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After Stellar Season, There’s Still Work To Be Done

Contributor: Jonathan May

It’s not even a week after the Bonnies season ending loss to the Wagner Seahawks, but ideas and recommendations on how to improve the Bonaventure brand can always be thrown out there. The reason being, after such a magical season, the ending was so bitter that the most ardent of followers just want to put it all in the past. The NCAA wielded its omnipotent power and the lowly Bonnies took the brunt this year. What happened has happened and moving on will only help to heal the pain.

When it comes to competing in the NCAA, it’s widely known that St. Bonaventure has limitations when it comes to participating in division 1 basketball. Would the university love a brand new state of the art facility? Of course! Would the university love their own private jet to charter to games, tournaments and to recruit? Yes! The list of wants can go on and on but in the end, fans and alumni know the situation and have come to accept that all the bells and whistles that are available to other programs will never happen to the school in the sleepy mountains of the Allegany’s.

Our friend Bucky Gleason gave a pretty detailed account and covered both angles that even though Mark Schmidt is comfortable in his own shoes at St. Bonaventure, money certainly can always talk and so can making his job easier with more toys at his disposal.

If the Bonnies are to heed the message sent by the committee well then there is some work to do by AD Tim Kenney and it all starts with the head coach.

Mark Schmidt led the Bonnies to a share of the 2016 regular season crown and was tabbed Coach of the Year as well.

First, pay Mark Schmidt a salary that puts him in line with the higher paid coaches in the Atlantic Ten. Point being, he was the coach of the year and honestly, could be the coach of the year every year just from what he can do with the talent at hand and facing the league his team resides in. This year was special though, it saw the culmination of 4 years of work with Dion Wright, the huge step forward from Jay Adams and the eye for talent to scoop up Marcus Posley on a transfer in to St. Bonaventure. Schmidt isn’t a money guy, but he deserves it. I put him up there with Archie Miller, Phil Martelli, and Will Wade. Coaches who coach their program like a power 5 school and expect to beat power 5 schools every time. Aside from Dayton, when is the last time the Bonnies were truly blown out of a game? If you can’t think of one, then there’s all the more reason to give Schmidt a raise. He works tirelessly to make sure his roster is ready to compete night in night out.

Second, for the AD, the ‘Little 3’ rivalry’s are great and all, but St. Bonaventure is an Atlantic 10 team, not a MAAC team. Scheduling two MAAC teams on the schedule should be our only two MAAC teams on the schedule. The Franciscan Cup is a great idea in thought but if the school is serious in making strides in the out of conference schedule to bolster a resume, its time for the AD to trim the fat.

Will Wade explained it perfectly in his media press conference in the days leading up to his teams NCAA game this week. Scrub to the 18 minute mark to hear one some of the most straight forward thoughts on the inequities of scheduling in the NCAA.

St. Bonaventure cannot afford the luxuries of buy teams at every turn to gain wins on a home court. If there is a chance to buy a game, it is most likely a team that only hurts the strength of schedule or worse, comes into the RC  (ex. Maryland-Eastern Shore, Arkansas State) and knocks off the Bonnies essentially crippling any thoughts of impressing the NCAA with their out of conference schedule.

There are more diamonds to be uncovered in the out of conference schedule and if that includes dropping the Binghamton’s and Vermont’s of the world than so be it. Trading a sleepy home game, for a marquee match up on the road is something that the coaching staff and AD need to start lining up. Will the Bonnies get Duke? No, but beating teams in the likes of the AAC and Big East are good for business because as we saw last Sunday, beating the name is better than actual numbers.

