Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC Conferences. He enjoys spending evenings tooling around The Bronx.
BRONX, NY – They have some of the most passionate fans around but there hasn’t been much to cheer about in recent years. Now, the St.Bonaventure faithful are excited and as enthused as ever. Wednesday night’s 78-65 win over Fordham at Rose Hill put the Bonnies at 10-4 for the season. It was their third straight road victory and started their Atlantic Ten season with a W. It’s been seven years since the Bonnies last reached double digits in wins.
The reversal in fortunes has been the work of Mark Schmidt. He arrived last year after getting Robert Morris on track. The going was rough (8 wins) but the latter part of the campaign saw signs of life, like a twenty point win at St.Louis.
On Wednesday evening the Bonnies had five players in double figures. Arguably their most impressive player has been 6-9 Andrew Nicholson, a virtual recruiting steal out of Canada. Nicholson had a nice 13 point 9 rebound effort in 23 foul troubled minutes. Still, this team is a work in progress. The Bonnies shot 67% (30 of 45) from the line and committed 19 turnovers. The Rams trimmed a 17 point deficit with 6 minutes to a two possession game in the stretch before Bona regrouped. “We handled their press like an elementary school team,” Schmidt said afterward. “It wasn’t pretty and I don’t’ think we will send the tape to the hall of fame but it’s a win.”
The second year Bona mentor is tough yet a player’s coach. He is a genuine ‘people person’ whom the Olean and Bona community have warmed up to. Schmidt learned a great deal of Xs and Os and personal skills from one of the best and classiest, the late Skip Prosser. Schmidt assisted Prosser at Xavier and to this day remembers the night Xavier was upset by the Bonnies during Prosser’s tenure. “I never heard a place as loud in my life,” Schmidt said of the Reilly Center. “This (Bonaventure) place is unique,” Schmidt said after the Fordham contest. “There is passion and a tradition we are trying to bring back.” There are those who say he has brought it back already. And largely due to his passion.