TOURNAMENT QUICK FACTS:
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play, www.worcesterpike.com, internet
Tournament Host: Monmouth
Location: West Long Branch, N.J.
Tournament Participants: Holy Cross, Howard, La Salle, Monmouth
Day One: Monmouth vs. Howard,
2:00 p.m., Dec. 29
Holy Cross vs. La Salle, 4:00 p.m., Dec. 29
Day Two: Consolation Game, 2:00 p.m.,
Championship Game, 4:00 p.m., Dec. 30
Series Record versus Howard: Holy
Cross leads, 1-0
Series Record versus La Salle: Holy Cross leads, 11-7
Series Record versus Monmouth: First Meeting
HOLY CROSS IN TOURNAMENT PLAY: Competing in basketball tournaments has become an annual event for the Holy Cross women's basketball team as they have participated in 38 separate tournaments since the 1981-1982 season. The Worcester State Holiday Festival marked the team's first tournament back in 1981. The team played in its first Division I tournament on Dec. 4 and 5, 1982, participating in the Fairfield (Conn.) Warner Classic. Under head coach Bill Gibbons, the team has traveled as far as Anchorage, Alaska and San Diego, Calif. to play in invitationals. Under his guidance, the team has won 52 of 98 tournament games, including a 1-1 record at the Dead River Classic this season. The last time Holy Cross hosted its own tournament was in the 1987-1988 season, where they topped Niagara and Villanova and was crowned the Crusader Invitational champion. Over the past 10 seasons, Holy Cross has been named the tournament champion two times, with the last time coming at the American Classic on Dec. 2 and 3, 2000. The Crusaders topped Delaware State and American to claim the title.
SERIES HISTORY AGAINST TOURNAMENT OPPONENTS: Combined, Holy Cross has won 12 of 19 match-ups against its Hawk Holiday Classic opponents. The Crusaders will possibly face Monmouth for the first time in school history, while they have played possible opponent Howard just once. The team earned a 104-63 victory over the Lady Bison on Dec. 1, 1984 at the George Washington Invitational in Washington, D.C. La Salle has been Holy Cross' most frequent opponent, as both were members of the MAAC back in the mid-1980s. Holy Cross has topped the Explorers in 11 of 18 match-ups, as they last played as non-MAAC opponents in 2002. LaSalle won the last meeting, 68-61, at its own holiday tournament. The two teams have faced each other in three championship games and Holy Cross has walked away with two of the three titles. Head coach Bill Gibbons currently owns an 8-7 record against Hawk Holiday opponents while La Salle and Monmouth head coaches Tom Lochner and Stephanie Gaitley have each faced the Crusaders before. This will be Gaitley's first meeting with the Crusaders since taking over the reins at Monmouth.
HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE: In program history, Holy Cross has played against three of 12 teams that make up the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The Crusaders have won two of their three meetings against MEAC opponents. Holy Cross will have the chance to match-up with Howard on Dec. 30 for the second time, a series high against MEAC teams. The Crusaders topped Howard and also Delaware State in 2000. Coppin State is the only MEAC team that has won against Holy Cross, earning a victory back in 1991.
Record: 3-6, 1-0 MEAC
Head Coach: Howard head coach Niki Reid Geckeler is in her second season at the helm of the Lady Bison basketball program. She collected a 9-22 record in her first year, including a 7-9 MEAC mark. Her 2009-2010 squad currently stands at 3-6 on the early season. The 2008-2009 Lady Bison more than doubled its win total from the previous year under Geckeler's tutelage. Junior guard Zykia Brown was named to the 2009 All-MEAC second team. Geckeler came to Howard after 10 years at Georgetown, where she served as an assistant coach, recruiting coordinator and academic advisor with the women's basketball team.
