Streaking Saders Seek Takedown of the Bison
Published: Friday, February 7, 2014
Updated: Sunday, February 9, 2014 14:02
Last Wednesday night, January 29th, the Holy Cross Men’s Basketball team took to the court to battle one of the newly initiated Patriot League members, Loyola University of Maryland. Junior Malcolm Miller had his own housewarming of sorts by inviting the Greyhounds to his personal block party at the Hart Center by swatting six of Loyola’s shots. To add to the cordial invitation, Miller provided the Greyhounds with a spectacle of high-powered slam dunks, giving the Crusaders the an early advantage in the first half, which paved the way for HC’s sixth Patriot League victory of the season.
Despite limping through its difficult non-conference schedule in December, which included hard fought losses to the University of North Carolina and the University of Michigan, the Crusaders have elevated their play in the New Year by posting a 6-4 Patriot League Record. Now, the Crusaders find themselves in the top echelon of the Patriot League standings, shuffling from third to now fourth overall due to a tough loss to American University this past Saturday.
To understand the Crusaders’ recent success, one must only look to the early, dark days of 2014. On January 11th, things looked bleak for the Crusaders after they fell to the Bucknell Bison to the tune of 61-57 thereby falling to 7-9 (1-3 PL) for the season. However, as noted, the five-game winning streak that ensued after the Bison loss has resurrected the Crusader’s aim for a high finish in the Patriot League standings and positions the squad for a run in the Patriot League Playoffs. Although the Crusaders appeared tattered with a 1-3 record, the team, which likes to refer to themselves as a family, has proved their resolve by demonstrating a brotherly-like camaraderie while stringing together five hard-fought wins.
The Crusaders caught their stride going undefeated from January 15th to January 29th earning five impressive Patriot League victories. Lone senior, Dave Dudzinski, has remained the stalwart of the squad, averaging 14.8 points during this hot stretch, and posting a 24 point performance against Loyola. However, the Crusaders have acquired many of their victories through a well-rounded approach including cast-support from Justin Burrell, Eric Green, and poised freshmen Anthony Thompson and Malachi Alexander.
When Miller is not busy rejecting opponents shots, he provides an offensive spark plug for the Crusaders in the absence of sensational shooter, Sophomore Cullen Hamilton, who has struggled to recover from a knee injury that has kept him out of as many as eight games. Miller brings to the table both a keen scoring ability and a towering defensive presence. Miller totaled 17 points in a stellar come from behind victory at Army, in which Coach Milan Brown described his playing time, despite early foul trouble, as “a quality twenty-six minutes.” Overall, the outburst of Malcolm Miller offensively and defensively has been instrumental to the Crusader’s positive record in-conference.
The origins of the team’s latest streak are evident in Coach Brown’s acute analysis in the come-from-behind victory against Army. Brown emphasized his team’s ability to maintain mental toughness as the key factor in earning the victory. Despite being down 14 points with 10 minutes left, the Crusaders buckled down and worked harder on defense to produce more turnovers, which cut into Army’s lead and eventually allowed the Crusaders to squeak by with a win in West Point, New York. Tough defense and a sense of togetherness undoubtedly turned the tide in the Army game, and furthermore, propelled the Crusaders onto their 5 game winning streak.
On Sunday, February 9th, at noon, the now 12-10 Crusaders will have their chance for redemption against the Bucknell Bison in front of their home crowd at the Hart Center, and on national television thanks again to CBS Sports Network. Although the season has been akin to a roller coaster ride, expect the Holy Cross Men’s Basketball family to consistently stand and encourage their teammates throughout the game. Even though the outcome of the game is in the balance, one thing is for certain— the team will demonstrate an intense level of effort that every student and alumnus will be proud of regardless of a win or loss. This week’s slate of games could continue to propel the team to the top of the Patriot League standings, while gaining some national exposure for Mount St. James’ rising basketball program.