Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reactions to the Colgate Game

For most college football teams, reaching a championship game is the sought after goal at the beginning of every season. For many teams, the dream of reaching a championship football game never becomes a reality. In fact, many college football players will never in their four years participate in a championship game. The Holy Cross Crusaders, however, are in a unique situation where they are fortunate enough to play in four straight championship games. While these are not "true" championship games, for the Crusaders they absolutely are: Win one championship game, and then move on to the next one.

It is certainly not the ideal situation, having your backs against the wall knowing that every game is of the "must win" variety from here on out, but it is also motivating in the sense that one more loss and the season comes to an end. After having already lost to the Georgetown Hoyas in the fourth week of the season, making our Patriot League record 0-1, the Crusaders can ill-afford another league loss; a loss would mean no Patriot League Championship (PLC) and no bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs. Everyone in the field side locker room at Colgate's Andy Kerr Stadium knew what was at stake this past Saturday, and they will all understand what is at stake on November 6th against Lehigh at Fitton Field: Win, and live to get to another championship game. Lose, and the dream of winning another PLC has slipped away.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Analysis of the Week

Ever since I began closely following Holy Cross sports during my junior year in high school (2005), I have been a close reader of the Holy Cross Athletics message board entitled "Crossports" (www.crossports.com). I did not begin contributing until November of my freshman year at HC, but have constantly used the website as my primary outlet to stay updated with HC athletics, as well as to read other posters' commentary and analysis of Holy Cross athletic contests and teams.

I have always enjoyed the great commentary from posters such as: Non Alum Dave, HC92, hchoops, dadominate, and CHC8485 among many others. In fact, my first post ever on the site was jokingly directed at Dave and the rest of the "Section F'ers" who traditionally sit in the same section at the Hart Center during basketball games. Crossports is a very unique community in the "cyber world"; it is easily one of the most informative and comical sports message boards around. The great analysis that many of the posters share over on the board is what makes the site so enjoyable to read. 

While I believe I provide accurate analysis following many of the football games, I think a neat feature that can become a staple for Chu Chu Rah Rah is having an "Analysis of the Week" post. There are many other astute observes of Holy Cross football who post on Crossports that should be highlighted. The following day after a Holy Cross football game, after reading through all the commentary about the game, I will select what posters' analysis I deem to be the most informative and accurate. Following their analysis, I will provide my own reactions to the commentary. 

So without further adieu, here is the first "Analysis of the Week":

The ever informative RookieDad chimed in on the play of the defense against the vaunted Colgate running attack:

The D were warriors! Rampant holding on the part of the Raiders' OL went uncalled all day. (I know, I know "it happens all the time".) However, I took it as a sign of desperation by Colgate since our guys were never as aggressive this year as they were today. Basically, big piles in the A-gaps forcing Eachus to cut to outside and into awaiting OLB and/or corners.

Our D did have trouble initially with 'Gate's two back attack reminiscent of an updated spit "T" option with some nice faking by the Raider QB. However, once our guys calmed down, covered their assignments and merely tackled the first red shirted RB they saw rather than try to solve the mystery, they did fine. In fact, 'gate's first touchdown by Eachus was caused by one of our players trying to confirm if he had the ball or not rather than just going ahead and planting him.

Basically, our DL came out and hit the Raider OL in the mouth who then were so shocked by the temerity of the Crusaders they never recovered in first half. Our guys were so stubborn up front 'gate kept substituting centers - never a good sign. Rock fight up front it was indeed!

A classic game that will be a lifetime fond memory for everyone on the team.

By the way, is Perry Townsend unstoppable or what? And, does anyone know how Zitnik got loose?

Next championship game at home against the mountain chickens in two weeks. Show up and strap in. Let's not get ****y though (pun intended).

