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Holy Cross gets Defensive for Patriot League Tournament

Friday, February 24, 2012

 

After a disappointing 8-21 first season on the job, coach Milan Brown has helped rejuvenated Holy Cross' basketball program and led the Crusaders to a winning season thus far.

Last month, few would have predicted the Holy Cross men’s basketball team would be hosting a Patriot League Tournament game, but that is just what the Crusaders are set to do.
 Winners of five straight, Holy Cross (14-3, 8-5 Patriot League) has been getting it done on the defensive end of the floor lately. Over that period, which includes a victory over conference leader Bucknell, the Crusaders have given up just 54 points a game, and allowed opponents to shoot only 40 percent from the field.

 “I think it’s just us getting a better grasp, as a team, of what we’re trying to do defensively,” coach Milan Brown said. “Sometimes it just takes time. Everyone wants it to go fast, nobody more so than me, but we want to have sustained success, so the foundation needs to be strong. Now we’re not reacting to the opponent, we’re just acting on our defensive assignments.

A Lock-Down Defender  


One player that has keyed Holy Cross’ defensive turnaround is junior guard R.J. Evans. After missing the majority of last season with a knee injury, Evans has transformed himself from the team’s leading scorer into its best perimeter defender. While being guarded by Evans, opposing players score around five points less per contest than their season averages. Still, Evans believes the entire team is in more of a defensive mindset.

Junior R.J. Evans has become the Crusaders' best perimeter defender, but can still fill up a stat sheet offensively. The Salem, Connecticut native also ranks second on the team in scoring with just over 11 points per game.

“We’ve been focused on the defensive end because earlier in the year that is where we struggled the most,” Evans said. “Now that we’ve done that, it has helped us get into transition, which is a big part of our offensive game. “

Tournament Time


Though they still have a road matchup with Colgate on Saturday, the Crusaders are riding a wave of momentum into next week’s Patriot League Tournament. Their spectacular play of late has earned them the right to host a conference quarterfinals matchup, and Brown thinks that a solid tournament showing can erase any inconsistencies his team has shown to this point.
“You know, the nice thing and the funny thing about conference tournaments is, that if you can just win those three games, it looks like you’ve had a great year,” Brown said. “What is exciting to me is we’re a confident team, but not a satisfied team. That is the way any coach wants his team to play.”

Focusing on the Task at Hand

Every day in practice since Brown’s arrival in 2010, the Crusaders have taken a “task-oriented approach” to their games. This means focusing on doing their assigned task to the best of their ability, and not worrying about the outcome. Evans believes it is this approach that has instilled confidence in the Crusaders, and made them believe that if they take care of their individual assignments, the rest will take care of itself.

“I think our confidence is really high, and I think that’s because of what we’ve been stressing in practice,” Evans said. “I don’t even think guys are focused on the results anymore, they’re just focused on doing their job as well as they can. Coach has always told us that if we take care of our tasks, we can write our own results.”

The Crusaders battle Colgate tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Cotterell Court in Hamilton, New York. Holy Cross will then begin tournament action next Wednesday against Lafayette inside the Hart Center. Tip-off time is yet to be announced.
 

 

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