Tonight I’ll be joining my wife, son and grandson at the Roc City Hoops Classic. The matchup features the St. Bonaventure Bonnies and the University of Massachusetts Minutemen. The Bonnies have been hot lately winning 10 of their last eleven games. We are season ticket holders and longtime St. Bonaventure fans. As I look forward to tonight’s game I thought of a night nearly thirty-nine years ago when I accompanied this lovely young lady to our first date which was a St. Bonaventure vs. Duquesne game. Now almost four decades later we’re going to be joining our son and grandson at the game.
It’s a new year and a new decade filled with lots of promise. While the outcome is far from certain there is one thing for sure and that is gratitude for this amazing journey of life. Bonaventure literally means “The Good Journey,” and our lives have certainly been that. The names change from year to year but the men in brown and white still exemplify the spirit of this small Franciscan University on the banks of the Allegany River that continues to draw a crowd at larger venues like Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
Last night was tragic for St. Bonaventure University’s Men’s basketball post-season aspirations. The team came out flat against a very good and well coached Wagner College team. In October of last year while assessing St. Bonaventure’s basketball fortunes I told a friend that I didn’t think we’d have much to cheer about this year. I thought the team was undersized and under-manned. The bench was not deep and the tallest player on the team was merely 6’9″ and that young man was a freshman center. My assessment was very wrong. This year’s team led by Senior’s Dion Wright and Marcus Posley was the most exciting St. Bonaventure team I have watched in the past 37 years. Not since the days of Bob Lanier, Matt Gantt, Greg Gary and Billy Kalbaugh has the university fielded such a squad. Like their forbearers in the 1960’s this was a team of balanced scoring, intense defense and camaraderie that saw them grow with each game. Over the course of the season we were treated to some amazing finishes. The Bonnies excelled not just at home but were a tough road team too. They beat perennial powerhouses like St. Joe’s and Dayton. They nearly always found a way to win.
Those of us who live nearby the Reilly Center have been treated to incredible basketball experiences over the course of our lives. We take for granted that we have a Division 1 NCAA team in our backyard and this year was exceptional. The outcome last night was not what anyone of us wanted and especially the players and coaches. The likelihood that this spectacular season will be repeated next year, despite many returning starters is not a given. I continue to be amazed with the coaching ability of Mark Schmidt and with the limited resources of the University that such teams get fielded in the first place. I want to take this time to thank the St. Bonaventure Men’s basketball team, one and all for a fabulous season. Good luck and Godspeed in your future endeavors.