Leopards Venture to Holy Cross for Patriot League Tournament
Feb. 28, 2012
THE OPENING TIP
* The Patriot League Tournament gets underway on Wednesday night in a familiar place for the fifth-seeded Leopards. Lafayette played in Worcester, Mass. a little less than a year ago, beating Holy Cross 77-70 in the quarterfinals. This season, the Leopards and Crusaders split the season series with each team winning on the other's home court. The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to play the winner of the Bucknell-Navy game on Saturday at either 2 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. Both semifinals will be televised nationally by CBS Sports Network.
* Four players have earned Patriot League honors. Senior forward Ryan Willen was named to the All-Patriot League First Team while junior guard Tony Johnson was placed on the Second Team. Seth Hinrichs and Dan Trist were selected to the All-Rookie Team, the first time Lafayette has had two All-Rookie selections. (see page 3 for complete release)
* Ryan Willen has been named the Patriot League Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He is the third Lafayette student-athlete (Mike Farrell '04, Matt Betley '08) to win the award. Willen joins senior guard Rob Delaney on the Academic All-Patriot League Team.
* Lafayette cut a 14-point halftime deficit to five on three occasions in the final minutes, but the comeback fell short on Saturday as American held on for a 76-69 win. Lafayette trailed by as many as 20 in the first half, shooting just 30 percent from the field and nine percent (1-for-11) from three in the first half.
* The Leopards outrebounded American, 45-31, Lafayette's largest rebound margin of the season. Lafayette also turned it over just 11 times while playing without the services of point guard Tony Johnson.
* Lafayette has not shot well in either game against Holy Cross, connecting for 34 percent in a win in Worcester while managing 39 percent in a loss at home. Both games were characterized by Lafayette's slow shooting starts - 19 percent in the first half at Worcester when Lafayette trailed 10-2 in the opening minutes and 33 percent at Lafayette when Holy Cross led 12-2.
* Partially due to injury but moreso just looking for the right combinations, Fran O'Hanlon has used nine different lineups this season.
ABOUT HOLY CROSS: No. 4 seed Holy Cross (15-13, 9-5) is the conference's hottest team, having won its final six games. The Crusaders have played well at home, ringing up a 10-2 mark, including a 6-1 league clip.
Statistically, Holy Cross is the conference's best team in defending the three, allowing opponents 29 percent while shooting 34 percent on their own end.
Senior guard Devin Brown, a two-time All-League Second-Team selection, leads the team in scoring (14.5 ppg) and has a team-best 52 three's. Redshirt junior R.J. Evans has returned to form after missing the final 21 games of last season due to injury. The 2009 Patriot League Rookie of the Year is averaging 11.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Freshman Justin Burrell (7.4 ppg) has taken over at point guard and is second in the league with 3.8 assists per game. Burrell has been the difference for the Crusaders in the second half, averaging 11.7 points and 3.7 assists in the six-game span.
Up front, sophomore forward Dave Dudzinski (9.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and junior center Phil Beans (6.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg) round out the starting five.
Milan Brown (Howard '93) is in his second season as head coach at Holy Cross where he has a 23-34 record.
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