By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For the Cabrini men’s basketball team the next stop is Salem, Virginia and the Division III Final Four.
The 30-1 Cavaliers out of Radnor, PA, are headed there for the first time in school history after beating the University of Scranton on Saturday in the Round of 8, 78-58. Cabrini’s opponent in the national semifinals will be Illinois Wesleyan on Friday night.
Cabrini head coach Marcus Kahn – who now sports an obscene mark in his four years at Cabrini of 101 wins and just 18 losses – is soaking in this magical ride.
“It’s a wonderful experience for all the guys on our team, for the coaching staff, myself. This is why we do what we do. This is what we work for – to have the opportunity to play in a Final Four. It’s everyone’s dream to get this opportunity and we get the chance to live it, so it’s an exciting time for us.”
The Cavaliers unquestioned leader is senior guard Cory Lemons. He is averaging 18.5 points in the NCAA Tournament, and he makes it clear that the Cavaliers will not be one of those “just happy to be here” teams in Salem.
“It feels good, but we’ve still got to work to do. Got two games to win to be national champs, so that’s what I expect.”
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Cory Lemons:
Kahn says their postseason run to this point has really prepared them for whatever they will encounter this weekend down in Virginia.
“We’ve seen every style of play. We’ve played from behind. We’ve been down big, we’ve been up big, lost leads, got leads. We’ve seen it all and come out on the winning end, which just lets our guys know that we can win any game that we step on the floor to play. We’ve just got to stick with what we do, stay with our gameplan, stay confident in what we’re doing, believe in each other, believe in us as a group and we’ve got an opportunity to move forward.”
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Marcus Kahn:
While the Final Four is a new experience for Cabrini, Illinois Wesleyan has been here before. This is the Titans 5th appearance all-time, but their first since 2006. Illinois Wesleyan is 23-7 and hails from the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW). And as you can imagine, Kahn says they will pose a big challenge.
“They are very good. They play in a very strong conference. They’ve had a tough road to get to Salem. They’ve gone through some good teams.”
The other national semifinal has Wisconsin-Whitewater taking on MIT. The winners of the two Final Four match-ups will meet Saturday night in Salem for the national championship.