Jimmy Casey ‘22
College of the Holy Cross Basketball is (almost) back! The Crusaders have been gearing up for the 2021-2022 campaign for the past few weeks, and they’re hoping to build on a difficult yet promising COVID-shortened 2020-2021 season. The Crusaders open play at the Hart Center next Tuesday, Nov. 9, against Regis. This will mark the beginning of head coach Brett Nelson’s third year with the program. After a rocky first year that included some roster overturn, Nelson’s Crusaders improved in his second year, finishing with a 5-11 record which included back-to-back victories to end the season.
The Crusaders lost two very valuable players to graduation in Austin Butler and Matt Faw, both of whom started every game last season and were key contributors in the team’s five wins. However, while these absences will most certainly be felt, Holy Cross is returning multiple impact guys from last season, namely forward Gerrale Gates and guard R.J. Johnson. Both players started every game that they appeared in, with Gates leading the team in points per game and Johnson pacing the squad in assists per game. Gates, a transfer from the University of New Orleans, earned third team all-Patriot league for his excellent first season in the purple and white, while Johnson made the Patriot League All-Rookie team. This duo gives the Crusaders two talented stars to run the show for them.
I believe Holy Cross will turn some heads in the Patriot League this season. They have three seniors—Gates, Malcolm Townsel, and D.J. Hart—who will provide valuable production and leadership both on and off the court. With no juniors on the squad, I’m especially excited to see the strides the sophomore class has made. Point guard R.J. Johnson headlines the second year guys, but they all made big impacts as first years. Judson Martindale and Bo Montgomery played significant minutes for the Crusaders last year, as both started multiple games and showed a lot of potential. DáJion Humphrey, Louth-M Coulibaly, and Michael Rabinovich round out the returning sophomores. Each of them saw some time last season, and they’re definitely looking to carve out a role this season. The Crusaders also added transfer Nolan Dorsey from the University of New Mexico, a sophomore guard who could help the team with guard depth. These young yet established players combined with multiple gifted freshmen should make for an interesting season.
I can’t wait to watch this new Holy Cross team and the improvements that they’ve made. There’s no shortage of talent, so I hope for a healthy and successful year. Go Cross!