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.
Twitter and the blogosphere are still alive with the news that St. Bonaventure University’s Men’s basketball team got snubbed by the NCAA. While those facts have not changed, it’s time to move on. Let’s demonstrate to the world that’s watching what it means to be a Bonnie and a Franciscan University. People get knocked down all the time and they get back up, dust themselves off and keep moving. Let’s face it, if the Bonnies had gotten into the NCAA tournament they might easily have been eliminated after one game. The University would have made a large sum of money but “one and done” would have likely been the case. Now, however, their selection in the NIT as the #1 seed in their region raises the spectre of possibly two more games at the Reilly Center. That’s national recognition of the Reilly Center and of St. Bonaventure University. Like St. Francis said we get to “preach the gospel” every day and what better way to preach than to showcase the University we love with some positive coverage. Life serves up lemons from time to time and we have an opportunity to make some tasty lemonade this spring. My only regret is that I won’t be on hand for the games. A prior commitment keeps me from being there and cheering on the team that I love. Let’s use this opportunity to showcase the place that we love and bring more Bonnies to this lovely campus and to our larger St. Bonaventure University family.
I admit that I was disappointed that the St. Bonaventure University men’s basketball team didn’t get the nod from the NCAA selection committee tonight. It seems the process is skewed in favor of better television markets than those of Olean and Allegany, New York. Nonetheless, the Bonnies made it as the number one seed at the NIT. There is no doubt that the NIT is a bit less prestigious but it’s chock full of very talented teams and there’s a good chance that if St. Bonaventure shows up with their “A” game that they can advance a couple of games. I’m an avid fan of St. Bonaventure Basketball and I only missed one home game this year. A longstanding commitment ensures that my string will be broken on Wednesday night when the team takes on Wagner College. I’ll be listening over the internet or trying to connect on ESPN3. I wish them the best.
I’ve been following St. Bonaventure basketball since the days fo Bob Lanier and this year’s team is among the best the university has fielded in that time. Last fall I told one of my friends that I didn’t expect much from this year’s team. Their lack of height and depth spelled trouble I thought. I was so wrong. This year’s team has played extremely well and they’ve provided those of us who attend their games lots of great moments. I wish them the best and thank them for all they’ve done to make our winter nights easier this season. Go Bonnies.