Column: Wright and Posley had impactful, unforgettable SBU careers

(Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Sometimes in sports, the sounds are a major accompaniment to our memories.

When Bonnies senior forward Dion Wright made a layup to cut the Wagner lead to just three points at the 3:57 mark in last Wednesday night’s NIT game, the Reilly Center crowd went into a frenzy. Likewise with guard Marcus Posley’s deep, desperation three to bring the deficit back to three with a second left.

The RC crowd was fantastic in the last game of the season, but another sound was also prevalent after those made baskets, for the final time: public address announcer Adam Bennett’s calls of “Dion Wrrrrright” and “Three! Marcus Pooooosley.”

Wright’s name was called after a made basket 246 times in his home (or Blue Cross Arena) career, while Posley’s was called 191 times. The announcements became less like mandatory PA duties and more like a soundtrack to the last few years of Bona basketball.

Coaches always talk about focusing on the “knowns,” the players whose talents they are already well aware about. Wright’s rise from unknown to known was perhaps the best example of Bona coach Mark Schmidt’s method of player development.

Wright played high school ball at powerhouse Mayfair High School, Josh Childress’s alma mater, but Bonaventure was his only Division I scholarship offer. The Carson, Calif. native was his district’s player of the year his senior year and started for the Compton Magic, one of the top AAU teams in the country, but every college in the 2,539-mile radius from Los Angeles to Olean passed on him.

Schmidt’s eye for talent paid off, as Wright became the 24th player in program history to score 1,000 or more career points and grab 500 or more career rebounds. He also led the Atlantic 10 conference in double-doubles this season with 14.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better finisher around the rim in recent memory than the 6-foot-7 sociology major with unorthodox yet successful post moves. Schmidt said on numerous occasions that he didn’t think Wright knew exactly what a skyhook was, but he didn’t care as long as the ball went in the basket.

By the end of his career, however, he was much more than a dominating low post presence. Fans were amazed in last year’s quarterfinal game against Dayton, when he introduced his three-point range to the college basketball world for the first time. He made his first 10 baskets, including four threes, as part of a 24-point effort, nearly willing Bona to victory before it fell 75-71.

That added threat helped stretch the floor, making the Bonnies a better offensive team. He made 24 triples this season and kept opponents a lot more honest defensively.

It’s disappointing that the other A-10 coaches, who watched Wright put up 15 to 20 points and corrall eight to ten rebounds against their teams every night, never acknowledged his skill with a spot on the All-Atlantic 10 teams. Whether preseason or postseason, he never got the respect outside of Bonaventure that he truly deserved, always snubbed instead.

The omissions angered many who follow Bonaventure basketball, and rightfully so; his numbers matched up closely with A-10 Player of the Year DeAndre Bembry’s stats this year.

But Wright didn’t care about the accolades or attention; he cared about winning, and he did a lot of it his last two seasons. That unselfish, team-first attitude was present from the start of his career and only improved as he became a leader in his junior and senior years.

Wright’s Bona legacy is not one to sneeze at: he was a player who made the most of his potential by maintaining a tremendous work ethic and buying into the coaching staff’s system. The Bonnies can also use his career in their recruiting pitches: if prospective players work as hard as he did, they could become great individual players and help the team win like he did.

Posley only played at Bona for two seasons after playing for Ball State and Indian Hills Community College his freshman and sophomore years. But with all of his accomplishments and the incredible moments he created, it felt like he was here for five.

The stat that jumps out right away is his SBU point total: 1,126. Only four other players in school history reached the 1,000-point plateau in their first two years: Bob Lanier, Tom Stith, Fred Crawford and Glenn Price.

Lanier, Stith and Crawford have their numbers retired in the Reilly Center rafters. Posley’s No. 3 should be up there someday as well.

In addition to his prolific scoring (he finished second in the A-10 in points per game this year), the Rockford, Ill. native was a warrior, especially in his senior year. Despite nagging hip and knee issues throughout the 2015-16 season, only backcourt mate Jaylen Adams and La Salle’s Jordan Price averaged more minutes a game than his 37.2.

No matter how many times he was hobbled and forced to limp up and down the court or exit for a spell to get examined by trainer Christopher Hobler, Posley battled. He knew how valuable he was to the team, so he pushed himself through the pain. Playing 37 minutes a game over the course of a season is a remarkable accomplishment, especially considering how banged up he was most of the year.

His numbers were incredible, but the clutch moments Posley created will go down in Bonaventure lore.

The heroics started on Jan. 22, 2015, when the then-junior scored 12 points in the last 2:35 of regulation to lead the Bonnies’ comeback from an 11-point deficit against Duquesne. They continued the next week, when he hit game-winners at Davidson on Feb. 4 and against No. 18 VCU three days later.

The big-time shots in crunch time continued this season, when a critical win at Buffalo on Dec. 2 was capped by a Posley game-winner with 10 seconds left. The shot ended a six-minute scoring drought and was part of another Big Four sweep of UB, Canisius and Niagara.

The most historic game, however, was Posley’s last in Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena on March 2 against St. Joe’s. A 29-point second half powered a 47-point night in a 98-90 win over the Hawks. He was red-hot all night, hitting six threes and going 15-of-19 overall from the floor. It remains the highest point total for a D-I player this season.

“MP3” is a standout on the court, but he has also been a role model off it. He played a part in many of Bona’s efforts in the Olean and Allegany communities, taking time to visit elementary schools and talk to the young students. He is also featured in the university’s most recent commercial, telling prospective students, “Don’t come here just to get a degree.”

The two seniors took different paths to joining the Bona family and making history on the first-ever A-10 regular season championship team. At the end, however, they’ll go down as two of the greatest to put on the brown and white uniform. They’ll be hard to replace and even harder for fans to forget.

 

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