COLUMN: Uveino says goodbye to Intrepid, SBU

By Jeff Uveino

The weather matched the collective mood of the campus community.

As clouds leaked rain across the Southern Tier of Western New York, St. Bonaventure University sat in disbelief over the previous day’s decision.

It was a Monday, and the calendar read March 14, 2016. My first visit to SBU.

The day before, an NCAA selection committee decided to leave the Bona men’s basketball team out of its championship tournament field. Despite a 22-8 record and a share of the Atlantic 10 regular-season title, the committee excluded the Bonnies from March Madness.

“The snub,” as Bona fans now commonly refer to the incident.

To my parents and I, however, the disservice done to this private, Franciscan university of about 2,000 undergraduates located 75 miles south of Buffalo didn’t matter much.

We were there to learn about the university’s journalism school. Not its basketball sob story.

Each person we met mentioned the snub. It was as if a hammer had been dropped on the head of the school’s soul. The pain radiated from each passer-by, a campus community dumbfounded over the exclusion of its beloved Bonnies.

It’s not that we didn’t care. We just didn’t understand.

Five years later, I spent March 14 sitting court-side at University of Dayton Arena.

There, the Bonnies played VCU for the 2021 A-10 men’s basketball championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The six-hour drive to Dayton to watch the game? A small ask for myself and the dozens of Bona students that will become lifelong friends.

After all, that dreary post-snub visit to campus had all but convinced me to attend the university’s Jandoli School of Communication. With that decision came an abundance of professional opportunities, including covering that A-10 final for student media.

The Bonnies beat VCU handily. 

On the outside, objectivity fueled my stoic demeanor from the media section. My heart, however, filled with a sense of pride that could only be matched by the hundreds of Bonnies fans that scrambled toward the court to join the celebration.

Five years prior, those moments would have meant nothing. Now, the image of the confetti-laden, on-court celebration will stay with me forever.

That’s the impact that St. Bonaventure University has on its family members.

It’s hard to find the words to describe the school’s dynamic to those who haven’t attended. SBU alumni refer to the community as a family, while outsiders often prefer the term “cult.”

I still remember the guide that led my parents and I through that rainy, downtrodden tour over five years ago. He and I shared a drink over the matter a few years later.

I could write dozens of cliches to convey my love for SBU, but have been taught better than to do so.

All I can say is that the best four years of my life have been spent in the Enchanted Mountains. Thank you to every single person who has made that statement possible.

MLAX: Bonnies travel to Monmouth for MAAC semifinal

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ — “We earned our right to get to the semifinals,” St. Bonaventure men’s lacrosse coach Randy Mearns said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we are excited for the opportunity.” 

The Bonnies played their way into their first ever Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference semifinal after a fast start and eventual 11-8 victory over Detroit Mercy on Friday afternoon.  

“You kind of feel the confidence,” Mearns said. “We just continue to say, ‘don’t get too high or don’t get too low’.”  

Despite the excitement surrounding the team, the Bonnies remain quiet but confident in their ability.  

“Guys have this quiet energy, this quiet confidence,” Mearns said. “We got great guys in the locker room; they just work hard every day.” 

Bona came into its last matchup as an underdog when it hosted Detroit. This time, the underdogs will hit the road against the Monmouth Hawks, the No. 2 seed in the MAAC men’s lacrosse championship tournament.  

“I think we relish that role,” Mearns said. “We also know that we were in every game this year, even the Monmouth game (that) we lost.” 

In their lone matchup against the Hawks, the Bonnies took a 10-8 lead into the fourth quarter but could not finish the job. Monmouth outscored Bona 5-2 in the final frame to secure a 13-12 victory.  

“We had four or five failed clears, and that resulted in more opportunities for them,” Mearns said. “But that’s the learning experience.” 

Clearing was an issue for SBU, but face-offs were another area where Bona struggled. Monmouth crushed the faceoff battle, 24-5.  

Mearns’ squad has adjusted, however, and the third-year skipper believes his players are more confident heading into their second game against the Hawks. 