RookieDad is very accurate in stating "covered their assignments." Defending a running-based team who runs misdirection plays and the option, stopping an offense like this is simply knowing one's assignments and doing your job. That is one of Coach Gilmore's favorite phrases: "Just do your job." If everyone on defense simply does their job, albeit a very tough job against such a great running team like Colgate, the defense will succeed. And although Colgate eclipsed the 200 yard mark in rushing yardage, there was only one run, a a 35 yard scamper by Nate Eachus, that saw the 'Gate running attack get behind our secondary. 

What was so impressive on the defensive side of the ball, particularly the defensive line, is that they did a fabulous job without three regulars on the D-line. Jack Maliska, Eric Oldiges, and Matt Ferrel were all sidelined due to injury (Ferrel did travel, but he was a game-time decision and could not play). The depth and talent of the younger guys up front was really demonstrated on Saturday. Michael White, Mike Tucker, Joe Bell, and Matthew Boyd all seamlessly stepped in and played exceptionally well. In fact, it was Tucker who pressured Colgate quarterback Greg Sullivan in the game's final play to clinch the "W" for the Crusaders.

I am not going to lie, I had some serious doubts heading into the game with how thin our defensive line was against one of the premiere rushing attacks in the nation. The resiliency of the "big uglies" up front, and the constant pounding that was put on Sullivan and Eachus during every hit certainly kept the Colgate offense in check for much of the game.

Thank you, RookieDad, for your great analysis.

Look for some of my reactions to the game in the coming days. Also, I am sure Joe Tutino will want to share his thoughts on our trip out to Hamilton, NY sometime this week as well.

Kevin Doyle '11

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Joe Tutino '12 Weighs in on the Dartmouth Trip

Following two straight weeks at home, Joe did not feel the need to provide his always entertaining input of the Fordham and Brown games, although he does briefly touch on them in the beginning of his commentary. It is good to read through Mr. Tutino's thoughts, especially the tidbits he provides at the end regarding the nuances of the trip. Thanks again, Joe, for your work.

If the 2010 version of the Holy Cross Football Team could play every game at home for the next four games, the possibility of a second consecutive playoff appearance would be well within grasp. With recent triumphs over Fordham and Brown in the friendly confines of Fitton Field, this squad avenged tough blowouts at UMass and Harvard and a frustrating league defeat to the Hoyas of Georgetown. The Fordham game was historically close, but the Brown game was the more encouraging of the two especially on the defensive side of the ball. While the crowd was sparse as students embarked on a weeklong fall break, the emotion on the sidelines was equal to that of last year’s Lafayette game (compared to the previous five contests). This game did not mean as much in the standings as it did morale-wise, but it certainly meant a return to .500 and a statement to those up in Hanover that the Cross was no pushover to Ivy League competition. The Brown game was another home win, but the biggest games remaining on the schedule are mostly road games, a place where these Crusaders have not won since last November 7th (my birthday!) at Lehigh. The Dartmouth game—an exasperating 27-19 loss—proved that this young team is as unaccustomed to success on the road as the Detroit Lions.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reactions to the Brown Game

Two wins in a row and back to .500. It is safe to say this is not the same team that took the field against the Harvard Crimson in the third game of the year. It was hard to gauge what kind of team the 2010 Holy Cross Crusaders would be following the first two games of the year (Howard and UMASS). We rolled passed the Bison and felt pretty good about ourselves, but Howard is one of the worst teams in FCS football this year. The week after we struggled greatly against the Minutemen, but watching their performance against Michigan a week later, they clearly are one of the top five teams in the FCS this year. We fell somewhere in between these two teams, but where? Harvard would be the telling game, many presumed, of where the team stood this year. That Saturday night in Cambridge, however, was the low point of the season thus far. Not only did we get punched in the mouth hard by the Johnnies, there was little fight back. The offense struggled for the second straight week and looked to be in disarray, the defense had little answer for Andrew Hatch, and the energy on the sidelines was befuddled by the Crimson attack. After another setback down in Washington DC, although the defense came to play and the effort was there by the boys for an entire 60 minutes, the Crusaders returned to the friendly confines of Fitton Field. Getting past a weak Fordham Rams team was a nice confidence booster on Homecoming, but beating a strong Brown team the following weekend may be a sign that Holy Cross has turned to corner.

