The Top Ten Rap Artists of the Decade

By: Akim Hudson

Disclaimer: The term “best” is subjective, so if you disagree with the list, it is completely expected and justified. Also, the list is in no order and has nothing to do with skill and everything to do with influence on the culture of hip-hop. 

  1. Drake

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    PC:Billboard
  • In 2009, Drake made everyone aware that he wasn’t emerging, but he was here. His critically acclaimed mixtape, So Far Gone, was the beginning of Drake’s mainstream career. After the release of that mixtape, there was no looking back for Drizzy. Throughout this decade he released an array of albums that all have went platinum within days upon its release. Drake exudes an aura much greater than being a rapper, in fact, he was one of the originators of the era of rap singing. Drake is a true hybrid and became a household name, his fame and notoriety are ubiquitous, and is clearly a top ten rapper of this decade.  

Notable Discography: Take Care (2011, Grammy Award for Best Rap Album of the Year), Nothing Was The Same (2013, Grammy Nominated), If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (2015, Grammy Award for Best Rap Album of the Year).  

  1. Kendrick Lamar 

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    PC:Forbes
  • The one and only King Kendrick, Kung-Fu Kenny, a true wordsmith whose pen is unmatched by many rappers,not just of his era, but all time. In 2011, Lamar released the mixtape, Section.80. with tracks that indicated the motifs of the rest of his discography up to date. Lamar, with Aftermath Records by Dr. Dre released his debut album, good kid m.A.A.d city. With tracks like “Sing About Me”, “I’m Dying of Thirst” that detailed the multifaceted institutionalization of Black people within the United States. It was an instant classic that consists of little to no skips, each track potent in great diction, multiple perspectives, subjectivity, and vulnerability. In 2015, Lamar went on to drop To Pimp A Butterfly. This is my personal favorite K. Dot album. He described it as an album to lift the black artists and not the whack artist. TPAB was one of the more intricate albums of its time, along with each track is snippets of a poem that Lamar wrote, that concludes after the final track “Mortal Man”, in which he had a discourse about revolution and reform, Marxism-like reflections on socioeconomics with the late great Tupac Shakur. His last release came in 2017, the Pulitzer Prize winning album, DAMN. Not much to say about this masterpiece. A detailed introspection of oneself again, an insightful elaboration about the trauma of blacks in the United States, and so forth. Lamar is amongst the most respected in hip-hop history and has many years of dominance left in the tank.  
  • Notable Discography: good kid m.A.A.d city  (2011, Grammy Nominated for Rap Album of the Year, Grammy Nominated for Album of the Year), To Pimp A Butterfly (2015, Grammy Award for Best Rap Album), DAMN. (2017, Pulitzer Prize winner, Grammy Award for Best Rap Album).  
  1. J. Cole

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    PC: Billboard
  • The one and only Jermaine Cole, perhaps the most vulnerable, versatile, and one of two skilled rappers of his era, yet criminally underrated. To be honest, although he is my favorite rapper out now. Cole starts the decade with Cole World: The Sideline Story in 2011. Ambition was the main theme of this album, and the audience can feel the young bright-eyed ambition of Cole on the majority of tracks on this album. By 2013, Cole released my favorite, Born Sinner which was really Cole’s coming out party. That chip on his shoulder grew bigger, Cole was ready to wage war with the legends with this release. Cole and Lamar’s comparisons were one of the biggest enigmas of the decade to me. They go hand and hand, but Lamar only had more accolade than Cole. The amazing feature that Cole accomplished this decade, was three consecutive platinum selling albums with no features, but he had nothing to show for this amazing feat. Cole was snubbed every year from winning a Grammy. He has a chance to win a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album with his collaboration album, Revenge Of The Dreamers III. Cole is amongst the best rappers of the decade due to his ability to do everything your favorite rapper can do, but just a bit better.  

Notable Discography: Born Sinner(2013), 2014 Forest Hills Drive(2014), 4 Your Eyez Only (2016), KOD(2018).  

  1. Meek Mill

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    PC:CNN
  • King of Philly, Meek Milly. More than likely faced the most adversity than any other rapper this decade, but that isn’t why he is amongst the top ten. Meek Mill is from humble beginnings, but always divulges “f*ck being humble”, due to how everyone turned their back on him during his times of somber and melancholy. In 2011, Meek Mill lands a hit single “I’m A Boss” featuring his record label owner, Rick Ross. Along with “I’m A Boss”, drops Dreamchasers, one of four fan favorite mixtapes which gave hip-hop fans the nostalgia of gangsta rap from the 90’s and 2000’s. Then fans got a double whammy, Dreamchasers 2 and “Dreams and Nightmares” both released within 2012. The intro to “Dreams and Nightmares” is still Meek’s anthem and perhaps song of the decade. Meek’s legal issues is the highlight of his career, going in and out of jail frequently throughout the decade, each time dropping quality music upon his release. The most notable album upon his release was Championships, the 2018 release has been revered by the masses as his best album, hence why it is Grammy nominated. Since Meek’s release he has become the poster child for prison reform and unjust incarceration. Meek is on a roll still and has shown no signs of slowing down. We all love an underdog, and hope Meek can continue to stay on track.

