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.

PREVIEW: Bonnies host La Salle; look to rebound from SLU loss

photo courtesy of

By Nic Gelyon

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — “We’re not going to go undefeated.” 

Some will say the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team’s 70-59 loss to Saint Louis on Saturday was a fall from grace. Head coach Mark Schmidt might call it a learning moment. 

“We knew there was going to be some losses,” Schmidt said on Monday. “So now it’s how you react to that loss.” 

The Bonnies will host La Salle (8-11) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Reilly Center. This game was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but with the Bonnies traveling to VCU on Friday, it was pushed forward one day.

Despite the loss to SLU, the Bonnies still sit 40th in the NCAA’s NET rankings, the Atlantic 10’s highest-ranked team. Bona currently sits at 7-2 in league play, a half-game ahead of VCU, Davidson and UMass, which are each 6-2.

“I don’t even know who’s behind us,” said Schmidt. “We just have to take care of ourselves. We don’t look ahead; we don’t really care about what other people do behind us, in front of us.” 

It’s on to La Salle for the Bonnies. The Explorers are coming off a disappointing 76-68 loss against Fordham (2-9) on Saturday, days after defeating Saint Louis.  

La Salle was forced to use its starters more than usual while playing from behind the Rams, playing mostly a seven-man rotation. Sophomore guard Christian Ray had 18 points while making his presence felt on the boards with nine rebounds.  

La Salle has had an up-and-down season, to say the least. The Explorers lost by 17 points to St. John’s, by 19 to UMass and by 33 to George Mason, and started their season 0-3 on the non-conference circuit. 

In the same breath, they’ve beaten Saint Louis, Richmond, and Dayton, three of the best teams in the A-10. Overall, they’re 5-7 in the A-10.

Against Saint Louis, the Bonnies’ lack of depth was a concern. With multiple players leaving the program mid-season, the Bonnies have been left with an eight-man rotation, six of whom are reliable producers. 

This has created a stark difference between these teams. While St. Bonaventure’s entire starting five averages over 30 minutes a game, La Salle doesn’t have a single player who averages that many. 

Quite the opposite, in fact: nine players average over 15 minutes for La Salle this season. 

It’s undeniable that SBU was trotting out legs that had played every minute of the game against Saint Louis against legs fresh off the Billikens’ bench. That’s usually not a successful combination when down late.  

Redshirt sophomore guard Jack Clark has emerged as La Salle’s volume shooter, hitting over 50% from the field and 31% from 3-point range, all while taking more shots than anyone else on his team. He also averages five rebounds and an assist.  

What could be scary for the Bonnies: Clark’s 31% is the lowest 3-point percentage of any of La Salle’s starters. 

The Explorers’ offensive philosophy is what makes them different than other teams the Bonnies have faced this year. Their versatility both in the post and from the perimeter—much like Saint Louis—opens up their offense for players like Clark, senior Scott Spencer and junior Clifton Moore to work. 

“La Salle does it a little bit differently,” Schmidt said. “They space you out 4-on-1 and they drive it. They create rotations, they create help situations, and they can drive and kick. And then those guys are stepping into their shots.”  

To guard against this attack, Schmidt says his team needs to do better keeping the ball in front of them. 

“You have to be able to guard them, they’re all very good off-the-bounce guys,” Schmidt said. “You can’t give them live-ball turnovers. We have to keep the ball in front of us. If we can do that, then we have a better chance of having to contest those threes.” 

Where La Salle’s depth could come into play is in its ability to match its starters’ production. St. Bonaventure’s remaining bench pieces may not have that ability.  

“Those guys coming off the bench have to give us production,” Schmidt said. “But production’s not necessarily points all the time. I think those guys, maybe yesterday against Saint Louis was magnified.” 

When asked if fatigue played a role in the Bonnies’ late-game defeat, Schmidt instead attributed Saint Louis’ 9-0 run to bad decision-making and some general misfortune. 

“I don’t know if it was a collapse,” Schmidt said of the loss. “We missed some shots, we had some turnovers, we had some breakdowns… We just have to fix those things, where we don’t make the right play or the right decision.” 

