Schmidt, Osunniyi look forward to Mohegan Sun bubble

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Osun Osunniyi and the Bonnies are aware of the potential consequences of the Coronavirus.

Last season, the virus erased any hopes that the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team had for a run to an Atlantic 10 tournament title in Brooklyn, as well as the NCAA tournament.

“We know that we want to play,” Osunniyi said. “The bad feeling of being in Brooklyn and having the tournament not happen, and not being able to play for so long that we want to play so bad.”

With the pandemic ongoing, the road back to Brooklyn will start at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on Nov. 25. St. Bonaventure is one of over thirty teams beginning its season in “Bubbleville.”

In ascramble to piece together schedules, multiple-team events, also known as MTEs, have become a favorable solution for teams nationwide.

By doing this, programs limit travel while constructing quality non-conference match ups. Of the locations for such events, Mohegan Sun has become arguably the most popular bubble destination as programs
search for games in a safe environment.

“It’s going to be different for us,” Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said. “But I think it’s one of the safest things that we can do for our players.”

Safety is a key this season; consequentially, the schedule will not play out as normal. Usually, SBU has a scrimmage and an exhibition game to get ready for competition, but that luxury is absent this season.

“By this time, we would have our ‘secret scrimmage’ and be getting ready for an exhibition game,” Schmidt said. “It’s a little bit concerning when the first game you play counts.”

Exhibition or not, the season begins with several match ups against quality mid-major programs. In their first game, the Bonnies face a Towson team bringing in several new pieces and contending for the Colonial league crown.

In the days following, SBU will take on Stephen F. Austin, a program notorious for giving high-major teams headaches in March. The Lumberjacks pulled off one of the most shocking upsets in college
basketball history last year at Duke.

Vermont, another SBU opponent in the bubble, sits atop the America East perennially, and handed the Bonnies a heart-breaking loss in the Reilly Center last season.

“We have a difficult schedule,” Schmidt said. “It’s great for our non-conference to play Towson, a very good team and as you alluded to with Stephen F. Austin, and Vermont is picked to win their league again.”

SBU will likely play a fourth game in the bubble, and can schedule up to three other non-conference games before starting league play in late December. Regardless, Schmidt knows his squad is itching to get back in action.

“They’re tired of playing against each other,” Schmidt said. “Our guys are looking to play anybody other than themselves, and we’ve got a challenge the 25th against Towson.”