PL fit to be tied after night of upsets

(Last updated 9:37 a.m.)

We told you there would be upsets, and sure enough, there were. The shocker is Navy's win over Colgate, though it happened as predicted. The jump shooting ways of the Red Raiders left them at a tremendous disadvantage at the free throw line and Navy took advantage.

The not so surprising one was American's win over Bucknell, which probably was ripe for the picking against a tough opponent in a tough gym.

The result: A pair of teams, Bucknell and Holy Cross, tied for first and two others, Lehigh and American, tied for third. At least until Sunday.

Here's the roundup:

American 68, Bucknell 59:Sooner or later Bucknell's inconsistent play was bound to catch up with them. Last night in bender it did. The Bison tried to turn it on after falling behind by as many as 20 points, but against a good American team, playing on its home court, and coming off an embarrassing loss at Holy Cross, it was going to take a full 40 minute effort for the Bison to extend their win streak.

Surprisingly, American won the game despite a tough night for Andre Ingram, who was 1-for-13 from the floor and finished with only 4 points. Even more surprisingly, American won the game in the paint, not on the perimeter, oustcoring Bucknell 26-16 from close range.

As Tom Housenick of the Daily Item points out, the Eagles reaction to Monday's loss at Holy Cross was as predicted:
American came out to start the game like a wounded dog after getting embarrassed Monday at Holy Cross, putting together a 15-0 run and making 12 of its first 18 field goals en route to a 33-14 advantage at the 6:14 mark.
Bucknell's Kevin Bettencourt, who, like Ingram, had a tough shooting night (1-for-8 from the field), admitted to Housenick:
"Maybe this was the best thing for us. We've been falling into a pattern of starting slowly, but we've been winning. That was making it tough for us to realize it was a bad pattern."
Nobody realistically expected the Bison to run the table anyhow. What remains to be seen, though, is how this team will react to this loss. Last season, a less mature Bison team saw a win streak end late in the season at Holy Cross and went in the tank, losing three of the next four to finish the year.

But here's a deja vu scenario that will spook the Holy Cross fans just a little. In 2003, Holy Corss came into Bender unbeaten in the league and riding an eight game win streak. Holy Cross even had a non-conference win over a Big East team (Boston College), though not one as highly ranked as the Pitt team that Bucknell beat. The Eagles blew HC out that night, 72-49. The Crusaders next loss came 13 games later in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

We offer that not as a prediction, but simply as a reminder to folks who want to make too much out of one loss, or one win.
Box score | AU recap | BU recap | Wash. Post story

Navy 82, Colgate 71: Some dude named George O'Garro scored 24 points to lead the Midshipmen to an upset win over Colgate, ending Navy's 8-game losing streak. If you never heard of O'Garro, you're not alone. The 24-point showing was a career best for the 6-6 senior forward, who had only started 5 of Navy's first 18 games and was averaging less than 8 ppg before last night.

Defensively, Navy unveiled a matchup zone that coach Billy Lange told Bill Wagner of the Annapolis Capital they just put in two days ago. As Wagner points out, it worked:
Alvin Reed, Andrew Zidar, Jon Simon and Kyle Roemer - all of whom average in double figures - combined to shoot 17-for-46 from the field. The Raiders were 3-for-18 from 3-point range before suddenly draining five in the final three minutes.
Navy won this one at the foul line, getting to the stripe 35 times, making 24, led by O'Garro's 10-for-13 night. Colgate shot only 15 free throws, making 9.
Box score | Navy recap | Colgate recap | AP wrap | Baltimore Sun story

Lehigh 63, Army 45: Lehigh's losing streak ends at 2; Army's win streak ends at 1. Nick Monserez led Lehigh with 20 points, including a 4-for-5 night from three-point range.

Andre Williams of the Morning Call writes the Mountain Hawks were without the services of Joe Knight, who sat out the game with a foot injury. Williams says Knight is expected to play Sunday against Holy Cross
Box score | Army recap| Lehigh recap| AP wrap

Holy Cross 74, Lafayette 57:Watching Holy Cross put this one away was like watching a fine carpenter craft a piece of handcarved furniture. The process was boring as hell but the end result looked pretty good. See story below.
Box score | Lafayette recap | HC recap | AP wrap | Morning Call story | Express-Times story

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HC tames 'Pards, Zoo Crew

Originally posted 9:59 p.m. Friday

Special to The Telegram&Gazette

EASTON, Pa. – Lafayette’s Kirby Sports Center has not always been a friendly place for the Holy Cross Crusaders. In six of the past seven seasons, Kirby has had the best attendance in the Patriot League, with the yellow clad Zoo Crew student section leading a loud, hostile crowd.