In an article I wrote back in mid-August previewing the Quarterback position, I commented on how every team experiences "growing pains" at the beginning of a new season. Some have worse pains than others; Holy Cross this season experienced pains throughout the first four weeks of the year. The past two weeks have demonstrated that these pains have been cured, and there is no better time for this to have happened. Going into our final out of conference game of the year against a much improved Dartmouth football squad, and then having Colgate, who is the class of the league this year, on the horizon, ridding ourselves of growing pains is crucial.

Now, let's take a closer look at the Brown game. What went right:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Checking in With Cindy Mercer

Cindy Mercer is a very special person. She is a 'dyed in the wool' Crusader despite the fact that she transferred from Holy Cross after her freshman year. Cindy has been a dedicated mentor to many Crusader football student-athletes both last year and this. She was gracious enough to recently provide some insights and perspectives. I thank her and commend her for all that she does in helping our Crusaders win 'off the field.'

  1. What attracted you to Holy Cross in the first place? 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Is Bucknell Leaning Toward Supporting Football Scholarships?

With a new president in place at Bucknell, are the Bison now beginning to lean toward supporting the reinstitution of football scholarships? Well, whether it is the new President or not, the Bucknell sports board seems to be indicating a shift in sentiment in Lewisburg. Let's check this out.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reactions to the Fordham Game

2-3 sounds a whole lot better than 1-4, doesn't it? The entire day was a real success all the way around. The only failure? The game did not start at 5 or 6 o'clock and finish underneath the lights. But, that is a post for another day.

Following the loss in DC to the Georgetown Hoyas, a loss that saw the 'Saders score only 7 points, many questioned the offense, and rightfully so. For the third straight game, the "O" scored in single digits. This was the first time since 1992 that Holy Cross scored in single digits for three straight games. But, like any good coaches and players do (and make no mistake, there are some very good players and coaches on the Holy Cross football team), adjustments were made. For anyone who watched the game, the offense had a new flare to it. The field was spread open more, we were more aggressive with our passing game, especially taking chances down the field, and we ran the quarterback draw to perfection. Ryan Taggart is not the most prolific passer, but his speed, agility, and legs are superior to many quarterbacks. The offensive play calling used his legs beautifully on Saturday. Before I start rambling, I will slow myself down and begin to break down what went right, and what did not.

