Patrick Wareham ’20
The Holy Cross men’s basketball team is slumping. After firing on all cylinders throughout non-conference schedule, the team is sitting in the cellar of the Patriot League, at a miserable 3-7 conference record. This was supposed to be a breakthrough year for coach Bill Carmody’s squad. Led by last season’s Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Jehyve Floyd and accompanied by four sophomore starters with significant experience under their belt from a year ago, the team was picked to finish fourth in the preseason polls. However, the Crusaders are currently struggling through their worst stretch of the season, having just won two of their last nine games.
The game that has proved to define the Crusaders’ season was their devastating home loss to Lehigh back on January 9th. It was a game that displayed the team’s incredible raw skill and potential, but also exposed its deepest flaws. In that game, the Crusaders came flying out of the gates, playing at a fast-paced tempo, pushing the ball upcourt, and relying on their three point shooting. The team scored an incredible 59 points in the first half, but the pace with which they played would come back to haunt them. The Crusaders would go on to score just 27 points after halftime, showing visible signs of fatigue, highlighting significant depth issues, which has become a determining factor in their struggles down the stretch of games this season.
Only six players are receiving significant playing time of at least twenty minutes per game, four of whom are breaking the thirty minute threshold. The loss of sophomore forward Connor Niego, who has been out with an injury since December, has proved to be especially critical, as the team is particularly thin in the frontcourt. The team is often forced to play small with four true guards on the court at once, making it especially hard for rebounding against physical Patriot League opponents. In fact, the team has been outrebounded in all but one game since their loss at Navy on January 6.
What is so frustrating about the slide throughout conference play is that there have been relatively no adjustments made. While Carmody’s hands may be tied to a certain extent due to Niego’s injury and the lack of depth, the Crusaders haven’t changed up their style of play. Last Saturday’s embarrassing loss to American proved just that. The game was over before halftime, as the Crusaders dug themselves a 24-point hole by the intermission. Floyd was overworked once again, playing thirty-four of forty minutes. The only other forward to play was Matt Faw, who saw the court for just three minutes.
The team has eight games remaining before the Patriot League Tournament. Crusader fans are hoping for a bit of a late season renaissance, perhaps a return to the form shown in the non-conference schedule, but given the lackluster play over the last couple weeks, hope of the team turning the table is very dim.
Photo by Hui Li