Notable Discography: DC4 (2016), Dreamchasers(2011), Dreamchasers 2(2012), Dreamchasers 3(2014), Dreams and Nightmares(2012), Dreams Worth More Than Money(2015), Wins and Losses(2017), Championships(2018) 

  1. Nicki Minaj
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    PC: Billboard
  • The Barbie herself, perhaps the most dominant female figure in hip-hop history. Minaj came to fame under Young Money by Lil Wayne. Her debut, Pink Friday won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, on her debut she earned a Grammy, impressive for anyone, but since there hasn’t been a woman in hip-hop history to accomplish such a feat adds on to the magnitude of the highest merit in music. Her album sales are the highest of any female in hip-hop history as well, 100 million units overall. Some may believe she is the greatest female emcee, I beg to differ, I say MC Lyte, but that’s a different discussion for a different time. The Barbie started a wave that produced talents such as Cardi B, who now has the torch.  

Notable Discography: Pink Friday, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, Pinkprint.  

  1. Future

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    PC:Pitchfork
  • Hendrix, the father of all mumble rapping, Percocet popping, lean sipping, dread headed trap rappers. Only thing I need to discuss in Future’s decade, was his undefeated run, lasting from 2014-2018. Look at the discography in that span, Honest (2014), Monster (2015), 56 Nights (2015), Beast Mode( 2015), Dirty Sprite 2 (2015), What A Time To Be Alive (2015), Purple Reign (2016),  Evol (2016), FUTURE (2017), HENDRXX (2017). This sort of eminence speaks for itself.  
  1. Chief Keef
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    PC: NBC News 
  • Chief Sosa, The Godfather of drill music. Straight out of Chicago, Keef birthed a new genre of hip hop. On the surface, the subject matter may be the same as the typical gangsta rap, but this was more of a gang banging type of rap. a Rap derived from the gang culture within Southside Chicago. 2012 Keef blew up and took the rap game by storm. He opened the door for G Herbo, Lil Durk, Lil Bibby, Lil Reese, and other Chicago rappers of the modern day. 

Notable Discography: Finally Rich(2012) 

     8. Lil Uzi Vert

iHeartRadio Music Festival, Daytime Village, Las Vegas, USA - 22 Sep 2018
PC: Rolling Stone 
  • There wasn’t anywhere you can go in the summer of 2016 where you didn’t hear Uzi knocking from someone’s speaker. Luv is Rage had everyone in a frenzy, his melodic flow of music is irresistible to dance and vibe to. The magnitude of Uzi’s star power was utterly ridiculous. When he was going through label issues, millions of people were in anticipation of a “Free Uzi”. Anytime he released a new song the masses would be enthralled just from his presence alone. I consider Uzi to be a predecessor to Future and Young Thug. 2020 should be a good year for Uzi, gaining momentum from his latest release “Futsal Shuffle 2020”.  

Notable Discography: Luv Is Rage, Luv Is Rage 2, Uzi vs. The World, The Perfect Luv Tape 

  1. Kanye West 
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    PC: Billboard
  • Yeezy is a top five producer ever, and one of the greatest musical geniuses ever. To kick the decade off, Ye dropped My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, arguably album of the decade. Literally with no skips, great production, lyrics and subject matter. Yeezy himself may not have directly dominated the 2010’s, but his eminence did. He influenced every facet of hip-hop from production and auto-tune, to fashion and subject matter. Not to mention that he released The Life of Pablo, Watch The Throne, Cruel Summer, Ye, and produced many hits this decade. I didn’t like Yeezus, but it has been believed to be one of his better albums. Ye will continue his legendary career in the next decade.

Notable Discography: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), Yeezus (2013), The Life of Pablo (2016), Jesus Is King (2019).  

  1. Tyler, The Creator

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    PC:Pitchfork
  • Tyler, The  He bolstered emo rap into the mainstream audience early on in his career, bringing a no holds barred style of authenticity. His subject matter was matched by no other and was fairly controversial at one point in his career. In his debut album, Goblin in 2011 detailing the dark introspective thoughts of Tyler. He was rather explosive and quarrelsome, with his“horror core” style of music. But he would evolve into a vulnerable and romantic type. His two latest releases, Flower Boy and IGOR, depicted the growth of Tyler, and IGOR is Grammy nominated. His musical genius is only expanding and gaining fortitude and versatility. He created Odd Future, and empire that fell apart but in its prime was in a class of their own and have been dubbed the modern-day Wu-Tang. Tyler is still very young and will continue to drop classics.  

