Crusaders

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Holy Cross Crusaders

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Patriot League (1990-present)
Past Conferences: Metro Atlantic Athletic
City: Worcester, Mass.
Stadium: Hart Center

NCAA Tournaments: 13 (1947, 1948, 1950, 1953, 1956, 1977, 1980, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2016)
Championships:
National Championships: 1 (1947)
Conference Tournament Titles: 8 (1977, 1980, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2016)
Conference Regular Season Titles: 6 (1990, 1994, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007)

Team History

Based in Worcester, Mass., the Holy Cross Crusaders were the first program from New England to win the Division I men’s basketball title. Holy Cross earned that distinction in 1947, when it beat Oklahoma 58-47 at Madison Square Garden in New York to complete a 27-3 season. George Kaftan was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after following up his 30-point semifinal with 18 points against Oklahoma.

Holy Cross made a bid to repeat in 1948 but lost 60-52 to Kentucky in the Final Four. The Crusaders wound up beating Kansas State in the third-place game. All-American and future Hall of Famer Bob Cousy led the Crusaders back to the Elite Eight in 1950, and they also made it in 1953.

After beating Wake Forest in the 1953 Sweet 16, Holy Cross would go another 63 years before its next NCAA Tournament win. The school’s victory over fellow No. 16 seed Southern in the 2016 First Four ended a string of nine straight losses in the Big Dance.

Future NBA Legend Tom Heinsohn

The Crusaders also won a National Invitational Tournament title, in 1954, at a time when the tournament was a marquee event. That team featured another future NBA legend in Tom Heinsohn.

Holy Cross’ trajectory could’ve been much different had it joined the fledgling Big East in 1979 alongside the likes of Georgetown, Providence and Syracuse. But the school, citing its commitment academics, declined an invitation and instead wound up in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 1983. In 1990, Holy Cross became a founding member of the Patriot League.

The Crusaders have been one of the Patriot League’s steadiest programs, with five regular season championships and six league tournament titles, most recently in 2016. The Crusaders were just 15-20 that season, but overcame long odds to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nine years.

In addition to Cousy, Heinsohn and Kaftan, the school’s pipeline to the NBA includes George Blaney, Malcolm Miller and Joe Mullaney, among others.

Holy Cross, picked ninth in the 2022-23 Patriot League preseason poll, is currently coached by Brett Nelson. Nelson, a former two-time All-Southeastern Conference guard at Florida, went just 17-62 over his first three seasons at the helm.

All-Time Records

Points Scored
o Ron Perry: 2,524
o Rob Feaster: 2,224
o Jack Foley: 2,185

Rebounds
o Tom Heinsohn: 1,254
o Chris Potter: 1,019
o Ralph Brandt: 969

Assists
o Glenn Williams: 714
o Jave Meade: 599
o Roger Breslin: 475

FAQs

Who is the winningest coach in Holy Cross history?
George Blaney won 357 games from 1973-94. The Crusaders made the NCAA Tournament thrice (1977, 1980, 1993) under his watch. Following Holy Cross, Blaney made one more stop as head coach, leading Seton Hall from 1994-97 before spending more than a decade as an assistant at UConn.

When is the last time Holy Cross was ranked in the AP poll?
The Crusaders spent much of the 1977-78 season in the polls, ranking as high as No. 12 nationally. They wound up finishing 20-7 overall.

Who holds Holy Cross’ single-season scoring record?
Jack Foley racked up a school-record 866 points in 1961-62, finishing second in the nation in scoring behind Utah’s Bill McGill. Foley was a consensus Second Team All-American. He wound up going 16th overall (second round) in the 1962 NBA Draft to the Boston Celtics and had his jersey retired by his alma mater,

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