Thomas M. Ryan Center, Kingston, RI
Sunday, November 19, 2017
TV: Cox channel 4 (HD channel 1004)
Radio: 101.5 AM
Go Rhody Game Notes
2-0, 0-0 in the Patriot League
Last season: 15-17, 9-9 in the Patriot League
RPI: 208 (final 2017)
BPI: 220 (final 2017)
Leaders (returning from 2016-17):
Points - Karl Charles, 9.4 ppg
Rebounds - Karl Charles, 3.3 rpg
Assists - Karl Charles, 3.7 apg
Leaders (after the first two games of 2017-18):
Points - Patrick Benzan, 16 ppg
Rebounds - Patrick Benzan, 5 rpg
Assists - Karl Charles, 4 apg
The College of the Holy Cross is a private, undergraduate, Roman Catholic, Jesuit liberal arts college located in Worcester, MA. Founded in 1843, it currently has an undergraduate enrollment of just over 2800 students.
The sports teams at Holy Cross are called the Crusaders; their team color is purple.
Holy Cross plays its collegiate athletics under the aegis of the Patriot League, as does Army, Navy, and a handful of NorthEast-based private schools, BU and American among them. The member schools of the Patriot League pride themselves as being (outside the Ivy League) among the most selective higher education institutions in NCAA Division I sports.
In short, Patriot League member schools are institutions with very strong academic reputations that adhere strongly to the ideal of the "scholar-athlete", with emphasis on "scholar". For example, basketball scholarships were first allowed within the Patrot League beginning with freshmen entering the league in the fall of 1998.
In addition to its scholastic heritage, Holy Cross has a basketball history as well. Back in the day, Celtics' immortals Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn attended Holy Cross (as did LSD pioneer Timothy Leary, but that is story for a different discussion). More recently, in 2016 the Holy Cross men's basketball team qualified for the NCAA tournament, where it garnered its first tournament win since 1953.
The current head coach for Crusader men's basketball is Bill Carmody, who, like Dan Hurley, is a Jersey boy. Born in Rahway, NJ, Carmody attended St. Rose High School, and then went off to Schenectady, New York, to play basketball for Union College, ending in 1975 (his senior year) as captain and first team All-ECAC. After graduation, Carmody joined the coaching ranks, first as head coach at a community college in New York state, and then as an assistant at Union College, and later at Providence.
From 1982-1996, Carmody was an assistant coach at Princeton University under Pete Carril, and then from 1996-2000 took over as Head Coach at Princeton. From 2000-2013, Carmody was the head coach at Northwestern University, which he departed to become "special advisor" at Fairfield University for the 2014-2015 season.
In the 2015-2016 campaign, Carmody's first year at Holy Cross, the Crusaders went on a magical end-of-season run, entering the Patriot League Tournament as the #9 seed but winning four games in a row (all on the road) to earn a ticket to the Big Dance, where they toppled Southern in the First Four before getting laid out by Oregon in the Field of 64.
Last season, the HC M-BB team went 15-17 overall (9-9 in Patriot League play). Then in the spring, Holy Cross lost to graduation the four starters who had spearheaded that Patriot League title run, back in 2016.
In its only two official games played so far this season, Holy Cross is undefeated. They beat Sacred Heart, 69-64, in a road game played in Fairfield, Connecticut, last Friday. In the game played Thursday of this week at home in the Hart Center, Holy Cross beat Harvard, 73-69, in a game that saw the Crusaders maintain a 10 point lead for about 25 minutes.
In both games, Coach Carmody stayed within a nine player rotation (starters in bold)
- Caleb Green (5-10 173) Freshman point guard from Londonderry, N.H., who prepped at Proctor Academy in Andover, N.H., where he was selected second team Class AA All-New England by the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council following his senior season. Against Sacred Heart, his first official game in Division 1, he started and had 12 points, three rebounds and two assists. Against Harvard, he had 12 points and 2 rebounds.
- Patrick Benzan (5-11 172) Junior guard from Wellesley, Massachusetts; he played high school ball at Roxbury Latin and prepped at Worcester Academy. Last season, as the first man coming in off the bench, he averaged 7.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game. This season, he is a starter, and at the moment the leading scorer and the leading rebounder. Against Sacred Heart, Benzan had 3 rebounds and 14 points, including two made free throws with 4.8 seconds left to help seal the victory for the Crusaders. Against Harvard, his game numbers improved to 18 points and 7 rebounds.
- Matt Zignorski (6-2 184) Junior guard from New Jersey. In game one, he played 15 minutes, in which he had 3 points and 4 rebounds. In game two, he played 11 minutes, and had 1 assist.
- Clayton Le Sann (6-4 181) Sophomore guard from Geneva, Switzerland; he played prep ball at Cheshire Academy in Connecticut. Played 5 minutes against Sacred Heart, snagging one rebound. Played 4 minutes against Harvard, scoring 3 points.
- Austin Butler (6-5 209) Freshman guard from the Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, metropolitan area. He played 11 minutes against Sacred Heart, scoring 3 points and pulling down 1 rebound; had 21 minutes against Harvard, contributing 10 points and 2 rebounds. He does not start, but has been the first Crusader off the bench.