Not surprisingly, the Crusaders had lost at Lafayette in six of those seven annual visits, with just a 76-70 victory in 2003 on the W side of the ledger since the 1998 season.

Last night, though, it was all Holy Cross. The Crusaders sprinted to a 13-2 lead early, taking the crowd of 2,407 out of the equation en route to a workman-like 74-57 win. It was the Crusaders’ sixth win in a row, their eighth in the last nine games. More important, coupled with American’s 68-59 win over Bucknell, the only league team to beat HC thus far, it gave the Crusaders (14-5, 5-1 Patriot League) a share of first place in the Patriot League with the Bison.

The Crusaders led by as many as 15 points in the first half, and probably should have held a bigger lead than the 31-18 margin it took to the locker rooms at the half. Holy Cross held big edges in shooting and rebounding through the first 20 minutes, hitting 13-of-27 shots (48 percent) and grabbing 20 rebounds, 7 more than Lafayette (5-14, 1-5), which made only 5 first-half field goals (on 22 tries).

But Holy Cross matched Lafayette turnover for turnover in the half, each team giving the ball away 12 times. Lafayette’s turnovers were understandable, given the pressure defense Holy Cross was playing. The Crusaders’ turnovers, though, were more self-induced than they were the result of Lafayette’s 2-3 zone.

“I had a feeling this might happen to us,” said HC coach Ralph Willard. “It was (freshman point guard) Pat Doherty’s first road game as a starter and I had a feeling we might be a little disjointed.”

To be fair to Doherty, only two of the 12 were his. The blame was actually fairly evenly spread, with Keith Simmons to only Crusaders who didn’t turn it over in the half.

Lafayette’s turnovers were the result of Holy Cross’ seven steals and generally poor passing. The Leopards passed the ball to the scorers’ table, threw it to the sausage stand behind the basket at the open end, hit Holy Cross defenders in the hands and their own teammates in the feet.

Many of Holy Cross’ giveaways, on the other hand, came when open guys shuffled their feet before putting the ball on the floor, or simply lost the handle.

It really didn’t matter. The Crusaders cut down on their turnovers in the second half, finishing with just 19, and shot the ball even better after the break, knocking down 65-percent (15-23) of their tries. Much of the second half shooting improvement was the result of getting the ball into Nate Lufkin in the paint. The 6-11 senior scored all of his 11 points after the intermission. In the first half he didn’t take a shot.

“I was making myself available, being more aggressive,” said Lufkin. “The first half I was too passive.”

Lufkin’s emergence also opened things up for Holy Cross on the perimeter. After making 2-of-10 three-point tries in the first half, the Crusaders drained 4-of-7 in the second, led by Kevin Hamilton, who hit both the treys he tried in the second half, finishing with a game-high 22 points. Keith Simmons, who hit the other two HC triples in the second half, finished with 18 points.

With that kind of shooting, the usually boisterous Kirby crowd never was a factor. The student section was reduced to a Petting Zoo Crew, as docile as the pink t-shirts they are wearing these days. For almost the entire second half, the crowd noise resembled a mall or a busy airport, not library quiet, but certainly not fanatical loud. It was as if the crowd was engaged in a thousand or so private conversations, which they interrupted occasionally for polite applause when Lafayette made a bucket.

“In the past, it has definitely been a harder environment to play in,” Lufkin said. “Getting that early lead took the crowd out of it.”

The only time the Zoo Crew got rowdy was when the local cable TV crew pointed a camera their way during a timeout. The loudest, most sustained cheering of the night came with about a minute to play, when seldom-used Lafayette reserve Leo Stinson checked in, bringing a foot-stomping, hand-clapping Leo-Leo chant from about a dozen fans perched high behind the Leopards bench.

Even when Lafayette briefly cut Holy Cross’ lead from 20 down to 12 with a barrage of three-pointers, the crowd never caught a spark. More than likely that was because after two of those threes, Holy Cross got the ball to Lufkin, who finished with a driving layup the first time and an authoritative slam the second.

Maybe the Lafayette fans were just waiting for the home team to make a run. But that never happened.

“We shot the ball pretty well,” Willard said. “It’s tough to make a run at a team that is shooting 65 percent.”

Jamaal Douglas was the only Lafayette player in double figures, finishing with 14 points.

The Crusaders will look to complete a sweep on this weekend swing to Pennsylvania on Sunday, when they travel a few miles down I-78 to visit the defending league champion Mountain Hawks of Lehigh.

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Flannery issues statement

Bucknell coach Pat Flannery has released the following statement regarding his situation:

"I want to thank everyone for their support and understanding regarding the recent personal issue that I've had with my health.

The stresses and strains on coaches in this profession can be very demanding, and in my situation, these issues had begun to take a toll on me physically and mentally. The support from my family, team and administration has allowed me to get help in both areas. I feel good and have been making good progress. While I've been dealing with these issues, I've been able to remain actively engaged with team preparations and practices and I look forward to returning to the sidelines soon.