What went right against Fordham:
  • The first class of six of Holy Cross' best inducted into the Ring of Fame. I will refer you to that post to read more about that: http://chuchurahrah.blogspot.com/2010/10/remarks-at-building-brandring-of-fame.html
  • We were back in the friendly confines of Fitton Field. The last loss at Fitton was against a top 5 UMASS team back in September of 2008. Hopefully we continue this hot streak in The Woo this weekend against Brown.
  • Bill Edger was back in the lineup and healthy. He was our leading receiver on Saturday, and probably does not get enough credit for all he does. I get a feeling if he was healthy enough to play against Georgetown we may have had more success on offense.
  • The offensive play book was opened up. As I already alluded to, I really liked the fact we elected to throw the ball down the field more (probably because Edge was back), and also let Taggart utilize his legs. Fordham was probably one of the weaker defenses we will run into all year, but the middle of the field was open all day, and Taggart took advantage of that.
  • Just looking at the statistics from the game: 32 first downs, 500 total yards, 30+ in time of possession, 13 for 18 on 3rd down!
    • 13 for 18...All about extending drives, moving the chains, keeping the offense on the field, and the defense off.
  • Easily, Ryan Taggart's best performance of his career. He looked very comfortable running the offense, something he did not look against UMASS, Harvard, and Georgetown, and made solid reads throughout the game.
  • Josh Hauser had 3 catches for 35 yards. If he can become another weapon in the offense alongside Alex Schneider, it would merely add another option for Taggart.
  • Of the eight drives throughout the game for Holy Cross, six ended in scores and just two punts. If we can score on 50% of our drives, I would be elated. 
  • Offensive line did a solid job throughout as Taggart and Watson were never sacked.
What did not go right against Fordham:
  • Defense needs to tighten up and not let the opposition back into the game. We were up 23-14, and then the Rams come down and scored, and then after being up 36-24, they scored late again to get within five.
    • Fordham was actually within one defensive stop of forcing HC to punt, but fortunately Taggart used his legs, lowered his shoulder, and picked up the yardage for the first down.
  • In the last three games, the opposition's quarterback has nearly been the leading rusher for their respective team. Andrew Hatch (Harvard) had 62 yards (Gino Gordon had 66), Scott Darby (Georgetown) had 101, and Blake Wayne (Fordham) had 114.
    • What does this all mean? The defensive line and linebackers have to work on containing the QB when a pass play breaks down and the QB tucks it in and runs.
  • Kicking game needs to be crisper. Missing two extra points and only averaging 33 yards a punt may come back to haunt us. If Fordham were to have scored late in the game, those two extra points would have been important. Also, we know there will be even closer games than this down the line; converting on these opportunities is pertinent.
  • Forcing more than two "3 and outs" not only benefits the defense as they get off the field sooner, but also enables the offense to get in a rhythm.
While this was a great win against an individually talented Fordham team--I did not believe they were that great as a whole--this was nothing more than a game to get Holy Cross back on track. The players know and believe this is a good team, and finally getting closer to putting a complete game together was a very positive sign. Brown will be a great test this weekend as we move closer and closer to the final four games against our Patriot League brethren.

Kevin Doyle '11

It's Basketball Season?

I know this blog is primarily meant for Holy Cross football, but I figured during the offseason I would inevitably deliver my thoughts on some of the other sports Holy Cross competes in as well. I have been busy lately communicating with a college basketball website called "Rush the Court" (www.rushthecourt.net), so I apologize for my brief hiatus from the blog. I just finished drafting up my first article for the site, and thought I would share it with you here. 

I thank Joe T for helping me out during my stint away from the blog. Hopefully I will be able to draft up some of my reactions on Fordham, and thoughts on Brown later on today and in the coming days. With a paper due tomorrow, however, it is looking like I will not be able to quench your thirst for Holy Cross football until then. Stupid schoolwork.

Without further adieu, here is the 2010 Patriot League Basketball Preview (the article has not yet been put up on the site, but should be up either later today or tomorrow. Also, sorry the formatting is pretty bad here, it will appear better on the website):

Predicted Order of Finish:

1.         Bucknell 10-4
2.         Lafayette 9-5
3.         Holy Cross 8-6
4.         American 8-6
5.         Lehigh 8-6
6.         Colgate 5-9
7.         Navy 5-9
8.         Army 3-11

All-Conference Team:

CJ McCollum (G), Soph, Lehigh (18.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.3 apg)
Jordan Sugars (G), Jr, Navy (15.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg)
Jared Mintz (F), Sr, Lafayette (14.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Andrew Keister (F), Sr, Holy Cross (10.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg)
Vlad Moldoveanu (C), Sr, American (19.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.1 apg)

6th Man: Devin Brown, Jr, Holy Cross (13.2 ppg, 45.4 3PT%)

Impact Newcomer: Troy Brewer, Jr, American (transferred from Georgia)

