What Schmidt said then, and what it means now (Part 1)

Like most coaches at their introductory press conference, Mark Schmidt made promises. He made pledges. He made oaths. He made assurances that he didn’t know the St. Bonaventure basketball program could possibly meet.

Yet, for the most part, he has lived up to his words.

460xLike most coaches in their introductory press conference, Mark Schmidt was convincing, if not impressive. On April 10, 2007, he claimed in many different ways that the then-putrid Bonnies would soon be winners.

Schmidt didn’t exactly promise an Atlantic 10 championship team or one that would earn its way into the NCAA tournament. But he did say that the Bonnies would “win the race” and that “you,” the fans, “are going to get a team on the floor like the team that went to the NCAA Tournament (seven) years ago, a product that you can be proud of.”

Of course, there have been promises Schmidt hasn’t lived up to, as well.

We at the Bona Blog pulled out many of interesting comments made by Schmidt on April 10, 2007.  In a 6-part series starting today, we’ll examine what Schmidt said then and what it means now.

We’re going to win games. I’m telling you, we are going to win games. Whether its next year, or in two years, we are going to win games.

Schmidt has lost more games than he’s won at St. Bonaventure (106-110). He is also 20 games under .500 in Atlantic 10 games (46-66).

But take away his first season (8-22, 2-14) with a rag-tag pieced-together-at-the-last-minute group, and the Bonnies are 98-88 overall and 44-56 in the A-10. Schmidt and the Bonnies have won at least 15 games in five seasons and have had just two losing seasons (15-16 in 2009-10 and 14-15 in 2012-13) since the coach’s debut campaign.

Schmidt often notes that the Bonnies are at a resource disadvantage against the rest of the Atlantic 10. Those comments are self-serving, yet true.

Still, one could argue that St. Bonaventure has enjoyed its most sustained success in Atlantic 10 games the last six years than at any point since joining the conference.

The Bonnies have often been picked last or near the bottom of the A-10 under Schmidt. They have almost always finished better than expected. They have twice reached the A-10 tournament semifinals and have won a conference title.

(Part 2 tomorrow focuses on Schmidt’s postseason promises)

Mid Major Madness A10 Preview (LINK)

Gathers may be this year's version of Matty Ice if things break "Wright".

Gathers may be this year’s version of Matty Ice if things break “Wright”.

Another day, another A10 preview from the people over at midmajormadness.com. This preview is pretty solid, which is expected from a website that prides itself on the mids which the A10 still is despite successful season after successful season. No matter how hard people will push for it, the general public still sees the A10 as a mid-major.

MMM likes VCU to finish first (who doesn’t?) followed by UMass, GW and Dayton fresh off their Elite 8. I found this quote pretty ridiculous from the UMass preview:

“You’ll hear a lot this offseason around the hyperbole of Derrick Gordon being a “distraction” for UMass but I think the Minutemen can rally and build around last season.”

You will? Really? I actually think you’ll hear nothing about Gordon being a distraction. Just another example of the media at large making the issue of sexual preference more distracting than it is. This is the year 2014. Gordon is going to be accepted and backed by his teammates, and aside from a few drunken idiots, will likely get nothing but support from opposing crowds. This reminds me of ESPN doing 24/7 coverage of the Mike Sam story while having all of their anchors say, “It will be great when this isn’t a story anymore”. They could do a lot to force that to happen…you know by not asking Rams if they shower with the guy…but that’s for another blog I suppose.

Other points of note during their preview: They don’t love URI and think they could be a bust again (don’t disagree totally), they see Davidson at 12th (agree they’ll be bad as they are undersized), and like SJU to finish 9th ahead of SBU…don’t see that happening. The Hawks lose Kanecevic, Galloway and Roberts, the best trio in the entire league last year for my money. The idea that they won’t take a huge step backwards this season is hard to listen to. Martelli really has his work cut out following cutting down the nets last March.To me, he’s not a great coach anymore and will have issues getting a lot of out this team. Talent carried them last year for one week…

Anyway, on the hoops side of things, MMM is another site that likes the Bonnies to finish a sparkling 10th. Expect to see the same on A10 media day in a few weeks in Brooklyn. MMM says the following regarding our Bonnies:

Speaking of gritty teams, that seems to be the forte for St. Bonaventure.  The Bonnies may have missed their window though with their top two scorers moving on, but they still do have some talent in seniors Youssou Ndoye, Jordan Gathers, Andell Cumberbatch, and junior Dion Wright. The Bonnies will always be a tough team to play in the A10.”

MY TAKE: Missed their window? What window was that? I don’t think many Bonnies fans went into last season and thought, “this is our year to win the league”. SBU overachieved last year making it to the semifinals IMO. Yes, we lose our top two scorers but we lost our two two the year before also and the year before that we lost Nicholson. Wright and Kloof were good players last year, no doubt about it. Wright emerged a real scorer in the A10 and carried us on more than a few occasions. But, nor he or Kloof are the type of players that can’t be replaced. I fully expect guys like Gathers, Adams, Posley and Gregg to step in right away and close that production gap.I don’t think it will happen right away, but by the time A10 play rolls around I think this team should be just fine…it will just be a matter of how quickly the team gels with so many new faces. I do agree with the ending, the Bonnies are always a tough team to play…no coach or player in the league would dispute that. SBU has turned into a a real thorn in the side of teams and has earned the respect of every coach in the league since 2008.

LINK: http://www.midmajormadness.com/2014/5/28/5757944/ncaa-college-basketball-2014-2015-early-predictions-atlantic-10

My Top 10 Bonaventure Basketball Moments

Disclaimer: These are my personal favorite Bonaventure Basketball Moments.  Agree or disagree, the choice is yours.

Former Mr. NY.

Former Mr. NY.

(10) Mr. NY Basketball
T-Relph at the Carrier Dome

No Top-10 List is complete without a moment from former Mr. NY Basketball, Tyler Relph. If you don’t hate Syracuse then you’re not a true die-hard Bonnies Fan – bottom line. Nothing frustrates me more than seeing Bonaventure students or alumni cheering on the “Orange” because they grew up in the WNY. If you loved Syracuse so much you should have just gone there. Despite an 82-70 Loss, watching Relph drain 6 three pointers in Eric Devendorf’s face at the Carrier Dome is something I’ll never forget. I can remember him jawing at Devendorf and smirking every time one of his NBA range three balls tickled the twine.
*Side-Note: Was Devendorf’s bicep cross tattoo with an orange basketball in the middle the worst tattoo of all time?

(9) SBU 99 – UMASS 94
Eric Mosley drops 39 points (most every by an SBU player in A10 history). I love a talented guard who can straight-up shoot the rock. Mosley evolved into one of the best 3-point shooters in the nation during his senior campaign. His performance vs Umass was the pinnacle of his career as a Bonnie. The maintenance staff was up all night replacing the lights in the RC after Mosley went 12 of 18 including five 3-pointers and 10-10 from the charity stripe.

(8) SBU 74 – Niagara 72
One of my favorite fast-break dunkers (along with Conger), Charlon Kloof goes coast-to-coast and gets to the rim for a buzzer-beating lay-up to beat Niagara. There were so many times Kloof had the ball in his hands at the end of the game and failed to execute. He got it right vs the Purple Eagles.

Drew went off for 40+ in this 4OT thriller.

Drew went off for 40+ in this 4OT thriller.

(7) Mr. Over-time
SBU 112 – Ohio 107
(4 OT)
Nicholson: 44 point & 12 rebounds
SBU 92 – Charlotte 88 (3 OT)

Nicholson: 34 points & 7 rebounds

Absolute monster performances by Nicholson here. He put the Bonnies on his back for these extended thrillers in the 2010-2011 Season. There was nothing better than watching Drew go to work on the offensive end. Just an unstoppable arsenal: take you to the block, thunder dunks on your head, step back jumpers, turnaround jumpers, sky hooks and long range tri-fectas “Another Community Bank 3-Point T!”
*Did you know: In his career, Nicholson averaged 29.5 points and 10 rebounds in games going to Overtime.

(6) The 2012 NBA Draft
“With the 19th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select… ANDREW NICHOLSON, a senior out of St. Bonaventure University.” What a moment! Lucky for me the draft was held at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ so I was able to attend this historic night. I shared some beers and stories with Schmidt beforehand and found my way onto ESPN as the camera zoomed in on my throwback Bonaventure Jersey as Andrew’s name was called. A well-deserved 1st round selection for one of the all-time greats to dawn the Brown and White.

NCAA Basketball: Bowling Green at Temple

Wright posted back to back killer games in Philly for a sweep.

(5) THE “Philly Sweep”
SBU 81 @ Temple 78 (1/19/13)

SBU 73 –@ SJU 64 (1/23/13)
Historically awful in the city of Brotherly Love, the Bonnies finally turned the tide and captured two huge wins in a span of five days in January of 2013. The first win at Temple in 31 tries and a win at Hawk Hill. Not sure what else you could ask for as a Bonaventure fan. These games were highlighted by the emergence of Matthew Wright “the scorer” as he dropped 22 vs the Owls and another 19 vs St. Joes on combined 8-10 from beyond the arc.