Men’s basketball: #Bonnies preview against La Salle

By Chuckie Maggio

Today at 9 p.m., a nationally televised contest will take center stage in Olean, N.Y. as the 11-7 St. Bonaventure Bonnies host the 11-6 LaSalle Explorers. The Bonnies look to snap their three-game losing streak while the Explorers hope to continue their five-game win streak. The game will be televised on CBS College Sports Network.

Last year, these teams played an overtime classic at the Reilly Center, with LaSalle winning 69-66. That kind of close battle may take place again tonight, coming down to the wire. Who will have the upper hand? Let’s break it down! 

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure: Mark Schmidt. 99-102 as St. Bonaventure coach, 3-5 vs LaSalle

La Salle: John Giannini. 154-144 as LaSalle coach (10th season)

Key players for La Salle:

Tyreek Duren – 6-0 senior guard. Leads team in scoring with 14.1 points per game. Streaky shooter. Team is 10-4 when he scores in double-digits, 1-2 when he fails to score ten or more. Led team in scoring during their Sweet 16 run in 2013.

Steve Zack – 6-11 junior center. Leads Atlantic 10 in rebounds per game with 9.7 while adding 10 points per game. Excellent defender with good mobility and agility for a big man—more than capable of getting a double-double on any given night, which can make him a nightmare for opposing coaches to game plan against. Marketing major with high basketball IQ.

Jerrell Wright – 6-8 junior forward. Complements Zack in the post with 12.9 points per game and 6.1 rebounds a contest. Shoots very well from the field shooting 58.6 percent. Gets to the line often but struggles to convert; only making 56 percent of his free throws this season. Wright is a powerful defender who boxes out well and has great fundamentals on both sides of the floor.

Tyrone Garland – 6-1 senior guard. Second on the team in scoring with 13.9 PPG while averaging 2.3 assists. Transfer from Virginia Tech with excellent scoring ability and defensive play. Last year, his first at La Salle, his Southwest Philly floater with two seconds on the clock beat Ole Miss and carried the Explorers into the Sweet 16. Has the potential to make a big impact on this game with his playmaking ability and quick first step.

Keys to Victory:

St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies have a couple crucial keys if they hope to win this game. The first is perhaps the most obvious: they need to have a strong second half. Anyone who has watched a Bonnies game this year knows they’ve jumped out to a great start and struggled in the waning moments. Dion Wright even brought that up in last week’s feature story. They’ve lost their seven games by an average of 6.5 points, which means they simply have to finish. If they jump out to a lead going into halftime, that lead has to be sustained by playing hard and smart for 40 minutes.

The next key is for Charlon Kloof to avoid early foul trouble. The last few games Kloof has picked up a couple quick ones and been forced to sit for a while. His importance to this team is unquestioned. He’s the senior leader, and this team goes how he goes. It would be great for Bonaventure’s chances if he could play the whole game without foul trouble, only being subbed out when he physically needs a breather. If No. 3 is on the court, the Bonnies have a great shot at victory.

LaSalle: For La Salle to win in the hostile Reilly Center, they need to win the rebounding category. When you beat Bonaventure on the boards, you usually win the ballgame, and the stats back it up: in the Bonnies have been outrebounded in five of their seven losses this year.

Another key for the Explorers is to get a strong game out of Steve Zack. If Zack can control the glass and give Bonaventure’s forwards fits, La Salle is in good shape and the Bonnies are in trouble. He and Youssou Ndoye both run the floor well, which should make for a good center battle.

The Prediction: A 9 p.m. game in the Reilly Center just seems like a disaster for La Salle. The Bonaventure Wolfpack will be in full force, and they’ll be ready to heckle the Explorers right out of the gym. Charlon Kloof and Marquise Simmons will come ready to play, Tyrone Garland will be contained by the Bonnies’ D, and Mark Schmidt will win his 100th game as St. Bonaventure coach.

St. Bonaventure 72, La Salle 63