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Pollock: For the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, now the ‘real season’ is set to open


By CHUCK POLLOCK, Sun Senior Sports Columnist

St. Bonaventure’s men’s basketball team has already played 12 games, but in the mind of coach Mark Schmidt, “Now it’s time to play the real season.”

And that begins Wednesday night in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth’s Siegel Center (9 o’clock, CBS-TV Sports Network; Online Bonnies Network) with the Atlantic 10 Conference opener.

“I wish we were 12-0, but nine wins isn’t bad,” Schmidt admitted of his 9-3 team. “Yeah we’re pleased, we wish we were better, we had some opportunities to win a couple more games, but we didn’t and the record is what it is. We’re moving on and now the real season begins and we’ve got 18 more (A-10) games to build on those nine wins.”

Actually, coaches expect to win every game but the only real blemish on Bona’s non-conference slate was a galling 70-67 loss to Little Three rival Canisius (6-6) at the Reilly Center, no less.

The other two defeats, a 77-60 loss to Auburn at the Legends Classic in Brooklyn and a 64-54 decision to then-14th-ranked Florida Atlantic in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at Springfield, Mass, were to be expected. The Auburn game was the season’s fourth and Bona, with three new contributing transfers, wasn’t ready to beat an SEC team that is now 10-2 and ranked 25th in the country. And, against FAU, now 10-3 and ranked seventh nationally, the Bonnies reduced a 12-point deficit to six with 90 seconds to play before the Owls closed it out.

NOW BONA opens the A-10 campaign with a two-game road trip to Virginia, first with VCU (8-5) Wednesday then crosstown at the University of Richmond (8-5) , Saturday afternoon.

The Rams are the key matchup as they were tabbed for second in the now-15-team conference, with St. Bonaventure two points behind VCU in the voting by A-10 coaches and media. No. 1 Dayton got 80% of the first-place votes.

But while Schmidt admits “Nine wins isn’t bad, we still have things to work on, just as most teams do. We’re not nearly a finished product on both sides of the ball, but we’re making progress. Hopefully, the non-conference has prepared us … we played some really good teams and we’ve had some close games that we’ve pulled out (Oklahoma State 66-64 in Brooklyn and Akron 62-61 at Cleveland), so we’ve learned how to win.

“We’ve been in pressure situations that we can learn from positively or negatively. We’re happy with the non-conference schedule that we put together.”

BONA’S non-walk-on roster of a dozen players includes seven transfers, four from last season and three this year.

Two of the newbies start — Mika Adams-Woods (Cincinnati) and Charles Pride (Bryant) — while a third, 6-11 center Noel Brown (George Washington) spells rising middle-man Chad Venning (Morgan State).

Schmidt, before the season, uncharacteristically lauded his team’s talent and depth and admitted “I think we’re going to be pretty good.”

True to his word, he’s using nine Bonnies persistently, averaging between 13 and 32 minutes and four of them are double figure scorers: Adams-Woods 15, Venning 13, Pride and Moses Flowers (Hartford) both 11.

OF HIS transfer portal-infused team, Schmidt said, “I never look at it from year-to-year, we’re just trying to build this team to be as good as we can be. We have a lot of room to improve, we’re not nearly where we need to be and we need to get there because the next  games are going to be really, really difficult … they’re going to be like an Akron game or a Florida Atlantic game … that competitive.

He added, “Just looking at the Atlantic 10 standings, everybody’s got a winning record  (in non-conference) except two teams and most of the others have only three or four losses. The league has done really well in the non-conference and beaten some Top 25 teams, some Top 50 NET  (ratings) teams. Every league game is a challenge … a nail-biter and you’ve got to do all the little things to win.

Schmidt isn’t delighted playing twice in six days at Richmond.

“I wish it was just the one game like most people have,” he said. “It’s just us and St. Joe’s that are playing on the road twice (to open the conference season). The tough thing is, Richmond  is sitting there with a bye waiting for us. So it’s not a perfect schedule.”

(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at

More Bonaventure coverage from Chuck Pollock:

The inside story on why WPIG left the Bonnies after 74 years and a Gary Nease update

Bonnies look sharp in tune up to season

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