Hoop Scoop: Cavs get huge test to open tournament

By Kevin Durso
February 27, 2013

For the fourth straight season, the Cavaliers have won the CSAC championship, earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

But this season, it has a very different feel.

The Cavs are not hosting an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in three seasons. Instead, they get an instant test in the first round.

In their first-round game on Saturday, March 2, the Cavs will travel to face No. 12 Hampden-Sydney College to face the 23-4  Tigers.

The Tigers possess a similar lineup to Cabrini. They have several big men ranging from 6-4 to 6-8 in height, while being able to shoot from a distance with guards.

Hampden-Sydney is also 12-1 on their home court.

However, the Cavaliers do have one area where they possess a clear advantage.

The Tigers are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007. The Cavs have been there four seasons in a row, and therefore have players who know what it means to play on that stage.

But this is also unfamiliar territory for the Cavs. As head coach Marcus Kahn said after the win over Keystone on Friday, the team knew what they had last season. They also relied heavily on those players.

They had an All-American in Cory Lemons. They had a pure distance shooter in John Boyd. They had a secret weapon in Aaron Walton-Moss.

Now, Walton-Moss is the center of attention to defenses. That only benefits the Cavs further.

Walton-Moss gets teammates involved. It’s how Fran Rafferty, A.J. Williams and Jeremy Knowles have been among the team leaders in scoring.

What can’t be forgotten is how Walton-Moss can light up the court himself. In the CSAC semi-final against Neumann University on Tuesday, Feb. 19, Walton-Moss dropped a career-high 30 points.

But the Cavs do still have issues. They got into foul trouble in the CSAC Final and while no player fouled out of the game, a closer game would have led to further foul trouble.

Rafferty and Jon Miller were to two top scorers for the Cavs in the final. Both finished the game with four fouls, one shy of fouling out.

But what the Cavs also possess is sure-fire big men. Last season, in the national championship game, Miller fouled out with eight minutes remaining. The Cavs struggled in the paint defensively for the remainder of the game. Now, they can not only turn to Goran Dulac, who has been coming off the bench, and DeLeon Floyd, who has been solid as well.

Scoring-wise, the Cavs spread the ball around as good as any team. Williams, Knowles and Rafferty are three-point threats at any time. Walton-Moss, Floyd, Dulac and Miller play the inside game. That balance is crucial to a team with high goals like the Cavs.

But it starts with this huge first-round game against the No. 12 team in the nation. It is tough first step but one that could propel the Cavs to greatness should they be up to the task.

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Kevin Durso

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