Obviously this situation has brought out what a program is all about, as our players and coaches have continued progressing each day. Again, I appreciate all the personal attention and support, and I look forward to seeing everyone soon."

-- Head Coach Pat Flannery

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Check out this preview of Minnesota's game with No. 1 Illinois. In talking about the Gophers season to date, Bob Wothe of the Minnesota Daily writes:
The Gophers' lone quality win? A 72-56 defeat of Holy Cross on Dec. 4 -- not exactly the type of win a team wants to have at the top of its resume.
Sure it is a bit of a backhanded compliment. But when is the last you heard anybody from the Big 10 refer to beating a Patriot League team as a "quality win."

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A year older, a year wiser

In his weekly college basketball column Tom Housenick of the Daily Item points out the difference between this year's Bucknell team and the same group a year ago, that caught fire to won 10-of-11 during one stretch in conference play, only to flame out down the stretch, losing three of its last four:
Bucknell has shown maturity and development in its first 18 games.
The Bison have won 11 straight heading into the weekend swing to American and Navy.

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Crews appears safe at Army

According to Justin Rodriguez in the Times Herald-Record, Army A.D. Kevin Anderson is not sure Jim Crews will still be the Black Knights' coach next season.

Rodriguez writes:
No, Anderson isn't planning on firing Crews, 14-57 in two-plus seasons. Despite his record at Army, Anderson is worried that Crews' alma mater, Indiana University, might make a run at him after this season.
Rodriguez and Anderson both pose the theory that despite his horrendous record at Army, Crews would be a strong candidate for the Hoosiers job.

We searched all over for anyone else mentioning Crews as a possible successor if Davis leaves or is canned. Columnist Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star acknowledged the possibility in a chat with fans two weeks ago. His name also pops up a time or two in this thread on a message board on the Star's site.

Crews' name was floated by Sports Illustrated as a replacement for Bobby Knight when Davis first got the job back in 2000.

But there doesn't seem to be any huge groundswell of support for Crews the way there is for Iowa coach Steve Alford, or even Pat (son of Bobby) Knight.

Still, despite his poor record at Army, despite a 7-21 mark his last season at Evansville, Crews brings two things to the table: his close relationship with former Army AD Rick Greenspan who now holds that job at Indiana and his status as a former IU player.

Back in 2002 when Greenspan hired Crews at Army, Ken McMillan of the Times Record-Herald had this quote from Greenspan:
It was a little bit like a situation where maybe a woman is your best friend, and you end up marrying them.
McMillan also pointed out:
Crews played on the last undefeated national championship team, Knight's 1976 Indiana Hoosiers (32-0) of Scott May, Kent Benson, Quinn Buckner and Bobby Wilkerson. He then coached eight seasons under Knight, winning three Big 10 championships and the 1981 national title with the court stewardship of Isiah Thomas.
Alford might be the more popular choice, but there are no guarantees he would take the job, even if it is offered. That is no guarantee, either. It would be a little unusual for a team school to go after the head coach of another in its own conference.

And, of course, nobody has fired Davis yet either.

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More than just hoops at Army

It's been easy to bust on Army. While Jim Crews mentor, Bobby Knight, had a season on the brink, Crews and his Cadets are going through a season that could drive you to drink. There is no way to spin one win in 14 games against Division I opponents and make Army look like anything but bad on the court. Not even beating Navy could do that.

But its not just about wins and losses in the Patriot League. Or at least it is not supposed to be. Here's a pair of stories about Ray Frederick, an Army player who hardly gets off the bench, that tell you far more about the Cadets than their win-loss record.
  • Fredrick took detour with honor, class
  • Resurrected reputation

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  • Errors and omissions

    When we were scanning the latest NCAA stats for yesterday's post on league players and teams ranked among the nation's leaders, we apparently overlooked one that the Times Herald-Record caught and included in their Army men's basketball notes:
    The Black Knights are shooting a Patriot League best .775 from the foul line and are second in the nation behind Michigan State (.796).

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    Where are they now (AU edition)

    Here's and update on former American and NBA star Kermit Washington from the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times:
    Kermit Washington, who played parts of 10 seasons as a player in the National Basketball Association, has been hired by the Asheville Altitude as an assistant coach, the National Basketball Development League announced Thursday.

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    Where are they now (AU edition: Part II)

    Former American player Jamaal Caterina has transferred to New Hampshire, where he is sitting out this season under NCAA transfer rules.