“We’ve made some adjustments on the wings, and I think that has provided some confidence to Austin (Holley),” Mearns said. “We’re hopeful he’s going to be able to give (Matt) Soutar a better run for his money.” 

Soutar and five other Hawks were placed on all-conference teams. Defenseman Chris Hervada was named co-defensive player of the year. Mearns knows the Bonnies will have to be on guard in this rematch.  

“We have to earn everything,” Mearns said. “If we hit singles and not go for home runs, we like our chances.” 

The Bonnies and the Hawks will square off at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at Monmouth’s Kessler Stadium, and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.  

“It’s the wacky MAAC,” Mearns said. “On any given day, anybody can beat anybody.” 

MLAX: Bonnies set to host Detroit Mercy in MAAC quarterfinal

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — “It was really important to us to build the foundation of the program.” 

St. Bonaventure men’s lacrosse head coach Randy Mearns has, in fact, built the foundation of a reborn Bonnies program looking at history Friday afternoon. 

The sixth-seeded Bonnies will host No. 3 Detroit Mercy in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference quarterfinal at 1 p.m. Not only will this be the first postseason game the team has hosted since the program’s re-emergence three years ago, but will be SBU’s first-even playoff game under Mearns.
 

“It’s been exciting to kinda play in front of our home crowd,” Mearns said. “We really enjoy and love the confines of the Marra Sports Complex in the rolling hills of Allegany. I don’t think that it’s really any more pressure, I just think that we’re excited to actually be able to have it at home.” 

Heading into the matchup, the Bonnies pose a record of 4-4, having won three of their last four games. Mearns sees the recent stretch as a positive, but remains attentive to the current moment. 
 

“I think we do have momentum, but I think it’s also a guarded momentum as opposed to the win against Quinnipiac,” he said. 
 

The win against Quinnipiac was followed by an 11-7 defeat to Detroit Mercy on March 13.  
 

“Detroit got right up on top of us and we were like deer in the headlights,” Mearns said. “They took it to us that game.” 

Detroit comes into this game with a 3-3 record after having their last two contests cancelled. Mearns stressed the importance of stopping the Titans’ offense, as well as limiting midfielder Alex Jarzembowski on faceoffs.  
 

“It’s faceoffs and it’s goaltending,” Mearns said. “We’re going to need to have a strong defensive outing against Detroit. They can score with the best of them.”  

Despite the challenges Detroit presents, Bona’s improvement in recent weeks could give it an edge heading into the matchup.  

“We’ve gotten much more organized,” Mearns said. “Our defensive guys have built a lot of chemistry where we’re trusting each other and having confidence in our teammates and the game plan.”

In a shortened season with a schedule limited to only MAAC games for both clubs, there will be a sense of familiarity when the two teams face off on Friday. Nonetheless, Mearns remains confident in his team to be prepared for the moment.  
 

“We’re at home, but we’re the underdogs,” Mearns said. “They aren’t gonna surprise our guys.” 

WLAX: Bona concludes season without finding 2020 magic

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Ryan Surmay

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — After a 27-2 loss to nationally ranked UMass on Friday, the St. Bonaventure women’s lacrosse team concluded its season.

The Bonnies ended the season on an eight-game losing streak, as they played a quartet of Atlantic 10 opponents twice each (Duquesne, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and UMass).

In head coach Jason Levesque’s second season with the team, the Bonnies deceased the amount of wins they had this year, as they went 5-2 in a shortened 2020 season before compiling a 2-10 record (0-8 A-10) this season.

SBU’s two wins came on back-to-back games against Bucknell and Akron back in March. The Bucknell win came in overtime, as Ashley Easterday scored the game winning goal.

SBU will lose seniors Savannah Gonsiorek, Jessica Losquadro, Destinee Johnson, Andrea Hill, Julia Davidson, Savannah Clarke and Easterday to graduation. 

This season, they were lead in goals by senior Destinee Johnson, who had 12 on the year. She started every game this year and had 10 assists. 

This put Johnson at 89 career points, good for 19th all-time in program history.

Sophomores Courtney Fox and Nora Anderson each were big contributors this season. Fox had 14 points in total, while Anderson had 11.

