By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Once again, the Cabrini College men’s basketball team is off and running.
The Cavaliers have started the 2013-14 season 7-0, and it is safe to say that the program should really now be considered one of the elites on a national level.
Two seasons ago, Cabrini, located in Radnor, PA, advanced to the Division III national championship game, losing by three points to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the final. Last season, the Cavaliers advanced to the “Elite 8” of the NCAA Tournament, picking up all three of their wins on the road against nationally ranked opponents. Throw in a “Sweet 16” appearance in 2011, and the Cavaliers have won 10 games in the last three NCAA tournaments.
Their success so far this season has them ranked #6 in the country.
“We’re off to a really good start,” Cabrini head coach Marcus Kahn tells KYW Newsradio. “It’s a little bit better than what maybe I had expected just because of the challenging schedule that we put in place this year. I think we’ve challenged ourselves a lot more with our scheduling, playing a couple ranked teams early on. We opened up with Eastern, which is probably our biggest rivalry game. It was our first game. Then our second game of the year was down in Maryland to play the #10 team in the country (St. Mary’s College) at the time. So we certainly haven’t taken the easy way to a 7-0 record, but I’m very proud of what our guys are doing and how hard they’ve been working.”
Cabrini has always been able to score the basketball under Kahn, but this year they are taking their offensive production to another level. The Cavaliers are averaging nearly 93 points a game this season.
“We’ve changed things up a little bit this year, really spreading the floor a little bit more,” Kahn says “We are very guard heavy, so we’re playing at a little faster pace than what we even normally had played. We’ve really been able to spot up four, what I think are probably four of the better shooters we’ve had here in our program. Spotting them up around Aaron Walton-Moss, who is probably the best to come through the program, and certainly drawing the most attention right now defensively. So when teams decide to run at him and double or triple-team him, he’s able to kick it out to a guy who is shooting 40+ percent from three, with Fran Rafferty and A.J. Picard.”
Walton-Moss is one of the top players in Division III. A Camden High product, the 6-1 junior guard is averaging 26 points, 11.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists a game this season. He’s shooting 61% from the field and 87% from the line. Rafferty, a senior forward who went to Upper Merion HS, is shooting 56% from three and averaging 18 points a game. Picard, a Souderton High School product, averages 17.3 points a game and shoots 93% from the foul line.
While it’s been a fun ride to this point of the season, Kahn says there are areas they can get even better.
“Certainly on the defensive end,” Kahn says. “As well as we’ve been playing offensively and scoring the ball, I think we’re giving up way too many points. We’re certainly not burning our energy on the defensive end of the floor right now, and we need to start doing that.”
The Cavaliers allow nearly 80 points a game.
Cabrini’s success the last few years has earned them a ton of respect in the city and in the region. But Kahn says they still don’t get mentioned in the national conversations like he thinks they should.
“I think we feel that we still have some things to prove on a national level,” Kahn says. “Until we can consistently get to that ‘Final Four’, hopefully at some point win that national championship, I think people will look at us as a flash in the pan. But we’re doing our best to make that go away.”
Cabrini returns to the court on Saturday afternoon. They will host Baptist Bible College in a Colonial States Athletic Conference match-up at Nerney Field House at 1:00pm.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.