) and a losing percentage against DePaul (0-2), St. John's (1-3), Connecticut (2-18), Providence (5-10) and Rutgers (1-2). The squad has not played against Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, South Florida or Louisville.

ALL-AROUND AMY: Sophomore starting forward Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) proved that she could indeed play in full strength as she recorded her third-career double-double against Yale on Nov. 12. In the season opener, Lepley notched career-highs in rebounds (11) and field goal attempts (17) while tying her career-high with nine made field-goals. She led the team with 18 points and added four assists. Lepley was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie team last season after playing a full season of basketball for the first time since her junior year in high school, averaged 23.7 minutes, 6.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last season. Lepley also claimed six Patriot League Rookie of the Week awards and recorded a team-best two double-doubles. The Massachusetts native also finished the season with a 44.2 field goal percentage, a team-high, and led the team in rebounding in four contests, including a season-high 10 rebounds twice.

THE FROSH IMPACT: The five-member freshman class of Kristen Fuery (Dresher, Pa.), Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.), Kelly Hamner (Manassas, Va.), Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) and Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) showed Friday night's crowd why head coach Bill Gibbons' decision to make immediate use of his newest team members was correct. Out of the 71 points Holy Cross put up on the board against Yale, the freshman class tallied 38 of them. They also played a combined 89 minutes, going 15-for-25 from the floor (60 percent shooting). Malone and Hamner had double-digit scoring performances, marking 13 and 14 points respectively. Ganser added seven points while Smith finished with four points. The freshman also brought down 28 rebounds, including six from Smith.

LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING: With no player on the roster listed taller than 6-0, the Holy Cross women's basketball team knew that height may be a challenge in terms of team defense. However, the Crusaders showed that height was not an issue as they pounded Yale on the boards on Nov. 12, collecting 40 rebounds next to the Bulldogs' 28. With Lepley leading the way with 11 rebounds, senior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) and Smith followed with six rebounds apiece. Newcomers Ganser, Hamner and Malone added four boards on to the total. The team also had 12 offensive rebounds and combined for two rebounds as a team.

CRUSADERS PICKED FIFTH IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross was picked to finish fifth in the 2010-2011 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 42 votes. American was chosen to finish first, receiving nine first-place votes as senior forward Michelle Kirk was also voted Preseason Player of the Year. The Eagles earned a league-high 93 points and was followed closely behind by reigning Patriot League Champion, Lehigh, who received seven first place votes and 91 points. Navy was picked third with 70 points, while Army (59 points) and Holy Cross (42) were selected fourth and fifth respectively. Colgate and Lafayette tied for sixth place with 40 votes and Bucknell wrapped up the standings in eighth place with 31 points.

FREMEAU, MAY AND WARD NAMED 2010-2011 TEAM CAPTAINS: Seniors Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) and May along with the lone junior listed on the roster, Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) were named captains for the 2010-2011 season. Fremeau topped the team in rebounding last year and ranking 10th in the league as well with an average of 5.4 rebounds per game. She is also a threat not only on defense but on offense as well as she also posted a 12.3 scoring average, ranking seventh amongst league individuals and third on the team last season. She was named to the second team All-Patriot League for her efforts. May will be the veteran starting in the backcourt, as she returns as the team's best defensive player. As a junior, she averaged 22.1 minutes, 3.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Her 4.1 rebound average was second highest on the team. Ward is also listed among the veterans in the backcourt, as she moves from the point guard position to the shooting guard in her junior season. Ward saw action in all 31 games last season, averaging 26.8 minutes, 5.3 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. She ranked second on the team and ninth in the Patriot League with 72 assists, averaging 2.3 assists per game. Combined, the three scored 661 out of the 899 points posted by the team's returning letterwinners. They also pulled down 348 out of the 502 rebounds collected by this year's returners. As of last night, the captains put together 15 points, including 13 from Fremeau, who went 6-for-12 from the floor against Yale. Fremeau also led the team with seven assists, one shy from her career-high of eight assists, set back on Jan. 16, 2010 against Bucknell.

WELCOME (BACK) TO WORCESTER: There will be two new faces handling front office duties for the 2010-2011 Crusader basketball squad, assistant coaches Chante Bonds and Kristin Drabyn. Bonds spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach for the Fairleigh Dickinson University women's basketball team. In addition to her assistant coaching responsibilities at FDU, Bonds scheduled the team's travel arrangements, worked with the strength and conditioning program and recruited on the east coast and Canada. She was a four-year letter winner on the Bentley women's basketball team, graduating in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in Informational Design and Corporate Communication. Drabyn spent the previous two seasons as a graduate assistant coach for the women's basketball team at Texas Tech. While at Texas Tech, Drabyn assisted in the everyday operations of the women's basketball program, including serving as the video coordinator. Drabyn was also a four-year member of the University of Maryland Baltimore County women's basketball team. She graduated as the school's all-time record holder in free throw percentage (90%) and in made three pointers (169). She co-captained the squad as a senior and was an All-Conference selection in 2008. In 2007, UMBC was the America East Tournament champions, earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Drabyn was also named the America East Sportsmanship winner in 2007. A 2008 graduate of UMBC with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Communications and Exercise Physiology, Drabyn earned her Master's degree in Sports Management from Texas Tech in 2010. A familiar face will also work with the women's basketball team this season as former Holy Cross basketball standout, Brittany Keil, rejoins the Crusader family as the team's strength and conditioning coach. Keil will also work directly with the Crusader men's basketball, men's and women's lacrosse, baseball, softball, field hockey, volleyball, women's tennis, cross country and track & field squads.

