Tuesday, December 04, 2007
A running courtside account of Holy Cross' big win at Saint Joseph's, posted live, as it happened.

It is almost two hours until tip-off at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.

First on the floor is St. Joe's forward Arvydas Lidzius, getting extra work on his shot. Lidzius started at closer range, with a manager rebounding, working his way around the basket, moving back a few steps and reversing his path. He is now about a foot-and-a-half outside the arc, and hitting at a pretty impressive rate.

The 6-9 senior from Lithuania can use the extra work. He has played in five of six games, averaging 10 minutes, but he has shot the ball just eight times in game action. He is 2 for 3 from three-point range, so HC'd best not forget about him when he is on the floor. Best not to let a driveway shooter get his feet set.

5:25: Holy Cross arrives. The team flew in last night, taking advantage of those Southwestern fares out of Providence. Their return flight leaves around noon tomorrow.

Joining Lidzius on the floor is Rockwell moody, a little used 6-9 sophomore forward. Moody looks springy and athletic, but he plays behind some pretty good upperclassmen. Actually, plays behind is not very accurate. Better to say sits behind. so far this season, he has pleayed seven minutes in four games. If he gets in tonight, it is either very good or very bad nbews for Holy Cross. It definitely won't be a sign the game is close.

5:35: Kyle Cruze first on the floor for HC. Bad news for the Crusaders, the guy rebounding for Cruze is Lawrence Dixon, who is wearing street clothes. HC SID Charles Bare says Dixon is still having problems with his knee. he was dressed for the shootaround this morning, and has dressed for recent games and saw six minutes of action against Yale.

Looking at the A-10 stats: a few comparisons between St. Joe's and Dayton, who HC played last time out.

FG Percentage: SJ 45.3, Dayton 48.5
FFG Pct. defense: SJ 41.0, Dayton 43.0
Rebounding Margin: SJ -0.8, Dayton +5
Assist to turnover ratio: SJ 1.17, Dayton 0.86
Three-pointer made: SJ 8.17 per game, Dayton 5.33

The Crusaders faced the A-10's top field goal percentage guy, Chris Wright (66.7 pct.) against Dayton. Tonight they face the guy No. 2 in the league, St. Joe's Ahmad Nivins (65.2 pct). St. Joe's Tasheed carr leads the A-10 in assists (7 apg), Dayton's Brian Roberts ( 5 apg) is third.

5:47: The entire HC team now out and going through warmup drills. Dixon appears to be the only injury concern. Everyone else in uniform; nobody particularly heavily taped.

55 Minutes to game time: Holy Cross has had a lot of success against A-10 schools. Since Ralph Willard arrived in Worcester, the 'Saders are 10-4 against the A-10. They are, 0-3 all-time against St. Joe's, including that NIT second round loss here two years ago.

St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli has not been afraid to play Patriot League schools. The Hawks had a two-for-one deal with Bucknell that brought the Bison to Philly twice in the last three seasons, with the Hawks visiting Lewisburg in 2005. They also played a home and home with Lafayette in 2005 and 2006.

This apparently is the start of a series between St. Joe's and HC, according to Ralph Willard's post on coachralph.com. Ralph does not say how many games the deal is for, but said it made sense for the two Jesuit institutions to play. He compared it to the old Fordham series, except "St Joe's is a lot better and Phil doesn't try to pretend the program is something it's not."

31 MIN TO GAME TIME: Bob Fouracre's keys to the game: 1) Shut down the St. Joe's three-point shooters 2) Tim Clifford has to stay out of foul trouble (Bob notes: "When he plays a full game, he averages over 20 points. Holy Cross can't have him sitting on the bench with two fouls five minutes into the game.") 3) Pat Doherty needs to step it up from three-point range, where he is shooting just 14.3 percent this season.

Fouracre also worries about St. Joe's ball movement foiling HC's zone defense.

24 minutes to game time: Noticeably absent from St. Joe's rotation is 6-2 sophomore guard D.J. Rivera, last season's sixth man. Rivera, who averaged over 23 minutes per game as a freshman, is sitting out the fall semester to concentrate on academics. His status for the second semester will be determined at the end of the first.

