Canisius vs Holy Cross Preview and Prediction
Canisius vs Holy Cross Preview
Coming off of a thrilling second-half comeback victory over Elon, the Canisius Golden Griffins (3-6) continue their road swing against the Holy Cross Crusaders (6-4) on Thursday. Holy Cross is off to a 6-4 start this season and has won five of its last seven games. The Crusaders are coming off a 79-63 loss to Rhode Island on Dec. 8th before they took a 12-day break for exams.
Holy Cross currently leads the Patriot League in scoring defense (66.6 points per game), assists (18.3 assists per game), turnover margin (+4.1 turnovers per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7-to-1).
They are sound technically and do not make mistakes that will cost them ball games.
Sophomore guard Jacob Grandison has led the team by averaging 15.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, while sophomore guard Austin Butler has added 11.9 points and 4.5 boards per contest. Four other Crusaders are averaging at least seven points, led by sophomore guard Caleb Green (11.3 points per game).
For Canisius it’s been an up-and-down season that I for one, cannot figure out. This team was supposed to compete at a high level, but looked terrible in their first seven games of the season (resulting in a 1-6 record). Sure, the competition was fierce with games against FSU, Villanova and Memphis–but even in their wins, specifically against Robert Morris the team looked aloof and out of sync.
The offense finally showed up against Elon, and senior Jibreel Faulkner played a huge role with a career-high 16 points to go with a career-best eight rebounds in the victory—but as a follower of the program the last five years, I want to see more.
Junior Isaiah Reese had NBA aspirations a year ago and now he is coming off the bench for the Griffs (did not start against Elon) and his game looks bad, really bad. His shot is gone (shooting 30 percent less than a season ago) and his confidence is shot—he is passing up open looks on a consistent basis.
Reggie Witherspoon’s post-game comments after the victory over Elon:
“I told the guys after the game, games are never easy, but they become easier if you play for your teammates. A sign of that is 18 assists and just nine turnovers, and we only had three turnovers in the second half. I thought we did a better job of rebounding the basketball in the second half and that allowed us to get out in transition and that forced them to have to guard us.”
“I thought we got some good energy from our starters today, but we made some substitutions early and our bench really helped us pick up the intensity level after the first five minutes or so. We’ve been on a bumpy road here early in the season, and we’re playing a lot of guys who are young and getting settled in their new roles, but I’m proud of the effort we got from everyone today. Elon is a team that can really shoot it, so for us to come here to their place and get a win, that’s a step in the right direction for sure.”
Holy Cross leads the all-time series 13-6, but the Griffs have won the last two meetings. For games played in Worcester, Holy Cross owns a 4-2 advantage, with a 4-1 mark at the Hart Center. The schools first met on Jan. 28, 1947, when the Crusaders posted a 47-36 victory at the old Boston Garden.
LINE: -7 Holy Cross
I am intrigued how this Griffs team will handle the defensive effort Holy Cross is going to put forth. This will be a battle before the big test when No.14 UB comes into the Koessler Center to take on Canisius on Dec. 29th.
As I have been saying what seems like all season long–this will be the game Reese breaks out of his slump and looks like the player we know he is.
Canisius 71 Holy Cross 68