- Jacob Grandison (6-6 190) Freshman forward from Oakland, California, who prepped at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Although just a freshman, he is starting for Holy Cross. In the season opener, he managed to contribute one block and seven points in 29 minutes of play before fouling out. He fouled out of the second game, too, getting 5 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes.
- Karl Charles (6-6 194) Junior forward from Roselle, New Jersey, where he played his high school ball at Rutgers Prep. In his freshman 2015-16 season at Holy Cross, Karl Charles was a Patriot League All-Rookie selection, and helped the Crusaders make the NCAA Tournament. Last season, he was hampered in the preseason by a fractured finger, and ended up averaging 9 ppg. This season, he is the only returning starter. In the opener against Sacred Heart last Friday, he had 1 steal, 3 assists and 4 rebounds while racking up a team-high 23 points, hitting eight of his 12 field goal attempts, including three of five shots from three-point range; those 23 points by Karl Charles were just one shy of his career high. In the Harvard game, he was the target of much Crimson attention, which was effective in that it limited him to 2 points scored. Karl Charles is also very much the playmaker on this team: he can dribble, pass, or make his own shot. He is averaging a team-high 4 assists per game.
- Jehyve Floyd (6-8 226) Junior forward from New Jersey. This guy is basicaly their starting center. Against Sacred Heart, he had 4 points and 3 rebounds in 27 minutes. Against Harvard, he had 11 points and 3 rebounds before fouling out with 23 seconds left in the game.
- Matt Faw (6-9 206) Freshman forward from King of Prussia, PA (Upper Merion Area). In his debut with the Crusaders, he did have 3 points and 3 rebounds in 13 minutes. In the Harvard game, Faw had 12 points and 1 rebound before fouling out with 9 seconds left in the game.
Members of the Holy Cross roster who have not yet seen court time this season:
- Will Powers (6-0 168) Sophomore guard from Swarthmore, PA, who played his high school ball at Malvern Prep. Preferred walk-on now in his second year with the Crusaders. 3-point sharpshooter, who has developed into an all-around scorer.
- Kyle Copeland (6-4 171) Freshman guard from Leesburg, Virginia, who did a PG year at Phillips Exeter Academy. Skilled scholarship player; no obvious reason why he did not play against Sacred Heart.
- Marcellis Perkins (6-4 185) Junior swingman from Chesapeake, Virginia. He played some his first year at Holy Cross, despite a previous surgery that prevented him from fully engaging on the court. He then suffered a new injury to his shoulder in August-2016, which forced to sit out games last season following surgery in October-2016. His current medical condition is unknown but he did not play against Sacred Heart.
- Connor Niego (6-8 198) Freshman forward from the Chicago metro area. Scholarship player.
- Jack Stevens (6-10 247) Sophomore center from Ithaca, N.Y.; he prepped at the Kent School in Kent, Connecticut. Although a fundamentally sound big man with good footwork, he played in a total of 9 games last season, averaging 1 minute per game. He has put on over 30 pounds since his time at Kent.
On Sunday afternoon when the two teams tip-off in the Ryan Center, Rhody will likely want to run, but Coach Carmody is equally likely to want to use grind-it-out defense and a methodical offense to slow down the game.
Carmody's teams historically have been good defensive teams. Last season, in 2016-2017, Holy Cross was the top defensive team in the Patriot League, leading their conference in scoring defense (62.1 points per game) and steals (9.4 steals per game). On Sunday against the Rams, the Crusaders can once again be counted on to be valiant defenders. Carmody will likely offer up a series of different looks on defense, but whether it is 2-1-2 zone, 2-3 zone, or 1-3-1 zone, Coach Carmody's preference is zone.
On offense on Sunday, Holy Cross will run a 21st Century variant of the Princeton offense. At times on Sunday, the anachronistic offense that Carmody used at Princeton and at Northwestern will be put to work for the Crusaders. They will run backcuts, they will run single high ball screens, and just to spice things up at times they will even run weird dummy-screen-to-pop-off-threes. But while you will not see much in the way of fast breaks from the Crusaders, and while the offensive sets are a bit methodical, the offensive pace used by the Holy Cross players will not remind you of the Zootopia sloths, either. They are quick, and they score.
On either end of the court, HC is not a strong rebounding team, as they are neither real big nor real athletic. Last year, in the 2016-17 season, Holy Cross ranked last in the Patriot League in rebounding and last in rebounding margin (minus-8.5). This season in their two games to date, their rebounding margin is minus-17.5. Holy Cross was outrebounded by Sacred Heart, 44-24, with the Crusaders collecting just three offensive rebounds in the game. In the Harvard game, the situation was marginally better, getting outrebounded 34-19. Additionally, in both games, the HC big men were foul-prone, which on Sunday against a more athletic Rhody team is likely to become even more of a problem for the Crusaders.
Look -- The Holy Cross guys may this season win some games but they are not likely to do so on Sunday against the Rams. Even without the services of E.C. Matthews, Rhody is still more than capable of pillaging the senior-less Crusaders, assuming Coach Hurley can keep his head (and the heads of his players) in the game.