Bonnies in “good spirits” after positive COVID-19 tests prevents trip to Bubbleville

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By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team paused all team activities on Thursday following a positive COVID-19 result within the program, the university’s athletics department announced.

A member of the team’s Tier 1 personnel, which includes student-athletes, coaches, team managers and support staff, produced the positive test.

As a result, the team will not travel to “Bubbleville” at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut this coming week, and has shut down all team activities for two weeks.

“It’s unfortunate that this hit us right before we were about to play, and we don’t know how many games we’ll actually get in,” said junior guard Jaren Holmes. “Right now we’re in good spirits, and we’re just going to continue to get better and become closer.”

The Bonnies had been scheduled to play three games in the bubble, including a season-opening matchup against Towson on Wednesday. Stephen F. Austin and Army West Point were SBU’s other two scheduled opponents.

“I think this gets us that much more hungry to play,” Holmes said. “We’re going to be there for each other no matter what, and right now, we’re the ones who have to get each other through this.”

If the program doesn’t return any additional positive tests beforehand, it can resume team activities on Dec. 3. That’s 12 days before the Bonnies are scheduled to play Akron in Cleveland, Ohio, which will now serve as the team’s season opener.

“We’ve done everything right,” Holmes said. “I don’t think there’s a team more focused than us when it comes to handling this. We’re taking this thing seriously.”

The program’s positive test comes in the midst of a spike in COVID-19 cases within both the university community and Cattaraugus County. As of Friday evening, SBU had announced 37 new positive tests this week among students that were tested on campus, according to the university’s online COVID-19 tracker.

The Bonnies are now left with two non-conference games on their schedule, as they will host Buffalo on Dec. 22 after traveling to Akron.

“We’re taking the positives in everything,” Holmes said. “We can find ways to get better throughout these two weeks and be ready to go as soon as we get back.”

Bonnies navigate through preseason, await bubble trip

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By Ryan Surmay

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The 2020-2021 college basketball season has already shown that it will be much different than usual. 

This season is going to cause new challenges that teams haven’t faced before, and on the morning of Nov. 11, a new challenge presented itself as St. Bonaventure University announced that there will be no fans allowed at basketball games in the Reilly Center this season. 

“The bench has to be twice as loud now,” said Bonnies junior guard Kyle Lofton. “Give it your all and pick each other up.”

SBU head coach Mark Schmidt said that the Reilly Center is one of the best home court advantages in college basketball, so the team is going to do their best to make up for it by bringing more energy. 

“If you’re a competitor, it doesn’t matter if there’s 10,000 fans or one,” Schmidt said. 

Within the team, there’s a mutual respect as no player wants to be the one to let their guard down. Schmidt has stressed the importance of staying away from large crowds to allow for the season to be completed in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

 “You don’t want to be the one to ruin it for everybody else,” he said. 

The players realize how big of an impact it could be if a positive test occurs. Other schools have been forced to shut down because of outbreaks on their teams. 

“Seeing [other teams shut down] makes you realize it can happen,” Lofton said. “Our first game is in two weeks… if someone gets it, it won’t happen.” 

The team is schedules to kickoff its season on Nov. 25 against Towson in the Mohegan Sun bubble in Connecticut. 

Schmidt and his team has been trying to keep a sense of normalcy with its preparations. He said that that apart from mask wearing, practices haven’t looked too different from previous years.

“We’re doing everything we would have done for the last 31 years,” Schmidt said. “The only difference is I got a mask on. I know some coaches are doing non-contact but we haven’t changed. My thought process is do everything you can off the court, but we’re not going to change what we do on the basketball court.”

Lofton expressed the importance of keeping distanced and solely being focused on basketball for the time being.

“Guys are here to play basketball and are having fun, so it makes it easier,” he said. 

Lofton and co-captain Osun Osunniyi were both voted to preseason all-league teams, as Lofton was named preseason second-team all-Atlantic 10, while Osunniyi was preseason third-team all-league and A-10 all-defensive team.

The team, meanwhile, was picked to finish fourth in the A-10. SBU has finished in the league’s top six each of the past five years.

While this team has no seniors, they have nine juniors who are used to playing big minutes. Lofton, Osunniyi, Dom Welch and Jaren Holmes each averaged over 30 minutes per game in the last season.

“We have juniors but in essence they’re like fifth year seniors,” Schmidt said. “They’ve played a lot of minutes.” 

For the team, there’s a level of anticipation due to not being in a situation like the Mohegan Sun bubble before.

“It’s new,” Schmidt said. “I’ve never been in a bubble but it’s one of the safest things they can do.”