My Bonaventure Basketball Story: Part I
By: Cody Didas, BonaBlog Contributor
The writers of the blog thought it would be a good idea to recap my time here at St. Bonaventure, in regards to the men’s basketball team. I have not known about the Bonnies for as long as some of the other staff, but have gotten roped in pretty well over my last four years on campus. As some of you may know, I am currently a senior at Bonas and my time at this amazing university is winding down extremely quickly.
I wrote this article in two parts: the first covering the 2011-2012 season through the 2013-2014 season. I am thankful to have become blessed with such an amazing season for my senior year.
I had not heard about Bonaventure until the beginning of my senior year, when my dad clued me in and starting pushing me to look at Bonas. I am from the Westside of Rochester, so maybe the word is not being spread too well in the Roc. An important characteristic for my college search was D-1 athletics. Not to participate, but to be a fan of. As some of you may know, the only D-1 sports in Rochester are the Rochester Institute of Technology men’s/women’s ice hockey teams. My “top 3” whittled down to Bonas, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse (yay for making the right decision!).
The very first game I attended was the Rochester game against NC State in ’11-’12, as they were doing an admissions event for Rochester based students. I think a lot of us painfully remember how that one ended, and I will go to my grave convinced that C.J. Leslie stepped out of bounds on that full-court heave. Regardless, I was immediately hooked. Ten days later I would find myself watching Conger (27/11) put on a performance in the Gallagher Center. Twenty-one days after that I would have half-court seats in the RC to see Bonas drop nearly a 100 on Fordham (another school I looked at).
I would watch most of the A10 games at work, either on the Bonnies stream or a game cast of sorts. I can vividly remember the 2OT game against Joes; an all-time game in the Reilly Center. Bonas locked up the #4 seed, and of course the magical run followed in Atlantic City. I tried to tell myself that it was not the reason why I wanted to go, but it really helped to have the team headed to the tourney. Miserably, I had to work during their tourney game and truly only watched the final five minutes or so. I will always be wondering why Da’quan Cook could not kick out on that second lay-in attempt and remember the non call on FSU’s inbound play that went over the baseline.
My freshman year easily has to be the most disappointing season that I have seen. Not to take away from those guys because they created some spectacular plays. Meetch flying down the lane at home to slam one away right before the half-buzzer comes to mind. That year, I remember losing to Canisius early on and thinking that this would not be all fun and games.
Losing to Arkansas State, and I wondered if that was even a real Division 1 school. It is really shocking to see that that team (minus a few pretty good players…) was able to have that miraculous week in Philly. They started A10 play 0-3, losing @GW, vs. VCU, and vs. Xavier, were sitting on a six game losing streak, and then proceed to trounce Temple and Joes on their home floor. Weird how this game works…the real downers that year were the back-to-back OT losses to La Salle and Richmond, that pretty much took all the wind out of their sails. Back in a very different, probably more difficult A10, the largest pill to swallow would be losing on Senior Night (losing Johnson, Mosley, and Conger) to lowly Fordham to not even make the A10 tournament. To not have a shot to defend the title was hard to swallow.
It was certainly a less than perfect start to my career as a Bonas fan, especially coming off their title run during my senior year of high school.
With each year comes new opportunity and my sophomore year would provide just that. An early non-conference game leads to a shellacking of Billy and Jim Baron…and a comical storming of the court looking back. Losing at the buzzer to Siena that year was pretty pitiful (and I could not watch due to a night class). I will say that I really liked having Bonas play in the Gulf Coast Showcase that year. They may have lost in the finals and not have too much of a chance to pick up any real marquee wins, but it helped simulate one thing…playing back-to-backs.
I wondered at the time, and can remember Schmidt praising that tournament for that reason, if it would help later on down the line. I travelled to the UB game that year…embarrassing L when a lot of your high-school friends go there. Again, I made the trip to see Bonas play in Niagara. Without a doubt one of my favorite games as a Bonnie fan. It was back-and-forth the entire game and we had the ball tied up with about 5 seconds to play. Schmidt always calls the same play in that scenario, and Charlon Kloof was always the exact right speed for it. Kloof ran the entire length of the floor and laid in the lay-up and my dad and I erupted. We were in the front row, gave a few fist pumps in the air and ran out the door. Fun fact: Got to see former Knick great and the late Anthony Mason there, as we all know his son was one of the top scorers in the country that season.
Looking at that A10 season, it is no wonder that to some fans we became known for not finishing games. I honestly can’t believe we had that bad of a record in conference play. 6-10. 6-10? Are you kidding me? Had losses of 5,6,8,2,2,3 all in conference play. You can really boil that down to a few possessions every game…When you think about how exceptional this year’s team is at finishing close games you draw on the recent past and can really appreciate that skill.
The biggest conference game of that season was easily home to UMass. Everyone circled their calendars, eying it as an opportunity over a ranked opponent. My first “true” court storm would come that Wednesday night as the Bonnies shot 30-34 from the stripe to down the #21 team in the nation. Storming a court as a college student is a high that never truly gets old, I am glad that it was not only a one-time occurrence for me. It was the first time Bonas had beaten a ranked opponent since 2000.
We would head in to the A10 tournament as a #9 seed, to square off with #8 seed La Salle. After losing in their house just 2 weeks prior, Bonas would easily dispatch of the Explorers in that first game. I would be watching from my Garden Townhouse living room, and can remember Youssou’s dominating 19&10 that day.
The next day would provide the real test…#1 seed ranked St. Louis. We all remember how that one ended. It is truthfully very difficult to predict the “most clutch shot” I have seen at Bonas…there have been quite a few. But, I have probably seen the replay of Jordan Gathers cashing that deep 3 to sink SLU close to a thousand times. I celebrated in the halls of 4th Shay jumping up-and-down with some of my closest friends. It became the second time that season that Bonas would down a ranked opponent; SLU came in to the match-up as #18 in the country. Maybe that little tournament back in November was beginning to pay off. The mania began to spread pretty quickly around campus, and my friend group decided to make the trip down to Brooklyn the next morning. We went out that Friday night in true Bona fashion, and proceeded to leave for Brooklyn at 4 a.m. The result was not the best we were looking for as Bonas (who played St. Joseph’s) had one of the worst second halves I have seen from them. It is crazy to look and see that that game was tied at the half. Bonas shot the ball at a 25.4% clip and 13.3% from deep; they had 19 points in the second half. Halil Kanacevic would be a name I would never forget as he dropped 26 and 17 (!) boards on us that day, as the freaking Hawks of St. Joe’s would eventually go on to cut down the nets.
My friends and I would leave quickly after the game to drive home, about 12 hours of driving in one day. Side note: 17 boards…and we had Youssou and Marquise out there? Imagine the totals he may hang on this year’s team. We would have to sadly say good bye to Charlon Kloof, Matthew Wright, Marquise Simmons, and fan-favorite Danny Farrell, but had to feel much better about 18-15 (6-10) with a mini-run in the conference tourney. It was certainly an improvement over year one..
I will be back later this week to recap the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons.