July 28 marked 100 days until the 2019-20 tip off for the Centennial Season of St. Bonaventure basketball. Each day leading up to the first game, St. Bonaventure Athletics will treat fans to moments from the history of Bonnies basketball, from tremendous photos, game programs, memorabilia and more, all leading up to a November 5 season tip.
Fans wishing to share photos or memorabilia from their favorite Bonnies moments should email them to email@example.com.
DAY 100 (July 28)
"The basket ball craze has struck the college at last. It was rather slow in coming, but when it did strike, it hit hard ... If we are to judge by the enthusiasm and all the talk that is going the rounds, we have several players of stellar transcendancy in our midst. This will, no doubt, result in a great many spirited games." - The Laurel, March 1901
The fitting place to begin our countdown is with the very first team in Bonnies basketball history, seen above in a team photo. Though basketball existed at St. Bonaventure dating back to at least 1901, a decade following the invention of the game by James Naismith, the first intercollegiate team suited up for the 1919-20 campaign following several years of intramural games and starts and stops due to lack of a proper court.
The construction of Butler Gymnasium put the wheels in motion for intercollegiate play, but its completion was halted due to World War I. Finally, the first game was played Dec. 11, 1919 in the newly constructed Butler Memorial Gymnasium as the first Bona team defeated a group of alumni, 29-18. The season continued with games vs. Seton Hall, Cathedral College, Grove City College, Westminster, St. Francis of Loretto, Canisius, and Duquesne, with a season record of 6-10. Richard Phelan was the first coach after joining St. Bonaventure College as a professor from Niagara. He would only coach the team for one season before Al Carmont took the reigns the following year, but the stage was set for a proud program. Phelan was posthumously honored five decades later with a dedication of a memorial plaque to his widow, Helen, along with the ceremonies for the University's inaugural Hall of Fame class.
Above: Standing: Rev. Gregory Carr, OFM (Athletic Director), Vincent McGolderick, Maurice Gavigan, Eugene McMahon (manager), Edward Murphy, Richard C. Phelan (coach). Sitting: William Heine, William Garvey (captain), Thomas Walsh
DAY 99 (July 29)
Here's a look at a page from the year-end awards banquet for the 1960-61 St. Bonaventure men's basketball team, the first NCAA Tournament team in school history.
St. Bonaventure’s 1960-61 team came as part of a golden era of Bonnies hoops and set records for which every team to follow would be compared. That team set the then-program record for wins with 24 and became the first SBU team to reach the NCAA Tournament. In their first-ever NCAA tourney game, the Bonnies defeated Rhode Island, 86-76, before falling to Wake Forest in the second round, 78-73. In the consolation round, Bona defeated Princeton.
Ranked third in the nation, Bona led the country in scoring at 88.5 points per game and shot better than 49 percent from the floor as a team. Co-captain Tom Stith set a season program record with 830 points as part of a career that saw him pour in 2,052 in Brown and White. He was named an All-American by every organization. Fellow co-captain Ron “Whitey” Martin was also named to several All-America honorable mention lists as was sophomore Fred Crawford, who led the squad with 34 points in the first round NCAA win. Stith and Martin were both selected in the NBA Draft by the New York Knicks following the year. Stith, Martin and Crawford all have their numbers retired in The RC rafters.
Coach Eddie Donovan earned Coach of the Year honors by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association and he too would jump to the NBA as head coach of the Knicks in May of 1961 after leading the program to four NIT berths as well as the unforgettable NCAA run of '61.
DAY 98 (July 30)
Photo courtesy of John Hayes
"In the University Center and every other arena in which they have appeared so far, the team is undefeated, untied and practically unmoved by it all." - Sports Illustrated, Feb. 19, 1968
This photo shows members of the 1967-68 St. Bonaventure basketball team posing in front of their plane at the airport in Tampa, fresh off winning the 1967 Christmas Tournament there. In the first game of the Floridian holiday tournament, SBU built a big lead and held on late to defeat Auburn, 77-73. The Bonnies won the tournament crown with an 83-77 victory over Seattle the following day, Dec. 19, 1967.
