My dad was a big fan of the basketball team at Saint Bonaventure University!
He had season tickets and when they played away games –
He would either listen to them on the radio or go down to SLAVINS!
This was the local town bar he and his close friends would go to have a beer.
Russ and Tootie were the owners and BIG BONA’S FANS also.
Every game the radio would be on and dozens of people would lean close to listen!
To understand the fan base of this basketball team – you first have to know –
this is one of the smallest College Universities in the USA!
If they have over 2000 students -that would be large!
Yet – they are giant killers in Division one basketball!
Have been since the early ’50’s and to the present.
The campus sits in the magical mountains along the Alleghany river –
Just on the town line of OLEAN N.Y. and Alleghany N.Y.
Some 65 miles South of Buffalo.
To get here – you have to fly into Buffalo and drive the 65 miles through the country and back roads to Olean.
Where you might secure a room in one of the few hotels in the town.
And that is the beginning of your game madness in the Reilly Center – seating some 5200 rabid fans.
Sitting on four sides right on the court!
Mind you – the student body is around 2000 – and the town of Olean on a good day is maybe 12,000.
Yet – while I was young – there was a waiting list for those season tickets.
My father finally got his!
The team has been in that time frame had a high ranking in different years
as Number two or three in the nation!
They have gone to the FINAL FOUR only to lose when they lost their big man –
Buffalo ” BOB LANIER” to a knee injury and out for out for the final game.
Many thoughts throughout the nation – they would of won!
Now – the promise of next year looms before us BONNIE FANS!
PRESEASON POLLS – if they indicate anything at all – has them at the following!
What hurt this year was not the starting five – who all come back – not one senior on the whole team.
Was the bench – not very deep – ( what there was – 3- transferred out)
and when one of there best players twisted his ankle early in the game against SEC LSU –
Well when he returned he was a shadow of himself.
They went on to lose by 11 points!
THE HOPES ARE HIGH FOR NEXT YEAR and that fan base –
from every small town around –
is looking at these preseason polls with hunger in their eyes.
Now the GOOD NEWS!
Early commitments seem to have shored up that bench.
Three have transferred out – hardly playing and could not support that really good starting five.
In their place as of April 13th. FOUR MAJOR RECRUITS ARE COMING!
Two are transfers – who can play right away –
One starting Shooting guard from the ACC – Wake Forest – Quadry Adams – 6′ 4″
One starting power forward from another ACC school – Pitt – Abdoul Karin Coulibaly- 6′ 8″
One high JUCO transfer center
that was recruited by the power five conferences – Oluwasegun Durosinm – 6′ 9″
And a high Canada prep player regarded as a top prospect –
Justin Ndjock Tadjone – a shooting guard listed at 6′ 8″
They still have three scholarships left.
BUT THE CALVARY HAS ARRIVED!
The bench is now there!
My dad -My father would of been so excited – he passed that excitement onto me those 62 years ago!
For years I would bend over close to that same radio and listen to those games –
I would do the same as he did – keeping score with X’S and O’S –
The names of each player written down and the fouls each had.
Yes – I did that and to this day – I watch them on national TV!
We – before we moved South – had those precious season tickets.
The fans right on top of that floor at the Reilly Center –
Rated as one of the most feared and toughest places to play in the entire country!
IT IS GOING TO BE ONE OF THOSE YEARS COME FALL WITH THE BONNIES!
Fasten your seat belt – this little Division one University of some 2000 students and Friars
are gonna take you for a ride – who knows – just how far they will go-
They finished 16 and 5 with no bench – now they have one!
SAINT BONAVENTURE – THE LITTLE SCHOOL WHO COULD ONCE AGAIN SLAY GIANTS!
IT’S HAPPENED TWICE BEFORE and maybe – just maybe the third time is the CHARM!