Notable Discography: Goblin (2011), Wolf (2013), Cherry Bomb (2015), Flower Boy (2017), IGOR (2019).  

 

Honorable Mention: A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, Young Thug, 21 Savage, Pusha T, Jay-Z, Chance The Rapper, Migos (disqualifies because they are a group), Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka Flame, Kodak Black, Freddie Gibbs, A Boogie, Tory Lanez.  

 

Monday Motivations

By: Matt Stasiw

First year student?  Transfer?  Graduate student?  Whatever the case might be, adjusting into the college life can be a difficult task. If the first month was challenging, here are a few tips to gain more control comfort.

 

GET ORGANIZED

Handling a new schedule can be hard.  Even more so when trying to balance sports, clubs, and social time into the mix.

 

Utilizing a calendar, a planner, or even the note app on your phone can be dramatically helpful.

 

When dealing with assignments, try to check on things a week in advance.  Doing this task on a weekend is more beneficial.  Write down a specific day when there will be enough time to do work.  Be sure check them off as they are completed.

 

Writing down specific times when to eat, go to the library, or even to take a nap can be very improving as well.

 

Everyone’s schedule is very different, so being self-aware of the individualities will lead to success.

 

MAKE FRIENDS

No matter what year someone is in, everyone is trying to fit in somewhere.  Not only is it important to make these friends to feel comfortable, but it is important these friends match personal values.

 

Every time a step is taken outside the dorm, a new opportunity arises to meet someone new.  Be sure to take advantage of the possible connections that could be made.  Maybe that person could be a best friend for life or a future boss.

 

Don’t be the person to wait for friends to come to you.  It can be a hard time adjusting to college when you have no one to talk to.

 

CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF

Between homework, sleeping, and trying to fit in, it might be hard to find time to breath.  Be sure to use some time to think about emotional and physical health.

 

Be sure to find time to eat.  A lot of people don’t realize the importance a good meal can have on your energy and performance.  Waking up late for breakfast will of course happen but be sure to put some fuel in the body.

 

If needed, talk to someone about problems.  The school has numerous advisors and support systems available.  Reaching out when needed is an action that anyone can take advantage of.

 

Finally, take some alone time.  Do whatever is needed to get refocused, and to ask yourself how you are doing.  Other people can see a picture from the outside, but only the individual will know what is happening within.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Every person needs to get readjusted back to college.  Don’t think that you might be the only one having troubles.  No one is alone.  Take these tips into consideration to reduce the daily stress.

 

 

 

“Hollywood’s Bleeding” has new twists that will excite listeners

By: Matthew Stasiw

Post Malone’s new album, “Hollywood’s Bleeding”, brings an exciting-new mix to the table, and reveals more about his lifestyle than ever before.

The album has been long awaited by fans and critics alike.  With the teaser songs of “Wow.”, “Sunflower”, “Goodbyes”, and “Circles” sparking interest in what was to come next, Post Malone delivered. The new songs on the album bring back everything fans were craving to hear.

It’s obvious Post Malone incorporated a new vibe into this album.  When listening to the songs, a higher focus in instrumental reinforcement and a classic OG feel makes every song a rock session. For example, “Take What You Want” proves Post can master any genre of music.  By featuring Ozzy Obourne and Travis Scott together, fans get the collaboration we never knew we needed.  A classic rock feel and sick guitar solo will have anyone jamming in the car.

“Staring At The Sun”, “Circles”, “Allergic”, and “Sunflower” takes the slower pace in just the right way to deliver a more classic pop vibe.  Post Malone’s roots of inspiration flourished throughout the album.

Fans might also find themselves respecting Post’s new attitude.  Through songs such as “Enemies”, “Saint-Tropez”, “I’m Gonna Be”, “Myself”, “Internet”, and “A Thousand Bad Times” Post seems to understand where he is in life.  Instead of dwelling in past depressions, like the songs of “I Fall Apart” and “Stay” in previous albums, Post throws the sadness behind him and is now looking forward.  Upon examining the lyrics, Post knows he can no longer deal with the drama in life.  He knows he is talented at what he does, and he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about him.  It’s clear he had a fun time making this album, and he did it for himself.

When looking for songs to vibe to in the car with be sure to make “Enemies”, “Allergic”, “Circles”, “Take What You Want”, and “Staring At The Sun” the top five songs to add to any playlist.

What more can be said about this album?  Besides the fact that it’s a 12/10, nothing much.  Post Malone truly delivered with this new album, and he gave the fans what they were looking for.  Name one bad song by Post Malone.  Trick question, you can’t.

Before you hit the panic button…

By: Isaiah Blakely 

The sports world tends to hit the “panic button” early on in the season, no matter the sport.

This year the Golden State Warriors were questioned early on when they were in third place almost 25 games into the season.

Super Bowl Champion New England was behind the Miami in the division going into Week 5 and there were questions being asked about they would fare this season.

