While the Cavalier’s men’s basketball team endured a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks, they still enjoyed a historical run in the process.
The team, under the fearless leadership of fourth-year head coach Marcus Kahn, went to the NCAA Division III National Semi-Finals and National Finals for the first time in their history.
“It was a good season,” Kahn said. “It’s always fun to go on a run like that.”
In addition to their first-ever appearances in the Final Four and National Final, the Cavs also went undefeated in the Colonial States Athletic Conference for the first time since the 1995-96 season, with a record of 18-0. In addition, the team only lost one game in the regular season, an early-season overtime loss to Centre College.
After a thrilling 96-85 win over the Keystone College Giants to seal their third consecutive CSAC title, the Cavs traveled from the Nerney Field House to places such as Middlebury, Vt. and Salem, Va., in search of their first-ever national title.
“We may have fell short in the national championship, but that doesn’t take anything away from what we did this season,” senior guard John Boyd said. This was Boyd’s last game as a Cavalier, as well as the final game in a Cavalier uniform for fellow senior guards Greg Zabel and Cory Lemons.
The Cavaliers may have lost instrumental players on the team in Boyd, Lemons and Zabel but they still have younger players on the team that could lead them to another appearance in the big dance.
“We keep Aaron [Walton-Moss,] Jeremy [Knowles] and A.J. [Williams],” Kahn said. “We got a good, strong nucleus to build around and if we fill-in with recruiting, we should be alright to make that next run happen.”
After last season’s exit in the third round of the Division III Tournament, the Cavaliers entered this season with many expectations. In the eyes of many, they have shattered these expectations.
A. Bartlett Giamatti, former commissioner of Major League Baseball, once famously quipped, “It breaks your heart…it is designed to break your heart.” For the Cavalier players, families and fans, Giamatti’s words unfortunately ring true.
However, next year’s returning players will come in with painful memories of this loss, as well as aspirations to bring home their first national title. While this year’s team was nothing short of phenomenal to watch, next year’s squad may even be more incredible.
“I think the top five ranking that we had for a lot of the year was legitimate…and this weekend legitimizes it all,” Kahn said.