photo courtesy of Atlantic 10 conference
By Jeff Uveino & Noah Fleischman
ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The last time the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team played in the Atlantic 10 championship game, it was SBU’s third game in as many days.
This year, due to scheduling changes, the Bonnies must navigate an eight-day gap in between the tournament’s semifinals and final. How will that impact the team’s preparedness?
“We’ll see,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said.
The top-seeded Bonnies will play No. 2 VCU on Sunday at University of Dayton Arena. Despite an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and SBU’s second A-10 championship in program history on the line, it’s business as usual for Schmidt’s side leading up to the final.
“We go about it just like we usually do,” Schmidt said. “If we had a week off, and we have weeks off during the season with the bye week, we approach it like that. Give our guys a couple days off and don’t go crazy in practice and try to build so we’re at our peak on Sunday at 1 o’clock.”
After back-to-back wins over No. 9 Duquesne and No. 4 Saint Louis on Friday and Saturday to advance to the final, Schmidt said that his team took Sunday and Monday off. A light Tuesday practice preceded a Wednesday practice in which the Bonnies will “ramp it up” for the rest of the week, Schmidt said.
“We don’t want to win the practices, we want to win the game on Sunday,” Schmidt said. “You’ve got to be careful, it’s late in the season, you don’t go long with practice. You try to make sure we know what we’re going to do against VCU and how we’re going to guard them and so forth, but you be careful that you don’t wear our guys out.”
For VCU, the eight days in between the two games was the best case scenario. Head coach Mike Rhoades said his team spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday rehabbing injuries in the training room with athletic trainer Dennis Williams.
“I feel as though it can help us rejuvenate,” sophomore guard Bones Hyland said of the gap between the semifinal and championship.
The Rams were dealing with injuries during the A-10 tournament in Richmond, including Hyland returning from a foot sprain. Junior forward Vince Williams exited VCU’s quarterfinal game against No. 7 Dayton with back spasms, but played in the semifinal game against No. 4 Davidson.
Rhoades said the team prepared for St. Bonaventure during the week, but they also remained focused on getting healthy.
Each team seeks its second A-10 championship in school history, as VCU has amassed a 1-4 record in A-10 finals while SBU has gone 1-3.
The Bonnies and Rams are scheduled to tip-off at UD Arena at 1 p.m. Sunday in a game that will be broadcasted on CBS.