Friars Prepare For Crusaders

The Friars are 7-2, the Crusaders 6-3. Both are coming off long exam breaks... is this a trap game?

Key Returnees:
Keith Simmons, SR, 6-4, G
Torey Thomas, SR, 5-11, G
Pat Doherty, SO, 5-11, G
Tim Clifford, JR, 6'10, C
Lawrence Dixon, SO, 6-5, G
Colin Cunningham, SO, 6-6, F
Alex Vander Baan, SO, 6-8, F

Key Newcomers:
Andrew Keister, FR, 6-9, F
Eric Meister, FR, 6-7, F

Last Season: 20-12 (11-3, 2nd)

Hopes:
Holy Cross, under Ralph Willard, has been a force in the Patriot League, competing annually with Bucknell for the league title. They've also given a number of the big boys good scares over the years. With four of their five starters back, most predicted another banner year for the Cross. Last season was filled with injuries to key personnel, yet Willard managed to cobble together a successful season, and a number of the injured return, like Simmons, Dixon and Cunningham, but none are yet 100%. Health will be a huge factor for Holy Cross, and if the Crusaders can regain it, they'll be a pain in someone's butt come March.

Reality:
Well, the injury bug has bitten again. Doherty is out with a broken hand for PC, and Simmons is rumored to be out, as well. If that's true, it'll be a tall order to topple the Friars. Both teams are coming off long exam breaks. PC hasn't played since beating Maine on December 9, while Holy Cross last played on December 6, dropping a hard-fought contest at Duke. The Cross led at halftime, before succumbing by a 57-45 score. Holy Cross comes in 6-3, having won their first five. Included in that streak was a two point win over Fairfield, and easier wins over Hampton, Siena, Harvard and William & Mary. The Cross then dropped a 72-64 contest at Syracuse, giving the Orange a major battle; beat Yale, and then lost 69-53 at Dayton, before going down to Duke. Individually, Simmons has led Holy Cross with 17.0 ppg, and is second in rebounding at 6.1 rpg. Thomas averages 11.7 ppg, with a team high 4.4 apg; Clifford averages 9.0 ppg and 4.0 rpg; Doherty was at 7.0 ppg, and Vander Baan at 6.7 ppg. Clifford, who weighs 275, is a load underneath, and figures to give PC problems down low. Meister and Cunningham have been seeing decent minutes, and that figures to increase. As a team, the Crusaders shoot 42% from the floor, 70% from the line and 31% from the arc. This will be the 68th meeting between these two ancient rivals, with PC holding a 39-28 advantage. The last time that these two squared off was back on November 18, 2000, when PC won in a tight one, 63-57.

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