2009-2010 Squad: This year's Lady Bison enter the Hawk Holiday Classic with a 3-6 record and have already topped conference opponent Hampton. The team has also picked up victories against Jacksonville and Radford and has lost to Patriot League opponent American, Fairleigh Dickinson, Long Island andMaryland. They fell in their last two meetings with George Mason and Central Michigan. The team returns three starters from last season and welcomes eight freshmen. Zykia Brown leads the team offensively, averaging 17.2 points-per-game. Redshirt freshman Saadia Doyle averages in double-figures in both points and rebounds for her team, marking 13.6 points-per-game and 10.8 boards to lead the team's defensive efforts. All 14 players on the roster have seen action so far this season for Howard.
HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE: Holy Cross has played against 10 of the 14 teams that compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference. This season, Holy Cross will play against two Atlantic 10 opponents, La Salle in the Hawk Holiday Classic, and Rhode Island at the Hart Center on Jan. 5, 2010. Combined, Holy Cross has registered an all-time 17-10 record against each of those teams. Against the other eight conference teams, the Crusaders have notched 43 wins and 18 losses throughout program history. Fordham has been the most frequent Atlantic 10 opponent for Holy Cross as they have played in 37 total match-ups against the Rams, earning 31 victories. Holy Cross has an even 8-8 record against in-state opponent Massachusetts and has a losing record against just three A-10 teams, George Washington (0-2), Saint Joseph's (0-1) and Temple (0-1).
SCOUTING LA SALLE:
Record: 3-7, 0-0 A-10
Head Coach: Explorer head coach Tom Lochner is in his seventh season at the helm of the La Salle women's basketball program. He has recorded 67 wins and 87 losses in his head coaching career, including a 3-7 record so far this season. Last year his team went 10-19, including a 1-13 Atlantic-10 record. Lochner was welcomed as the seventh head coach in LaSalle program history on August 30, 2004. He is in his 24th season at the school overall, his seventh as head coach. During his 17 years at La Salle University prior to his head coaching stint, Lochner had been part of 296 La Salle victories (296-196 overall). He had also been with the team for two NCAA Tournament appearances, one WNIT Tournament appearance, three conference titles, four Big 5 titles, and five 20-win seasons.
2009-2010 Squad: This year's Explorers enter the Hawk Holiday Classic with a 3-7 record. The team has earned victories against Long Island, Drexel and most recently Rider. The squad has lost to Patriot League opponent Lehigh, Loyola (Md.), Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Wichita State, Georgetown and Delaware. They are currently on a one-game win streak. The team returns four starters from last season and welcomes two freshmen. Senior forward Morgan Robertson leads the team in both scoring and rebounding categories, averaging 10.6 points-per-game along with 7.2 rebounds per-game. Senior guard Jamie Walsh follows with 8.4 points-per-game. All 13 players on the roster have seen action so far this season for La Salle.
HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE NORTHEAST CONFERENCE: Holy Cross has played against eight of the 12 teams that compete in the Northeast Conference. Holy Cross has already won two meetings with Northeast Conference opponents this season, Bryant and Central Connecticut, and will potentially face Monmouth for the first time in program history on Dec. 30. Combined, Holy Cross has registered an all-time 12-1 record against those three teams. Against the other five conference teams, the Crusaders have notched 10 wins and four losses throughout program history. Central Connecticut has been the most frequent Northeast opponent for Holy Cross, as they have played in 10 total match-ups against the Blue Devils, earning nine victories. Holy Cross has also has winning records against Long Island (3-1), Mount St. Mary's (2-0), Sacred Heart (1-0) and Wagner (2-1). The Quinnipiac Bobcats have been the most trouble for the Crusaders, tallying a 2-2 tie in series history.
