By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – 2,433 miles.
That is approximately how far the Cabrini College men’s basketball team has traveled, round-trip and by bus, this post-season in visiting Hampden-Sydney, Virginia, Delaware, Ohio, and Wooster, Ohio.
Those trips have been well worth it, however, as they have resulted in three wins for the Cavaliers and a spot in the “Elite 8” of the Division III NCAA Tournament. This is nothing new for Cabrini. Last season the Cavaliers advanced to the National Championship game.
Their most recent victory in this year’s tournament came against the College of Wooster on Saturday, the Cavaliers winning 70-63.
So Cabrini will get back on the bus this week as they travel down to Salem, Virginia, to battle Amherst College in the national quarterfinals on Friday.
“Our guys have just been really responding to the challenge this year, and the path that’s been laid out before us in order to get back to Salem (sight of the Division III Final Four),” Cabrini head coach Marcus Kahn tells KYW Newsradio. “We set that goal last year, we want to get back to Salem. And we really weren’t too concerned about where we’ve had to play the game. Our guys were really focused and locked in on just playing the game and getting the win no matter who it was or where we had to play it. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys for all that they’ve been accomplishing and the way they’ve been focusing and keeping their eye on the prize.”
While Cabrini has faced tough challenges in every game in this tournament, Amherst will provide the toughest. The Lord Jeffs are ranked #2 in the country and they sit at 27-2. They enjoyed a first-round bye and won their second and third-round games in the tournament by 17 points each, with both games being played on their home floor. This season is not a fluke for the Lord Jeffs as they are one of the premier programs in Division III.
“(Amherst head) Coach (Dave) Hixon is a legend,” Kahn says. “I’m not even going to say a Division III legend. He’s a coaching legend. He has been there forever. He has been to the Final Four several times. Salem to them is not a new trip, either. They are use to winning, does a great job. So there is nothing we are going to throw at them that he has not seen or prepared a team for.”
Kahn expects a great match-up.
“They are going to play a little bit more disciplined than we are,” Kahn says. “But we’re going to try and make it helter-skelter at times. That’s usually when we are at our best. It’ll be an interesting game, two very good teams with two very different styles of play.”
Cabrini and Amherst will tip-off at 5:30pm on Friday. The winner advances to the Final Four. That game will be Saturday in Salem.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.