Well the Warriors just clinched the one-seed in the NBA’s Western Conference again and the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl.

The new team to be questioned is the defending champion Boston Red Sox who are 5-9 are and near the bottom of the AL East. With a slow start comes immediate questions of what’s wrong with the team.

What if there’s nothing really wrong with the Red Sox, or the Patriots or the Warriors? Great teams figure it out. Sure the Red Sox have holes especially in their bullpen, but can we hold off on asking questions about what’s wrong with a team this early in the season?

On this date last year the Red Sox were having a hot start at 8-1. But there were some other teams that were playing great baseball in April as well. The Toronto Blue Jays (6-4), Los Angeles Angels (7-3), New York Mets (7-1), Pittsburgh Pirates (7-2) and Arizona Diamondbacks (7-2).

None of those teams made the playoffs and they all started with a .600 winning percentage or better. In the Pirates and Diamondbacks cases they were top of the division halfway through May and still missed the playoffs.

Today we live in a world of instant results because of technology. But when it comes to sports, people including myself, need to relax and let the process play out.

That’s what playing a professional sport is…. A long process starting in the offseason with a goal to win a championship.

People just ignore the process and are quick to tear down a player and or a team.

The Patriots are a prime example. Tom Brady has been “declining” according to several talking heads on networks such as ESPN and Fox Sports 1 for years. That declining quarterback has led the Patriots to the Super Bowl four of the last five years including winning three.

People are also too quick to crown teams.

This year’s Los Angeles Lakers for a lot of people including myself were an easy playoff team. Halfway through December they were a game out of third place. Then poor play and injuries derailed their season. In reality though, a team made up of guys not known for their defense or their ability to shoot the three very well should have never been considered a high seed. But we all bought into the LeBron James hype and were all very wrong as the Lakers didn’t even eclipse 40 wins this year.

Even in the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres were top of league and on a 10-game win streak in late November. It appeared this was going to be the year the Sabres finally return to the playoffs. Instead the only thing that returned was dysfunction and poor play. That led the Sabres to finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 76 points.

Early season performances aren’t completely pointless but it’s not always an indicator of a team’s future success. At this point it’s getting ridiculous. Media people are just making knee-jerk reactions to get the most views or clicks on an article.

If a surprise team is over-performing, you have to take a look at how its winning and decide whether you believe that’s a realistic and sustainable way to be successful.

It’s rare that a talented group, especially a defending champion, has such a big problem the next year that can’t be fixed over the course of a season. That’s what makes a team great, its ability to adjust and overcome adversity.

I’m not saying no more “hot takes”. I enjoy the “Monday Morning Quarterback” type takes just like everyone else. But before we hit the panic button on the Red Sox in April or question if the Patriots dynasty is over hold off another week and save the panicking for everyone else.

 

 

 

 

Opinion: The firing of DJ Durkin couldn’t come soon enough

By: Isaiah Blakely 

Maryland’s decision to fire former head coach DJ Durkin over his mishandling of Jordan McNair’s death was the right decision, but the decision took too long. Maryland Terrapins head football coach was fired on Wednesday, a day after Maryland officials reinstated him.

Durkin had been on paid administrative leave since August 11. Maryland University had taken responsibility in early August and at that point you must fire the head coach. They fired strength and conditioning coach Rick Court the same day they took responsibility for McNair’s death. That was the correct decision, but to not fire Durkin as well does not make sense. Durkin is the head coach and at the end of the day Durkin is the overseer of everyone on his staff which includes Court. An incident like this requires the man in charge to be fired.

Maryland had an opportunity to make the right decision back in August so they could clean house and make a timely responsible decision. Instead they let this incident cloud over their program for months. The athletic program and the school continued to look worse as more and more bad news broke.

An investigation was done by an external investigator, and in October the investigators found out that Maryland football had an abusive culture and a culture that lacked accountability. They found that Court used homophobic slurs and Durkin acknowledged that there was verbal abuse, but didn’t believe Court crossed any lines.

Durkin’s negligence and not seeing anything wrong should have been a sign that he needed to be fired. It’s not acceptable to run college football programs like this, and at what point did Maryland University think to just cut their losses and save some of their reputation for their athletic program and their university. Durkin is not a prestigious coach or even been super successful one in his short stint with the Terrapins. He had an 11-15 record in his two seasons, so the only reason for waiting to fire Durkin was financial.

I understand the initial hesitation to fire Durkin because he had $5.1 million left on his deal and firing him without cause resulted in the school owing him that money, but money can not always be the deciding factor especially in decisions like this.

The fact that Maryland reinstated Durkin after the investigation clearly stated that there were several problems with the culture of the football team, and the university was accountable for the death of McNair is lazy and unaware.

The Board of Regents ignored McNair’s parent’s pleas to fire Durkin for months. Then they finally caved to the outside pressure of student groups planning protests. Even state politicians got involved and condemned the board’s decision.