RETURNING TO GLORY: The 2010-2011 season will be the first instance under Gibbons' tutelage that a player on the roster has not participated in the NCAA Tournament. The last time a Holy Cross team made the NCAA Tournament was at the end of the 2006-2007 season. Holy Cross has played in the Big Dance 12 times, posting a 1-12 all-time record. It received a team-best seventh seeding in 1985 and played as the 16th seed in its last appearance, 2007. The Crusaders have also participated in the WNIT, playing in the 2002 season.

PATRIOT LEAGUE DOMINANCE: Despite its preseason ranking, the Holy Cross women's basketball team has its eyes set back on the top spot amongst the Patriot League's eight teams. Since its inaugural season back in 1991, the team has posted 237 league victories and just 63 losses. It has made 20 appearances in the Patriot League Tournament, boasting 11 championships and a 38-9 all-time record. The team was seeded fifth in the tournament last season, a program low, but proved that it could not be counted out, topping Army, 57-53 in the quarterfinal round before falling to the 2010 champion, Lehigh, in the semifinals. The Crusaders are most successful against Colgate as they have mounted a 41-3 all-time record against the Raiders. The team also boasts a 43-8 record against Lafayette. Army and American have given Holy Cross the most trouble, as the two have combined for 24 of the 63 wins against the Crusaders. Lehigh has put up 11 wins against Holy Cross as well.

RENEWING OLD RIVALRIES: Fordham, a former Patriot League foe, Massachusetts, an in-state rival, and Quinnipiac reenter the Crusaders' slate this season. The Crusaders and Rams have played in a total 37 contests, dating back to the 1983 season. Holy Cross holds the 31-6 all-time edge over Fordham, last earning a 70-62 victory in 2003. Massachusetts and Holy Cross have faced off 16 times in program history and will vie for the lead in the all-time series as it is tied at 8-8. The Minutewomen own a three game win-streak against Holy Cross, however, winning the last meeting 77-46 in 2007. The Crusaders will play on the Bobcats' home court this season as the teams have met four times in program history. The all-time series is notched at 2-2 with Holy Cross winning the first two and then Quinnipiac taking the last two competitions.

AND STARTING NEW ONES: Holy Cross will also face two brand new opponents this season, East Tennessee State and North Carolina A&T. The Crusaders will play these two teams in its only tournament of the season, the Marriott Cavalier Classic, hosted by Virginia. The two teams will definitely present a challenge for Holy Cross, as ETSU boasted an overall record of 23-9 last season and an 18-2 Atlantic Sun record. North Carolina A&T went 23-11 overall, but was also dominant in their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, finishing with a 14-2 league record.

HEAD COACH BILL GIBBONS: 26th SEASON: Bill Gibbons is entering his 26th season at the helm of the Holy Cross women's basketball program and 30th as a member of the Holy Cross basketball family in 2010-2011. He has compiled a 476-246 record as head coach, ranking 28th on the active Division I win leaders list. His quarter-century pledge to the team has made a major impact on all aspects of the women's basketball world and especially in the surrounding community. On April 30, 2009, Gibbons received the prestigious Paul N. Johnson Award, given to a member of the Worcester community who has greatly contributed to Worcester area basketball. With his service, the name Gibbons has become a fixture in the realm of women's basketball. He has led the Crusaders to nine Patriot League Championships in the last 15 years. He has also made 12 postseason appearances (11 NCAA Tournaments and one WNIT) in his 24 years as head coach. With sixteen 20-win seasons under his belt, Gibbons has cemented himself and the women's basketball program as one of the best in the East. The sixth coach of the women's program at Holy Cross, Gibbons has enjoyed the longest tenure in the position. He has led the Holy Cross women's basketball program to more victories than any other coach, and is the winningest coach in Holy Cross Basketball history. With his 358th victory, he surpassed George Blaney (357 wins as head coach of the Holy Cross men's basketball program), who had hired him to be his assistant coach in 1981. Now with more than 450 wins under his belt, Gibbons is the second-winningest coach in Holy Cross Athletics history, behind legendary baseball coach Jack Barry, who totaled 616 wins from 1921-1960.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: On Wednesday, Nov. 17, Holy Cross will travel to play Quinnipiac in Hamden, Conn. The two teams last met during the 2007-2008 season as the Bobcats enter the contest on a two-game win streak against the Crusaders. Wednesday's contest will be held at the TD Bank Sports Center which holds a crowd of 3,300. Both teams lost in their season openers as Quinnipiac will enter the mid-week contest at 0-1 after falling to Fairfield, 65-48, on Friday, Nov. 12. 

Record: 0-0 Affiliation: Big East

HEAD COACH: Head coach Geno Auriemma enters his 26th season at the helm of the Connecticut women's basketball team. His 25-year overall record stands at 735-122 (.858), by far the best winning percentage among active Division I coaches. He is also the fastest coach overall to eclipse the 700-win mark - taking just 822 games to reach the milestone, which he obtained in 2009-10. His program has won either the Big East regular season or tournament title in each of the past 17 seasons and 20 of the past 22 overall. Under Auriemma, UConn has captured both the Big East regular season and conference title in the same season 14 times. His 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 squads boasted 39-0 records and have won the last two National Championships as well.

2010-2011 SQUAD: The University of Connecticut women's basketball team will open the season as the nation's No. 1 team for the eighth time in the program's history, according to the Associated Press 2010-2011 preseason poll. The Huskies received 39 of a possible 40 first-place votes, marking the first time in 35 weeks that Connecticut has not been the unanimous No. 1 pick. They are riding a record 78-game winning streak as well. Senior Maya Moore was selected as a unanimous pick to the Associated Press All-America Team and is a three-time postseason AP All-America selection and took home the AP Player of the Year Award during her sophomore season. She averaged 18.9 points and 8.3 rebounds last season. Junior guards Caroline Doty and Tiffany Hayes return as starters for the squad while five freshmen don the 2010-2011 roster as well.