[Photo courtesy of gobonnies.com]
By Ryan Lazo, Co-editor in chief/feature columnist, @RMLazo13
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. (Oct. 17) – Marquise Simmons took a pass at the top of the key and quickly drove hard to the basket and immediately started to limp and grimace after being fouled.
Simmons waved off trainers and took his free throws, made them both, and called to the bench knowing that his season may have ended after just two minutes of game action.
“I don’t remember much of it, but I remember taking off to the basket and feeling a snap,” Simmons recalled. “I was in more of a denial stage, knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what. I saw the trainer and he told me I tore my achilles.”
But the injury bug didn’t stop there. In just St. Bonaventure’s eighth game, Michael Davenport went after a loose ball, banged his shoulder and immediately grabbed for it in pain, but thought it wasn’t anything serious.
“I thought it was just a slight dislocation,” Davenport said on the court before practice. “Then when they took me to the back and it was obviously a lot worse than that.”
And just like that, the Bonnies lost two major contributors to their team and many pegged the season as a lost cause. However, other players stepped up their own play in order to replace the production of both Simmons and Davenport.
But their injuries have allowed them to return for one more go around with St. Bonaventure. Davenport is just 253 points away from 1,000 in his career and Simmons is finally healthy heading into the season.
Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said it’s a huge boost to the team.
“When you can have those guys back who have had experience, it really is helpful, not only to me but also the young guys,” Schmidt said of his seniors.
How important can Simmons be to St. Bonaventure’s success?
Well, first off he is one of only two traditional big men on the roster, meaning he will play a lot of minutes. But secondly, Simmons was actually considered the crown jewel of his own recruiting class.
Yes, that’s right.
It was Simmons who was the highly regarded prospect and not the string bean from Mississauga, Ontario. Simmons had all the makings of a future star: great build, good ball handling skills, great finisher around the basket and had touch from the perimeter.
But injuries have hurt his chances to put his skills on display.
“It’s been more of a set back type of thing,” Simmons said. “But I’m healthy this year and I’m ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Davenport is one of a seven-guard deep roster and has the most experience of all of them. Davenport has experienced the ups and downs of the college game and Schmidt said he can have redemption this season.
“He wasn’t having a great senior season anyway, put too much pressure on himself, so it’s almost like he has a reprieve,” Schmidt said. “We’re expecting him to score the ball. He has a chance to be a 1,000-point scorer and you don’t have many of those in your career.”
While the rest of the Atlantic 10 Conference believes St. Bonaventure was a one-man show last season, the Bonnies have a deep squad that only gets better with the return of Simmons and Davenport.
St. Bonaventure may not have the star power that Andrew Nicholson brought them last season, but with Simmons’ ability to stretch the floor with his jump-shot and Davenport’s ability to create off the dribble, the Bonnies have two senior leaders who could point them in the right direction.