By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
Tom Petty said it best when he sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.” Any follower of St. Bonaventure basketball who was expecting the men’s non-conference schedule to be released last month can relate to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.
August is coming to a close, school is about to be in session and there has still yet to be a press release announcing the first half of the Bonnies’ schedule. Athletic director Tim Kenney said on July 23 that Bona had one more game to secure, so the athletic department may have hit a snag in finding that final opponent.
The schedule may be incomplete, but we can piece most of it together through official announcements by other schools and traditional matchups that are expected to continue.
Here’s what we know about the schedule so far:
The annual exhibition against Mansfield is back on this year, with the Mountaineers’ 2015-16 schedule slating the game for Saturday, Nov. 7. The time has not been announced, but fans can expect a 4 p.m. start, the second part of a doubleheader with the women’s team, which plays Edinboro at 1:30 p.m.
As we reported last month, the men’s and women’s teams will officially open the season on Nov. 13 with a doubleheader at the Reilly Center. The women will play their first game of the preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) at 5:30 p.m. against the Siena Saints, followed by the men’s team facing Binghamton at 8 p.m. The doubleheader has been confirmed by the Bona women’s schedule and the Binghamton men’s schedule.
CBS Sports reported in May that Bonaventure will head to Syracuse on Nov. 17 to face the Orange at the Carrier Dome. Neither school has officially announced the matchup yet, but Syracuse.com’s article with Bonaventure forward and Syracuse native Denzel Gregg confirms it’s a done deal. Orange coach Jim Boeheim will be on the sidelines for the matchup, as his nine-game suspension handed down by the NCAA only applies to ACC contests.
After the Syracuse game, the Bonnies will return home to play Loyola Maryland on Nov. 21, according to Loyola’s official schedule. Bona has never played the Greyhounds, who compete in the Patriot League.
The annual Bonaventure-Canisius rivalry game is slated for Nov. 24 at Koessler Athletic Center in Buffalo, according to Canisius’s schedule. The Bonnies lost by three the last time they traveled to Canisius, but they’ve defeated the Golden Griffins the past two seasons.
The Hofstra Pride announced that they will come to Bona on Nov. 28, which is the Saturday of Thanksgiving break. The game will be the first meeting between the two teams since 1992, but Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich is very familiar with the Reilly Center confines after 15 seasons at Niagara. Mihalich went 8-6 against SBU while he was the head coach of the Purple Eagles.
The America East powerhouse Vermont Catamounts, who have made seven straight postseason appearances dating back to 2009, announced last month that they will visit the Reilly Center on Dec. 8. The Catamounts are another first-time team on Bonaventure’s schedule.
The fourth school that is confirmed to be making their first trip to the southern tier is South Carolina State, who the Bonnies will host on Dec. 19. The Bulldogs and Bonnies have one thing in common: their respective schools have been going through significant financial turmoil. South Carolina State, South Carolina’s only HBCU (historically black college/university), declared financial exigency in June. Exigency is the academic equivalent of bankruptcy, and while the school avoided a forced closure, it is on probation. Bona may be one of the last opponents SCSU ever faces.
The traditional Franciscan Cup matchup between Bonaventure and Siena will be held on Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. in Albany, N.Y., as Siena announced last month. The Saints have defeated the Bonnies the past two seasons.
That leaves three non-conference games that are not yet official. Unless some unforeseen discrepancy occurs, Big Four rivals Buffalo and Niagara will fill two of those slots. The Bonnies have faced UB each of the last five seasons and battled Niagara each of the last 12.
One of the reasons we don’t know the dates for these two games is that until a couple weeks ago, Bonaventure, UB, Niagara and Canisius were trying to negotiate another Big 4 Classic at the First Niagara Center. After last year’s doubleheader, which drew 7,191 fans, coach Mark Schmidt expressed interest in making it an annual event. “This could be an annual thing that could be good for Western New York,” Schmidt said.
The schools could not come to an agreement for a 2015 event, however. An event like the Big 4 Classic is a great way to showcase the Buffalo-area schools, but giving up a home game to play at a neutral site was something the programs were ultimately reluctant to do. Bona will still be playing Buffalo and Niagara, but they will be doing so on the road and at home, respectively.
Only one game is truly up in the air at this point. The mystery opponent is anyone’s guess, but Ohio is a possibility. The Bobcats haven’t released their non-conference schedule either, and they have played the Bonnies four times in the last nine seasons. Bona won last year’s matchup on the road, 80-70.
Bonaventure’s non-conference schedule isn’t official yet, but the majority of the games are. Besides the mystery opponent, we know who the team will play in November and December.
Here’s the list view:
Friday Nov. 13 v.s. Binghamton
Tuesday Nov. 17 at Syracuse
Saturday Nov. 21 v.s. Loyola MD
Tuesday Nov. 24 at Canisius
Saturday Nov. 28 v.s. Hofstra
Tuesday Dec. 8 v.s. Vermont
Saturday Dec. 19 v.s. South Carolina State
Tuesday Dec. 22 at Siena
TBA: at Buffalo, v.s. Niagara
One unknown opponent