Bona fans travel to Dayton for A-10 final

photo courtesy of University of Dayton

By Nic Gelyon

DAYTON, OH — It’s been a long couple of weeks for Bona fans.  

First, sadness. The Bonnies entered the Atlantic 10 tournament with heavy hearts, punctuated by the death of former St. Bonaventure University president Dr. Dennis DePerro. 

But then, elation. Blowout wins against Duquesne and St. Louis put the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team in position to do something they’ve never done before—win the Atlantic 10 championship as the one-seed in the tournament. 

Now the weekend of the A-10 championship game has finally arrived. Bona’s versus VCU.

It’s an atmosphere a true Bona fan wouldn’t want to miss. Good news for many, however, as fans will be in Dayton for Sunday’s game at UD Arena. 

But, whether you leave Saturday or Sunday for the game depends on if you want to endure a three-day quarantine. 

If you’re traveling for the game, know that the state of Ohio currently doesn’t have any COVID-19 protocols for people visiting from other states. In other words—take comfort in knowing you won’t have to quarantine upon arrival. You definitely won’t have to plan as far ahead. 

Coming back to New York could spell a different story. 

If you stay in Dayton, or anywhere in Ohio, for more than 24 hours, you may be subject to that pesky three-day quarantine upon returning home. Travelers are also advised by the state to fill out the New York state traveler health form, which can be found and filled out online at the New York State Department of Health website. 

This is all part of the New York State COVID-19 travel advisory, still in effect for any state that doesn’t border New York. 

The university also discouraged student travel to Dayton — but acknowledged it can’t prohibit it. 

“For those who do go [to the game],” the university said in an email to students, “They need to be mindful that they will need to follow COVID-19 protocols.” 

In other words—the university can’t prevent kids from going, so all they ask is that travelers stay safe. 

And since the university won’t be providing transportation to the championship this year—also  due to COVID-19 protocols—students must find their own way down to Dayton. 

For many students, that will mean driving to the game. Gas seems to be expensive in Erie, the highest prices being around $2.97 in the Flagship City. But the deeper you get into Ohio, the gas prices seem to drop. For example—gas in Columbus is as low as $2.47 in some places, as of Friday.  

You might be asking yourself—what will the experience be like when you get into UD Arena on Sunday? It’ll be an interesting experience, especially as Bonas fans haven’t been able to see a game in-person at the Reilly Center this season. 

The first thing you should know: UD Arena will be at about ten-percent capacity for the game Sunday. That means upwards of 1,300 fans could be in the stands—a far cry from the 300 that could attend regular season Flyers games. 

The executive director of UD Arena, Scott DeBolt, says, “There will be a lot of energy in the building.” 

Some other things ticket holders should know — the experience will be completely cashless. 

You won’t have to pay for parking, as the parking fee is included in your ticket price. And you won’t be able to pay cash at the concession stands, either. They only take cards.  

Obviously, the usual COVID-19 protocols will be enforced at the game. You’ll only be allowed to remove your mask when you’re actively eating or drinking at your seat; at all other times, you must be masked. 

“Wear your mask when you’re supposed to and don’t gather out in the concourse,” was the advice given by DeBolt. “Sit in your assigned seats… have a hot dog and a soda and enjoy the game.” 

As for a couple students who are going: 

Hannah Miller is a women’s basketball manager. She went to Richmond with the women’s basketball team, and so she got to experience their championship atmosphere. Still, she’s excited.

“I’m a senior, and this is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do,” Miller said. 

And, of course, who could forget ‘Captain Beer’, Dom Grecco. And don’t forget his eight friends who are tagging along.  

“We looked at each other and said, ‘we’re doing it’”, Grecco said. “We’re just going to build up all that energy we’ve missed all year and hope to put it into one game.” 

Grecco is sticking four people in one car and five in another. His cohort in buying the tickets, Noah Minton, noticed the wildly fluctuating prices of the tickets. 

“We thought about getting tickets, so I looked on Ticketmaster, Seat Geek, Vivid Seats; they were a couple dollars more on Ticketmaster, so I went back to Seat Geek,” Minton said. “But in that two minute span, I saw the prices go up another $12, and I said, ‘Dom, we got make a decision’”. 

