|Holy Cross Crusaders|
|University||College of the Holy Cross|
|Head coach||Brett Nelson (1st season)|
|Arena||Hart Center |
|NCAA Tournament Champions|
|NCAA Tournament Final Four|
|NCAA Tournament Elite Eight|
|1947, 1948, 1950, 1953|
|NCAA Tournament Appearances|
|1947, 1948, 1950, 1953, 1956, 1977, 1980, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2016|
|Conference Tournament Champions|
|ECAC: 1977, 1980|
Patriot League: 1993, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2016
|Conference Regular Season Champions|
Patriot League: 1994, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007
The Holy Cross Crusaders men's basketball team represents the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, in NCAA Division I competition. The team competes in the Patriot League and plays their home games in the Hart Center. The program boasts such notable alumni as Boston Celtics legends Bob Cousy and Tom Heinsohn, and longtime Providence College basketball coach Joe Mullaney.
Basketball first appeared at Holy Cross in 1900 but was discontinued several times until its reinstatement in 1939. In 1947, the Crusaders, behind coach Doggie Julian, NCAA tournament MVP George Kaftan, star Joe Mullaney and freshman point guard Bob Cousy, beat Oklahoma at Madison Square Garden to win the NCAA championship. The team entered the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament as the last seed in the 8-team tournament. Along with UConn, Holy Cross is one of the two New England colleges to ever win the NCAA tournament.
In the first match, Holy Cross defeated the Navy 55 to 47, in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden. Mullaney led the team in scoring with 18 points, mostly in part to Navy coach Ben Carnevale's decision to have his players back off from Mullaney, who was reputed as being more of a playmaker than a shooter.
In the championship game, Holy Cross faced a Bruce Drake coached University of Oklahoma team in another sold-out game at Madison Square Garden. Kaftan followed up his semi-final game performance with 18 points in the title game, leading the Crusaders to a 58-47 victory against the Sooners. Holy Cross finished the 1947 championship season with 23 straight wins and became the first college from the New England area to win a national college basketball title. 35,000 people watched a parade in the team's honor on Holy Cross Day in Worcester. Future NBA legend Cousy was named AP and UP player of the year. In 1989, the NCAA voted teammate George Kaftan to the all-decade team of the 1940s.
The Crusaders followed up their championship by advancing to the 1948 NCAA Tournament's Final Four. After advancing to the Elite Eight in 1953, the Crusaders would wait 63 years before claiming another win in the NCAA Tournament.
In 1954, Holy Cross won the NIT Tournament behind another future NBA Hall-of-famer and Celtics legend Tom Heinsohn. This is widely recognized as the College's second national title in basketball due to the prestige of the NIT at the time.
In 1977, Holy Cross defeated a good Providence team twice on last-second shots by forward Chris Potter and led top-ranked Michigan at the half in the first round of the NCAA tournament before being defeated.
The following year, 1978, Sports Illustrated ranked Holy Cross and freshman of the year Ronnie Perry ninth in its pre-season poll.
Following the team's championship years of the 40s and 50s, the Crusaders have been ranked only occasionally by the Associated Press. After appearing in 65 of 116 total weekly polls (56%) in the 1950s, the Crusaders appeared in only 5 of 126 weekly polls (4%) in the 1960s and 9 of 148 (6%) in the 1970s. The Crusaders have not been nationally ranked since January 1978.
Holy Cross could have joined the newly founded Big East Conference in 1980, but college President Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J., vetoed the move for academic reasons. Holy Cross stayed independent until joining the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) to start the 1983-84 season. It moved to the Patriot League in 1991.
In recent decades, the men's basketball team has been the leading varsity program of the Holy Cross' athletic department. The men's basketball team has won six Patriot League titles (1993, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2016) since the league's formation in 1991.