Lastly, and these are ideas that can only enhance the experience for the Bonnie fans and alumni alike. It’s fair to state, the majority of alumni and fans don’t live in Olean and the southern tier anymore. There may be, but not enough to sell out the RC every night. The way to stay in touch is through viewing these games and then treking back on a weekend to maybe see the Bonnies in the RC. The broadcast, which is free and features student run broadcasters are not befitting of an Atlantic Ten team. Compare any of the school run broadcasts to those that were carried on Time Warner or most Recently ESPN3. The quality, the crispness, the high definition, it all speaks to a higher level of product which when it comes to gaining an edge, can be used to let recruits see the games. I know the experience is invaluable for the students, but the university has a handful of other sports where students can hone their craft from commentary, interviews, production and broadcasting. The University at Buffalo and our rival Canisius College, two schools in very mid-major conferences are affiliated with ESPN to produce content and distribute on their networks.

Facility wise, the RC is a gem. From the students being on top of the court to the wonderful shooting background for our home teams, the RC is quintessential mid-major basketball at its finest. Can things be upgraded? Sure. Is money an issue? You betcha. As the program struggles to sell out the majority of games throughout the season, fans and alumni alike know the upper section of red seats aren’t exactly the best in the house. For those who have traveled to Richmond to see a game, the Robbins Center has four standing areas in the upper corners that were turned into clubs. The addition of luxury boxes in the RC wouldn’t be very prudent but exploring other options is something to think about to attract all sorts of groups. Rather than have the only two upgrades in seating come behind panes of glass, take out ten rows at the top and turn that section into standing deck or rename it the “Athletic Club,” where donors can buy their place in the club. There are alumni out there that would fork over money to have the RC party deck to entertain their friends and family with drinks and the ability to walk and move in a more comfortable viewing area.

Carnesecca Arena on the campus of St. John’s

The counter point to that is of course losing potential ticket revenue but if the club is added, the price of the club can make up for the lost seats. Speaking of lost seats, perhaps it’s time to add more seating to the ends and bring those seats closer to the floor. It will give the RC more of an arena feel similar to the upgrades that have taken place at St. John’s at Carnesecca Arena. The RC and Carnesecca are almost mirror images. Large gymnasium with massive side seating arrangements and little or no seating at the side exposing a blank wall. St. Johns moved their student sections which are behind the basket toward the floor and created walkways that connected the entire main concourse. At the RC, the concourse leads you to hallways whereas a fully encompassing concourse will give the RC a more arena type feel without losing that old school gymnasium charm. The concourse isn’t just for walking, vendors for food from the Olean area, local breweries and entertainment spaces can be created to enhance the family entertainment value to bring in more fans even if the Bonnies have less dates due to more aggressive scheduling. Even though there will be push back, but perhaps limiting students to baseline sections will then open up more sources for the ticket buying public to increase revenue as well to offset what could be a schedule with less home games.

While this may seem like a wishlist, the first point needs to be addressed and quickly. St. Bonaventure has history and charm but when talking to 17 year old’s, the university’s crown jewel is the coach. Mark Schmidt is the most marketable piece of the recruiting package that Bonaventure has to offer. With that, pay the man the money he deserves so that his eyes aren’t so quickly to wander if and when Boston College or Xavier may open up. There are other schools too but those are the ones to worry about in the near future. The other stuff will certainly help, but if the AD of St. Bonventure is reading, you know as well as anyone, your work has just begun.

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A member of the class of 2008, Nolan spent four years as a student assistant with the program. He has written professionally for such outlets as espn.com/insider, Athlon Sports Magazines, Cox Sports Online and Blue Ribbon Previews. Ian was named one of the “140 Personalities to Follow in College Basketball” on twitter by The Sporting News.


  1. Josh

    Siena was just outside the RPI top 100 this season, and returns their top 5 scorers next year. So, if you had your way, we would lose a home game against a top 100 team next year. Not a good idea.

  2. Jonathan May Post author

    Good point, but the overall sense is that loading the schedule with 3 MAAC teams will eventually bring us down when being evaluated. Keep Siena but add in two to three teams in the big east, AAC or even lower end ACC opponents. Go play teams on the same level as Wichita State or Northern Iowa. Maybe the Bonnies need to expand and look for a holiday tournament as well.