GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-1, 0-0 PL) vs. Connecticut (2-0, 0-0 Big East)
Date: November 20, 2009
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: DCU Center(13,008), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play, www.worcesterpike.com, internet
Connecticut TV: CPTV, Connecticut Public Television (Bob Picozzi, Meg Culmo)
Series Record: Connecticut leads, 17-2
Last Meeting: Connecticut 96, Holy Cross 37 (December 3, 2008, Storrs, Conn.)
SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall- Connecticut leads, 17-2
In Worcester, Mass.- Connecticut leads, 5-2
At the DCU Center- Connecticut leads, 2-0
Bill Gibbons vs. Connecticut- 1-16
Geno Auriemma vs. Holy Cross- 16-1
Current Win Streak- Connecticut, 16 games
THE SERIES WITH CONNECTICUT: Connecticut has become an annual competitor for the Holy Cross women's basketball team ever since Bill Gibbons became head coach in the 1985-1986 season. This year marks the 20th meeting between the two teams, with the Huskies taking an all-time 17-2 advantage. The first meeting between the two teams occurred on Dec. 20, 1982 on Connecticut's home court. The Huskies won that first meeting, 75-72. Holy Cross nabbed its two victories, fi rst winning at home 89-57 on Feb. 1, 1984 and then following with a 65-49 victory on Dec. 4, 1986 again at the Hart Center in coach Gibbons' first season. The 89 points scored in 1984 was a series-high points scored for the Crusaders. Connecticut has gone on to win the last 16 meetings, outscoring Holy Cross in those contests 1,353-850. The Huskies scored a series-high 107 points against the Crusaders on Nov. 30, 1998. Eleven of the contests have been held in Storrs, Conn., while five contests have been played at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. and two held at the DCU Center in Worcester. Last year Holy Cross took on the Huskies at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn., dropping a 96-37 decision in front of 8,312 spectators.
PLAYING AT THE DCU: Friday night's match-up marks just the third time that the Holy Cross women's basketball team has played at the DCU Center, with both games against Connecticut. Formerly the Worcester Centrum, the Crusaders have a 0-2 record when hosting the Huskies at the larger arena. The first game was held on Dec. 5, 2002. In front of a crowd of 4,000 people, Connecticut earned a 68-46 victory. The second match-up came four seasons later, on Dec. 4, 2006, with the Huskies taking an 83-64 win.
JUMP START:Three Holy Cross players wasted no time, marking career-highs in the Nov. 13 game against Yale and against Bryant on Nov. 18. Junior Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) tallied 18 points to lead the team, tying her career-high which she marked against Colgate on Feb. 25, 2009. The start against Yale also tallied Fremeau's second-consecutive start in a season opener for her career. She also played for a career-high 35 minutes. Sophomore Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) followed suit, tying her career-high in points (7) and set a career-high in minutes played (34). She also tied a career-high with five assists, which she originally set in her freshman campaign against Northeastern on Dec. 22, 2008. Junior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) nabbed career highs in steals (5) in the game against Bryant and also tied her career-high with six free throws made in six attempts.
MCFADDEN NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE TEAM: Senior guard Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) has been named preseason All-Patriot League in a vote by conference head coaches and sports information directors. Last season, McFadden earned first team All-Patriot League accolades and was also named to the conference's All-Tournament team. In other preseason poll voting a Preseason Player of the Year were selected. Lehigh junior Erica Prosser was tabbed the 2009-2010 Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year and as a member of the preseason All-Patriot League Team. Prosser was the Patriot League Player of the Year in 2008-2009 and a First-Team All-Patriot League selection. Also on this year's preseason All-Patriot League squad are American junior Michelle Kirk, Army junior Erin Anthony and Lehigh senior Alex Ross.
SENIOR EXPERIENCE LEADS THE WAY: The 2009-2010 women's basketball squad boasts a wealth of experience, with five seniors leading the way. The senior class includes Tayana Carper (Shrewsbury, Mass.), Christy Cushnie (Vienna, Va.), Briana McFadden, Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) and Jessica Pearson (West Chester, Pa.). The seniors were the last class to compete in the NCAA Tournament after they won the 2007 Patriot League Championship as freshmen. That year they were seeded at No. 16 seed and played No.1 Duke in the Greensboro region. The five players have combined for 397 games played, having won 47 games, including 35 Patriot League match-ups. The 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 squads posted the most three-pointers made in single-season team history and also marked the most three-pointers attempted. The senior class also contributed to teams that rank among the best in school history in free throws attempted, free throw percentage and most games played.