In 2016, the Crusaders, led by stars Malachi Alexander, Anthony Thompson, and Robert Champion, made a miraculous run in the postseason. The team entered the Patriot League Tournament as a #9 seed and knocked off #8 Loyola Maryland, #1 Bucknell, #4 Army, and finally, #2 Lehigh in the championship game to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007. The Crusaders then defeated Southern University marking the first NCAA win for the program since 1953.
During Ralph Willard's tenure as coach, the Holy Cross men's team came close to 3 major upsets in the NCAA tournament. In 2001 as a 15 seed, the Crusaders lost 72-68 to a 2nd seeded Kentucky team who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. In 2002, the 16th seeded Crusaders nearly became the first 16 seed to defeat a 1 seed, losing 70-59 to a top-seeded Kansas squad who advanced to the Final Four. The Crusaders led 37-35 at halftime, 44-39 with 11 minutes remaining and trailed by three points with fewer than two minutes remaining. In 2003 as a 14th seed, the Crusaders lost 72-68 to 3rd seeded, Dwyane Wade-led Marquette. Marquette advanced to the Final Four.
|1947-48||Julian||26-4||NCAA Final Four|
|1949-50||Sheary||27-4||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1952-53||Sheary||20-6||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1955-56||Leenig||22-5||NCAA First Round|
|1959-60||Leenig||20-6||NIT First Round|
|1974-75||Blaney||20-8||NIT First Round|
|1976-77||Blaney||23-6||NCAA First Round|
|1978-79||Blaney||17-11||NIT First Round|
|1979-80||Blaney||19-11||NCAA First Round|
|1980-81||Blaney||20-10||NIT Second Round|
|1989-90||Blaney||24-6||14-2||1st||NIT First Round|
|1992-93||Blaney||23-7||12-2||2nd||NCAA First Round|
|2000-01||Willard||22-8||10-2||1st||NCAA First Round|
|2001-02||Willard||18-15||9-5||2nd||NCAA First Round|
|2002-03||Willard||26-5||13-1||1st||NCAA First Round|
|2004-05||Willard||25-7||13-1||1st||NIT Second Round|
|2006-07||Willard||25-9||13-1||1st||NCAA First Round|
|2013-14||Brown||20-14||12-6||3rd||CIT Second Round|
|2015-16||Carmody||15-20||5-13||9th||NCAA First Round|
Postseason invitational champion
The Crusaders have appeared in the NCAA Tournament 13 times. Their combined record is 8-13. They were national champions in 1947.
National Championship Game
National 3rd Place Game
Regional 3rd Place Game
|1953||Round of 22
|1956||Round of 25||Temple||L 72-74|
|1977||Round of 32||Michigan||L 81-86|
|1980||#11||Round of 48||#6 Iona||L 78-84|
|1993||#13||Round of 64||#4 Arkansas||L 64-94|
|2001||#15||Round of 64||#2 Kentucky||L 68-72|
|2002||#16||Round of 64||#1 Kansas||L 59-70|
|2003||#14||Round of 64||#3 Marquette||L 68-72|
|2007||#13||Round of 64||#4 Southern Illinois||L 51-61|
Round of 64
The Crusaders have appeared in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) 12 times. Their combined record is 11-11. They were NIT Champions in 1954.
|St. Francis (NY)
|1955||Quarterfinals||Saint Francis (PA)||L 64-68|
|1960||First Round||St. Bonaventure||L 81-94|
3rd Place Game
|1975||First Round||Princeton||L 63-84|
|1979||First Round||Dayton||L 81-105|
|1990||First Round||Rutgers||L 78-87|
The Crusaders have appeared in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) one time. Their record is 1-1.
Holy Cross has made 79 appearances in the AP Poll since it was introduced during the 1948-1949 season, peaking at No. 1 for five weeks in 1950. The College last appeared in the AP Poll during the 1977-1978 season. Holy Cross has finished the year ranked by the Helms Athletic Foundation in 1947 and in the final Associated Press poll of the season on six occasions: