November 10, 2007

Women's Basketball Host Season Opener Against Vermont

Nov. 10, 2007

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS: Television: None Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; www.sportsjuice.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester Vermont Radio: WVMT 680 AM Series Record: 6-5 Last Meeting: Vermont 67, Holy Cross 53, November 17, 2006; Burlington, Vt.

PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS: Pos. No. Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG F 13 Ashley McLaughlin 6-1 Sr. 5.4 4.6 F 14 Briana McFadden 5-10 So. 9.2 2.5 C 42 Kathy Gruzynski 6-2 Jr. 2.5 2.4 G 5 Laura Aloisi 5-9 Sr. 5.2 11.0 G 44 Bethany O'Dell 5-8 So. 12.4 3.9

SERIES QUICK FACTS: Overall Holy Cross leads, 6-5 In Worcester Holy Cross leads, 5-1 At the Hart Center Holy Cross leads, 5-1 Bill Gibbons vs. Vermont 6-5 Sharon Dawley vs. Holy Cross 3-2 Current Win Streak Vermont, one game

FOR OPENERS: Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 19-14 in its opening game of the season. This year will mark the 18th time the Crusaders have opened the season at home, with Holy Cross posting a 11-6 mark in the previous 17 contests. Since Bill Gibbons took over as head coach, the Crusaders stand 15-7 in season openers. Over the last seven years, Holy Cross has defeated Massachusetts (68-42 in 2001-2002), St. Peter's (70-64, 2002-2003), Providence (68-48, 2004-2005), Northeastern (76-60, 2005-2006), and Yale (68-56, 2006-2007) on opening day, while falling to Fairfield (2000-2001, 63-58) and St. Peter's (87-76, 2003-2004).

ALOISI AND MCLAUGHLIN NAMED CAPTAINS: Senior guard Laura Aloisi (Nashua, N.H.) and senior forward Ashley McLaughlin (Andover, Mass.) have been selected as the Crusaders' captains for the 2007-2008 season. Both players are three-year letterwinners for the Crusaders, and will take over the leadership role from Brittany Keil, Ashley Brennan-McBride, and Kaitlyn Foley who served as the Crusaders' captains as seniors during the 2006-2007 season.

CRUSADERS PICKED THIRD IN PRESEASON POLL: In the 2007-2008 Patriot League preseason poll, Holy Cross was picked to finish in third place in voting by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. The Crusaders received 77 total points in the poll, to trail first-place Bucknell (92 points) and second-place Army (83 points). Holy Cross received one first-place votes in the poll, with the Bison earning 10 first-place votes and Army tallying four. Following the Crusaders in the poll were American (fourth, 62 points and one first place vote), Lehigh (fifth, 46 points), Lafayette (sixth, 33 points), Navy (sixth, 33 points), and Colgate (eighth, 22 points).

2007-2008 OUTLOOK: The Holy Cross women's basketball team heads into the 2007-2008 season looking to defend its place as a top contender in the Patriot League and its 2007 Patriot League Championship title. After clinching the league title, the Crusaders fell to Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 81-44, ending the season that marked the 11th Patriot League Championship for the Crusaders in 17 seasons. With the return of senior guard Laura Aloisi to the court as well as several returning underclassmen, Holy Cross will be a force hard to slow down. The Crusaders are coming off a 15-18 overall record, finishing third at 7-7 in the Patriot League. In addition to last season's success, the Crusaders picked up their seventh league title in 10 years. Holy Cross finished first in the league in two categories: assists (14.36 per game) and free throw percentage (.741). The Crusaders were also ranked fourth in four different categories including scoring offense (57.8 per game), field goal percentage (.400), three-point field goal percentage (.317), and assist/turnover ratio (+0.76).

Frontcourt On the frontcourt, Holy Cross will be counting on the veteran leadership of senior forward Ashley McLaughlin and junior forward Kathy Gruzynski. McLaughlin started in 32 games last season, tallying 177 points, 151 rebounds, 61 assists, 38 steals and five blocks. McLaughlin was ranked 15th in the Patriot League in defensive rebounds with 33, averaging 3.06 rebounds per game. In the season opener against Yale, McLaughlin tied in most rebounds during the game with six. On the road against Rhode Island, she had five rebounds, tying her first on the team, while recording seven points and two assists. McLaughlin started in 13 of the 14 Patriot League games last season, averaging 30.4 minutes played, 5.2 rebounds, 6.6 points, 1.1 steals and 2.2 assists per contest. She had a season-high 13 points versus Bucknell, also chipping in eight rebounds and three assists. McLaughlin tallied a team-high eight rebounds versus Navy, also chipping in three points and two assists. In the Patriot League quarterfinals against Lafayette, she tied for first in rebounds with seven and added three assists. Gruzynski will also be back with the Crusaders, closing out a season in which she made 32 appearances on the court. During her sophomore season, Gruzynski played 369 minutes, scored 81 points, and tallied 77 rebounds, 10 assists, four blocks and 12 steals. Her season averages included 11.5 minutes played, 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. In last year's home opener, Gruzynski posted nine points and six rebounds. In the Patriot League, she played in all 14 games, averaging 11.6 minutes of playing time, 1.5 rebounds, 2.6 points, and went 9 for 15 in free throws with a .600 average. In the Crusaders' league opener against Lafayette, she had seven points and seven rebounds. In the final game of the regular season, Gruzynski scored nine points and added four rebounds. Making 28 appearances last season, junior forward Jessica Merrihue is also returning to contribute to the success of the Holy Cross frontcourt. Her season totals tallied to 128 minutes played, 22 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, two steals and 29 points. Merrihue also recorded a .667 free throw percentage, making six of nine attempts. Throughout the season, she averaged 4.6 minutes played, 0.8 rebounds and 1.0 points per game. In the Patriot League, Merrihue appeared in 11 games, averaging 3.5 minutes, 0.5 rebounds and 0.6 points per game. Against Lehigh, she contributed two points and a rebound while chipping in four points and one rebound versus Lafayette. Tayana Carper will return for her second season with Holy Cross after appearing in 28 games last year. On the season, Carper tallied 124 playing minutes, 19 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, six steals and 19 points. She also made six of 10 free throw shots, for a percentage of .600. "The emergence of Tayana at the four spot and moving Jessica Merrihue to the five spot will add depth to our front court," said Gibbons. Freshman Elizabeth Campbell will be joining the Crusaders this season as well, playing center.

