(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
It will be lights, camera, action at the Barclays Center on Friday night.
The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team’s Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinal matchup against Davidson in Brooklyn has a prime 9 p.m. start time. It’s a fitting time slot for a regular season co-champion that has captivated the conference by exceeding expectations and playing exciting ball.
The Bona community doesn’t want to miss out on its team’s run, and that support has contributed to a Barclays Center A-10 first.
Lower-level tickets to Friday night’s session, which also includes the UMass-VCU game at 6:30, sold out around 10 p.m. on Thursday. The upper sections of the arena will be opening up for the first time in the four years Brooklyn has hosted the tournament. Since fans of SBU and VCU knew for weeks that their teams would be starting the tournament on Friday, they were able to plan ahead and purchase seats in record numbers.
On Monday, the SBU ticket office made 150 student tickets available for Friday’s game. Those tickets, located in Bona’s designated student section, sold out in three hours. The ticket office secured 96 more seats for Section 17, which will be available first-come, first-serve at the Barclays Center starting at 5:30.
Senior guard Marcus Posley, who is averaging 29 points and shooting 71 percent from the floor in the last three games, knows the fans could provide a lift.
“We definitely have the craziest fans out of everybody; we’ll probably have the most, too, out of any school in the A-10,” Posley said. “It’ll be a special moment for us, it’ll be special for the university. We just plan on continuing and just keep going forward, keep making this year special.”
Davidson was Bona’s first Atlantic 10 opponent of the season back on Jan. 2. The brown and white showed some major offensive firepower in that 97-85 win, including 30 from Jaylen Adams, 19 from Posley and 13 from Denzel Gregg. Dion Wright and Derrick Woods also scored in double-figures, with 12 and 11, respectively.
SBU started the A-10 slate strong, with victories in its first four league games, and has finished strong, winning 10 of its last 11 games. It would be easy to be concerned with a game against Jack Gibbs, the third-leading scorer in Division I, looming, but Bona is going into the tournament loose and focused.
“The team that is playing with confidence, the team that is loose, that’s the team that has the best chance of winning,” said Schmidt. “When you go in and you play tight and you’re playing not to win, you’re playing not to lose, that will get you in trouble.”
“No moment’s too big; I think that’s the biggest thing,” said Gregg. “We’ve been in a lot of close games and we’ve always found ways to win.”
Bona Nation will be there to bring the noise, as evidenced by an Intrepid Twitter poll with the simple question, “Are you going to Brooklyn?” 54 percent of participants said “yes” to being there on Friday night, with 32 percent of them students and 22 percent of them alumni. 22 percent said they would be there if the team made it to Saturday’s semifinal and/or Sunday’s final, while only 24 percent (about 18 people) said they will not be there at all.
“We’ll have tremendous support. I wish I could go to some of those pre-game parties, but I was told it wasn’t allowed,” Schmidt joked. “If we lose, it’s not gonna be because the Bonaventure people didn’t show up. It’s gonna be a tremendous atmosphere and (with the start time at) 9:00 at night, the Bonaventure alums and fans will be out all day, and they’ll be ready to go at 9:00.”
While most mock NCAA Tournaments have the Bonnies in the field as virtual locks, the goal is clear for Schmidt and co. this weekend: to leave no doubt.
“We want to have destiny in our hands,” he said. “We don’t want someone to have to select us; we want to have an automatic bid. So forget about the NCAA Tournament, we want to go win the Atlantic 10, and if we win the Atlantic 10 that takes care of itself.”