“New York State of Mind” the theme for 2015 Bonnies
St. Bonaventure’s 2015-2016 non-conference schedule has been released and it is safe to say that many fans will be excited that the team will be staying in the Empire State. For a school that draws most of it’s enrollment from New York, expect to see a lot of support both at home and on the road.
The schedule also has a majority of its games at the Reilly Center, where the Bonnies went 4-2 in non-conference play last season. The home-heavy portion can help bolster the non-conference record which could provide a great launching pad into conference play.
Let’s take a look at each of the Bonnies opponents for 2015-2016:
Binghamton - The Bonnies welcome the Bearcats to the Reilly Center to open the season. St. Bonaventure had no problem with Binghamton last year on the road and will look to continue their recent success, winning four out of the last five in the series against the America East foe. Mark Schmidt has never lost a home opener in his Bona tenure (8-0).
AT Syracuse - The Bonnies make the three hour trip to the Carrier Dome to face the Orange. These two teams have not met in six years. St. Bonaventure’s last two trips to Syracuse have resulted in close calls but saw SBU fall short in each. Both teams will look to work out the early kinks and anything is possible. Orange will look to rebound after a tough campaign last year on many fronts.
Loyola (MD) - Greyhounds return to the Reilly Center for the first time since Andrew Nicholson’s senior year. Bonnies won that matchup by 10. Greyhounds coach that year was Jimmy Patsos, is now at Bona rival Siena. The Greyhounds are coming off an 11-19 season and look to continue making strides under new coach G.G. Smith, son of former Kentucky head man Tubby.
AT Canisius - Golden Griffins advanced to the CIT semifinals last season and look to avenge a six point loss to SBU last season. Bonnies have not traveled to the Koessler Center in three years and have not beaten Canisius in Buffalo in 13 years. History is on their side.
Hofstra - Former Niagara head coach Joe Mihalich returns to WNY with his new team and will look to continue his personal success against SBU. These two teams have not met since 1992 and the Pride is filled with former Niagara stars who transferred with their coach and who always tend to play hard against St. Bonaventure. Mihalich and Schmidt have had a frothy relationship during their shared time in the Big 4 and this should be no different.
AT Buffalo - The Bulls coming off a phenomenal season that resulted in an NCAA Tournament appearance and a MAC Championship but also led to the departure of head coach Bobby Hurley (to Arizona State). Nate Oats, the new Bulls boss, was a Hurley assistant and will look to continue the new tradition of success. However, between graduation and voluntary dismissal of 2015 MAC Player of the Year Justin Moss, the Bulls look vulnerable.
Ohio - We all remember the last visit by the Bobcats to Olean don’t we? A four-overtime thriller in case you needed a reminder that resulted in one of the greatest performances by a team and player in SBU history (Nicholson had 44 points and played every single minute). The Bonnies defeated Ohio last year in Athens in a game that featured a breakout effort from Jay Adams. Ohio had a very down season last year finishing just 10-20; they’re a much better program than that.
Vermont - SBU welcomes another America East foe to the Reilly Center in the first ever matchup between these two programs. The Catamounts are coming off a season that saw them advance to the CBI semifinals and will return four scorers from that team. The is a great challenge for the Bonnies and is a great add to the schedule. If Vermont remains solid this is the type of team we should be playing each season at home.
South Carolina State - Who? Every Bonnies schedule tends to have this game which is designed to make the visiting school some money and SBU a victory. This plan backfired last year with the Bonnies laid a dud against Maryland-Eastern Shore, a team from the same conference as South Carolina State. They do return a lot of players from last year’s 10-win team but SBU tends to do well overall against MEAC opponents.
AT Siena - The Franciscan Cup series continues in Albany. SBU has dominated this series but momentum has shifted to the Saints lately. A very mediocre Siena team won at the Reilly Center last year and at the buzzer during the last meeting in Albany. I love these match ups because the two schools are very similar and although they lack the buzz of a Little 3 opponent, the Saints have become a staple on the Bonnies schedule. Hopefully, that Cup makes its way home to Olean in 2015.
Niagara - Hard to believe that the Purple Eagles have not played in Olean for five years but between two neutral site games and the every other year trip to Monteagle Ridge, it hasn’t. Niagara dominated the series back in those days but with the departure of Mihalich to Hofstra and an exorbitant amount of players transferring, Niagara has fallen on tough times. Good chance for the Bonnies to be on a nice streak heading to A-10 play.