Maryland eventually made the right decision to fire Durkin, but there were several moments in the process where they could have fired him sooner. Maryland University chose to worry about their potential financial obligations to Durkin instead of their moral obligations to all their students and alumni.

Mac Miller: One of the Best Artists in the Game

By Meghan Hall

Contributing Writer

“RIP Mac Miller.” The sentence feels too hard to write, too surreal to be a phrase floating around on my Twitter timeline. Mac Miller really was one of those artists that grew with you and became part of life through good times and bad.

A wordsmith with his lyrics, Miller’s career truly took off at age 18 with his fourth mixtape, K.I.D.S.After the record put him on the map, his hip hop career soared, creating insightful, thought-provoking records that proved his ability to relate to an audience that stuck with him all the way through his latest release, Swimming.

His fanbase looked forward to the relatable, transparent records he produced. Showing his roots, his outlooks on life and his struggles, he bared his soul to a world that accepted it. Never ingenuine, always pushing forward, Miller’s music became better with time.

Unlike many artists, Miller’s need to succeed persevered and furthered his need to produce meaningful sound that would garner positive reactions and reviews. As we grew up, Miller grew with us, becoming more refined and always pushing to be the artist he’d dreamed of as a young Pittsburgh teen. The 2018 release Swimming proved Miller’s prowess. Leaps and bounds ahead of his initial albums, Swimming was a culmination of the untapped potential Miller had saved, yet he still relied on his roots.

Miller’s fanbase fell in love not only with his clever, eclectic music, but his reputation as the “nice guy” in an industry filled with iconic artists whose songs were a façade for their poor attitudes. Mac Miller was real. He was candid, open with his struggles, humble. He was human—the game now is filled with artists who enjoy the status of being “untouchable.” Miller never looked for that. Sure, his initial climb to fame was riddled with a bit of glory-seeking, but whose isn’t? Once Miller made it to the top, he stayed there gracefully, recognizing that all that he had could just as easily be taken away.

The fear of losing his status never seemed to bother him, though. His 2011 single “Donald Trump” was one of his top hits, one of his signature claims to fame. However, that didn’t stop him from voicing his opinions on Trump’s presidency. Recognizing the hatred and divide that Trump has caused this country, Miller shared his thoughts on the Trump administration without hesitation and without fear of what would come next. Miller easily could’ve lost some of his fanbase to the comments, but the thing about Miller was that candor came first.

Collaborating with countless other powerful artists inside the hip hop sphere, Mac Miller became a name that any rap fan knew, and knew well. Sure, not everyone liked Mac Miller’s tunes, and not everyone understood the important impact Miller had on the hip hop industry, but there was never a shortage of respect for Mac Miller.

When we remember Mac Miller, it’s hard to get over the fact that his life was cut short by drugs. Mac Miller fans, fellow rappers, music critics and casual hip hop listeners alike mourn his death and lament the fact that his enormous potential was severed so early.

But more than Miller’s drug addiction, it’s important to realize that in less than ten years, he changed the music industry forever. It’s important to remember the smile that persisted through the hard times. It’s important to recall the way he treated the world—with respect and love.

So today, I mourn Mac Miller. But I look forward to the recognition of his contribution to this world, in terms of music, and in terms of humanity. And so, although it still seems surreal to type these words… Rest in Peace, Mac. We’ll miss you.

Bonnies Media Alumnus Talk Men’s Basketball Past and Present

By Josh Svetz and Sean Lynch

Ryan Lazo – Former sports writer for the NY Post and currently a police officer in the NYPD

Mike Lindsley – Host of ML Sports Platter and owner/reporter for PinstripePassion.com

Mike Vaccaro –  Lead sports columnist for the New York Post

When did you graduate from Bonas?

Lazo: “I graduated from St. Bonaventure in 2013 and had the opportunity to watch the rise of the program in its infancy stages under Mark Schmidt.”

Lindsley: “2002.”

Vaccaro: “1989.”

Did you cover the team while in school?

Lazo: “Yes. I started to cover the team for The Intrepid during my junior year – which also coincided with the Bonnies’ last NCAA Tournament appearance. Pretty good fortune if you ask me. “

Lindsley:  “Covered them sophomore-senior years mostly but was on staff my freshman year for radio doing sports shows.  Was the WSBU sports director sophomore year. I did color for women’s basketball and was a reporter and was a staff guy.  Then sports director. I freelanced for the BV senior year.  Just an article here and there.  A little SBU TV senior year as a sports reporter.”

Vaccaro: “My junior year, I was an editor for the paper so I didn’t get to cover.  I should have said yes because I actually did cover the team my senior year. I had done my editor stuff as a junior so we were able to cover my senior year. I also spent two years with the Times Herald covering the team.”

Describe the experience of covering them?

