Jack Milko ‘20
When the final buzzer sounds, one thing will be for certain: the 2019-2020 Holy Cross men’s basketball season will be one to forget. With Monday’s loss to Bucknell, the Crusaders dropped to 3-25 on the season. Holy Cross currently sits all alone in the cellar of the Patriot League standings, with a conference record of 2-13. The next worst team, Lehigh, sits two and half games above the Crusaders with a record of 4-10. Holy Cross actually defeated Lehigh in overtime 96-95 back on Jan. 22, the last time the Crusaders won a game. In the two Patriot League victories this year for Holy Cross, the Crusaders managed to win by a combined three points. In conference play alone, Holy Cross has a scoring margin of -10.9, the lowest figure in the league by a wide margin. With all of this in mind, head coach Brett Nelson and his players can only trudge through these difficulties and look forward to next season and beyond. At the very least, things can only trend upwards from here, right? After all, the last time Holy Cross failed to win four games in one season was the 1944-45 campaign, when most of the men in this country found themselves fighting the Germans and the Japanese instead of fighting for a rebound down low on the block. Moreover, Holy Cross played only 13 games that season, compiling a 4-9 record when it was all said and done. Hence, this season has been historically difficult for the Crusaders.
With these difficulties, however, we must look at the positives. First, first-year forward Joe Pridgen has had a tremendous rookie season. Pridgen has averaged 17.1 points per game. He also won the Patriot League Rookie of the Week on eight separate occasions. During a game at Lehigh on Feb. 12, Pridgen actually became just the fifth Crusader to score 400 points in his freshman season. After last night’s game Pridgen now has 434 total points on the year, second to only Ronnie Perry who scored 574 points during the 1976-77 season. Pridgen also ranks fifth among current freshman in terms of scoring per game. Anthony Edwards from Georgia leads all freshman averaging 19.5 PPG. Sitting right above Joe Pridgen is Rochester, N.Y., native Isaiah Stewart, who currently averages 17.4 PPG playing for former Syracuse University assistant Mike Hopkins at the University of Washington. Nonetheless, Pridgen has accomplished a lot this season despite his team’s struggles. The other positive that we have to mention is how junior Austin Butler scored his 1000th career point as a Crusader this season. In the game against Loyola (Md.) on Feb. 5, the junior tallied 16 points and snatched three rebounds. Before that game, Butler needed 15 points to eclipse the 1000-point mark. A second-half layup propelled him over that mark. Butler, a three-year starter for Holy Cross, has had a fairly consistent season in which he is averaging 12.0 PPG while playing just over 34 minutes per contest.
Next up, the Crusaders head to upstate New York to take on the Colgate Raiders, who find themselves in first place of the Patriot League. Colgate will most likely represent the Patriot League in the NCAA Tournament. If the Raiders do so, do not be surprised to find Colgate slotted in your bracket as a 12, 13, or 14 seed. The Raiders are deep, shoot well from beyond the arc, and can run with anyone. Holy Cross tips off at Colgate this Saturday at 2 PM.