    Don't know the circumstances that led to him leaving AU, just that he saw very little time in his two seasons there. But in this story from the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald, he sounds a little bitter:
    "I felt like I needed to find a team and, more specifically, a coach that I could trust," said Caterina, who was selected as Mr. Basketball and Maine Gatorade Player of the Year following his senior season at Deering. "Someone who could just be up front with the situation. And I really respected (UNH Coach Phil Rowe), and that's why I decided to go to UNH."

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    Recruitnix R us?

    Hardly. We've said it before and we'll say it again: We are not your source for all the latest on incoming recruits and we have no plans ever to be.

    However, when a simple Google news search shows up something about an incoming recruit, like this mention in the Bucks County Courier Times about Bucknell signee Jason Vegotsky, we're willing to include it in the morning update. In a game played Tuesday night, Pennsbury downed Council Rock North 58-53:
    Sparked by scoring machine Jason Vegotsky, the Falcons led by as many as 17 points in the first half. Vegotsky scored 16 points in that half, nearly outscoring the Indians, who managed just 17 points. The Bucknell-bound guard poured in 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

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    Going overboard on this recruiting stuff

    We also turned up another story about a Patriot League recruit, this one headed to American from, of all places, Seattle (isn't that actually in the US?):
    Now a senior at Issaquah High School, Garrison Carr stands 5-11, weighs about 160 pounds, and in street clothes gives no indication of being a future Division I college player. But he is, having already signed with American University in Washington, D.C.

    "Nobody really sees him as a basketball player until they actually see him on the court,' said teammate Sven Gasser, who at 6-9 towers nearly a foot taller."
    We're still trying to confirm reports that Jeff Jones discovered him when a recruiting flight to Lithuania had a stopover in Seattle.

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    Where are they now (Colgate edition)

    Pat Campolieta and Tim Sullivan have been friends since the eighth grade. Rivals in high school, teammates in AAU ball and at Colgate, they both played professionally in Ireland. Now they are taking the same career path, beginning their careers as college assistant coaches. Good piece by Matt Michael in the Syracuse Post-Standard.

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    Where are they now (Fordham edition)

    It's been so long since Fordham won a game that meant something in Rose Hill Gym, their coach had to lead the students celebration after the Rams knocked off Temple last night.

    According to the New York Daily News:
    The Rams are no longer a certain win for conference foes, and they have shed the image of Atlantic 10 doormat, a reputation they have owned since they left the Patriot League for the A-10 back in 1994.
    We covered Fordham's post-Patriot struggles at length back in December when we previewed Holy Cross' 53-39 win over the Rams.

    We won't rehash that here. But in the wake of last night's result, can anyone argue our two-bid scenario for the Patriot League doesn't make more sense than two bids for the pathetic A-10?

    Not saying it is realistic; just that it makes sense. Right now, Holy Cross and Bucknell are more deserving of NCAA bids than George Washington and take-your-pick from the A-10.

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    Ralph's latest report

    In his on latest post Coach, Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard explains why the AU at HC game had to be postponed to Monday, even though the Eagles were already in Worcester. There was no heat in the gym.

    Willard also cautions against letting last weekend's big wins lead to over confidence heading on the road to Lafayette and Lehigh:
    Road games are not easily won in our league and require a whole different focus and mindset. This will be another test and step in our development. It will also test Pat Doherty in particular as this will be his first road game since taking over for Torrey.
    As ususal, Willard's commentary offers good insight and is well worth a click.

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    Statistically speaking

    Scanning the latest NCAA statistical reports (through games of 1-24), Here's a look at Patriot League players and teams among the national leaders:

    FG Percentage:
    32. Chris McNaughton, Bucknell, 58.1%

    FT Percentage
    5. Kevin Bettencourt, Bucknell, 92.3%
    7. Jamaal Hilliard, Lafayette, 91.2%
    50. Jon Simon, Colgate, 85.5%

    Steals Per Game
    4. Kevin Hamilton, Holy Cross, 3.4
    43. Abe Badmus, Bucknell, 2.3

    Single Game 3-point Shooting Percentage
    11. (tie) Cody Toppert, Cornell, 7-10 vs. Syracuse

    In the team stats:

    Scoring Defense
    4. Holy Cross, 56.2
    10. Bucknell, 57.9
    18. Lehigh, 59.4

    FG Percentage Defense
    9. Lehigh, 37.9%
    18. Bucknell, 38.8%
    42. Holy Cross, 40.3%

    3-Point FG Percentage
    40. Colgate, 39.0

    Steals Per Game
    3. Holy Cross, 11.4
    48. Navy, 9.0

    W-L Percentage
    29. (tie) Bucknell, 14-4 77.8%

    Single Game 3-point FG Percentage
    3. (tie) Colgate (vs. Holy Cross 01/15/2005), 73.3% (11-15)
    18 (tie) Bucknell (vs. St. Joseph's 12/28/2004), 66.7% (10-15)
    (tie) American (vs. Va. Commonwealth 11/15/2004), 66.7% (10-15)

    Winning Streak
    6. Bucknell, 11

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    Who is this clown?