Record: 3-6, 0-0 NEC
Head Coach: Monmouth head coach Stephanie Gaitley is in her second season at the helm of the Hawks. Gaitley is no stranger to women's basketball, however, as she has coached for a total of 24 seasons prior to 2009-2010, compiling an overall record of 425-246. Her team currently sits at 3-7 on the 2009-2010 season after finishing last year with a 18-13 record including a 11-7 Northeast Conference record. Gaitley's 2008-2009 team's 18 wins tied for the most program victories in a season since 1987-1988. She led Monmouth to its second straight NEC Tournament Quarterfinal upset, topping fourth-seeded Quinnipiac last season before falling to eventual tournament champion Sacred Heart in the semis. Gaitley was ushered in as the sixth Division I head coach in Monmouth program history. She came to Monmouth from Long Island, where she served as the head coach of the Blackbirds for six seasons, accumulating a 95-82 record at the helm of the program. She left the Brooklyn school as the winningest coach in Long Island women's basketball history.
2009-2010 Squad: This year's Hawks enter their own Holiday Classic with a 3-6 record. The team has won against Pacific, Davidson and Stony Brook. The squad has dropped its last three contests to Columbia, Penn State and Boston College and has also lost to Patriot league opponent Lafayette, Rider and North Carolina-Wilmington. The team returns four starters from last season and welcomes nine freshmen. Freshman guard Alysha Womack, who has started all nine games for the Hawks, leads the offense with 10.1 points-per-game. Fellow freshman forward Abby Martin has emerged as the team's leader on defense, bringing down an average of 8.3 rebound per-game. Ten out of the 14 players listed on the roster have seen playing time for the Hawks so far this year.
O'DELL BECOMES PATRIOT LEAGUE CAREER LEADER IN THREE-POINT SHOTS MADE: In just a matter of 30 seconds, senior Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) took hold of the Patriot League's all-time record for made three-pointers on Sunday against New Hampshire. With a little under five minutes of play in the first half, O'Dell hit two-consecutive three-point shots to earn her 245th and 246th career three-point shots, moving her into the top spot past Navy's Courtney Davidson (2000-2004). She finished the game tying her season-high with six three-pointers made, giving her 250 total on her career. She now has 35 three-point shots so far this season and leads the team with a 15.1 points-per-game average. O'Dell also ranks amongst the nation's best, ranking 16th in three-point field goals per game (3.2) and 26th in three-point field goal percentage (44.3).
FREMEAU REACHES NEW HEIGHTS: Junior Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) is continuing to establish herself as a valuable scorer and rebounder for the Crusaders. So far this season, Fremeau has scored in double-figures in eight of 11 contests, including the last six games. She has already tied her career-highs in field-goals made (8, twice) and points (18, twice) and has scored 146 points, just 97 points away from the 243 points she scored in the entire 2008-2009 season. She earned a career-high 45 minute performance in the double overtime game against Northeastern on Dec. 5. She also marked a season-high of nine rebounds against Maine on Nov. 27, two shy of her career-high. She has been the top-scorer for the team in two contests (18 at Yale and 17 at Bryant) and has also led or tied in the team in top rebounds in six of 11 performances. She is averaging 35.1 minutes played per game, which is already 16 more minutes played than her career average of 18.7 minutes. She broke up her perfect free throw percentage against Vermont on Dec. 7, but remains the team's top free throw shooter, as well as the top performer in the Patriot League, sinking 27 of 30 attempts. In 11 games played, she leads the team in field goal attempts (144) and field goals made (58). She is also the team's leading rebounder and shot-blocker, totaling 60 boards, an average of 5.5 rebounds per-game and five blocks.
LEAPS FOR LEPLEY: Freshman Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) has made a major comeback after sitting out her entire high school senior season with a knee injury. And for her continued impact and improvement, Lepley was named the Patriot League's Rookie of the Week for the week of Dec. 14-20 after pouring in a season-high 12 points against New Hampshire on Dec. 20. She has increasingly become the team's most versatile player so far this season. Her 12-points against New Hampshire was her second double-digit scoring game as she also has at least one rebound in the last 10 contests. She has played over 10 minutes in eight of 11 contests thus far, including a season-high 34 minutes against Northeastern on Dec. 5. She also earned four starts for her efforts, including three-consecutive starts against Maine, Penn State and Harvard. She has already tied for the team-high in rebounds in two contests (four against Boston College and five against Penn State), bringing her total rebounds to 25 in 11 contests. She leads her class in all categories thus far and is within the team's top five in all scoring categories including points (47) and scoring average (4.3). She ranks third on the team with a 36.0 field goal percentage and second with a 38.5 three-point field goal percentage. She is also third on the team in steals (13) and blocked shots (3).