What You Need to Know. Long are the days where Bucknell and Holy Cross had supremacy against the six other members of the Patriot League. In three years ranging from the 2004-2005 season to the 2006-2007 season, the Bison and Crusaders compiled a gaudy 74-10 record in Patriot League action. In this span, Bucknell garnered two NCAA Tournament wins (Kansas and Arkansas), while Holy Cross had an NIT victory (Notre Dame). Times have changed, however, as storied coaches Pat Flannery (Bucknell) and Ralph Willard (Holy Cross) have moved on to other endeavors. Since then, the Patriot League has become one of the most competitive leagues in the country in terms of balance within the conference. Jeff Jones at American hit lightning with a dominant backcourt in Garrison Carr and Derrick Mercer who nearly pulled off a dramatic upset of Villanova two years ago, and Lehigh saw freshman sensation CJ McCollum carry them all the way to a Patriot League title just a year ago. In the 2010-2011 campaign, however, it is anyone’s guess whom will be standing atop the pedestal come year’s end. Lafayette and Bucknell have the most talent coming back, American has Player of the Year Candidate Vlad Moldoveanu playing for the entire season (he missed the Fall semester last year), Lehigh has McCollum back after his rookie season that saw him dominate Patriot League competition by averaging 23 points a contest, and Holy Cross returns a boatload of talent, but will be playing under their third coach in three years.

All-Transfer Team: Some of the best players in the league this season began their college careers with bigger name programs in BCS conferences, but ultimately found their niche in the quaint PL. Jeff Jones at American always seems to tap into the Junior College (JUCO) talent, but this year his top three players may be Division 1 transfers from bigger schools: Vlad Moldoveanu (George Mason), Troy Brewer (Georgia), and Charles Hinkle (Vanderbilt). Colgate was the recipient of John Brandenburg (Virginia). Holy Cross hit pay dirt last season when Mike Cavataio (St. Johns) was one of their most dependable players throughout the year. O.J. Avworo (Idaho) brought his talents to Annapolis a few years ago after having a solid season for the Vandals in 2006-2007. Lehigh has guard B.J. Bailey (Boston University) available after the conclusion of the Fall semester; just in time for Patriot League action.  

Power in Pennsylvania: Last season the three Pennsylvania-based schools—Lehigh, Bucknell, and Lafayette—all finished 1-2-3 in that order. The Patriot League championship featured Lehigh vs. Lafayette, one of the biggest rivalries in all of college sports, and both squads look to be strong again this year. Bucknell seems to finally be figuring out the system of third year coach Dave Paulsen. After going a disappointing 7-23 in his inaugural season, the Bison went 8-2 in the last 10 games of the PL regular season last year before being upset in the first round of the league tournament against rival Holy Cross. With much of their starting five and nine of their ten top contributors from last year’s squad returning, Bucknell may be the favorite to win the league.

A New Era at Holy Cross…Again: After a disastrous season that saw Holy Cross have one of its worst seasons (9-22) in the history of the program, Athletic Director Dick Regan elected to fire Sean Kearney after just one season at the helm. Kearney came to the Crusaders via Notre Dame after Ralph Willard, a 1967 graduate of the college, spoiled the HC faithful with four NCAA Tournament berths and an NIT bid in a seven year span. Now, Milan Brown will lead the men in purple. Brown, who comes from Mount St. Mary’s, is a defensive stickler who will look to improve Holy Cross’ defense which ranked 288 last year.   

Predicted Champion. Bucknell (NCAA Seed: #15). The Bison bring back virtually everybody from a team that ended last year playing very well together. This team will not be as good as some of the dominant Bison teams in past years—I don’t think the Patriot League will ever see a team of that caliber again—but their depth will make it hard for other PL teams to compete with. The Bison routinely went 10 deep, and eight of these 10 players averaged between 5.6 and 10.1 points per game. The unselfish nature of Dave Paulsen’s motion offense makes it hard for opponents to key on one player. Senior Darryl Shazier leads the team at point guard, something he has done since his freshman season, and is joined by sharpshooter Bryson Johnson (2.2 3PT per game) in the backcourt. Fifth year senior Stephen Tyree, a menace on defense, and do-it-all player Bryan Cohen (8.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.7 apg) will be integral parts of Bucknell’s success. Bucknell has not finished above .500 since 2006-2007, and many of the Bison faithful may be losing patience with Dave Paulsen, but this looks to be a breakout type season for Bucknell.