    O.K., I confess: I never watch Cold Pizza. My morning habits, until the rat bastards at the local Citadel Broadcasting station forced a change, involved listening to Howard Stern as I surfed and blogged for each morning's updates here.

    I have no idea who this dude is, or his credentials as anything other than a pretty boy (I'll check ESPN's site later). But at the end of his interview with Bucknell's assistant coach Nathan Davis and player Kevin Bettencourt, he comes out with this:
    A lot of speculation in the media ... about this illness being very serious. Can you speculate, or not speculate, the media is already doing that, can you tell us, is there any information that it is serious?
    What speculation? I monitor every source of Patriot League information available. I have seen no speculation. The closest to it was Dave Jones' comment after the Lafayette game:
    What is apparent is this: Flannery, known for his 24-hour intensity, is not a healthy man.
    Fact is, the much-maligned "media" has been very respectful of Flannery's privacy. Maybe that is the difference between the pressures of covering the Patriot League and the pressures of covering the majors. Or maybe it is just a sign of the class of guys like Tom Housenick of the Daily Item, who cover the Bucknell beat.

    I do not know the exact nature of Flannery's ailment. I am not going to speculate. I will not downplay it by saying it is not serious, since if it is keeping him off the sidelines for games, it is serious.

    Sources at Bucknell say Flannery's ailment does not appear to be life-threatening and it is not thought to be cardiac-related. Flannery is expected to return to the sidelines during games as soon as he is cleared by his family doctor. He has not been hospitalized, and he is able to attend Bucknell's practices.

    Could I find out more? Probably. I started my journalism career covering Bucknell and have a lot of sources around Davis Gym. I chose not to out of respect for Flannery's privacy. In fact, I would not have released what is in the paragraph above had it not been for the Cold Pizza segment, which I suspect did more to create speculation than any of the hypothetical, non-existent media speculation that clown asked about.

    Bucknell officials have chosen not to address every rumor they are asked about because each time you do that it just spawns more rumors. That is exactly what the Cold Pizza dude did this morning.

    Shame on him. Like Joe Buck, he is no journalist.

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    Breakfast with the Bison

    (Originally posted Tuesday, 10:06 p.m.)

    Straight from the Bucknell press release:

    LEWISBURG, Pa. --The red-hot Bucknell men's basketball team will be featured on the this morning's edition of ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" program, which airs live from 8-10 a.m., and then is replayed from 10 a.m. to noon.

    Bison assistant coach Nathan Davis and junior co-captain Kevin Bettencourt will be interviewed on the show via satellite. The Bucknell segment is scheduled to air live at approximately 9:20 a.m.

    According to its Web site, ESPN2 launched Cold Pizza on October 20, 2003 as part of its 10th anniversary celebration. Cold Pizza combines a unique blend of sports, pop culture, lifestyle features and consumer advice -- all customized for ESPN viewers.

    Bucknell is 14-4 overall, 5-0 in the Patriot League, and has won 11 straight games. It is the fifth-longest active winning streak in Division I, and it is the sixth-longest streak in school history. Included in the winning streak were impressive road wins at St. Joseph's and then-7th-ranked Pittsburgh. The Bison embark on a 4-game road trip beginning Friday at American."

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    Feinstein plugs Bucknell

    It's the kind of mention that makes Patriot League presidents drool like teenage boys with their first copy of Playboy: a plug on NPR. John Feinstein did a college hoops segment on Morning Edition Tuesday, and spoke highly of the Bucknell Bison. You can hear the audio here.

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    Kids say the darndest things

    Sometimes a little kid with a box of crayons can tell the story as well as a grownup with a computer and unlimited words. According to Kyle ( Jr.?) over at Mid, Monday afternoon's game between Holy Cross and American was one of those times. Little Kyle summed it up succinctly, saying Holy Cross ". . . made lots of baskets and dunk shots" during Game 40 of Big Kyle's 100-games project.

    For those who don't appreciate Little Kyle's artwork, Big Kyle had his digital camera along and took some pictures.

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    Former PL star killed in crash

    Sad news today about former Holy Cross player Gordon Hamilton. Hamilton was killed in a Sunday car crash in New Jersey while driving back to his Connecticut home following the Philadelphia Eagles NFC championship game Sunday.