QUIET IMPACT: While senior captain Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) hasn't put up top numbers so far this season, her statistics are nothing to dismiss. She has remained one of the team's most consistent performers, scoring in double-digits in nine of 11 contests and playing in the most minutes for the Crusaders. She averages 12.9 points-per-game, which ranks third on the team and 10th in the Patriot League. Opponents also view her as a scoring threat, as she has gone to the free-throw line a team-high 75 times, sinking 54 shots. She also remains a valuable team player, dishing out a team-high 29 assists (2.6 per game). Her assists average ranks eighth in the league. She has led or tied for the team's top scoring performance in three contests and led the team with eight rebounds against Vermont on Dec. 7. Her 25 offensive and 17 defensive rebounds rank second among the team as well.
MAJOR MINUTES: The team's three scoring leaders, junior Whitney Fremeau and seniors Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell also spend the most time on the court for the Crusaders, rightfully so. After the match-up with Vermont, McFadden moves into first on the team with an average of 35.7 minutes. Fremeau follows with an average of 35.1 minutes played while O'Dell clocks in closely behind with an average of 35.0 minutes. Most impressively, O'Dell has scored the most points in the least amount of minutes played (166 points in 350 total minutes). Fremeau has scored 146 points in 386 minutes while McFadden has 142 points in 393 minutes. The three rank fifth, sixth and seventh amongst their Patriot League opponents respectively.
BEYOND THE ARC: The Crusaders have found a new scoring weapon this season, the three-point shot. In 11 contests, the team has attempted 204 three-pointers, compared to their opponents who have tried 195 three-point shots. In all, the team continues to improve their shooting as well, recorded a 32.8 percent three-point average, including a season-high 50 percent three-point shot performance against New Hampshire. The team's 11 total three-point shots against the Wildcats is a Patriot league high. Eight players on the 2009-2010 roster have already made a three-point shot, with senior Bethany O'Dell leading the way with a total of 35 three-pointers made.
BIG D FROM OUTSIDE: Three-point field goal defense has been a major factor for Holy Cross in its 11 contests thus far. The team has held its opponents to under 40 percent from three-point range in all 11 games, collecting a total 30.3 total three-point defense percentage on the season. In all, opponents have made just 59 three-points shots in 195 attempts. The Crusaders did allow a season-high 10 three-point shots made against Northeastern on Dec. 5, marking the first time a team has sunk a double-digit number of three-point shots. The team then returned to form against New Hampshire, allowing just five of 17 three-point shots to fall. Bryant was only able to drop four of its 22 attempts for Holy Cross' best defensive performance against the three, 18.2 percent. The Crusaders also held Central Connecticut (23.8) and Northeastern (29.7) to under 30 percent from three-point range while Boston College marked an opponent-high of 47.1 percent on Nov. 24.
CALM UNDER PRESSURE: The Crusaders have remained strong from the free throw line through 11 games this season. The team averages 71.2 percent from the line, making 158 of 222 attempts and ranking 89th on the national front. Junior Whitney Fremeau leads the team and Patriot League with a 90.0 free throw percentage. She marked career-highs twice with six makes against Northeastern and New Hampshire. Senior Briana McFadden's perfect 8-for-8 free throw outing against Boston College on Nov. 24 is a Patriot League game high. 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. 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 O'Dell led the team with an 84.6 free-throw percentage, missing just 10 of her 65 attempts at the line.
YEAR OF THE GUARD: Six of 12 players on the 2009-2010 roster are listed as a guard, with seniors Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell returning as starters. This year's team boasts the most experience at guard, with four seniors and another returner, sophomore Meredith Ward, owning the position. So far this season, the guards have combined to score 369 points and have stolen the ball a position-high 57 times. The guard position also leads the team in assists, combining for 83 dishes.
