The Slipper Fits: Bonnies Enter NCAA Tournament Friday

The Slipper Fits: Bonnies Enter NCAA Tournament Friday

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In Brief
Atlantic 10 Champion and No. 14 seed St. Bonaventure (20-11) enters the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000 and sixth in program history with a meeting against No. 3 seed Florida State (24-9) on Friday in Nashville.

A-10 Player of the Year
Andrew Nicholson, from the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, embarked on an unprecedented run down the stretch of the Atlantic 10 schedule, averaging 25.3 points and 11.5 rebounds over the final eight conference games to earn Conference Player of the Year. He became the first player ever in the Atlantic 10 to earn four straight Player of the Week awards, putting the finishing touches on a regular season that included his 2,000th career point, seven double-doubles, the first 20-20 game since Bob Lanier in 1967, his 200th career block and the Bonnies' best win percentage since 1999-00. He saved his best performance for A-10 Championship final though, finishing with 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks en route to being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Performer.

Tops in the A-10
Sunday's win over Xavier in Atlantic City marked the first time in program history Bonaventure won the Atlantic 10 Championship final after two unsuccessful attempts (1984, 2000). St. Bonaventure defeated Xavier for the first time since Feb. 9, 2002, a span of nine meetings.  

Back in the Bracket
Today marks the first NCAA Tournament bid for the Bonnies since 2000, when St. Bonaventure earned an at-large invitation as a 12-seed.  The Bonnies took fifth-seeded Kentucky to double-overtime in a first-round matchup, losing 85-80 after Tayshaun Prince made two free throws for the Wildcats with 1.1 seconds remaining. J.R. Bremer led the Brown and White that day with 17 points, three assists and two steals.


Nicholson MOPs the Floor
Senior Andrew Nicholson was named Most Outstanding Player of the A-10 Championship after a dominant performance last weekend, the first Bonnie to ever receive the award. Nicholson recorded 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks in the victory, all game-highs. The eight blocks are an A-10 final record, shattering Kevin Lyde of Temple's five blocks in 2000, while his 16 blocks throughout the A-10 Championship broke Rodney Blake's record of 15 in 1986. Meanwhile, Nicholson's 14 rebounds were one short of tying the title game record.  Nicholson recorded two double-doubles in the conference tournament, scoring 25 points and grabbing 10 boards in a first-round matchup against Saint Joseph's last Friday.

Twice is Nice
St. Bonaventure is one of 25 schools to have both the men's and women's basketball teams reach the NCAA Tournament this season, joining such schools as Connecticut, Duke, Notre Dame and Kentucky. The fifth-seeded women's basketball team – in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever – plays 12-seed Florida Gulf Coast Sunday afternoon in a first-round Raleigh Regional matchup in Tallahassee, Fla.

Clutch Conger
Junior Demitrius Conger joined Nicholson on the All-Championship Team on the heels of a 22-point, 10-rebound, eight-assist performance against Massachusetts in a semifinal game Saturday afternoon. The eight assists were a career high.

"Winn"-ing
Conger and Nicholson's All-Championship Team selections were the first for St. Bonaventure since Tim Winn received the honor in 2000.

Go "Fourth" and Win
St. Bonaventure became the third 4-seed in the A-10 Championship to win the final, joining Temple in 2009 and Rhode Island in 2007. The Bonnies also became the third 4-seed to win a semifinal game – every 4-seed that made it to the semifinal has won the championship.

The Kloof is on Fire
Sophomore Charlon Kloof saved the best performance of his season for the A-10 Championship, scoring a career-high 19 points in the Bonnies' quarterfinal win over Saint Joseph's March 9.
 
What's On The Line?
The winner of the St. Bonaventure-Florida State game will take on the winner between Cincinnati and Texas Sunday in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at Bridgestone Arena. A Bonnies win would be the first postseason tournament win since a 75-70 decision over Southern Miss in an NIT first-round game at the Reilly Center March 16, 1995, and the first NCAA Tournament victory since a 1970 victory over Villanova that placed the Bonnies in the Final Four.

Last Time Out
Behind a near triple-double from senior Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure (20-11) won its first Atlantic 10 Championship title and clinched its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2000 with a 67-56 win over Xavier Sunday afternoon. Xavier led on only two occasions – both coming in the first four minutes of the game – as the Bonnies led by as much as 17 early in the second half to claim their first win over Xavier since Feb. 9, 2002.