(4) SBU 64 – Duquesne 62
Michael Davenport sinks a three at the buzzer to snap Duquesne’s 11 game win streak. This was especially memorable because I was in attendance at the RC. With pre-game White Russians at the Burton and Crystal Palace Mixers during the games it takes a lot to remember moments at the Reilly Center, but this one is “crystal clear.”

(3) SBU 98 – SJU 93
2 OTs at the RC (02/29/12)
This game had it all. Each team answered the call time and time again, trading blows like prized fighters at the MGM Grand. Highlighted by some of the must clutch deep shooting I have ever seen, Matty Ice and Nicholson brought the crowd to their feet on numerous occasions to secure the win. This game would also secure a 1st round bye in AC… and we all know what happened there.

(2) SBU 71 – SLU 68 (18)
2014 A-10 Quarterfinal

After beating La Salle on Thursday I started to get the feeling that maybe Schmidt and company had another magical run in them. Clearly I wasn’t the only one with this thought as people arrived by the busloads on Friday. Gather’s sinking that trey from the top of the arc as time expired was storybook stuff. Unfortunately we would come up short and fall to that damn Hawk in the semis. Nonetheless, the Bonnies took over Brooklyn for a short period of time last March.  The Bona faithful always travel well, this weekend was no different.

A10 Xavier St Bonaventure Basketball

Never thought I’d see this day…We win- We Swim!

(1) 2012 Atlantic 10 Championship
“The Run”
SBU 71 – SJU 86

SBU 84 – UMASS 80
SBU 67 – XAVIER 56
The obvious pick here. Not only a top Bonaventure Basketball Moment, but probably a top 3 moment in my life. I drove down Thursday night after work, won some money playing 3 card at the Trop and starting to feel that it was going to be a great weekend. The next 72 hours would confirm my inclination as our Bonnie’s went on to cut down the nets in Boardwalk Hall on that brisk Sunday afternoon. Everyone who made the trip to Atlantic City understands the complete take-over by Bona Nation, and the emotion, the pandemonium and the joy that went along with it. Looking back, the things that stick out the most are: $5 40oz beers at A Damn Good Sports Bar, swimming in the Atlantic after wins and the sheer quality of the actual games. Every single match-up was edge of your seat stuff. So much so that I watched the last minutes of the SJU and UMASS wins on a 32 inch TV screen located in the concourse. I literally could not take the stress. I was lucky enough to take in the Final vs Xavier courtside and was able to remain in my seat threw the final whistle.

 Conclusion: Despite countless heartaches throughout my relatively brief time as a Bonaventure Basketball fan, creating this list of memorable moments has made me realize that this program has also provided some incredible games, solo performances and even a birth to the NCAA Tournament via an Atlantic 10 Championship. GoBonnies!

A10 Trophy

Ian and I with the title.

A10 Incoming Classes Ranked (Link)

Schmidt hopes he's got another Nicholson up his sleeve in terms of recruiting.

Schmidt hopes he’s got another Nicholson up his sleeve in terms of recruiting.

We’ve lifted a terrifically comprehensive recruiting round-up article from the fine folks over at Cox Sports and provided the link below. Written by the New England Recruiting Report staff, the article gives each team a full paragraph in breaking down their incoming classes and placing them into categories. In case you don’t feel like clicking the link, VCU is bringing in a class that’s loaded even by high-major standards and Rhode Island and GW also have done extremely well this spring. (Full disclosure I do write for Cox, but didn’t write this piece. However, I will be linking to some A10 related stuff I did for them in the near future).

For the Bonnies, it’s more of the same in terms of whose coming in. The article places Schmidt’s class under a section called “strategic additions” along with Duquesne, La Salle and UMass which is his kind way of saying, “Your incoming class isn’t that talented”. We’ve seen it before, we’ll see it again.

However, they do have some positive things to say about J. Adams and as well as Mr. Taqqee and Marcus Posley. Much like the preseason rankings, it’s the same story each year with recruiting: Schmidt doesn’t sign any names of national note, but he clearly knows what he’s doing and does a fantastic job developing players inside his system once they arrive. This isn’t just about Andrew Nicholson either. Consider the final product of the following players during Mark’s tenure: Matt Wright, Charlon Kloof, Conger, Eric Mosley, Chris Matthews, Jon Hall and even Mike Lee during his senior season. Schmidt has shown and ability to sign and hit on at least one player per class and turn that player in a real, credible A10 talent. In terms of the current roster I think about guys like Dion Wright and Youssou Ndoye. Both of those players I could see being a potential all-league guy by their senior years.

Bottom line: Don’t worry about what the recruiting class looks like now; it will look vastly different in a few years. Sure, some of these guys will be swing and misses. That’s the case in classes all around the country. The key to recruiting is to hit on at least one or two guys per class. You don’t want to come strike out on multiple classes in a row; that’s how you wind up with a bad team.