THIEVES IN THE NIGHT: The 2009-2010 Crusaders have been quick on their feet, collecting 97 steals in 11 games, an average of 8.8 steals per-contest. The team stole the ball a season-high 16 times against Northeastern on Dec. 5. Their 16-steal performance ranks as a conference-high while their steals average ranks third in the league. Senior Bethany O'Dell is the team-leader with 23 steals thus far and her six-steal performance against Northeastern ranks second amongst the league's individual highs.
TALE OF TWO HALVES: Scoring in the second half has been troublesome for the Crusaders so far this season. While opponents outscore Holy Cross in both halves, the team has kept opponents within six points in the first 20 minutes, taking a lead into the halftime in seven of 11 match-ups. In all, Holy Cross has scored 323 points in the first half next to opponents 358 points. The second half is a bit more lopsided, with opponents tallying a 386-297 second half scoring advantage. Luckily, the team has escaped the comeback attempts in three contests, while losing the lead to Yale (66-60), Penn State (52-48), Northeastern (89-82) and most recently New Hampshire (80-72).
ROAD WARRIORS: The 2009-2010 season began with eight contests away from the Hart Center, wrapping up against Harvard and continuing with a trip to Durham, N.H. and to New Jersey for the Hawk Holiday Classic on Dec. 29-30. The team hosted Connecticut at the DCU Center on Nov. 20, and then held two straight home-contests at the Hart Center on Dec. 5 and Dec. 7. 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.
POUNDING THE BOARDS: One major downfall for this year's team is the ability to rebound, ranking 330th out of 332 NCAA teams in current rebounding margin. With six players listed under 6-0, bringing down boards has been a struggle. In 11 contests, opponents are out-rebounding the Crusaders 470-331, a margin of 12.6 boards per-game. The team started the season with its best rebounding outing, 41 against Yale, but has since decreased its numbers, pulling down a season-low 21 rebounds against No. 1 Connecticut and only 27 rebounds against Vermont. They currently average 30.1 rebounds per-game and are led by junior Whitney Fremeau who averages 5.5 rebounds per-contest.
HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: The Dec. 7 game marked the second home contest for Holy Cross this season, a place where opponents have had trouble adjusting to. The Holy Cross women's basketball team has a 79.6 home victory percentage since becoming a Division I program. The 2009-2010 season marks the 35th season of women's basketball competition at the Hart Center. The team holds an all-time 324-98 advantage at home with the year's team dropping its first two Hart Center contests in against Northeastern and Vermont. 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 153 meetings against this year's home opponents.
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 479-253 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.
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.
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).
1,000 POINT UPDATE: Senior captains Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell became just the eighth and ninth juniors to become part of the 24-member Holy Cross 1,000-point club last year. Going into the 2009-2010 season, they ranked 14th (1,195 points) and 19th (1,104 points) on the all-time scoring list respectively. In 10 contests so far, the two captains have already jumped at least two spots on that list. McFadden, who has scored 142 total points this season, now holds the 11th spot with 1,322 career points, having jumped Kris Shields, Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne. She needs 32 more points to rank No. 10. O'Dell, who leads the team with 166 points thus far, has now entered the 1,200-point mark with 1,270 total career points. Her last three performances of 22, 12 and 20 points moved her past Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne for 12th place, just behind fellow senior captain McFadden.
RECORD CLIMBING: Seniors Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell have already etched thier names into 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 moves into third on the career records list for three-pointers attempted (513) and fourth in three pointers made (152). 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 in three-pointers made and three-pointers attempted, continuing to pull ahead.
NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: The Crusaders will begin a three-game home stand after the New Year, as well as wrapping up non-conference play. The team first hosts Dartmouth on Saturday, Jan. 2 at 1:00 p.m. Last year, the Crusaders took home a road victory against the Big Green, winning 57-45. Dartmouth does hold a 4-2 all-time series advantage over Holy Cross, but has lost the last two meetings.