Scouting the Seminoles
Coach Leonard Hamilton's No. 10 (Associated Press)/12 (ESPN/USA Today) Florida State Seminoles are coming off an 85-82 upset win over North Carolina to win the ACC Championship in Atlanta Sunday afternoon. Florida State defeated the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional twice this season, the first being a 90-57 win over the Tar Heels in Tallahassee, Fla. Jan. 14. Junior guard Michael Snaer leads the team with 14.5 points per game, posting career-highs in field-goal percentage (.447), three-point percentage (.421) and rebounds per game (3.8) among many other categories. Senior forward Bernard James, a 27-year-old Air Force vet who served in Iraq, led the team with 8.5 rebounds per game to compliment 10.5 points per outing. ESPN's Andy Katz believes the Seminoles "could be this year's Connecticut, riding a hot conference tournament win towards a Final Four berth."


Coach of the Year
St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt was chosen by staff writers and editors at Sporting News as the Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year. The Bonnies' 17 wins this season tie for the most by a Schmidt-coached team. By comparison, SBU had won just 17 combined games in the three seasons prior to his arrival.

Climbing the Ladder
The Bonnies are the only team among 14 school in the A-10 to improve on their league win record in each of the last five campaigns. Bona ended the 2007-08 season 2-14, was 6-10 in 08-09, 7-9 in 09-10, 8-8 last season before winning 10 of 16 contests most recently.

Nicholson Passes Lanier
With his 10-of-14 outing at Fordham, Nicholson moved past Bob Lanier (57.6) for first place on the Bona all-time field goal percentage chart (see page 15). The senior is shooting an absurd 65 percent from the field, including 9-of-15 from 3 in his last five games.

And Carter, Too
Nicholson grabbed his 850th rebound at La Salle to conclude the regular season, enough to pass George Carter and move into fourth on the all-time list.

The Answer is Simple
If asked to name all of the Atlantic 10 players who ranked among top four in conference scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocks, the answer is simple: Andrew Nicholson. He led the A-10 at 20.7ppg, sat second in rebounding (9.4), and third in FG% (63.3), while ranking fourth in blocks (28).    

Breaking 2,000
The Bonnies became the 17th school nationally and third in the Atlantic 10 (La Salle 6, Xavier 5) with at least five 2,000-point scorers when Andrew Nicholson broke the barrier with an and-1 against La Salle.

Cook, He's a Monster
Senior Da'Quan Cook finished with 16 poinits and six boards to help the Bonnies dismantle Fordham for the second time this season. It was his first double-figure scoring game in four outings and just two off his season-high 18. He also scored 18 in the previous meeting with the Rams.

More on 2,000
Duke boasts 11 2,000-point scorers, the most in the country. Boston College (7) is second, with Georgia Tech, La Salle, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Tennessee and Villanova claiming six apiece. Indiana, Michigan, Murray State, Oklahoma, Virgina, Wake Forest, Xavier and Bonas have five each.

Demitrius Goes Double, Too
Junior swingman Demitrius Conger talled 16 points and 10 boards in the win over Saint Joseph's, his second double-double in as many games. He posted his sixth career double-double with 12 points and 11 boards in the win at Charlotte and has scored in double figures in each of the last five contests, a feat he accomplished nearing the end of non-conference play as well.

Now It's Just Wright
After enduring a 6-for-37 slump from beyond the arc and losing his starting 2-guard spot from Dec. 23 to Feb. 18, Matthew Wright has emerged once more as the team's top perimeter threat - even if he comes off the bench. Wright buried three triples in three straight games of reserve duty (he still plays starter's minutes, though).

Hit the Road
St. Bonaventure owns a 6-8 record in true road tilts this season, just one victory shy of the program record for wins set by the 2001-02 team (7-8) and tied in 2008-09 (7-6). In Neutral site games, SBU is 0-1 with the only loss being a heartbreaker to NC State in Rochester.

Cleaning the Glass
Bona owns a +5.7 edge on the glass this season, best in the A-10. The Bonnies have outrebounded nine of their last 10 opponents - including +18, +19, +24 outings - and are 16-5 when grabbing more rebounds than the opposition.

Block Party
Each of Andrew Nicholson's four seasons rank as some of the best in school history. The 6-9 forward also owns the single-game record nine blocks - a feat he achieved as a freshman vs. Bucknell.

Changing of the Guards
Head coach Mark Schmidt swapped Jordan Gathers in for Matthew Wright versus Rhode Island, adjusting the starting lineup for the first time in 12 games. It marked Gathers' first career start and was the fifth different cast deployed by the Bonnies this season.  Since then, the Bonnies are 7-1.

Better Off the Bench
Matthew Wright earned the 2-guard spot in place of Michael Davenport earlier this season, but has come off the bench in in three straight, a decision that appears to have paid off for head coach Mark Schmidt. In 18 games as a starter, Wright averaged 6.9 points and shoots 28.4 percent from 3 with a 1.4 A:TO ratio. Coming off the bench, Wright posts 7.1 points, shoots 36.5 percent from 3, and has a 3.8:1 A:TO ratio.

