Holy Cross started the Patriot League quarterfinal match by scoring 8 of the game's first 10 points. A Colin Harris 3-pt field goal brought the Cadets back to within 3, but a 3-pt field goal by Patriot League Player of the Year, Kevin Hamilton, extended the Crusaders lead to 13-5 with 15 minutes left. Army outscored Holy Cross 10-3 over the next 5 minutes, capped off by a 3-pt field goal by Matt Bell.
Army continued their hot shooting from behind the arc over the next few minutes. 3-pointers by Bell and Cory Sinning, combined with a Jarell Brown jump shot, gave the Cadets their first lead of the game, 23-21. Army contined to play the Crusaders very tough, leading 27-26 with 1 minute left. However, another Hamilton 3-pointer capped off the first half scoring, giving the Crusaders their slim lead.
Army left their game in the locker room for the second half. Holy Cross scored the first 7 points of the second half within 2 minutes. The Crusaders extended their lead to 43-30 with about 16 minutes left. A Corban Bates layup brought Army to within 9, but then Kingston, NY native, Keith Simmons sparked an 11-6 run with 8 points to give Holy Cross a 54-40 lead with 10 minutes remaining. Army again went ice cold at that point, not scoring another field goal for the rest of the game. The Cadets realized their season was over, and played like it for the rest of the game. Holy Cross outscored the Cadets 22-2 in extended garbage time, wrapping up one of the most futile seasons in Army basketball history.
Among the few Army bright spots were 2nd team All-Patriot League co-captain, Matt Bell, who again led the Cadets in scoring with 13. Seldom used Corban Bates saved his best game of the season for last, just missing a double-double with 11 rebounds and 9 points.
As we head into 2005-2006, one has to wonder if Army will still have its head coach, Jim Crews. While still very highly respected and with over 300 wins, his record at Army is now 14-66 (4-41 in Patriot League play, including tournament games). Coach Crews also seemed to struggle with finding the right lineup all year, as evidenced by significant late season contributions from Jarell Brown and Corban Bates, both of whom rarely saw the court for most of the season. Crews does have ties to his alma mater, Indiana, where former Army athletic director, Rick Greenspan (who hired Crews for Army) currently presides. If Indiana, currently on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, fails to make the Big Dance, it could spell a return for Coach Crews to the Midwest.
Whoever is heading up the Cadets for the 2005-2006 season has to hit the recruiting trail right away. While the boys played with a lot of heart, they were woefully outmatched in almost every game, and need a serious talent upgrade to make a mark in next year's Patriot League campaign. Another year of experience for returnees such as Matt Bell and Cory Sinning should help, but the other schools continue to only get better. Let's hope next season brings more success and, of course, two wins over Navy (Go ARMY!).
Finally, congratulations and best wishes to Ray Fredrick, who will embark on his military career after being graduated from the Academy this spring.