    Hamilton, who lettered four seasons at Holy Cross, was a member of the Crusaders league championship teams in 1992 and 1993 and a co-captain of the 1995 squad. A second-team all-league pick in 1995, Hamilton led the Patriot League in steals twice (1994, 1995) and was the school's all-time steals leader entering this season (Kevin Hamilton has since passed him on that list). Hamilton also is one of four players tied for second (behind Rob Feaster's 7) for most three-pointers made in a game (6, vs. Navy in 1994). He also made the all-tournament team in 1994 after laying a then-league tournament record 37 points on Bucknell.

    According to the Hartford Courant (subscription needed, but you might find a copy posted on the Holy Cross message board:
    After graduating from Holy Cross, Hamilton played professional basketball in Belgium and South Africa. In South Africa he played for the Soweto Panthers, his father said. He returned to Connecticut to become an assistant men's basketball coach at Central Connecticut State University. He also held that position at the State University of New York in Binghamton.
    Hamilton was in his fourth season as coach of the Watkinson School in Hartford and worked for the city of Hartford as a coach and counselor at a youth center.

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    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.

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    Bison move up in polls

    (Originally posted: 6:11 p.m. Monday)

    Six points for Bucknell in this week's AP hoops poll. That is up from 1 point last week and is the most points Bucknell has received from the AP voters this season.

    In College Insider's Mid-Major Top 25, the Bison jumped five spots from No. 19 to No. 14 this week, getting 372 points. Holy Cross is in the middle of the "others receiving" category with 16 points.

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    From the home office in Bethlehem

    (Originally posted: 6:07 p.m. Monday)

    Notes from this week's official Patriot League release:

    Reed is the unanimous choice for Player of the Week after leading Colgate to a 3-0 record that included Patriot League victories over Lehigh and Lafayette. He averaged 21.3 points per game, powered by a career-high tying 26 points against the Leopards. The junior guard from San Bernardino, Calif., shot 22-of-44 from the field last week, including 6-of-13 from 3-point range. He also made 14 free throws, pulled down 11 rebounds, dished out seven assists and had four steals. Reed, who is averaging 14.1 points per game in 2004-05, earns the fifth weekly award of the season for fourth-place CU.

    Doherty is just the fourth PL Rookie of the Week this season not named Bilal Abdullah or Kyle Roemer. He gets the nod after making the most of the first two starts of his collegiate career, in wins over Iona and Navy. The freshman guard from Scranton, Pa., followed up a seven-point, eight-assist, two-steal performance against the Gaels with 16 points, two rebounds, six assists and five steals versus the
    Midshipmen. He shot 46.2 percent from the field, 50.0 percent from 3-point range and 77.8 percent from the free throw line for the week.

    STREAKING: BU has now gone 54 days (as of Jan. 24) without losing a game,with the last setback coming Dec. 1 at Penn. The Patriot League record for consecutive victories is 14 by former League member Fordham, accomplished in 1991. The only teams in the nation currently enjoying longer winning streaks than the Bison are Illinois (19), Boston College (16), Duke (15) and Syracuse (12). Utah has also won 11 in a row.

    SNIPERS: Colgate remains the PL’s top 3-point shooting team in League games, connecting on 42.5 percent from beyond the arc.

    CAN'T HIT THE WATER FROM A BRIDGE: Field goal shooting continues to hurt Lehigh. The Mounatin Hawks are connecting on a League-worst 38.5 percent from the field.

    Read more!

    Bison win showdown, Army just plain wins

    Last updated: 7:53 a.m.

    Bucknell 65, Lehigh 63: Abe Badmus nails a game-winning three-pointer to send ailing coach Pat Flannery a get-well wish and the Bison solidify their hold on first place in the Patriot League.

    Before the game, Bucknell announced Flannery will take a temporary leave of absence to deal with "health issues."

    Badmus is known as a tenacious defender and good distributor at the point, but as Tom Housenick of the Daily Item points out in his game story, he certainly wasn't the guy Lehigh figured would beat them on that last Bucknell possession. The Bison wanted to go to Chris McNaughton, but Lehigh collapsed on the Bison big man, forcing Badmus' hand:
    "I knew I had to put it up," the sophomore point guard said. "There were four in the lane, I knew I couldn't drive and I didn't know where Kevin (Bettencourt) and Chuck (Lee) were."
    If this turns out to be a precursor of Badmus' emergence as a shooting threat, it's going to make a team that is already tough to defend even tougher.

    In a romantic note, Housenick's wife Mandy, who writes for the Morning Call, also covered the game. The Call's Web site has a broken version of her story posted. We will check later in the day to see if that gets fixed, and we'll add a link if it does.
    Box score | AP wrap | Bucknell recap | Lehigh recap

    Army 63, Navy 43: It's Youngstown State's turn to chant "We're No. 330" after the Black Knights of the Hudson pick up their first win over a Division I team, boosting them all the way to No. 322 out of 330 in the RPI. That's just two spots behind Navy, who some would say has now lost to two Division 3 caliber opponents.