Clarke, the team’s everyday goalkeeper, had 62 saves this season, which put her career total at 282. That’s sixth all-time at SBU. 

MBB: Bona begins to shape ’22 roster

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — After one of its best seasons in program history, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team has had an eventful offseason.  

Though the Bonnies have kept their starting five intact, their entire bench production from last season has entered the transfer portal. This leaves SBU with several open scholarship spots for next season.  

Luckily for Bona, head coach Mark Schmidt and his staff have already begun to fill some of the gaps that resulted from the transfer portal.  

Barring any unforeseen events, Bona will maintain its starting five of Kyle Lofton, Dominick Welch, Jaren Holmes, Jalen Adaway and Osun Osunniyi. This core of seniors-to-be has seen favor in the eyes of many notable analysts, which project the Bonnies as a top-20 team to start next season.  

Led by this group, the 2021-22 team will likely begin the fall as the favorite to repeat as A-10 champions.  

One of the big issues for the reigning A-10 champs in their 2020-21 campaign was depth.  

Early-season departures from forward Justin Winston and guard Anthony Roberts forced the Bonnies into a rotation that consisted of only six to seven players depending on the night. Alejandro Vasquez and Jalen Shaw headlined the bench rotation for Bona, but were used sparingly.  

Vasquez provided immediate shooting and scoring off the bench. He averaged 4.4 points per game and shot 34.8% from 3-point range. Against Duquesne, Vasquez shined with an 11-point effort at the Reilly Center and shot 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.   

Shaw came in relief of Osunniyi when the starting center was in foul trouble, or if head coach Mark Schmidt needed to buy time for Osunniyi to rest. 

Eddie Creal and Alpha Okoli have also entered the portal. Both had trouble finding time on the floor since Schmidt started four guards and Vasquez was the first option of the bench. Creal spent only one year with the team, while Okoli has been at Bona for three seasons.  

The first addition to the team came with the commitment of Quadry Adams.  

(graphic courtesy of SBUnfurled)

With lofty expectations for next year’s squad, the team needs to fill the spots left vacant by the players who are now in the portal. In filling these spots thus far, the staff has not only tried to create a sound rotation for next year, but also seems to be piecing together the future of the program. 

Adams, a sophomore transfer from Wake Forest, only averaged eight minutes per game last season in nine games played. At St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Adams had a stellar career and his senior stat line consisted of 18.5 points-per-game, 3.2 assists-per-game, and 2.7 steals-per-game. 

Adams will look to make an impact off the bench this season, and could start after the seniors depart from the program. 

Abdoul Karim Coulibaly started 20 of 22 games last year at Pittsburgh. Coulibaly will provide depth in the frontcourt, something Bona desperately needs. 

Coulibaly will have three years of eligibility if he chooses. Like Adams, Coulibaly could see a much bigger responsibility in the years to come.  

Bona will have plenty of guards next year, but perhaps none taller than Justin Ndjock-Tadjore. 

The 6-7 guard hails from Quebec and has four years of eligibility. Ndjock-Tadjore is athletic and extremely long. He can shoot from outside, but also get by his man and use his size to finish over defenders in the paint.  

Finally, the Bonnies added 6-9 center Oluwasegun Durosinmi from Harcum College. 

His 7’2 wingspan makes him a ferocious shot blocker, evidenced by the four blocks per-game average at Harcum. If Durosinmi finds his way into the rotation, the Bonnies will be able to hold an extreme length advantage inside every time they take the floor. 

Another commit with four years of eligibility, Durosinmi looks like the perfect replacement for Osunniyi.  

Schmidt will likely maintain his traditional ways of keeping a short rotation, but regardless, the Bonnies will have a strong supporting cast to compete for minutes to help the starters. Over 90% of the Bonnies scoring and minutes came from the starters.

Next season, Schmidt should have a more balanced team and a deeper team that should garner some national attention.  

WSOC: Freshman keeper Nolan grows on, off field in first collegiate season

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, — Though the St. Bonaventure women’s soccer team’s 2020-21 campaign was far from ideal, the team might have found a key piece for the program going forward.

