2023 Holy Cross basketball preview
Thomas Zwiller | Friday, November 3, 2023
Both of Holy Cross’ basketball teams are off to a strong start this season. Men’s and women’s basketball each won their opening games for the second time in as many years. Here’s the outlook on both teams seasons as their respective campaigns get underway.,
HCC Men’s Team
The Holy Cross College Men’s Basketball team officially kicked off its season this week when they hosted East West University. As expected, the Saints handled the Phantoms with ease, winning 84-64.
While the team is trying to move on from the losses of last year’s seniors — Beau Ludwick, Jalen Martin, Ryan Cartaino and Mick Sullivan — the team is in good hands.
Sophomore standout Tommy Snyder led the way with a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double. Junior guards Justin O’Neal and Nash Hostetler combined for 27 points, and sophomore guard Phil Robles II went 4-7 from beyond the arc.
Snyder will look to build on his breakout freshman season, where he played 28 total games, averaging 20.3 points and 8.6 rebounds on 60% shooting from the floor. His performance earned him recognition from the CCAC, as the freshman made both the All-Conference First Team and All-Freshman team.
Joining him on last year’s All-Freshman Team was Phil Robles II, who was a high-volume three-point shooter. Robles II took almost 150 three-point shots and converted 36.6%, which helped him average 12 points per game.
The team also has strong leadership, with juniors Justin O’Neal and Nash Hostetler looking to step up the team’s leaders. The two Ohio natives have played in a combined 118 games as Saints and started in 81 of those contests.
Hostetler logged the second most minutes of any Saint last year (845), or roughly 30 per game, trailing only Ludwick. In those 845 minutes, he scored 283 points and logged 30 steals.
O’Neal had a shooting percentage of 39.1 and contributed 5.6 points per game while averaging 2.8 assists per game.
Also getting the start in Tuesday’s contest against the Phantoms was sophomore guard A.J. Roseman. Roseman played limited minutes in his freshman campaign but had a strong performance in his first start, contributing seven rebounds, a steal and three assists.
Also getting significant playing time against East-West: junior guard Greg Wells, sophomore guard Drew Adzia, senior guard Isaiah Cabrera and junior forward Jordan Montrose.
The Saints struggled to make the postseason last year after a 2-6 start in conference play had the Saints out of the playoff picture. The team rallied back in December, going 5-3 in conference play and clinching the final conference tournament berth after a double overtime win against St. Ambrose and a road win against Trinity International.
After their win against East-West University, Holy Cross will host Goshen College on Nov. 8 and then the Moody Bible Institute Team.
The team’s biggest preseason test will be when they face the Bethel University team on Nov. 15 in a neutral site contest. The Saints are 1-17 all-time against the Pilots and lost last year 55-80.
After Bethel, it’s on to CCAC play.
HCC Women’s Team
While the men’s team spent much of last year going through an up-and-down season, the Holy Cross women’s team had the most successful season in program history. The team finished their regular season 16-12 with a conference record of 11-9.
Though the team lost the first round of the CCAC playoffs, the season was an unquestionable success and something the program will look to build on this year.
The good news for the program is that it lost just one upperclassman, senior guard Jayda Miller. Miller was a key figure for the team, starting in 25 games and averaging 25 minutes per game. However, the team has a deep roster of upperclassmen to help fill the void left behind.
The team’s two seniors are guard Lauren Morris and senior forward Neva Longhofer. Morris was one of the team’s better volume three-point shooters, making above 30% of her 93 attempts last year, averaging eight points per game.
In addition, Morris is a solid defender, averaging two steals per game. Longhofer, while starting less than other returning players, played in all 29 games for an average of 15 minutes per game.
The Saints’ two star players, however, are juniors Grace Adams and Jordyn Smith. Last season, head coach Tom Robbins called Adams “one of the top players in the conference.”
Adams started in all 29 games for the Saints and averaged 31.6 minutes per game, behind only Jordyn Smith. Adams averaged nearly a double-double a game, 15.4 points and 9.4 rebounds. She was also the only player to average a block per game.
Robbins also called Smith “one of the perennial point guards in the league as well.”
Smith is the team’s best returning three-point shooter, making 31.4% of her attempts. She was also a standout free throw shooter, scoring 74.8% of her attempts from the line.
Sophomore Carly Spradling had a strong freshman campaign last year, starting in 23 of 29 games. She boasted a substantial shooting percentage from the floor, going 80-183 (43.7%).
Also expected to play significant minutes for the Saints are sophomore guard Kayliana Hammel and sophomore forward Elizabeth Edmonds.
The team also adds four new freshmen: guards Aneisah Gail, Jadyn Handley, Lilly Toppen and forward Brooke Lindesmith.
The team began its season last Saturday with a convincing home win against Huntington, 81-69. Morris and Adams led the way, scoring 21 and 29 points respectively. Adams had a particularly dominant night, adding 12 rebounds and four blocks.
Hammel contributed 13 points on six of nine shooting and added seven rebounds of her own.
The team now turns its attention to the Benedictine Classic, where they will play two games in two days, both in Atchinson, Kansas. On Nov. 3, they take on Benedictine College at 8:30 p.m EST. The next day, they face Baker University at 2 p.m.
When the team returns, they will have a few days rest before facing the Bethel University Pilots on Nov. 8. They’ll then close out their non-conference schedule against IU Kokomo on Nov. 11 and Goshen on Nov. 14.
This could be a rough slate of games for the Saints. Their second true home game (they technically are home for one of the Benedictine Classic games) isn’t until Nov. 29, when they face IU South Bend. That means the team will have gone over a month without playing at home.
That stretch of road games might make it hard for the team to match last season’s win total, but it is a chance for the program to demonstrate how much it has grown in the previous year.