19 minutes to game time: A not so secret St. Joe's weapon HC needs to be aware of is 6-8 senior forward Rob Ferguson. Ferguson is averaging 9 points per game, fifth on the team. But he has reached double figures in the past two games, including 15 against Penn State last time out. Worth noting, nobody on St. joe's roster has more career double-figures games than Ferguson's 42.

14 minutes to game time: Worst seat in the house? That's easy -- the Saint Joe's pep band is tucked in a corner on the sideline at the end of the bleachers, without enough elevation to see the far end of the floor over the fans seated in the sections to their left. Tough to see them, but they sound real good.

5 minutes to tip: Signs at the entrance to the ticket lobby said this game is sold out. The student section has been full, and loud, for a while now, and with the Hawks entering the floor, they get even louder. Very few splotches of purple in here. Aside from a handful of folks in the sfive rows of bleachers behind the HC bench, less than a dozen other folks sporting HC colors thus far.

1 minute to tip: Is St. Joe's coach popular with the students? From the sound of the Phil Martelli, Phil Martelli chant when he makes his way on to the floor, you'd assume so.

You know you are at a Catholic school when the PA guy pages a lady named Mary Cathleen to the lobby.

If you have never been here, a quick description of the fieldhouse. It is old, small, faded and loud. It is reminiscent in size, age and the steel girders of the arched roof to Bucknell's old Davis Gym. It even has the same hung from the ceiling style backboards. Seating in the upper level is chairback seats with pull out bleachers below. The place badly needs a coat of paint. It will get that, and more (including at least 1,000 new seats) in a renovation project that could be complete for the 2010 season.

15:49 first half: the first media timeout is the second stoppage of the game. Martelli called a quick one around the 17:37 mark after Alex Vander Baan's runner in the lane made it 6-0 Holy Cross.

Tim Clifford with 4 points and a block already. He also has a foul. one of three team fouls for HC in a six second span between the 18:38 and 18:32 marks. St. joe's is 0-2 with 5 turnovers.

11:39 first half: Holy Cross 15, St. Joe's 2. St. Joe's ends HC's 12-0 run with two free throws at the 12:54 mark. The Hawks still without a field goal.

Tim Clifford is a monster so far. The Big Purple Dog with 8 points, the latest two on a tip that was his second offensive rebound of the possession. He kept the ball in HC's hands by grabbing the carom when Eric Meister missed the back end of a two shot foul, then tipped in the miss that followed.

The only negative: Doherty has picked up his second foul and sat down at the 12:54 mark. With him on the bench, St. Joe's is trying trapping pressure against HC. Thus far with little success.

HC 21, SJ 5, 7:55 first half The offensive frustration for St. Joe's is becoming obvious. Ahmad Nivins, unable to get touches with HC packed around him in the zone, is practically begging for the ball, trying to signal his guards to toss an alley-oop his way.

Fouls mounting for the Crusaders. Adam May's second, at the 8:52 mark, is the team's ninth. St. Joes has been in the one and one since the 11:39 mark.

Thus far, HC has taken the crowd right out of the game. Holding the home team without a field goal for over 12 minutes and building a 16-point lead will do that. The Hawks are 0 for 9 from the field, with 7 turnovers. They will shoot some free throws this half, though. Kyle Cruze just became the third HC player with two fouls, and SJ is now in the double bonus, though Tasheed Carr is not taking advantage. He shot two each of the last two SJ trips and is 2 for 4.

HC 27, SJ 9 (3:21 first half) : By the way, Calathes has two fouls for St. Joe's. He has stayed in the game, though. Holy Cross with two shot clock violations thus far. Following the second, carr hit a three-pointer for St. Joe's first field goal. It comes after 15 minutes and 11 missed shots.

Calathes is sitting now. He picked up his third personal with 4:39 to play in the half.

Adam May's backdoor layup makes it 27-9 and brings Martelli to his feet to call another timeout. Key stat: HC leads in reounds 18-7.

HC 34, SJ 21 HALFTIME HC finally reaches the 1 and 1 with 55.7 seconds to go in the half.

Nice momentum play at the end of the half for HC. With SJ having clawed back to within 11, the Hawks press nearly causes a turnover. But Colin Cunningham alertly jumped over two guys battling on the floor for the loose ball, stayed inbounds and got the ball to Clifford in the frontcourt, who fed Vander Baan for an uncontested layup just before the buzzer.