Top Contenders. There are four other teams aside from Bucknell that have legitimate chances to challenge for the Patriot League title. In fact, it is hard to make Bucknell the clear-cut favorite, but with the amount of talent they have returning, along with their supporting cast, they should have a slight edge. Lafayette, Lehigh, American, and Holy Cross will all be in the mix come conference tournament time.
  • While the Mountain Hawks graduated two of the league’s best in Marquis Hall and Zahir Carrington, they return arguably the best pure scorer in the league in CJ McCollum. McCollum has the ability to take over the game with his quick speed and flawless stroke, and Gabe Knutson is a formidable big man underneath. If Lehigh can overcome the loss to Hall and Carrington, which will be no easy task, they have a chance to be a serious contender.
  • American, after a down year following back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths, reloads with two transfers: Troy Brewer and Charles Hinkle. Add on Vlad Moldoveanu and Stephen Lumpkins (drafted as a left-handed pitcher by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the most recent MLB draft), and American could feasibly win the league if all the pieces to a complicated puzzle are placed together.
  • Lafayette returns four of five starters from a team that went to the league championship last season. One of these starters, senior forward Jared Mintz, may be the league’s most efficient offensive player, as he shot 55.6% from the field and 87.5% from the charity stripe. The Leopards’ most important aspect of their team, however, may be their head coach Fran O’Hanlon. Although his record may not indicate his coaching abilities as Lafayette struggled for much of the 2000s, O’Hanlon was essentially coaching with one hand tied behind his back as LC was the last school to implement basketball scholarships. With that being said, O’Hanlon managed to lead Lafayette to two straight Patriot League titles in the late 90s. He has employed a sophisticated offensive system that takes advantage of his deadly three point shooters (ranked 28th in the nation by drilling 8.1 per game), and opens up the middle for Mintz to operate.
  • Holy Cross is unquestionably the biggest enigma entering the 2010 campaign. There is little doubt around the league and amongst the coaches that this team has talent. They were, after all, picked to win the league in 2009 and have graduated only one player who contributed significant minutes since then. Yet, being on their third coach in three years will pose major challenges for the team as they are learning another new system of basketball. Ralph Willard was famous for his suffocating 2-3 match-up zone, Sean Kearney instilled a “run-and-gun” style, and new coach Milan Brown looks to be a hard-nosed, defensive minded coach. Led by senior point guard Andrew Beinert (10.2 ppg, 3.5 apg), fifth year senior power forward Andrew Keister, and former Rookie of the Year and All-League guard RJ Evans (13.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.7 apg), the leadership and talent is there on the court. The overriding question that will determine how far this squad can go in the PL, is whether the talent on the court meshes well with Milan Brown’s philosophy and game plan.     

Top 5 RPI Boosters:

Nov. 12, 14, Dec. 22, Jan. 2—Bucknell @ Villanova, @ Marquette (CBE Classic), @ Boston College, @ Richmond—The Bison face two of the Big East’s most formidable opponents within the first three days of their season. Wins are very unlikely, but competitive and close showings could demonstrate how they are the class of the league.

Nov. 13, 17 22, 27 Dec. 4—Holy Cross vs. College of Charleston, @ Harvard, @ Boston College, @ UMASS, @ Wake Forest—Although the Crusaders do not play any perennial national powers until Wake in December, they face off against some of New England’s toughest in November. Defeating a Charleston team led by Bobby Cremins to begin the year would be a great sign under first-year coach Milan Brown.

Nov. 19, Dec. 11, Jan. 4—Colgate @ Duke, @ Syracuse, @ Maryland—Not only is Colgate playing a few teams from BCS conferences that can boost the RPI, but these are three teams that routinely advance deep into the NCAA Tournament.

Nov. 20—Lafayette @ Villanova—Want to show the rest of the Patriot League you are legitimate contenders this year? Give the Wildcats a competitive game.  