Home Sweet Home
The Bonnies played their final home game of the season against Saint Joseph's, ending the campaign with an 11-2 mark in the RC. SBU is 14-3 in its last 17 home, regular season A-10 games and boasts an overall 411-187 mark since 1967 in the Reilly Center.

Johnson Ranks 5th in FT%
Chris Johnson is 57-65 from the charity stripe, good for an 87.7 percent clip, which currently ranks fifth all-time at SBU. He fails to qualify for the NCAAs free throw (2.5 makes/gm – 77.5) minimum but met the school's single-season standard (50 attempts) in the loss at UMass.

Keys to Victory
Coach Mark Schmidt has stressed three keys to the Bonnies' success on the hardwood throughout the season: Rebound; Defend; Take Care of the Ball. To that end, SBU is 16-5 when outrebounding opponents, 11-1 when holding the opposition under 40 percent from the field and 9-1 when posting fewer turnovers.

Start Me Up
Andrew Nicholson and Demitrius Conger have been staples of the Bona starting five over the past three seasons. Nicholson has started in 74 straight since missing the Dayton game as a sophomore, while Conger has started 62 straight since the beginning of his second season.

Fine From the Line
The Bonnies rank 5th nationally in free throw percentage at 76.0 percent (530-697, as of Mar. 13). SBU has shot more free throws that its opponent in 17 of its 20 wins this season.

Against the Grain
SBU put 3+ in double figures in  16 games this season. The Bonnies are 15-1 in those games, with the only loss coming at Saint Louis.

YOU So Good
Freshman C Youssou Ndoye (YOU-sue EN-doy) used two dunks and went 3-of-3 from the line to record a career-high nine points (3-4 FGs) at Xavier. The Dakar, Senegal native was also active in the OT win over URI with a dunk, drawn charge, block, steal and rebound in the final 77 seconds.

Closing it Out
The Bonnies got off to a tough 3-4 start to the season, and let late leads slip away in three of those four losses (Cleveland State, Arkansas State, Illinois). Following the Canisius game, however, St. Bonaventure has closed the door on the opposition - winning its last 15 games when holding a lead with 4:00 minutes to play (19-3).

Blowing the Doors Off
The Bonnies' 44-point margin of victory vs. Fordham is the biggest ever in conference play for SBU and just the second time with a 40+ point victory within the A-10. The other two biggest margins of victory have both come against Rhode Island: 1/29/00 (40, 84-44); 1/21/01 (36, 91-55).

He's a Hunter, That Gathers
Freshman guard Jordan Gathers had a breakout performance against Fordham, posting 12 points on 5-of-7 FGs (2-4 from 3) while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out three assists in 20 minutes. The Los Angeles, Calif. native booked career highs in each of those categories and stepped out of a 1-for-14 shooting funk to start his career, before breaking into the starting lineup vs. Rhode Island.

Andrew's Explosion
Andrew Nicholson's 30-point, 13-rebound, six-block effort against Dayton was just the third 30+/10+/5+ game in the nation over the last two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information Senior Researcher Jason McCallum. He's the first Atlantic 10 player to do it since Ahmad Nivins in 2008. The last "Power 6" conference player with a 30-10-5 game? Kevin Durant. It marked his sixth career 30-point game (first this season), seventh career game with five or more blocks (first since 5 @UMass 1/20/10), and 20th career double-double (third this season).

Canadians Lead the U.S.
St. Bona boasts three Canadian players on its roster in Andrew Nicholson (Mississauga, Ontario), Matthew Wright (Toronto) and Chris Johnson (North Preston, Nova Scotia). The trio have combined for 44.8 percent of SBU's points (883-1969) – the largest percentage of a team's points by Canadian players in the nation.

Let Me Upgrade Ya
There's no debating that the Bonnies (RPI: 96) have significantly upgraded the schedule - and the program -  during Mark Schmidt 's tenure. By comparison, SBU ended the 2006-07 season (prior to the Schmidt era) ranked 278th in the RPI.

Out for the season
The Bonnies have endured the loss of two players this year in guard Micahel Davenport and forward Marquise Simmons. Simmons tore his Achilles tendon in the season opener versus Cornell; Davenport collided with  another player while diving for a loose ball ruseulting in a season-ending shoulder injury. Both are expected to return next year.

House of Toupane
St. Bonaventure announced the signing of Jean Yves Toupane (Jawn two-PAIN) to a National Letter of Intent Nov. 16. The 6-foot-7 small forward from Senegal joins Lee Academy (Maine) teammate, freshman Youssou Ndoye.