CRUSADERS PICKED IN A TIE FOR SECOND IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross was picked to finish in a tie for second place with American in the 2009-2010 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 76 votes. Defending Patriot League champion Lehigh was chosen as the preseason favorite to capture the league title. Lehigh received 13 first-place votes and a total of 97 points. American and Holy Cross followed in a tie for second with 76 points apiece. Filling the final five spots were Navy (fourth, 54 points), Bucknell (fifth, 52 points), Army (sixth, 50 points), Colgate (seventh, 22 points) and Lafayette (eighth, 21 points).
MAKING THEIR MARK: The 2009-2010 team captains, Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell have already made their mark in the school and league record books and are looking to continue their impact. Both McFadden and O'Dell became members of the Holy Cross 1,000-point club last season, as McFadden tallied her 1,000th point at home against Army on Jan 14 while O'Dell scored her 1,000th point at home against Lafayette on Feb. 7. They are the 25th and 26th players and just the eighth and ninth juniors in school history to reach such a feat and currently rank 14th and 19th on the all-time scoring list respectively. In the Holy Cross single-season record books, McFadden currently ranks first with her 37.5 average minutes played during the 2008-2009 season while O'Dell holds the top three spots in three-pointers made (87, 2006-2007, 65, 2008-2009, 63, 2007-2008). O'Dell also holds the top rank in three-pointers attempted (206, 2006-2007) and is sixth in three-point percentage (42.2, 2006-2007). McFadden places third and fifth in free throws made (152, 2008-2009, 137, 2007-2008) and fifth and eighth in free throws attempted (191, 2008-2009, 169, 2007-2008). Both players are tied for sixth with 32 games started in 2007-2008. McFadden is already fifth on the career records list for three-pointers attempted (448); three pointers made (143) and free throw percentage (79.8). O'Dell currently ranks third on the Holy Cross career records list for three-point percentage (39.4) and also ranks first all-time at Holy Cross and fourth all-time in the Patriot League with 215 career three-point field goals made.
FRESH FACES ADD SPARK: The 2009-2010 freshman class of Kaitlin Cole (Springfield, Pa.), Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) and Alexis Nicholas (Jamaica, N.Y.) are looking to make an immediate impact on this year's team. Cole and Lepley played a total of 31 minutes in the exhibition game against Assumption, combining for seven points, seven rebounds, two steals and a block. Cole comes to Worcester from Springfield, Pa., where she played for the 2009 PIAA AAA state championship team at Archbishop Carroll. She will play at forward for the Crusaders, after she finished her high school senior season at guard averaging 12.3 points-per-game and was selected to the All-Philadelphia Catholic League first team. Lepley is coming off injury, missing most of her high school senior year due to a leg injury. She was arguably one of the best players in Massachusetts, playing for the four-time EAC championship team at Bishop Feehan. She will compete for time at both point guard and shooting guard, having completed her high school career with an average of 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals per game. Nicholas hails from Jamaica, N.Y., and looks to make an impact as a true guard, splitting time between the point guard and shooting guard spots. Nicholas played five years of varsity basketball at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. In her time there, she scored a school-record 2,069 total points and was named team MVP for four-consecutive seasons. In her senior campaign she averaged 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per-game.
CALM UNDER PRESSURE: As a team last year, the Crusaders made 389 of their 524 free-throws attempts. The combined percentage of 74.2 ranks first all-time for a Holy Cross team. It also ranked first in the Patriot League and 28th nationally. Senior Briana McFadden sank 153 of her 191 attempts to rank first on the team in free throw attempts, earning her the third spot among Holy Cross single-season records. Fellow senior Bethany O'Dell led the team with a 84.6 free-throw percentage, missing just 10 of her 65 attempts at the line.
SOLID FOUR FOR FRONTCOURT: This year's team will have three letterwinners coming back to its frontcourt in addition to one skillful freshman. Returning to the forward position will be junior Whitney Fremeau, senior Tayana Carper and sophomore Marygrace Jay. Freshman Kaitlin Cole also adds to the squad's four forwards and will vie for major playing time. The frontcourt will lean on Fremeau, who is one of the most experienced forwards on the squad. Fremeau comes off a season where she mainly played at power forward for the first time, adapting to the role well. In the 2008-2009 season, she scored 243 points and brought down a total of 142 rebounds. Her 4.7 rebounding average led the team as she also recorded career-highs in points (18 vs. Colgate), rebounds (11 at Rhode Island), assists (5, twice) and minutes played (34, three times) in last year's campaign. She also notched her first career double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) against Rhode Island. Carper scored a career-high 24 points against Missouri last year prior to her injury. She also marked career-highs in field goals made (10), field goals attempted (13) and minutes played (41) in 2008-2009. Jay looks to become a force in the frontcourt after spending her freshman year at the forward position. She saw action in 18 games last year, totaling 31 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and three steals. She also made all of her field goal attempts in four different contests in 2008-2009, while averaging 4.9 minutes, 1.7 points and 0.9 rebounds per-game.
