Friendly Affair: Cards welcome Willard, Holy Cross

Following an impressive win Thursday night against Western Kentucky in Nashville, Louisville (1-1) will welcome Holy Cross (2-3) to Freedom Hall this afternoon.

Following Thursday night's impressive performance against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in Nashville, the Louisville Cardinals welcome the struggling Holy Cross Crusaders to Freedom Hall for an afternoon tip-off.

The Crusaders (2-3), the two-time defending Patriot League champions, are off to a slow start this season and enter today's contest having dropped three straight.

In their last outing, Holy Cross trailed nearly the entire game, and eventually fell to Division III Williams College, which snapped the Crusaders 14 game home winning streak.

Holy Cross, coached by former Western Kentucky and Pittsburgh boss Ralph Willard, is led by 6'1 point guard Jave Meade (9.8 points, 5 assists), forward John Hurley (8.6, 4.8 rebounds), and guard Kevin Hamilton (7.4, 2.8). 6'4 freshman Keith Simmons has also played well and scored a career high 20 points last week against Harvard. Meade is a two year starter and really makes the Crusaders go with his ball handling and passing passing ability. Hurley provides energy and toughness to the Crusaders frontcourt, while Hamilton brings athleticism to the wing. Simmons can provide scoring off the bench.

"Holy Cross has some outstanding athletes," said Coach Rick Pitino on Saturday. "We try to point out that it's their style that you have to be ready for. They have the Player of the Year in their conference in Jave Meade, their point guard. They have very good size."

But Willard's team comes limping in to Louisville today, and have struggled with their shooting early on. The Crusaders are hitting just 28% from beyond the arch and only 40% overall from the floor and have more turnovers than assists on the season.

"They have been struggling from the outside shooting the basketball, but they have everything else." continued Pitino. "They are extremely physical, but it's their style of play, with their changing defenses...it'll be a very tough ball game for us, if we're not mentally prepared."

The Cardinals on the other hand are coming off Thursday's game against WKU, where they forced several turnovers with their pressure defense and shot the lights out, including 63% in the final half.

"We have to play as a team now," said sophomore Francisco Garcia of the improved play. "There's not really a Reece Gaines, Marvin Stone or Ellis [Myles] this year, so everybody has to stay together and help each other out."

The Crusaders have struggled to score points, averaging just 60 points per game, and figure to be strongly tested by Louisville's full court pressure and changing half court defenses.

Starting Lineups

Louisville (1-1)

                                                     Ht      Wt.      Yr     PPG   RPG    Hometown

F     24 Luke WHITEHEAD     6-6       220      Sr.     20.0     12.0     San Francisco, Ca.

F     32 Francisco GARCIA     6-7       185      So.    14.0     3.0       Bronx, N.Y.

C      1 Kendall DARTEZ         6-10     225      Sr.       6.5     1.5       Houston, Texas

G      5 Taquan DEAN             6-3        185       So.    13.0    5.0       Neptune, N.J.

G     34 Larry O'BANNON     6-4        200        Jr.     10.5   2.5       Louisville, Ky.

Holy Cross (2-3)

                                                     Ht     Wt.     Yr.      PPG     RPG     Hometown

F     24 John HURLEY            6-7       210      Jr.         8.6         4.6      South Boston, Mass.

C      4 Nate LUFKIN              6-11     220      Jr.         10.5       5.0      Austin, Texas

G     14 Kevin HAMILTON     6-3     175      So.        7.4        2.8      Queens Village, N.Y.

G     15 Jave MEADE                6-1     195       Jr.         9.8        4.8      Queensbridge, N.Y.

G     23 Greg KINSEY               6-3     190       Jr.          6.0      3.4        Hatboro, Pa.

Head Coach: Ralph Willard (Holy Cross ‘67) 78-49 in 5th yr. at HC, 222-173 in 14 yrs. overall.

Notes
  • Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard is the father of U of L assistant coach Kevin Willard.
  • Louisville and Holy Cross have never played in basketball, but the Cardinals are 4-0 against members of the Patriot League.

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