Miller noticed the same thing when buying her tickets. “The prices kept going up minute by minute,” she said. “But we got them cheaper than they are now.” 

Men’s basketball: Ohio Preview

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The 5-1 St. Bonaventure Bonnies face their first true road test on Saturday at Ohio, where they will face the 2-2 Bobcats.

The last two meetings between these teams have been tight battles. The 2010 contest was an instant classic, when the Bonnies won 112-107 in four overtimes and Andrew Nicholson scored 44 points. Ohio won the most recent matchup at home by a score of 69-64.

Who will win this showdown? Here’s the full breakdown:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure: Mark Schmidt. 112-110 as Bonnies coach.

Ohio: Saul Phillips. 2-2 as Ohio coach.

Key players for Ohio:

Javerez Willis- 5-11 senior guard. The team’s leading scorer at 19.3 points per game, Willis is an efficient playmaker shooting at a 53.8 percent clip to start his senior season. He’s scoring at a much higher rate than he did his first two years (he transferred from Texas Tech after his freshman year) and he’s shooting 85.7 percent at the free throw line. The guards will have to pay close attention to Willis every time he touches the ball, or he will be at the rim before they know it.

Maurice Ndour- 6-9 senior forward. If the name sounds slightly familiar, it’s because Ndour is from Senegal just like Bonnies center Youssou Ndoye. The Ohio forward is from Mbour, about an hour away from Ndoye’s hometown of Dakar. Like Ndoye, Ndour is having a monster start to the season. He’s averaging a double-double, with 14.5 points and 10.3 rebounds a game along with 1.5 blocks a contest. The big man can run the floor well and jumps out of the gym.

Ryan Taylor- 6-5 freshman guard. The third Bobcat scoring in the double-digits, Taylor has adapted to college ball pretty nicely so far. He’s at 11.3 points and 3.3 rebounds with a silky shooting stroke and ridiculous athleticism. The matchup between he and Andell Cumberbatch should be a good one.

Key players for St. Bonaventure:

Denzel Gregg- 6-7 sophomore forward. Gregg, who returns Saturday after a six-game suspension, will use his length and athleticism to help the Bonnies on both sides of the court, especially the defensive end. In eight minutes a game last year, he averaged just under two rebounds and swatted a total of 16 shots. This year he will have an increased role with more responsibility, which he is certainly capable of performing well in. Look for Gregg to be one of coach Schmidt’s preferred contributors off the bench.

Andell Cumberbatch- 6-5 senior guard. Cumberbatch, who is third on the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game, has definitely improved his ability to get an easy layup this season, slashing his way to the basket and moving effectively without the ball. His defense has greatly improved as well, with 6.8 rebounds per game. The all-around play of Cumberbatch is going to be crucial against the Bobcats; he has to bring his A-game.

Idris Taqqee- 6-4 freshman guard. The coaching staff has been pleased with Taqqee’s efforts so far, as he has played double-digit minutes the last three games, with 17 minutes against Buffalo. Taqqee has only scored four points in the first six games, but his defense is the reason he’s one of the first players off the bench. If he could add some offense on Saturday it would be a big boost for the Bonnies.

Keys to victory for Ohio: The Bobcats have to establish an inside presence to win this game, with Ndour leading the way. St. Bonaventure is eighth in the nation in two point percentage against, as opponents are shooting just 36.8 percent from inside the three point arc. Bonaventure has been seemingly content to let opponents hit some threes as long as it locks down the paint. If Ohio can get a few easy layups and hit some mid-range jumpers, they can grab the edge.

Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: In a road environment, you have to shoot well and limit turnovers. The Bonnies did a great job of doing that last time out, but they have to do it consistently to win on the road. As coach Schmidt said, you can’t play up and down in waves, the effort has to be there the entire game. If they play like they did against Buffalo and Gregg adds some quality minutes in reserve, Bonaventure has a good chance to pull off a solid road win against an evenly matched Bobcat team.

The Prediction: 71-67 Bonnies