Freshman goalkeeper Mackenzie Nolan stepped into the net for Bona and started all eight games in a condensed season. For Nolan, the decision to play for SBU was an easy one. 

“I knew that this was the right school for me when I was sitting one day watching them practice, I was listening to hard they were pushing each other,” Nolan said. “That on top of the beautiful scenery…. I was just completely sold.” 

Bona finished 0-8 on the season, with all loses coming against the same three opponents (Saint Louis, Duquesne and Dayton).  

“Being a goalkeeper, it is kind of defeating to get scored on, especially for some games to be 5-1 or 4-0,” Nolan said. 

Nonetheless, Nolan, a native of Hilton, New York, found relief in the experience the season gave she and her teammates. 

“I know that right now, we are a very young team, and I have lots of up for us in the future when we become more experienced together,” Nolan said. “I would never put my head down on a season like this because I know it’s only going to make us better.” 

While the Bonnies did not find much success in the win column, Nolan used the season to develop her game.  

“I started off with my positioning being a little rough,” Nolan said. “That’s one thing my coach and I have been working on in our training is cutting of the angle and getting ready for the shot.” 

Nolan also worked on other areas of improvement such as her grip on the ball, increasing the distance of her punts and enhancing her vertical leap.

More than just technical work though, she saw herself developing into a leader despite her inexperience compared to some of her teammates.

“Being a freshman, I am a little hesitant to be a leader off the field, but I think that is something I can definitely grow into,” Nolan said. “Even coming in here next year as a sophomore, I know what it feels like to be walking into a team that feels older. I can be that leader and push the freshmen because I know where they are coming from.” 

Nolan also noted the necessity of developing vocal leadership skills given her position on the field. 

“As a goalkeeper, you definitely have to be a leader,” Nolan said. “You have to use your voice. I’ve found that my voice a lot of times has prevented shots on goal and has helped us very much.” 

Nolan credited her development in the net to assistant coach Abby Pearson. 

“She has taken that extra time to really focus on my skills,” Nolan said. “She likes to pull apart lots of things that are easy fixes.” 

Embarking on this strange season gave the team a limited experience according to Nolan. However, she has embraced this group despite the adversity they faced. 

“My experience, from what I’ve been told, has been limited,” Nolan said. “Regardless, I don’t know any difference, so I’ve enjoyed what I’ve experienced so far. I’ve gotten really close with the team; they treat each other like family.” 

One can only hope for a season closer to normal next fall, but Nolan’s improvements as a player and a leader will be essential for the team’s growth going forward. 

MUSIC: Post Malone’s country album will arrive before decade’s end

photo: Tyler Golden/Getty

By Jeff Uveino

With a five-piece band behind him and a stack of Bud Lights at his side, Austin Post lit a cigarette and lifted a microphone to his face.

The hip-hop artist, better known by his stage name Post Malone, wrapped his jet-black painted fingernails around the microphone as a camouflage hat cast a shadow over his tattoo-laden face.

He proceeded to lead Dwight Yoakam’s band through a cover of Brad Paisley’s 2001 hit “I’m Gonna Miss Her,” hitting every note with ease as steel guitars and fiddles played behind him.

Malone performed the country hit as part of Matthew McConaughey’s “We’re Texas” virtual benefit concert, which helped raise money for Texas’ victims of February’s severe winter storm.

While this may have been Malone’s most prominent nod to country music thus far, it was far from his first.

And, while his hip-hop success has made Malone one of the world’s most popular artists, he could likely stray from the genre before his career ends.

Evidently, Malone’s country album is coming. It’s just a matter of when.

Malone’s relationship with Yoakam, a country music artist whose career started in the 1980s, dates back to Malone’s first album.

On “Feeling Whitney,” an acoustically driven outlier on Malone’s 2016 half sung, half rapped debut “Stoney,” Malone references Yoakam.

“I put on a little Dwight and sang a happy tune,” the 25-year-old Syracuse-born, Texas-raised artist sings.

Then, in 2018, Malone joined Yoakam’s show on SiriusXM satellite radio and accompanied him on “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere,” one of Yoakam’s 13 top-ten hits.