YEAR OF THE GUARD: Six of 12 players on the 2009-2010 roster are listed as a guard, with Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell returning as starters. Three other letterwinners, Christy Cushnie, Jessica Pearson and Meredith Ward will also add to the position's flexibility while freshman Alexis Nicholas adds even more depth. This year's team boasts the most experience at guard, with four seniors and another returner owning the position. McFadden and O'Dell have already proved their talent while fellow seniors Cushnie and Pearson continue to be major players. A fifth-year senior, Pearson looks to contend for playing time at point guard. She made some waves last season, notching career-highs in points (11 at Vermont), rebounds (eight at Lafayette) and minutes played (32 at Lafayette). Cushnie also remains an ever-improving, involved player. At guard, she set career-highs in minutes played (36), three pointers-made (three) and three-pointers attempted (six) against Colgate last season. She also averaged a career-high 2.6 points-per-game (76 total) and collected 26 steals, leading the team in two contests. In addition, Cushnie came back in great shape to be the team's go-to substitution player. Because coach Gibbons looks to move McFadden more off the ball, from point guard to the wing, Ward will look to win the starting spot at point guard. In her freshman campaign, Ward saw playing time in 27 games, making five starts. She averaged 1.2 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists per-game, while also high seven points in two games and brought down a season-high five rebounds against Vermont.
VALUABLE VERSATILITY: The final two roster spots belong to two players who will swap time as a forward/guard. Junior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) will play her third season listed as a forward/guard. Last year she saw action in 22 games, starting 11 contests. In all, she averaged 22 minutes, 5.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Her rebound average tied for second highest on the team and she also finished the season with a .725 free throw percentage, third highest on the team. May led the team in steals in six contests. She has started in 25 contests over her career averaging 21.6 minutes played. She has made 73 field goals, 29 free throws, has brought down 88 rebounds, is two assists away from a 100-career assists and also has 55 total steals over her first two seasons in a Crusaders uniform. Freshman Amy Lepley is also listed at forward/guard and is well experienced in both roles.
PATRIOT LEAGUE DOMINANCE: This year marks the 21st season for the team as a member of the Patriot League. Over 20 seasons, the team has played in a total of 252 league match-ups, dropping only 52 games total. Combined, Holy Cross has taken home 11 championships, while two other schools (Lehigh and Bucknell) have collected two each to follow. Head coach Bill Gibbons has been along for the entire ride and is responsible for the 200-52 league record. The 1990-1991 and 1996-1997 squads both went undefeated in conference play. Holy Cross also boasts 11 Patriot League Players of the Year and 26 first team All-Patriot League selections, the most in the conference.
HEAD COACH BILL GIBBONS: 25th SEASON:
Bill Gibbons is entering a milestone 25th season at the helm of the Holy Cross women's basketball program in 2009-2010. He has compiled a 476-245 record as head coach, ranking 25th on the active Division I win leaders list. His quarter-century pledge to the team has made a major impact on all aspects of the women's basketball world and especially in the surrounding community. On April 30, 2009, Gibbons received the prestigious Paul N. Johnson Award, given to a member of the Worcester community who has greatly contributed to Worcester area basketball. With his service, the name Gibbons has become a fixture in the realm of women's basketball. He has led the Crusaders to nine Patriot League Championships in the last 15 years. He has also made 12 postseason appearances (11 NCAA Tournaments and one WNIT) in his 24 years as head coach. With sixteen 20-win seasons under his belt, Gibbons has cemented himself and the women's basketball program as one of the best in the East. The sixth coach of the women's program at Holy Cross, Gibbons has enjoyed the longest tenure in the position. He has led the Holy Cross women's basketball program to more victories than any other coach, and is the winningest coach in Holy Cross Basketball history. With his 358th victory, he surpassed George Blaney (357 wins as head coach of the Holy Cross men's basketball program), who had hired him to be his assistant coach in 1981. Now with more than 450 wins under his belt, Gibbons is the second-winningest coach in Holy Cross Athletics history, behind legendary baseball coach Jack Barry, who totaled 616 wins from 1921-1960.