Lazo: “It was a weird experience both personally and professionally. From a personal standpoint, I had to fight the inner urge to give the team a benefit of the doubt, hide my emotions on the sideline and allow myself to second-guess decisions made in the game instead of defending it as a fan would. Professionally, it was the best job I could have asked for.”

“Going into the 2011-2012 season, there was very high expectations for the Bona program. With Andrew Nicholson in his senior season, and a veteran team around him which included Demetrius Conger, Michael Davenport, Matthew Wright and Charlon Kloof, there was certainly promise. It was the team that had the star in Nicholson, a shutdown defender in both Kloof and Jordan Gathers, an outside shooting presence in Wright and a do-everything player in Conger.”

“It was a slow rise to prominence, not like it has been the last few years. This was a group that learned how to win slowly. They went through the warts in the previous seasons and then with all the pressure, they folded early on. The big loss was to Arkansas State at home. It was mind-numbing. But I believe that was the turning point. The team knew they had the talent and they just had to prove it. Boy, was it fun to watch.”

Lindsley: “It was simply incredible.  NCAA’s in 1999-2000.  Loved it.  Teams were good.  RC was rocking.  Almost beat Kentucky in the tourney. I think covering Division 1 sports really helped me for later in life. Every Bona hoops night was a holiday.”

Vaccaro: “As a student, the team wasn’t terrible my senior year. They were 13-15. Professionally it was a tremendous opportunity, but the coach got fired so Adrian (Wojnarowski) and I had gone to the local news stations and one of them had ended up picking up the story and crediting the BV. For learning how to break a news story; it was a great training ground.”

Who were the Jaylen Adams/Matt Mobley/Courtney Stockards of your team?

Lazo: “The Jaylen Adams from the 2012 tournament team is obviously Nicholson. The way he was able to take over any game and dominate any big was impressive. His footwork in the paint was second to none. He just made defenders look silly.”

“Courtney Stockard is very similar to Conger, which is what Schmidt said when he committed to Bonaventure. Stockard is probably a better defender, but Conger was better offensively. Both attacked the boards. Both could create for themselves and both just had the ability to do the dirty work.”

“The Matt Mobley of the group had to be Eric Mosley. This was the time where Mosley began to come off the bench as the scoring threat who could pile up points in a hurry. Mosley was a high-volume shooter, but nowhere near as efficient as Mobley has been.”

Lindsley: “Tim Winn.  Caswell Cyrus.  David Messiah Capers. All seniors.  What a trio. Capers made three free throws against Kentucky to send it to double OT.  I was losing my mind in Cleveland.  10 rows up center court.  Also had a special sophomore J.R. Bremer. Hit a shot against Temple on January 15, 2000.  From the corner. Loudest I’ve heard the RC.”

How does the team you saw then compare to now?

Lazo: “The team I see now versus then is one that is better. Don’t get me wrong, both teams had flaws, but this current team is in better shape to do more damage. Guards win games in college basketball. With both Adams and Mobley, the Bonnies can compete with just about anyone in the country. A dominant big man like Nicholson could be contained in the paint by halting delivery and forcing him outside. Teams can’t do that with Adams or Mobley.”

Lindsley: “Equally exciting but lots of basketball left this year to see if they can lap them.  1999-2000 team had guys more ready quicker.  Patricio Prato was a really good freshman. Bremer was basically a starter but just a Sophomore.  They were better from an IQ standpoint.  And better defensively.  Their win at home was Temple.  This year Rhode Island.  Pretty darn close.  But legacies at Bona are built by making the tournament because it’s so rare and so hard for this school.

“What’s crazy is the X-factors are so similar.  Courtney Stockard now. Vidal Messiah then.  Amazing role players. Inside and outside. Can shoot it.  Defense supreme.”

Vaccaro: “There is no comparison. Not just because they’re more successful, but this is a professional operation now. The Reilly Center is a division one facility now. When it’s game day and it’s on TV, it looks first rate. It’s not a glorified high school gym anymore. The game day operations are state of the art. It’s not even close to when I was a student. It was much simpler. The difference between what the culture has become under Schmidt compared to now, I don’t know if it’s fully understood. For 30 years we charmed the world with this small school on a shoestring budget and we were able to do that in the past until the ESPNs and big TV networks came along. Then, it was impossible to compete.”

If you would have asked me in 1991 if the Bonnies could stay competitive in division one basketball, I would have said there was no chance. And this was a time where the Atlantic-10 was just starting to send teams to the tournament. Temple was good, West Virginia was good. St. Joes was good, George Washington was a sleeping giant and then Calipari came later with UMass, but still, if you would have told me St. Bonaventure would be competitive ever again, I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have believed you more if you said it was going to be a division two program. But what Schmidt has done blows me away.”