Backcourt Leading the return of five guards this season are sophomores Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell whom both made their debut season a memorable one. McFadden appeared in all 33 games last season, making 30 starts, averaging 33.8 minutes, 9.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 steals per game. She was ranked among the Patriot League leaders in scoring (19th, 9.2 per game), assists (sixth, 2.76), free throw percentage (eighth, .774), three-point field goal percentage (10th, .331) and three-point field goals made (11th, 1.55). She posted a career-best 10 assists against Lehigh in the Patriot League semifinals. McFadden led the team for the year in assists, playing 33 games, making 91 assists resulting in an average of 2.8 assists per game. McFadden also made it onto the top 10 list of three-pointers made, ranking her ninth with 51. Also making school history, she ranks third in minutes played in a single season with 1,115. Making 30 starts in 32 games last season, O'Dell impacted the success of the women's basketball team on every level. In the Patriot League, O'Dell was ranked in scoring (seventh, 12.4 per game), rebounds (23rd, 3.9 per game), field goal percentage (ninth, .428), assists (10th, 2.38 per game), steals (15th, 1.28 per game), three-point field goal percentage (first, .422) and three-point field goals made (first, 2.72). O'Dell also crushed Holy Cross records for most three-pointers made in a season with 87 and was ranked sixth in three-point percentage recording a .422 percentage. O'Dell's debut season also landed her fifth on the school list minutes played in a season with 1,095. The Patriot League quickly recognized the impact O'Dell was making on Holy Cross and the league, naming her the 2006-2007 Patriot League Rookie of the Year. Honors for the two returning starters quickly added up courtesy of their young success. McFadden and O'Dell were named to the 2006-2007 All-Patriot League Rookie Team as well each receiving several Rookie of the Week awards with McFadden receiving three and O'Dell receiving six. Also returning for the Crusaders is senior Laura Aloisi, who played only 10 games last season due to an injury. In her 10 games, Aloisi racked up 110 points, 52 rebounds, 68 assists, 30 steals and one block. Aloisi also went 10 of 31 in three-point field goals with a .323 percentage and 18 of 24 in free throws, marking an impressive .750 percentage. She led the team in points with 20 in the Crusaders' season opener against Yale. On the road against Quinnipiac, Aloisi led the team with seven rebounds while chipping in 14 points and 10 assists. Against Connecticut, Aloisi tied for first in points on the team with 13 while recording five rebounds and seven assists. During her sophomore year, Aloisi saw action in 29 games, making 25 starts. Aloisi averaged 6.7 points, 4.4 assists, 2.0 steals and 3.0 rebounds per game. She also had a free throw average of .746, making 50 of 67 attempts. In Patriot League action, Alosi averaged 7.0 points, 4.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game. The fourth returning guard for Holy Cross is junior Jessica Pearson, who saw action in just eight games last season due to injury. Pearson posted 14 points, three steals, nine assists and 16 rebounds in 93 minutes of playing time. "Our backcourt is the deepest it has ever been in 23 years," said Gibbons. "Laura and Jessica were playing terrific basketball when they went down with their injuries. They are back at full strength and the experience that our girls received last season was remarkable." The Crusaders' sophomore Christy Cushnie will also be returning at the guard position after seeing action in 28 games last year. Cushnie posted 63 points, 31 rebounds, 11 steals, 35 assists, two blocks and made 21 of 25 free throw attempts. "Briana, Bethany and Christy all received a `baptism with fire' last year, but they all responded and met the challenge," said Gibbons. Incoming freshmen Whitney Fremeau and Alyssa May will also be joining the team at the guard position. "When you add talented freshmen like Whitney and Alyssa then we have depth that we believe can play 94 feet and wear down our opponents," said Gibbons.

NEXT UP FOR THE LADY `SADERS: Coming up this week, the Crusaders head out on the road for their first away game, scheduled at Connecticut on Wednesday, November 14, at 7:30 p.m. in Storrs, Conn.

WELCOME TO WORCESTER: Courtney Graham is entering first season as an assistant coach on the Holy Cross staff.