The Friars will try to put their winless trip in South Padre Island behind them by returning home to the Dunk to face a struggling New England foe. Holy Cross and Providence College go way way back, playing their first game in 1921. Did you think our offense was bad the last three games? According to the official game notes from the athletic office, “The two teams first met on December 14, 1921 with Holy Cross earning a 56-10 win at Providence”. Apparently, freshman Ray Hall was the only one who could score that game, netting all 10 points despite coming off the bench in spurts to thunderous applause. And that folks, is how the schools cafeteria got named. True story.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 7:00PM EST
Opponent: Holy Cross (2-4)
Location: The Dunk
ESPN Accuscore: Providence 69.4, Holy Cross 66.7 (PC wins 60% of 10,000 sims)
CBSSports Daily Picks: Providence 75, Holy Cross 67
Hit up the rest of the preview after the jump.
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
Good HC shooting, but inconsistent from 3: Holy Cross comes in with a very good 52.9% effective field goal percentage (#59 in the country), although they’ve had some mixed success with their outside shooting. They’ve been downright blistering in two of their games (11-21 in win over Boston College, 12-21 in beating Hartford), but have also had three games under 30% — including a 2-11 performance in their opening loss to College of Charleston. If Ed Cooley sticks with the zone because of depth issues, the Crusaders might be getting the same open looks as the teams in South Padre Island. Senior guard Devin Brown has taken the most threes for Holy Cross this season, hitting 12 of his 27 attempts (44%).
Getting turnovers: The Friars had a tough time getting Iowa State and Northern Iowa to cough up the ball, despite giving lots of full court pressure. Holy Cross has had some issues in this department so far, turning the ball over in almost one quarter of their possessions (23.3%, ranked 275th). Devin Brown, who leads the team in scoring, also leads the team in possession percentage and has a fairly high 24.3% turnover percentage. The Crusaders also primarily play freshman Justin Burrell at the point, who has turned over the ball in 33% of his possessions. If the Friars are going to get in transition where they have a better chance at scoring, they must force Holy Cross into some mistakes.
Assists, please!: 6, 8, and 8 – The number of assists the Friars have amassed over the last three games. I touched on this in one of the preview pieces in the preseason, and it still looks like it could be a huge problem. Granted, assists are tough to come by when the team is shooting poorly, and even tougher when Vincent Council is the only one that can score at times so there really is no need for him to pass. However, so far this season the Friars are sitting on a 45.5% assist percentage, which is ranked #302 in the nation.
Will the real Bryce Cotton please stand up?: Bryce Cotton followed up his great first three games with three absolute stinkers. Playing all but 8 minutes of those last three, Cotton shot a woeful 3-20 from the field. The defenses have made some adjustments and exposed his weaknesses, so now it’s up to Cotton to make some adjustments of his own.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
Holy Cross enters the game with a 2-4 mark. The Crusaders have faced one common opponent with the Friars as Holy Cross was defeated at Fairfield, 73-52, on November 20. Senior guard Devin Brown leads the team in scoring. He is averaging 15.7 points per game. Sophomore forward Dave Dudzinski leads the team in rebounding (6.3 rpg).
GoHolyCross.com: Crusaders Head To Providence On Tuesday Night
Even though Holy Cross is off to an 2-4 start this season, it has faced one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the Patriot League. All four of the Crusaders’ losses this year have come against teams ranked in the top 110 of the ratings percentage index: Harvard (22nd), the College of Charleston (64th), Maine (100th) and Fairfield (106th). Holy Cross’ opponents have combined to go 18-17 so far this season, good for a .514 winning percentage. Through games of Nov. 27, the Crusaders’ schedule was ranked as the 236th-hardest in the nation by CBSSports.com.
Hoop Time Online: Pieces for success are there if Holy Cross can fit them together
Most observers chalk up the struggles of the past two years to the fact that the team’s current seniors have had a different head coach in each of their three seasons. Conventional wisdom holds that playing for Brown a second straight year should solve a lot of those woes.
Still, until they start looking as good on the floor as they do on paper, questions will linger. Is this bunch overrated? Are there chemistry problems that keep this bunch from playing anywhere near the expected level.
Until they prove otherwise, there will remain doubts.
Worcester Telegram and Gazette: Holy Cross begins crusade to win close games
Of those 15 single-digit losses, 10 were by four points or less. Near the end of their nonconference schedule, the Crusaders dropped three straight games to George Washington, Sacred Heart and Yale by a total of four points.
Sports Network: College Basketball Preview – Patriot League
HOLY CROSS: Last season, the Crusaders were challenged with a very tough non- conference schedule and far more road games than most teams, and while the squad didn’t shy away from the difficult slate, it also didn’t do them any good as they won just one game prior to kicking off the Patriot League schedule the second week of January. Head coach Milan Brown surely was optimistic heading into his first season with Holy Cross, given the high expectations for a program that has been one of the leaders in the league for several years, but now we’ll see what he and his athletes learned from such a difficult chain of events. Perhaps the biggest mystery awaiting the Crusaders is whether or not R.J. Evans will be able to bounce back from an injury that kept him out of much of the 2010-11 campaign. The 2008-09 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, Evans was responsible for 13.4 points and 5.1 rebounds in 2009-10 and could again be a leader on the floor just by his presence. Getting more of the spotlight, at least until Evans can show that he again deserves more attention, is senior guard Devin Brown who generated 15.4 ppg as he connected on 60-of-167 three-pointers a year ago when he was named Second-Team All-Patriot League. Providing even more senior leadership in the backcourt is Mike Cavataio (8.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg), but what the Crusaders really need is someone to step up and take the place of Andrew Keister who departed after averaging 12.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest a year ago.
Milan Brown is right. Holy Cross should be much better this season.
The Crusaders have talent. They have depth. For the first time in their careers, they don’t have to learn another whole new way of doing things.
The question is: Will this season be a stepping stone in Brown’s rebuilding process. Or will everything come together for the Crusaders to be the contending team everyone has been waiting for?
WHAT TO: WATCH
The University of Hartford men’s basketball team headed to Worcester, Mass. for a date with Holy Cross. The Hawks fell to the Crusaders, 80-66.
Boston College vs. Holy Cross Highlights
Holy Cross vs. Harvard Highlights
College of Charleston vs. Holy Cross Highlights
The Patriot League’s Jimmy Johnson interviews Holy Cross head coach Milan Brown at the 2011 Patriot League Men’s Basketball Media Day Thursday at the ArtsQuest Center at the SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pa.
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Twitter.com: I’ll probably be live tweeting the game @friarblog. Also be sure to follow the #pcbb hashtag as always.
WHERE TO: WATCH
WHERE TO: LISTEN
WEEI 103.7 FM