Malone’s current discography obviously identifies most closely with hip-hop. 

He’s had No. 1 singles with hip-hop artists 21 Savage, Ty Dolla $ign and Swae Lee. His most recent album, 2019’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” won an American Music Award in 2019 for “favorite rap/hip-hop album,” and won a Billboard Music Award in 2020 for top rap album.

Malone has left a paper trail of interest in country music throughout his career, however.

Aside from the Yoakam shoutout, his song “Stay” on 2018’s critically acclaimed sophomore album “Beerbongs and Bentleys” sounds like it came from an Eagles record. He’s covered Bob Dylan and Hank Williams, Jr. He sang on stage with Keith Urban.

And, in a 2017 interview with Shop Talk, Malone recalled playing country music at a restaurant near his adolescent home of Grapevine, Texas.

He’s been known to wear a cowboy hat and boots, and can often be seen on the red carpet sporting a “Nudie suit,” a term coined for the rhinestone-filled outfits created by tailer Nudie Cohn that became the normal apparel for country stars throughout the 1960s, 70s and beyond.

At this point in his career, straying from hip-hop would be redundant for Malone. He and his music are too popular.

However, once his shelf life begins to run out and he reaches his mid-30s, the album will come.

It may not even be worth asking whether Malone will record a country album or not. The better question, however, is which current (and former) country stars he’ll feature on it.

MLAX: After first win, Bonnies strive for more success in third season

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONVAENTURE, NY — Pride. 

That’s the feeling St. Bonaventure men’s lacrosse head coach Randy Mearns feels when he sees the work and grit his team is putting in to get better.

The Bonnies, in their third season since the return of SBU’s men’s lacrosse program, have been faced with many challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I am really proud of our guys,” Mearns said. “They have been following all of the protocols and trying to stay in their groups. It is really tough on young people to do this, but our guys are doing a great job.” 

Despite the pandemic, Mearns and his staff have continued to build their program looking one game at a time. 

“It is a learning process,” Mearns said. “We had to adjust to the Division I level and build our program. We have been able to do that with our juniors, who have been here since year one. We continue to build our program with freshmen and sophomores.” 

Every game, including Saturday’s contest with Quinnipiac, provides a learning experience for Mearns’ crew. 

“There are a ton of pieces to a game, and every time we play, we learn something new about the game, and the way we need to play,” Mearns said.  We can’t get ahead of ourselves. We need to play well, in every game, if we want to get the win.” 

The third-year coach recognizes his team clinched a 13-6 victory against Quinnipiac on March 6, the program’s first victory since its return, but doesn’t want to let its hint of success be a distraction. 

“Quinnipiac is going to be a much different team, this time around,” Mearns said. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. We need to play well if we want to get the win.”

 Mearns was right, as Saturday’s rematch against Quinnipiac resulted in a defensive battle that SBU came out on the short side of, 5-4.

The loss dropped Bona’s record to 1-3 overall and 0-3 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (first game against Quinnipiac ruled a non-conference game) ahead of an April 3 home matchup against Manhattan. 

Mearns said the scene at SBU’s Marra Athletics Complex will look a little different soon, however.

According to Mearns, each student-athlete can soon have two family members attend the team’s home games. Members of the campus community are also encouraged to attend games at the Marra Athletic Complex. 

“It’s really exciting to see people in the stands, or on the hill,” Mearns said. “It gives the guys something to play for. I hope our guys play well for their parents. They can show mom and dad how much they have improved, and what Bonaventure lacrosse is about.” 

Mearns doesn’t often look at the future of his program, but when he does, he sees both “an interesting opportunity” and challenges.

Last year, the NCAA granted all student-athletes an additional year of eligibility. However, the Bonnies will not have to worry about that for one more season. Burns said some concerns include having the right graduate programs and the monetary aspect for his players.

“Those conversations have happened behind the scenes but will be decided later,” he said. 

Right now, though, the Bonnies have one goal in mind.

“We want to win our conference championship and make a run in the NCAA tournament.”