HC blitzes American

Updated: 7:23 a.m.

Holy Cross 80, American 56: (Box score) It took an extra day to get it completed, but the results of the first big shakeout weekend in the Patriot League are in and just like it looked heading into league play, two teams have separated themselves at the top of the heap.

Bucknell (14-4, 5-0 PL) did its part Sunday, downing Lehigh, and Holy Cross (13-5, 4-1) did likewise yesterday afternoon, hammering American 80-56 behind Kevin Hamilton's 23-point showing. Hamilton was joined in double figures by Keith Simmons (17) and freshman point guard Pat Doherty (15).

Holy Cross shot 53 percent from the field, its fourth straight 50-percent or better game, and held the Eagles to 39 percent. Andre Ingram was held to 10 points and was not a factor for American (10-7, 3-2). Ingram was limited to 27 minutes of playing time due to foul trouble.

While many are talking about Holy Cross' improvement on offense, Albert Breer of the Daily News Transcript points out much of that offense is coming as a result of the Crusaders' usual tough defense:
It was still the defense, though, that set the tone for the scoring spree. Early on, as Holy Cross got up 8-2 in blink of an eye (actually, less than three minutes), the Crusaders clogged up passing lanes and created easy chances on the other end. Which they easily converted.
Breer had some interesting comments from Kevin Hamilton and coach Ralph Willard on HC's defensive preparation. From Hamilton:
"We knew, as soon as they called the play, what play they were running, where they were going, what rotation we needed to make."
And from Willard:
"That's what we do, we're 10th in the nation in steals and we work real hard on it. We work hard on scouting the opponent and knowing where they're trying to get the basketball."
Breer also had a few words of advice for Bucknell:
But it best beware of this Holy Cross team when the two face off in Worcester on Feb. 23, a game that, many are starting to believe, could crown a champion. The Crusaders are not the same squad that lost to the Bison on Jan. 8 in Pennsylvania.
We are not so sure they are not the same Crusaders. But then we were already pretty impressed before the Bucknell game and we pointed out before that game that we didn't expect it to settle anything.

The game in Worcester, though, is not shaping up as a game that will crown a conference champion. Right now, though there are plenty of games that could change things and almost certainly at least one of them will, that game in Worcester is shaping up as a game that would decide little more than whether or not there will be a coin flip for the top seed in the tournament.

Our prediction before the first game was that Bucknell and Holy Cross wouldn't settle things until March 11. For now, we're sticking to that.

Now, for those who really enjoy prognosticating, let us toss out a scenario for your speculating pleasure: What if ... A) Bucknell runs the table in the regular season, including an upset at Villanova on Feb. 15, and B) HC wins out, except for that Feb. 23 game with Bucknell and C) the two meet in the finals and HC wins a close game ... could the Patriot League get two bids?

Sure that is unlikely, but one thing to consider is the fact that the Atlantic 10 is unlikely to get its usual number of slots. And both Bucknell and HC have decent RPIs, which will improve if Bucknell were to upset Villanova.

Of course before anybody can seriously even consider making a two-bid case for the Patriot League, those two teams need to get past the rest of the league. Even though Lehigh lost two over the weekend, both were on the road. They will be home this weekend, and could easily throw a monkey wrench into things when Holy Cross stops by for the second game of its weekend visit to the Lehigh Valley.

We have not been high on American from the start. But no doubt the Eagles are a better team than they showed yesterday. They still get Bucknell and HC at Bender, starting with Friday night's visit from the Bison.

AU and Lehigh (9-9, 3-2) are currently tied for third with Colgate (8-10, 3-2), another team that still gets a shot at Holy Cross in its building.

In other words, anything can happen between now and March.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

©2005 Hoop Time. All rights reserved.