PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Neumann University men’s basketball team will continue what has already been a magical season on Friday night when they host Nichols College in the first round of the Division III NCAA Tournament.
The Knights will be making their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament (the first was in 2015) and they will be hosting for the first time. Neumann earned an automatic bid to the tourney by winning the Colonial States Athletic Conference Championship.
“It’s been a tremendous season,” Neumann head coach Jim Rullo tells KYW Newsradio. “25-2 and the kids are really excited, our school is really excited and it’s just a great opportunity. We’re looking forward to it.”
Listen to the entire interview with Neumann head coach Jim Rullo:
Neumann started 12-0 and, in another first for the program, they have been nationally ranked for much of the season. They come in 11th in the latest D3hoops.com poll. Rullo, who is 84-31 in four seasons as Neumann head coach, talks about when he realized this group had something really special this season.
“We tried to ramp up our non-conference schedule and we tried to match ourselves with perennial tournament teams like Catholic (83-63 win) and Scranton (89-66 win) and we played pretty well against them,” Rullo says. “So when you measure yourself against teams like that and you come out on the top end of it, I think right around that Christmas break part, when we were at that point, we were realizing that we had a chance to be pretty good.”
Neumann is led by senior guard DeShawn Lohman and his 19.3 points per game. Senior forward Darian Barnes averages 14.5 points and 10.8 rebounds a game with another senior forward, Carl Wallace, checking in at 14.3 ppg and 8.9 rebounds a game.
“Just a well-rounded group,” Rullo says. “We’re putting points up, averaging (91.6 ppg), but the thing that’s encouraging is the last two games, we’re holding our opponents to 35%…