“Any coach can get lucky and stumble into a great player once and make a run, like with Andrew Nicholson. For him to have done that and then created something better, it’s mind-blowing. As great as that run was six years ago, this team is better. What he’s done the last four years staggers me. Who knows when it’ll ever be this fun again. We have to savor the ride. It’s just two entirely different realities. I was covering a sputtering division one program that had no idea how to succeed and now you’re talking about a division one team that has a lot of success and culture. I’m excited to see what the team looks like in two years. There’s an administration in place that gets it.”

How would you compare the RC’s energy from then to now? Have some of the recent changes taken away from the experience?

Lazo: “The RC’s energy is certainly coming back, but that also comes with playing winning basketball. While students come and go, the Olean community has stayed with the team. They’ve had to sit through some dormant periods of basketball, but they are excited now and rightfully so. They’ve helped make the RC a tough place to play once again. Watching on National TV this season, the RC has shown itself to be a tough place to play with chants being heard clearly through the TV feed.”

Lindsley: “The RC is still epic.  I think one thing that has helped is the big video boards.  Lots of reaction from the locals. It makes THEM louder. You never worry about the students.  The seats don’t change it much.  We were louder though, kids. “

“All kidding aside. The RC is so special.  I’ve been down twice this year.  Last year I went down.  The year before I saw them beat VCU. My eyes water when I walk-in.  After HUGE wins as a student, I went back hours after the game and sat in the red seats up top at the RC by myself and stared at the court and just thought about what I saw. “

“I know that place is old. And I know it’s cramped, but man I mean it when I say they can’t ever get rid of it. I’m joking.  The RC is as loud as its ever been. Security is ridiculous by the way.  You can quote me on that one. I think if the locals stepped-up for the games like they did for the Davidson game.  It could be unreal. “

Vaccaro: “I was apart of the last gasp of the “old RC”, back when everyone was drunk, rowdy and could say whatever they want with no penalty. There were two home games against Temple where you couldn’t talk to the guy next to you. It was deafening. I still remember the 1991 game against Penn State. I thought the roof was going to come off. Even when the team wasn’t good, the students were still loud and so were the townies. The whole venue rocked. I get why people were upset about the seats, but it’s a business. It’s a school looking to make money and stay in business. If it diminishes the game experience by 1%, I think we have to live with that.”

“One difference I’ve seen is the student body. When I was in school, no one missed games. We had bigger numbers, but even if it was a game against Concordia tickets would be sold out. It’s not a bad thing. It speaks to the change in culture. St. Bonaventure used to be a school of all suburban white kids and of course we were going to see the game. Now, it’s more diverse, there’s more students with different interest. 1,800 students don’t have to care about the basketball team and I think it speaks to the influx of diversity. The enthusiasm is still there. It comes out even through the TV. Every student at the game is rocking. The reputation is still there. No one wants to come to Allegany, New York and play St. Bonaventure at the RC.”

Since you’re an alum, you’ve seen what happens when Bonas has successful teams, in terms of producing school funds, increased enrollment, athletic prestige, etc. What does a potential NCAA tournament berth do for Bonas?

Lazo: “As an alum, a tournament berth does help in certain aspects. Let’s be real, a tournament berth means more stories, more eyeballs and free publicity on St. Bonaventure. The more of that the institution has, the better. People want to go to places that look like students and alumni have a good time and have a closeness. When a high school student sees St. Bonaventure play in the tournament and they glance in the stands to see people of all ages gathered for this tiny school in Western New York, it means more than any commercial.”

Lindsley: “It’s everything.  It puts the little engine that could on the map again.  It changes the game.  At Bonas, usually,  there is a year here and there every 10-15 years where all your eggs are in one basket JUST to make the Big Dance.  17-18 is exactly that.

“Some people say ‘wow look what we do for a small school,’ when Bona wins.  Others say ‘Well, we are small and do our best,’ when SBU loses.  Doesn’t matter which way you look at it. This program making the tournament is like a power program making a Final Four because of the circumstances.  And Adams and Mobley and this group can create a serious legacy by making the Big Dance.  The 1999-2000 team did it.  Nicholson and his group did it.  Those are the amount Rushmore teams in SBU history.  Yes. That Lanier guy counts too. “

Vaccaro: “More than most of the schools that will get those bids. It’s an opportunity we don’t get most years. It will be helpful. There’s a reason why Bona’s has maintained a high-profile basketball team even when times were tough. Basketball is a marketing tool. It draws kids to the school. When someone like Woj is talking about Bonaventure on ESPN, it can only help. When I mention the Bonnies once or twice in the Post, that’s gotta help. Even when the alumni not in the media, like the CEO  of Delta tweets “Go Bonnies,” it all helps. It gets our name out there.”

