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Archive for Thursday, March 14, 2002

Holy Cross well versed on Jayhawks

No. 16 seed Crusaders hope to draw from New England’s success in Super Bowl

March 14, 2002

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— Kansas University basketball fans aren't the only ones who love to follow the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks on the tube.

"Kansas is an exciting team to watch," Holy Cross guard Ryan Serravalle said Wednesday. "We enjoy watching their highlights on (ESPN's) SportsCenter."

HOLY CROSS forward tim szatko shoots during practice on Wednesday
at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. The Crusaders, the Patriot
League champions, will play Kansas University at 6:50 tonight in
the NCAA Tournament.

HOLY CROSS forward tim szatko shoots during practice on Wednesday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. The Crusaders, the Patriot League champions, will play Kansas University at 6:50 tonight in the NCAA Tournament.

Serravalle and the other Crusaders won't be watching Kansas on TV today. They'll be playing the Jayhawks and they were, at last count, 28 1/2-point underdogs.

"We're not afraid," Serravalle, HC's lone scholarship senior, said. "We just want the opportunity to play and to cherish it."

If Holy Cross wins, it will be the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed since the NCAA Tournament went to a 64-team field. That's 17 years. One seeds are 68-0 against No. 16s, and only 11 of those victories were by single digits.

If Holy Cross (18-14) pulls the rug on Kansas, the Crusaders will make history.

Hey, you never know. Didn't the New England Patriots stun the overwhelmingly-favored St. Louis Rams, the NFL team that plays right here in the Edward Jones Dome, at the Super Bowl last month? Yep, and the Patriots play not too far from the Crusaders' home in Worcester, Mass.

"It's a boost," Serravalle said about the potential Patriots' foreshadowing. "Us being from the New England area, maybe we'll have the same kind of luck tomorrow."

Luck, however, has been called the residue of design and any way you design it Kansas holds all the trumps. Therefore, the players from the small Jesuit school (2,700 students) may have to resort to Plan B.

"We'll do a lot of praying, being from Holy Cross," Serravalle said. "But who knows? Anything can happen."

Meanwhile, as he has all week, Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard has been using a dictionary full of nouns and adjectives in praise of the Jayhawks.

On Wednesday, the word of the day was "devastating."

"They're the most devastating team I've seen in transition in about 10 years," Willard said. "They're devastating."

Willard didn't call KU junior Drew Gooden devastating, but he described the 6-foot-10 All-American in otherworldly terms.

"One, he's so quick, and he has an unbelievable release," Willard said. "He catches the ball and it goes up. He's a quick jumper. He may miss a shot, but he's going to get the rebound.

"Two, he's smart. He'll make great decisions. He's a complete player. He'll be a lottery pick when he's done playing college basketball."

It's no secret the Crusaders' only hope is to try to slow the Jayhawks' vaunted running game. Thus, Willard will instruct his players to eat as much time as possible off the clock.

"We have to make them play defense in the halfcourt for 25 to 30 seconds," Willard said. "If we get into a shooting match with Kansas we're not going to win that. Obviously, we don't have the athletes they have."

In the East, the school with the slow-it-down reputation is in the Ivy League and that school played host to the Jayhawks last January.

"Yeah, Princeton slowed 'em down to 78," Willard said, smiling.

But Princeton didn't make the NCAA Tournament field and Holy Cross did by virtue of winning the Patriot League tournament.

"I know what got us here is us playing as a team," said Tim Szatko, the Crusaders' leading scorer at 13.7 points a game. "We can't do anything without each other."

2001-02 Results

Quinnipiac, W 85-57

Harvard, W 65-57

at Manhattan, L 62-75

at Dartmouth, L 47-58

Boston University, L 49-61

at UMass, W 67-56

Brown, W 76-63

at Boston College, L 51-75

v. Iona at Rainbow Classic, L 59-71

v. Portland at Rainbow Classic, W 60-43

v. Boston College, L 57-67

v. Radford at State Farm Classic, L 49-66

v. La.-Monroe at State Farm Classic, L 57-63

Fordham, W 95-75

at Princeton, L 50-52

Navy, W 70-57

at Lafayette, L 58-64

Colgate, L 42-46

at Lehigh, W 72-66

at Army, L 46-57

American, W 63-54

at Bucknell, W 73-65

at Navy, W 62-54

Lafayette, W 76-70

at Colgate, L 55-58

Lehigh, W 79-40

Army, W 77-57

Bucknell, L 73-75

at American, W 68-44

v. Navy at Patriot League Tournament, W 59-41

v. Bucknell at Patriot League Tournament, W 64-57

v. American at Patriot League Tournament, W 58-54

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