COLUMN: Howard’s animated ejection embodies college basketball’s newfound intimate, relaxed setting

photo: La Salle University athletics

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — When referees ejected Ashley Howard from a nearly empty Reilly Center on Tuesday, the words he directed toward them could be heard throughout the arena.

The officiating crew issued Howard, head coach of the La Salle men’s basketball team, a double technical foul in the first half of the Explorers’ loss to St. Bonaventure at the Reilly Center. Visibly unhappy after a possession on his team’s offensive end, Howard proceeded to let referees know how he felt about their performance thus far.

With few watching from the stands, Howard stormed off the court in a profanity-filled tirade, much of which could be heard from press row in the arena’s upper seating sections. We heard it. The teams heard it. The ESPN+ television crew producing the game heard it.

Everyone in attendance heard what Howard had to say, even when he came back into the arena after previously exiting and shouted an expletive toward the officials.

However, in a non-COVID year, would Howard have behaved the same way in front of a near-capacity crowd? His words would not have been heard throughout the arena had there been 5,000-plus Bona fans reacting to his ejection.

My ability to hear Howard’s words exemplifies the unique setting in which college basketball is being played this year.

The atmosphere of college hoops games has been undoubtedly less formal than in years past, especially at the Reilly Center, where fan attendance has not been allowed this season.

Coaches and team personnel wear sweatpants and quarter-zip hoodies instead of suits. Players start chants in support of their teammates on the floor. The only non-artificial noise in the arena comes from the benches and the public address announcer.

It’s a much more intimate production than in years past, and more relaxed.

Howard didn’t face a raucous, drunken Bona student section on his way off the floor Tuesday. Instead, he was greeted by bleachers of cardboard cutouts that had no rebuttal for what he had to say.

After the game, Howard returned to the floor for a lengthy conversation with Bona head coach Mark Schmidt. The two shared smiles and a couple laughs, seemingly brushing off the events that unfolded just hours before.

In previous years, this exchange may not have taken place, either. At least not on the court less than 30 minutes after the game ended.

College basketball is being played under unprecedented circumstances at SBU and beyond. Howard’s ejection, and the subsequent reaction that it prompted, demonstrates this.

Bonnies bounce back, score season-high 86 points in win over La Salle

photo courtesy of

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — After having its seven-game winning streak snapped over the weekend, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team responded exactly the way that head coach Mark Schmidt hoped it would.

On the heels of a Saturday defeat at Saint Louis, the Bonnies (10-2, 8-2 A-10) returned home and ran past La Salle (8-12, 5-8 A-10), 86-73, on Tuesday at the Reilly Center.

Each of Bona’s five starters reached double-digit scoring, including a team-high 20 points by Jalen Adaway.

“Coming off of a loss, we knew we needed to prevail and bring it from the start,” Adaway said. “I felt like that’s what we did from top to bottom.”

The Explorers got off to a quick start in the first half, hitting three of their first four 3-point attempts to build an early nine-point lead.

Then, the midst of a 15-5 Bona run, La Salle head coach Ashley Howard was ejected after receiving a double technical foul. Howard was visibly upset after a play on his team’s offensive end, yelling, “Call a f***ing foul!” at a referee before exiting the court in a profanity-laden tirade.

While Howard’s ejection seemed to provide a boost of energy to the La Salle bench, the Explorers weren’t the same afterward. Kyle Lofton hit all four free throws after the double foul, breaking a 24-24 tie and giving SBU the lead for good.

“Stuff like that gives you momentum,” Schmidt said. “At the same time, you need to maintain that momentum, and I thought we did that. Basketball is all about momentum, and sometimes when you get it it’s hard to give it up or get it back.”

La Salle trailed the entire way after associate head coach Kyle Griffin took over Howard’s duties, and after Bona used a last-second Lofton 3-pointer to take a 10-point lead into halftime, the Explorers never cut the lead below double digits in the second half.

“When something like that happens… that team may come out and play with a lot more fire and want to have his back,” Adaway said. “We were telling each other, they’re going to come out, we need to come out twice as hard and be ready for it, and really try to put them away.”

SBU’s 86 points were the most that it had scored in a game this season, and the Bonnies got there by spreading the scoring around the floor.

Lofton had 18 points while Osun Osunniyi scored 17 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Jaren Holmes added another 15 points, while Dominick Welch finished with 10 points.

The Bonnies shot nearly 61% from the field and 64% from 3-point range. Lofton, who had entered Tuesday’s game shooting an uncharacteristic 3-for-34 on the season from distance, was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc against La Salle.

“It felt good,” Lofton said. “I come in here and work every day, so I’m going to just stay confident. I saw one go in, so the next one I’m thinking, ‘Alright, I’m gonna hit this one.’ I’m just taking good shots, and I’m going to continue to do that.”

Kenny Sherif scored a game-high 22 points for the Explorers, while Jhamir Brickus scored 13 points and Christian Ray just missed a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.

“We dealt with some adversity,” Schmidt said. “They made some runs, and we answered them. I’m happy with the performance.”

Bona’s win guarantees it sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 for at least a few more days, as it leads second-place VCU (14-4, 7-2 A-10) by a half game entering the Bonnies’ Friday-night matchup against the Rams.

“We’ve got to continue to work and not be satisfied,” Schmidt said. “But we got better today.”