“I wouldn’t have even known about St. Bonaventure if it wasn’t for basketball. I was a big St. John’s fan as a kid, growing up watching Chris Mullin. Bona’s played them and almost won. At the time I was thinking “What the hell’s a St. Bonaventure.” It’s funny because after that game I started looking into it and then I was looking at schools and almost went to Dayton, of all places. But, Bonaventure offered me a journalism scholarship and I liked it. It fit me. But it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for that game. Count me in as one of the kids that was introduced to St. Bonaventure because of basketball. So any exposure is beneficial. Tom Crean talking about Jaylen Adams has to help. It just does.”

“The success of the basketball team in some small way determines the success of the school. We’re a feisty little school, but being feisty won’t determine if we succeed. We have to take on the mindset that we can compete with the best. I think the students take on that mindset too and part of that comes from the basketball team. We don’t have to be the underdog all the time. We can just be successful on our own merit. I think that’s the best thing about the basketball team’s success. People can identify that as a possibility now.”

Opinion: Watson’s column ignores the positives

By Josh Svetz

It’s been over 17 years since the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs and most people, whether they root for the Bills or not, are happy.

Well, most people.

Just three days after the Bills clinched their first playoff birth since 1999, Rod Watson, a political columnist for the Buffalo News, wrote a controversial column essentially telling fans to “get a life,” specifically to focus on the real issues and stop obsessing about a football team’s accomplishments.

While we can all understand the importance of real issues and taking the time to pay attention to them, that doesn’t need to bleed into simple enjoyment of entertainment.

Carole McNall, an assistant professor at Saint Bonaventure University, said the article fell into the trap of the “either/or mentality.”

“Increasingly today, we set things up as either/or: either you like this thing or that, either you care about this thing or you care about that one,” McNall said. “The excitement I feel over the success of a team I’ve cheered for most of my life doesn’t erase the concern I feel about the issues Watson cites.”

McNall, a diehard Bills fan, brings up an interesting point.

Just because a fan base is excited about an athletic achievement doesn’t mean they’re ignoring the issues 24/7.

In fact, some philanthropic good came from the Bills making the playoffs.

After the Bills beat the Miami Dolphins, they still needed the Baltimore Ravens to lose to the Cincinnati Bengals.

That’s exactly what happened when the Bengals won off a miracle touchdown pass from Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to Tyler Boyd.

Hours after the win, Bills fans thanked Dalton by flooding donations to his and his wife’s foundation, which provides support to seriously-ill and physically challenged children and their families in Cincinnati, Ohio and Fort Worth, Texas.

The output was enough for Dalton and his wife, J.J., to personally thank the fans for the over $315,000 in donations, ironically being published in the Buffalo News.

Yet, Watson failed to mention such in his column, something that bothered St. Bonaventure senior and Bills fanatic, Emmy Kolbe.

I’m not sure what Watson defines as ‘a little perspective,’ but I’d say that’s a huge, beautiful success.” Kolbe said. “It’s a great snapshot of the good Bills Mafia can do for surrounding communities.”

Good deeds aside, another conversation arises from the idea of escapism.

In our world, where media dominates our lives and we can access news within seconds, sometimes it’s nice to just shut off for awhile and enjoy a beloved sports team achieving a great feat, especially when it ties into the culture of the city itself.

Nate Discavage, a graduate of Saint Bonaventure University, isn’t a Bills fan, but spending part of his life in Western New York has made him aware of the Bills’ cultural significance.

“I understand that not everybody is a sports fan,” Discavage said. “But, the Bills are so ingrained in the local culture that Watson has to be aware of the impact of everything around him.”

For Buffalo native Reid Okoniewski, he thought the column misrepresented the fans.

“The fans of the Bills know what the city [of Buffalo] has to offer, especially what we pride ourselves in,” Okoniewski said. “When he talks about taking pride in the history of Buffalo, he shoves aside a cornerstone of Buffalo pride, the sports.”

But maybe the largest blind spot Watson failed to address was family impact.

Mike Hogan, a freshman at Saint Bonaventure University, wasn’t even alive the last time the Bills made the playoffs.

He doesn’t remember Jim Kelly or Thurman Thomas, he remembers Drew Bledsoe, Trent Edwards and Kyle Orton.

His family are Bills fanatics, especially his dad.

His dad got to live in the time where the Bills went to four Super Bowls, but Mike didn’t.

He watched losing. So much losing that he wondered if he’d ever see winning.

“I can remember most of the drought and asking my dad, ‘are we ever going to get to watch a playoff game together?’ Hogan said. “I’ll finally get to have that experience with my father that I’ve waited to have all of my life, watching a Buffalo Bills playoff game with the man who taught me the ups and downs of being a Bills fan.”

Watson’s column asks the reader to have “a little perspective.”

As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan from Northwest Pennsylvania, who’s in the past been annoyed by Bills’ fans over-hopefulness and over-emphasis on the team, similarly to Watson, here’s my perspective.

It’s brought a city together, raised money for charity, fostered community, made people happy and bonded families.

At the end of the day, there’s no harm in that.