WELCOME TO WORCESTER: There will be three new faces handling front office duties for the 2009-2010 Crusader basketball squad including assistant coach Mike Roux, athletic trainer Janine Ferro and director of basketball operations Charde Floyd. Roux was hired on July 2, 2009 after spending the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Southern New Hampshire University. He helped lead the Penmen to an overall record of 18-11 during the 2008-2009 season. Prior to coaching at SNHU, Roux spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Assumption College women's basketball team. While at Assumption, Roux assisted with on floor coaching, recruiting, scouting and alumni relations. Ferrero will act as the main athletic trainer for the team. From August 2007 until May of 2009, Ferro was a graduate assistant athletic trainer at Grand Canyon University, where she worked on a daily basis with the men's soccer and men's volleyball teams as well as assisting with the men's wrestling team. Ferro is an approved Clinical Instructor and worked as a modalities and kinesiology lab instructor at Grand Canyon. Outside of collegiate athletics, Ferro has worked as a personal trainer and a physical therapy aide and remains an active member of the Arizona Athletic Training Association. Floyd, who was appointed to the newly created position of director of basketball operations, will assist with Holy Cross while working as a teacher/clinician for the New England Children's Center. Prior to working with the program, Floyd played at Assumption for four seasons. As a player, Floyd was captain of the Greyhounds from 2006-2008. She etched herself into the Assumption record books, finishing her career as a 1,000-point scorer and a member of the 1,000-rebound club. She was named the Northeast-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 and was a Northeast-10 first and second team All-Star. While serving as the director of operations at Holy Cross, Floyd will help organize team travel, monitor compliance logs, organize video exchange and supervise team managers as well as learning all the ins and outs of the program.
ROAD WARRIORS: The 2009-2010 season begins with eight contest away from the Hart Center. The team will serve as the host against Connecticut at the DCU Center on Nov. 20, but will not have an official home game until Dec. 5 when they match-up against Northeastern. The last time a team began the season with so many away games was the 1991-1992 season when the team played in six road contests. The squad went 3-3 in those contests and finished the season with a 16-13 overall record.
MCINERNEY MOVES UP RANKS: After spending last year as an assistant coach for the Crusaders, Ann McInerney was promoted to associate head coach of the program on July 1, 2009. After just one year she showed enough passion, dedication, commitment and pride to the Holy Cross women's basketball tradition to earn her new title. McInerney joined the Crusaders in 2008 after spending the previous season as an assistant coach at Harvard where the Crimson captured their 11th Ivy League title after posting an 11-3 league record. From 1999-2005, McInerney was the head coach at Merrimack College in which she led the team to a record of 119-60 including three NCAA appearances and back-to-back trips to the NCAA Division II Final Four. In 2004, she was named both the Northeast Regional Coach of the Year and Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year. She was also named the 2004 New England Basketball Hall of Fame Division II Coach of the Year. McInerney began her career at Merrimack in 1992, when she was an assistant coach for the women's basketball team for two seasons.
HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: The Holy Cross women's basketball team has an 80.1 home victory percentage since becoming a Division I program. The Hart Center has been the Crusaders' home court for over 34 years. The 2009-2010 season will mark the 35th season of women's basketball competition at the Hart Center. The team has won an all-time 324-96 advantage at home with last year's team going 7-6. The Crusaders posted 24 straight winning records at home from 1979-1980 through 2002-2003 and have five straight winning records going into 2009-2010. Combined, the Crusaders have won 126 of 152 meetings against this year's home opponents.
NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS:The Crusaders will take on their first Massachusetts opponent, traveling to play the Boston College Eagles on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Tip time is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Silvio O. Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The Eagles have won the last 11 match-ups against Holy Cross and hold a 13-2 home advantage.
Record: 2-0 Affiliation: Big East
HEAD COACH: Just like Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons, Geno Auriemma enters his 25th season as the head coach of the Connecticut women's basketball program. In his tenure he has compiled an overall record of 696-122. His 696 victories rank eighth among active NCAA Division I women's basketball head coaches. His 2008-2009 squad ran the table last year, going 39-0 and winning the 2009 NCAA women's basketball championship. He is the fastest coach overall to eclipse the 600-win mark - taking just 716 games to reach the milestone, which he obtained in 2006-07. Auriemma will enter the 2009-10 season just four wins shy of 700 for his career. He has collected six national championships in his 24 years and was recently bestowed with one of the biggest honors someone in his profession can receive as he was named as the head coach of the U.S. National Team, which will compete in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
2009-2010 SQUAD: The Huskies return five starters and 10 letterwinners and will be led by junior Maya Moore and senior Tina Charles, a pair of All-Americans. Moore, the 2009-10 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year and a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team, was the consensus National Player of the Year last season. Charles, also a unanimous selection to the preseason team, was the 2009 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player and most recently played for the U.S. National Team in Russia. UConn sophomore Tiffany Hayes was also named to the preseason team, while senior Kalana Greene was selected as a Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention. The 2009-2010 squad was picked unanimously to win the 2009-10 BIG EAST women's basketball regular-season title. The team also opened the season as the nation's No. 1 team for the seventh time in the program's history, according to the Associated Press (AP) Preseason Poll.