    Matt Bell had 20 for the Cadets, who held Navy to 28-percent shooting from the field and gave Army SID a chance to use the word "thumps" in a headline for the first time this season.

    The TV crew couldn't make it through the snow, but Ken McMillan of the Times Herald-Record was on hand. McMillan also wrote a nicecolumn that points out:
    Army-Navy still means something, even in the worst seasons.
    He also managed to record this comment by Army's Grant Carter in his game story:
    "This is a powerful offense once we get it working. We're starting to work the kinks out a bit. You saw it in spurts, but overall throughout the game we had a nice inside-out presence. It was good enough for the win."
    We're not sure that an offense that has scored over 60 points four times all season (not including tow games against D3 teams) can be considered "powerful." But we are impressed by the defensive effort. Navy has only been kept below 60 four times this season. The Mids scored 56 Friday night at Holy Cross. The 43 against Army were Navy's fewest points all season.
    Box score | AP wrap | Army recap

    Colgate 80, Lafayette 72: The Leopards kept Colgate's three-point shooters in check, but they couldn't stop Alvin Reed, who erupted for 26 points, tying his career high. Three other Raiders hit double figures, including Andrew Zidar, who had a 13-point, 15-board double-double.

    We'd like to share more coverage, but nobody makes the trip to Hamilton in good weather, so we're not surprised we couldn't find any stories from one played in the wake of a big storm.
    Box score | AP wrap | Colgate recap

    American at Holy Cross, 3 p.m.: This game was postpned to 3 p.m. today. We will update with results this evening.

    AU notes (.pdf) | HC Notes | USA Today matchup | HC Radio

    Read more!

    HC women get road sweep

    Special to The Telegram-Gazette

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Starting fast each half, and playing tough defense even when its shots refused to fall, the Holy Cross women’s basketball team completed a sweep of its two-game weekend road trip with a 67-48 win over American.

    Lisa Andrews led the way, posting her second double-double of the season with a 17-points, 13-rebounds effort. Maggie Fontana, coming off a season high 18-points at Navy Friday, added 14 points for the Crusaders, who are off to a 5-0 start in Patriot League play after going 5-8 in non-conference play against a schedule just slightly less brutal than the weekend’s weather.

    Right now, the 5-0 league record is only good for a tie with Lehigh for first place in the conference standings. It might, though, be an omen of good things to come for the Crusaders in March. Since joining the Patriot League in 1990, HC has won five straight to start conference play five other times. Each time they went on to win the regular season title; four out of the five they went on to the tournament crown and an NCAA bid.

    To be certain, Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons will have nothing to do with title talk this early in the season. Especially not with Lehigh coming to the Hart Center for what could be a showdown for the league lead next Sunday.

    Gibbons won’t even look that far ahead. Nor will he have any talk of running the Patriot League table the way the Crusaders did in 1997. Especially not with Lafayette coming to town Friday. Lafayette might be 3-14, 1-4 in the league. But when Gibbons reminds his team in practice of its goal of going 1-0 each game, he undoubtedly will remind them that Lafayette is the team that upset 12-0 Holy Cross in the first round of the tournament that year.

    Nonetheless, he was awfully happy with the way his team played on the road trip, especially on defense.

    “We kept another team under 50,” said Gibbons. “And we made hoops when we had to.”

    The emphasis would be on the “when we had to.” To be certain, Holy Cross team did not look like an offensive juggernaut on this trip. Each game they had a tendency to an offensive funk for extended periods of time. At Navy Friday night, they had two first-half stretches of more than five minutes without a score. Yesterday at American, that trend continued.

    Holy Cross jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead to start the game, 4 of the 6 coming from Andrews in the paint, then went almost six minutes without putting another point on the board.

    At the start of the second half, the same thing happened, The Crusaders opened the half with a 6-0 run, all 6 coming from Andrews. But after Maggie Fontana made it 38-25 with a bucket at the 17:36 mark, the HC side of the scoreboard didn’t change until Jessica Conte’s backdoor layup off a nifty feed from Andrews with 11:54 showing on the clock.

    Each cold spell coincided with stretches were Andrews hardly touched the ball on the offensive end. When she started to go off on American at the beginning of each half, AU quickly abandoned its man-to-man defense for a 2-3 zone that was packed tight around Andrews, daring HC to beat them from the perimieter.

    “We were getting open shots,” said Gibbons. “We just weren’t hitting them.”

    Remarkably, during each draught, the Crusaders didn’t surrender the lead. American did manage to tie the game four times in the first half, and even took a brief 1-point lead. But with Holy Cross’ defense holding them to an 19-for-58 (33 percent) showing from the field, and just one made three-pointer on 11 tries, American was never able to gain an upper hand.

