photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By: Anthony Goss
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — “The Reilly Center, there’s nothing like it,” St. Bonaventure men’s basketball coach Mark Schmidt said.
He and his nationally ranked Bonnies welcome back fans to the Reilly Center in Tuesday’s season opener against Siena after a successful season playing in front of empty seats.
But besides the return of fans and the unveiling of an A-10 championship banner and rings provides one more chance for the Bonnies to reminisce on one of the best seasons in program history.
“Those kids deserve to have the banner raised and given out their rings,” Schmidt said.
After the celebration though, Bona’s turns their full attention to reigning MAAC champion Siena Saints. The teams renew their rivalry in a battle traditionally known as the Franciscan Cup.
Though the Bonnies’ expectations are lustrous, they have lost their last three home-openers with fans present.
They also lost their previous matchup with Siena 78-65 in 2019.
“There’s only a rivalry because both teams have won and both teams have lost,” Schmidt said. “There’s no rivalry if one team has dominated the other.”
In the Bonnies’ exhibition against Alfred on Thursday, redshirt sophomore Linton Brown and redshirt freshman Quadry Adams led the way with 19 and 13 points, respectively. While senior guards Kyle Lofton and Jalen Adaway remain game-time decisions, Bona’s will look to their newcomers to provide a spark.
“They just need to come in and play their role,” Schmidt said. “If they play to their strengths, I think they’re good enough players to help us this year.”
Siena will rely on newcomers of their own. Anthony Gaines, a former four-star recruit, boasts top-line athleticism and transfers Jayce Johnson and Colby Rodgers both look for bigger roles on head coach Carmen Maciariello’s squad.
But the Saints’ most dangerous weapon roams the paint, and his name is Jackson Stormo. He returns for his senior year after a breakout season, averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds.
The Bonnies must attempt to slow Stromo while simultaneously accounting for the new talent without a lot of film to prepare them.
“They’re really good players. We know what those guys can do. The question is can we stop them?” Schmidt said.
Schmidt has tried to prepare them as best as possible, despite the lack of film on Siena’s newer players.
“Every season opener is the same way. You don’t know what they’re gonna run, you don’t have tape,” Schmidt said. “You really try to take care of yourself and prepare the best you can.”
Schmidt expects his team’s national ranking to become an afterthought come tip off.
“When the game starts, Siena doesn’t care if we’re ranked twenty-third,” Schmidt said. “We’re gonna go out and play like we play all the time with a chip on our shoulder. We’re gonna play hard.”