Dec. 1, 5, 16, & 22—American @ West Virginia, vs. Florida, @ Northwestern, @ Pittsburgh—After several relatively easy out of conference games to begin the year, the Eagles will learn quickly whether they can hang with the big boys.

Key Conference Games:

Jan. 12—Colgate @ Lafayette—The Raiders will want to prove early on if they belong in the upper or lower tier of the league. Defeating the Leopards on the road would go a long way in proving the former.

Jan. 16—Holy Cross @ Bucknell—Always a fun game between a rivalry that developed when the Crusaders and Bison were the face of the league for a three year span.

Jan. 22—Lehigh @ Lafayette—The battle for the Lehigh Valley. Both have legitimate shots at winning the Patriot League, and gaining the upper hand on the other team early in league play could pay dividends down the road.

Feb. 9—American and Bucknell—How good are the three Eagle transfers relative to one of the league’s best? The Eagles can prove they are a force to be reckoned with by defeating Bucknell.

Feb. 19—Army @ Navy—Although neither team figures to pose a serious threat in challenging for the league crown, any game with Army and Navy is a nip and tuck fight ‘til the very end.

Digging Deeper. The two New York-based Patriot League schools have seen very little basketball success in the history of the PL. Army has never won the League, and has yet to even be in the title game, while Colgate has not won the League since 1996. That 1996 Raider team featured Adonal Foyal, arguably the best player to ever don a Patriot League jersey. Foyal was drafted with the 8th overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 1997 NBA Draft.

Fun With KenPom. Since the 2004 season there has been a steady improvement in terms of conference rating. The #29 rating in 2004 was by far the worst year for the conference as a whole in recent memory (Lehigh won the PL and was pitted against Florida A&M in the Play-In Game). There was a five spot jump in 2005 to #24, back to #27 in 2006, but then a drastic jump in 2007 to #20. In 2008, the conference came in at #21. The Patriot League can thank Bucknell, and to a lesser extent Holy Cross, for the improved ranking during these years.

NCAA Tournament History. The Patriot League has built a reputation during the last decade of being a real tough out in the NCAA Tournament. Bucknell finally got over the hump that Holy Cross could not by defeating the third seeded Kansas Jayhawks 64-63, and the following year knocking off Arkansas 59-55. In three straight seasons, the Crusaders lost to Kentucky 72-68, Kansas 70-59, and Marquette 72-68. From 2001-2010, the average defeat of Patriot League teams in the first round has been a respectable 11 points.

Final Thoughts. Although the Patriot League will not play the flashiest basketball around, one can expect a very competitive league, especially with the top five or six teams. With the exception of Lehigh, the top tier teams in the league return plenty of their top scorers and players from the 2009 season. Being a relatively small conference with just eight teams, the familiarity each team has with one another makes for interesting games night in and night out. While there are always many questions heading into every season, it remains to be seen if American will gel with three transfers now on the roster, or if Holy Cross can adjust to a third system in three years, or if both Lafayette and Bucknell can live up to preseason expectations. 

Kevin Doyle '11

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Remarks at Building the Brand/Ring of Fame Reception

October 2, 2010

With a spectacular early fall day atop Mt. St. James on the outside and a couple hundred of my closest Holy Cross friends on the inside, it doesn't get any better than this.  

I'm Larry Doyle, chair of the Holy Cross Gridiron Leadership Council. On behalf of all those on our council, and I believe all those in attendance today, I feel exceptionally confident in stating that this reception, today's ceremony, and every effort that has gone into launching the Building the Brand Ring of Fame is truly one of Holy Cross' finest hours. I thank everybody connected to this effort both on and off campus in making this day a reality. I want to specifically thank the Holy Cross administration and our President Fr. Michael McFarland, the Athletics  Office and the members of our council. I want to draw special attention to the man who had the vision for this day and this initiative and has worked tirelessly to bring them to fruition. I am honored to count this man as a  friend and that is Ron Maheu of the Class of 1964.