Basketball Scouting Report: Holy Cross

Army survived its road trip to Navy this past Saturday, moving to 4-0 in the Patriot League. Passing that test should give this team confidence, but the closeness of the win should enable the Black Knights to remain aware of the reality that they can still improve in many ways.


Army captured a coach's "dream win" against Navy. Zach Spiker notched the result he and his program needed, but Army was shaky enough on offense against the Midshipmen to give Spiker a lot to work with at practice in the ensuing days. Army should be happy but hungry heading into tonight's game against Holy Cross, a team that is battling injuries and needs to be re-evaluated in light of how quickly its players do or don't heal.

HOLY CROSS AT-A-GLANCE

The Crusaders made the NCAA tournament in 2007, and have won more than 15 games in a season only once in the following six seasons. The 2013-2014 isn't getting off to a good start; Holy Cross is 1-3 in the Patriot League. However, this team needs to be whole before it can have a chance to move up the ladder. Guard Cullen Hamilton missed the team's most recent game against Bucknell with a knee injury, and guard Robert Champion missed the game with an injured hamstring. Hamilton is second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.9 points per game. Champion averages 11.1 minutes per game, extending the Crusaders' bench. If neither man can play, Holy Cross becomes a much thinner team; its bench was outscored 21-2 by Bucknell's reserves. If Hamilton is able to play, though, the scouting report becomes more complex for Army, something to keep in mind when these teams meet again in February.

Starting Lineup

Forward – Dave Dudzinski –
Senior, 6-9, 227; 2013-14: 15.9 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game

By any reasonable measurement, this is Holy Cross's best player. Dudzinski is easily the Crusaders' best scorer and rebounder. No player on this roster makes a substantial statistical imprint as a passer, so Dudzinski's blue-collar work in the paint makes him Army's most important assignment at the defensive end, especially if Hamilton, a 6-3 guard, is out.

Forward – Malcolm Miller – Juinior, 6-6, 190; 2013-14: 9.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.4 assists per game, 1.1 steals per game, 1.8 blocks per game

Miller is clearly the jack of all trades on this team and its best defender. He's not a specialist in any one facet of competition, but he gets involved in all areas of play at both ends of the floor. To average nearly two blocked shots per game at 6-6 requires very sound instincts, so when Army has the ball, the Black Knights have to know that they'll have to beat Miller with ball movement and not shot fakes.

Guard – Anthony Thompson – Freshman, 5-10, 150; 2013-14: 8.8 ppg, 2 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.1 steals per game

Holy Cross head coach Milan Brown knows that as long as Hamilton is out of the lineup, players such as Thompson have to provide more scoring production in order to make up the difference. Army needs to be aware of how Hamilton's injury might make the other Crusaders more intent on looking for opportunities at the offensive end of the floor. That's a factor which should alter the complexion of this game.

Guard – Justin Burrell – Junior, 5-9, 165; 2013-14: 8.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.6 apg

What you see in Burrell is little different from the rest of Holy Cross's backcourt in the absence of Hamilton. On defense, Army needs to be vigilant; the Black Knights have to be ready to contain the Crusaders' guards if they show more initiative on offense and play with more aggression than in previous weeks.

Guard – Eric Green – Sophomore, 6-4, 180; 2013-14: 7.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.9 apg, 2 steals per game

You will notice that Holy Cross has plenty of solid defenders in its starting five. Miller is the shot blocker, but Green is the pickpocket. Army knows it is facing a team that has limited scoring options. Avoiding open-court turnovers against the likes of Green will ensure that the Black Knights don't give away easy transition baskets.

Keys to the Game

1) Protect the ball.
If Army doesn't give Holy Cross easy baskets, the Crusaders will have a really hard time winning this game. It's that simple.

2) Stop the ball on defense. As long as Army contains dribble penetration and does not allow Holy Cross's guards to get into the paint, it should be able to handle the Crusaders' offense and create the kind of game it wants.

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