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Hoop Scoop: Cavs face great expectations with winning tradition

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Senior Jeremy Knowles (No. 11) hit the game-winning three pointer in the national semifinal game last season. He joins A.J. Williams, Goran Dulac and newcomer DeLeon Floyd in the 2012-13 senior class. (Submitted Photo / Tony Durso)

Aside from a two-game tournament in Virginia Beach, the Cavaliers will open their season on their home floor in the Battle of Eagle Road against Eastern University on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at 8 p.m.

The last time they took the court at the Nerney Field House was on March 3, when they survived the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament with a 90-88 victory in overtime against Hobart College.

That was only the beginning of a run that would send this small, close-knit Radnor campus into a full case of March Madness. Two weeks after that overtime thriller, buses were departing for Salem, Va. and the school’s first Final Four appearance.

When it was all over, the nearly unbeatable Cavaliers had closed their season with a 31-2 record, the last coming in heartbreaking fashion to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the national championship game. Cabrini lost both games last season by a combined five points.

The goal for the Cavaliers in the 2012-13 season instantly became about returning to Salem. This is a team that not only wants to win big; they want to shoulder great expectations.

The task will not be easy, especially after losing an All-American in Cory Lemons and a talented shooter in John Boyd. But the Cavaliers fill the gaps with players who have been around from the start.

In head coach Marcus Kahn’s fifth season, he will turn to the next senior class to become the leaders. That starts with guard A.J. Williams, who will likely take Lemons’ role at point guard.

Upperclassmen power the starting core, which includes seniors Jeremy Knowles and Goran Dulac and juniors Fran Rafferty and Jon Miller.

Additionally, seven fresh faces join the fold on the roster of 14. Freshmen Dahmir Simmons, Brad Fagan, John White, Ryan Charity and Aaron Goodman join sophomore Howard Blake and senior DeLeon Floyd as new teammates and supporting cast members of Cabrini’s core.

The heartbreak of last season was evident and still is. But as a new season begins, the determination to return to the national championship game, and win this time, is greater than ever.

This is uncharted territory for a Cabrini team. No team had ever made it that far in tournament play before. No team has ever had to face expectations this great. But it is a position any team on campus would accept and embrace.

Cabrini offers a winning tradition like no other team in the conference in any sport. They are perennial contenders and finalists. They make regular trips to the NCAA Tournament.  And the reason they do is because of the players that take the field or court on a nightly basis and the coaches that assist in their success.

Kahn may have put it best after the Cavaliers fell in the national championship game in such heartbreaking fashion.

“All of the guys in our program would not be there if they were not first good people,” Kahn said. “And because we surround ourselves with them, it puts us on runs like this. We’re going to continue to do what we do, and we will continue to make runs like it.”

The Cavaliers sent this entire campus on an emotional ride last March. As favorites to claim their fourth straight CSAC title and return to the NCAA Tournament, time will only tell where this season’s ride goes. We won’t have to wait very long to find out.

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