    “Our defense is what won us the game,” said Andrews. “Our offense was on and off, but the defense was on the whole game.”

    American’s numbers would have looked even worse if not for the play of Joanna Barnes, who scored 12 points in the first half to keep AU in the game.

    After the break, though, Gibbons switched Holy Cross’ defense to a diamond-and-one, with Conte hounding Barnes all over the floor, holding Barnes to 7 garbage-time points in the second half, all of which came after the Crusaders had built an 18-point lead.

    NOTES: After being outrebounded in its last two games, Holy Cross dominated the boards in this one, pulling down 50 caroms, including 17 on the offensive glass, to 38 for AU … Holy Cross has 22 turnovers to American’s 20, but held a 24-16 edge in points scored off those turnovers … American showed why it ranks dead last in the league in free throw shooting, going 0-for-8 in the first half, 9-for-23 for the game … HC was 17-of-21 at the stripe.
    Box score

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    NFL not the only games today

    Patriot League scoreboards
    ESPN | CBS Sportsline | | Yahoo!

    Lehigh at Bucknell, 2 p.m.:Despite Lehigh's loss at Colgate, this is still the weekend's marquee matchup. A win in Sojka would give the Mountain Hawks road wins at American and BU, thus a significant edge in the battle for one of the top two spots and a homecourt advantage in the first two rounds of the tournament.

    No updates from Bucknell on the status of Bison coach Pat Flannery for today's game. Flannery left Friday's win over Lafayette at the half after becoming ill.
    Lehigh notes | BU notes | USA Today matchup | Bucknell radio

    American at Holy Cross, 3 p.m.:Two once-beaten in league play teams in an important game that will end with one of them no worse than firmly entrenched in second place and maybe even a three-way tie for first if Lehigh wins at Bucknell.

    HC's freshman point guard Pat Doherty has played well in two games filling in for the injured Torrey Thomas. He will get a stiffer test against American's veteran backcourt.
    AU notes (.pdf) | HC Notes | USA Today matchup | HC Radio

    Lafayette at Colgate, 1 p.m.: Cornell needs to avoid a letdown after a big win Friday. Lafayette needs to find a way to keep the Raiders' 3-point snipers from beating them. Easier said than done.
    Lafayette notes | Colgate notes (pdf) | USA Today matchup | Gametracker | 'Gate radio

    Navy at Army, 1 p.m.: Realistically, this is Army's best, and possibly last, chance for a win over a Division I opponent this season. Equally realistic, it is hard to imagine the Black Knights have enough weapons to beat Navy, which has also struggled, but has far more competitive than Army.

    Then again, at least Army has managed to avoid losing to any Division 3 teams.

    If you are lucky enough to live someplace where they actually include College Sports TV on the cable, you will have to find something else to watch before the NFL games get underway. The broadcast of the Army-Navy game has been cancelled.
    Navy notes | Army notes (pdf) | USA Today matchup | Navy Radio

    Read more!

    Dunphy rips Lafayette non-scholarship stance

    Penn coach Fran Dunphy had some interesting comments after last week's win over his former assistant Fran O'Hanlon's non-scholarship Lafayette Leopards.

    In a good column in today's Express-Times, Corky Blake has this quote from Dunphy:
    "I know he (O'Hanlon) doesn't want me saying anything, but I honestly don't get it what's going on here. He (O'Hanlon) is the best coach I know, and I can't imagine putting him in a more difficult situation. He's in a league in which everyone else is giving scholarships and they don't."
    Only thing missing from all the analysis of scholarship vs. non-scholarship was a mention of the fact that the non-scholarship Ivies took the season series from the scholarship Patriots.

    Read more!
    Saturday, January 29, 2005
    PL fit to be tied after night of upsets

    HC tames 'Pards, Zoo Crew
    Friday, January 28, 2005
    Flannery issues statement


    A year older, a year wiser

    Crews appears safe at Army

    More than just hoops at Army

    Errors and omissions

    Where are they now (AU edition)

    Where are they now (AU edition: Part II)
    Thursday, January 27, 2005
    Recruitnix R us?

    Going overboard on this recruiting stuff

    Where are they now (Colgate edition)

    Where are they now (Fordham edition)

    Ralph's latest report

    Statistically speaking
    Wednesday, January 26, 2005
    Who is this clown?

    Breakfast with the Bison

    Feinstein plugs Bucknell
    Tuesday, January 25, 2005
    Kids say the darndest things

    Former PL star killed in crash

    HC blitzes American

    Bison move up in polls

    From the home office in Bethlehem
    Monday, January 24, 2005
    Bison win showdown, Army just plain wins

    HC women get road sweep
    Sunday, January 23, 2005
    NFL not the only games today

    Dunphy rips Lafayette non-scholarship stance

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