At the half, St. Joe's shooting 18.8 percent, 3 for 16 from the field, all three from the arc. The Hawks took 15 trips to the foul line, made 12. Holy Cross is 12 for 26 (46.2 percent), 2 for 4 from the arc. 8 of 10 at the line.

Two huge stats: Rebounds -- HC 19, SJ 10. Turnovers: HC 5, SJ 8.

Carr has 12 of Saint Joe's 21, including two of its three field goals. Calathes 0-4 for Saint Joe's. Nivins has had just one shot from the field.

For HC: Clifford 4 for 7, 8 points, 4 rebounds -- all on the offensive glass. Vander baan 3 for 5, 6 points. Adam may 2-3, including 1 for 1 on threes - 6 points. Andrew Beinert 7 points.

Points in the paint: HC 16, SJ 0; Pts off turnovers: HC 10, SJ 0; Bench points: HC 15, SJ 0

SECOND HALF
HC 37, SJ 26 (18:07 to play: St. Joe's first two-point basket is Nivins' first field goal. It comes at the 18:07 mark and will have Nivins on the line for a three-point play after Clifford was called for his third foul on the play.

Clifford appeared to have his arms straight up and merely stood his ground as a frustrated Nivins tried to bull his way through a double-team to the basket. Might have been with the body.

Two teams opened the half trading threes, Ferguson for SJ, vander Baan for HC. Nivins can't convert the free throw.

HC 43, SJ 29 (15:41 to play) Doherty his third foul at the 17:38 mark.

Then a very bad call with 15:41 to go. Clifford's fourth, called by a ref behind the play. Should have been called on Cunningham, who reached in to stop Nivins from shooting.

Clifford had just scored 6 straight points for HC, giving him 14 for the game.

Team fouls already at 5 for HC,just 1 for St. Joe's.

HC 53, SJ 42 (9:56 to play): With Clifford out, the middle is opening up for SJ. Garrett Willimason scored on back-to-back slashes through the paint and added two free throws after being fouled by Eric Meister on his way to the rack, Meister's third. The free throws cut the lead to 45-36. Team's 6th with 13:11 to play. Team fouls HC 6, SJ 1.

Calathes now heating up, wraps a pair of threes around a Meister jump hook to cut the lead to 9 again. At the other end, beinert puts it back in double digits with a drive down the lane.

Adam May's fourth puts SJ in the bonus with 9:56 to go. SJ still with just two team fouls.

HC 59, SJ 57 (4:14 to go): HC using the three-pointer to maintain its cushion, 5 of 7 from the arc in the second half so far.

HC 64, SJ 55 : Saint Joe's cuts it to 62-53 and is at the line for the second time with a chance to cut it further. Darrin Govens missed the and-one following Cruze's third (team's 8th), but SJ got the rebound and now Calathes has two shots after Beinert's first foul. Calathes hits them both.

Clifford back in at 4:49, answers with an 18-foot jumper at the other end.

Calathes just got his fourth foul.

HC 64, SJ 57 (3:19 to go): Vander Baan backs in for a charge, team's 10th. SJ will shoot two the rest of the way. Hawks still have just 4 team fouls. That could aid HC in running the clock down at the end, since SJ needs to give 3 before it can put the Saders on the line for 1 and 1.

HC 64, SJ 59 (2:26 left): Clifford snuffs Nivins and takes the ball out of his hands at the 3:05 mark, also snuffing the crowd's chants of "The Hawk will never die" momentarily. Crowd back in it after Calathes's putback cuts it to 5

HC 65, SJ 61 (45.5 left): HC finally in the one and one on Calathes fifth personal. He leaves with 19, all in the second half.

Moments earlier, a horrible no call when a SJ defender grabbed Clifford's arm to keep him from finishing after Doherty made a terrific drive and dish play with the shot clock running down.

HC 70, SJ 61 34.1 to go): Just need to make free throws now. Vander baan has just madefour in a row, but Clifford misses the front of a 1 and 1 and SJ scores at the other end to cut it to 70-63, but unless they have a five point play or two up their sleeves, this will be a big, big win for HC.

HOLY CROSS 71, SAINT JOE'S 66: GOOD NIGHT FROM HAWK HILL

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