A10 Preseason Hits: SB Nation (link)


Holy crap look at this headshot! Schmidt looks like an angel sent by God to save our program. He could give a crap about preseason predictions.

Holy crap look at this headshot! Schmidt looks like an angel sent by God to save our program. He could give a crap about preseason predictions.

As we all know, between summer and tip-off basically every media outlet, website, magazine and personality will put out some type of season predictions/rankings piece. From time to time, we will throw those previews out here and link to them below. Some of these are solid reads, other ones are not so great (as tends to be the case when the more mainstream sites hire random folks to cover a league they normally don’t).

Today, we’ve got one from SB Nation that was posted over the summer. This article is solid for providing the reader information such as: who transferred in and out of the league; something that is increasingly difficult to keep up on. Did you Skyler White left GW? Did you even know GW had a player named Skyler White? Did This player’s name make you only think of Breaking Bad? I’m with ya.

FACT you probably didn’t know:  M. Runs transferred to Georgia Southwestern State (what? Literally never heard of it and I’ve heard of basically every college) and Toupane went to Gannon (D2-3?). Seems like both guys should get plenty of burn on teams no one knew existed. Talk about two huge swing and miss recruits. Yikes. Think about how bad Runs had to be considering he was a legit 7 footer and never saw the floor. That takes a special kind of ability. 17% of all “7 footers” play in the NBA at some point (that’s a real fact of life). That’s insanity. Runs is in the 83%…odds weren’t in his favor. Here’s to hoping beyond hope Jordan Tyson can make more of an impact than Runs did during his time.

Either way, best of luck to both those guys at their new schools.

SB Nation pegs the Bonnies 11th in their “Summer Power Rankings” which is about where you can expect to see them from now until forever. Same old song and dance: we lose our top two scorers (also lost them two years ago) and are a “gritty” team, etc. Can’t totally argue, we’ll get to our predictions when it’s actually the fall and closer to the season. Bottom line is the Bonnies never, ever get respect from these previews so don’t be shocked by it. VCU will be picked to win the league by every person with a brain (and some without). Again, we’ll go deeper into the league closer to October but for new enjoy this short primers for third outlets.

SB Nation Summer Hits: A10 

Home shouldn’t be 100 miles away

Rochester's Blue Cross Arena will host St. Bonaventure's A-10 game against George Mason on Jan. 14.

Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena will host St. Bonaventure’s A-10 game against George Mason on Jan. 14.

For the second time in three seasons, St. Bonaventure will pick up a men’s basketball home game at the Reilly Center and move it 100 miles north.

This year, it is an Atlantic 10 game against George Mason. Two years ago, it was a rivalry game against Niagara.

As an aside, the Bonnies last met Niagara in the Reilly Center during the 2010-11 season. That is unacceptable.

It is also unacceptable to move home games to neutral locales. St. Bonaventure struggles enough already to build a legit non-conference home schedule. Voluntarily moving games away from the Reilly Center makes little sense.

Some will argue that such a maneuver is the cost of building a basketball schedule at St. Bonaventure, that playing an annual game in Rochester has too many benefits to pass up – connecting with donors, sponsors, alumni and potential students, increased exposure and potential financial gains to name a few.

The Bonnies should play in Rochester every season – just not at the expense of a home game at the Reilly Center.

The advantages of playing at the Reilly Center are stripped at a neutral site. Advantages are gained by the opposition.

Sure, the student-less crowd would have been sparse for the mid-week game against George Mason if it were played at the Reilly Center. But it will be equally sparse at Blue Cross Arena for a game against an opponent that will not merit considerable ticket sales.

George Mason benefits by avoiding the long, potentially treacherous trip to Olean in January. It benefits by playing in a cavernous arena where the pro-Bona crowd will be blunted and where players from both sides will be unfamiliar with the surroundings.

The Bonnies should win this game against the rebuilding Patriots. Yet, the likelihood of victory diminishes a 100 miles away from the friendly confines of campus.

By moving a home game to Rochester, St. Bonaventure benefits everywhere but on the court.

Who knows? A loss to George Mason could cost the Bonnies seeding position in the Atlantic 10 tournament. It might even cost them a bid to the NIT or NCAA tournament.

The 2-hour trip to Rochester might well hurt St. Bonaventure more than help it.

Instead of taking the easy way out and giving up Reilly Center dates, SBU men’s basketball personnel and administrators must continue to strive to secure games in Rochester that only serve to benefit the university in every way possible, especially on the court. Rochester games must be against power conference opponents that are not obligated – or willing – to venture inside the Reilly Center.

If that fails, the last resort should be to find a strong mid-major conference opponent to fill a date in Rochester.

Sacrificing a home game should never be an option.