Members of the team are seen posing with the trophy – wearing travel attire including suits and matching SBU sport coats - before returning to Western New York. The ’67-68 Bonnies team was one for the ages and, at the time of this photo, in the midst of an incredible roll. St. Bonaventure delivered 22 consecutive victories and finished the regular season undefeated on the way to the NCAA Tournament. The Bonnies picked up a 23rd straight win, 102-93, over Boston College in the first round that year before finally dropping their second round game to North Carolina. Read more about the ’67-68 undefeated season
DAY 97 (July 31)
A lot has changed in the past century – including the evolution of basketball as one word. Often referred to as “basket ball” in the early days of the sport, it was so here as well on a pocket schedule for the 1922-23 St. Bonaventure season (along with the original ‘B’ logo). While much about the schedule is different today, fans will notice a few familiar rivals in Canisius, Niagara and Duquesne who continue to hold spots on the yearly calendar. Over the years the Bonnies have faced Duquesne 122 times, owning a 63-59 series edge, while playing Niagara 159 times (Bona holds a 88-71 advantage). As for Canisius, the Bonnies have played no other team more. The Little Three rivals have squared off 167 times with Bona besting the Griffs in 101 of those meetings.
Al Carmont, the second head coach in program history, was in his third - final, and best – season at the helm of the program, leading the Bonnies to a then-program record of 13 wins and a record of 13-10. That year came as part of 10 consecutive winning seasons between 1921 and 1931.
DAY 96 (August 1)
August 1 represents the birthday of former head coach Larry Weise, so today we take a look at this photo from a home game in 1969 where directs his Bonnies during a timeout huddle.
Weise guided the program for 12 seasons from 1961-73 and was St. Bonaventure’s all-time wins leader until last season when Mark Schmidt finally overtook the long-lasting mark of 202 victories set four decades prior.
He led the Bonnies to the 1964 and 1971 NIT as well as the NCAA Tournament in 1968 and 1970 – the team’s Final Four campaign. Between 1967 and 1971, the Bonnies won 21 or more games three times. He would leave the Bonnies sidelines with a career winning percentage of .692.
DAY 95 (August 2)
Members of the 1978 NCAA team pose for a photo wearing some of their best threads in this picture taken in the St. Bonaventure library. Tim Waterman, Delmar Harrod, Greg Sanders, Dan Viglianco, Nick Urzetta and Glenn Hagan all were part of the ’77-78 squad that returned to the NCAA Tournament just a year removed from winning the 1977 NIT championship. The Bonnies would capture 21 wins that season in the second of three straight years reaching the national postseason. Sanders scored a whopping 642 points in '77-78 (a career-best 22.1 ppg) while Harrod shot better than 57 percent from the floor. Sanders, of course, would set the program's all-time scoring record of 2,238 points, a record still held today, while Hagan was known as the ultimate team player, leaving the program with the school's assists record at the time and he still stands fourth with 486.
"His teams reflected their coach--they were aggressive, they were disciplined and they were full of spirit."
Head coach Carroll “Mike” Reilly talks to his team during the 1936-37 season. Though that was a down year for Bona – a 4-7 campaign – Reilly was one of the most successful coaches in school history. He led his basketball teams to a record of 133-75 – a .639 winning percentage – between 1928-1942. Reilly was also a legendary football coach, guiding the Bonnies on the gridiron for 13 years. Many of his football players also joined him on the court during basketball season (in 1937, no fewer than 10 of his players were on the football team as well. Today, the Bonnies home of the Reilly Center is named in his honor. University Archives page on Reilly
Reilly served as athletic director from 1930-43 and was also a mathematics professor at St. Bonaventure, his alma mater.
DAY 93 (August 4)
North Union Street in Olean filled with Bonnies fans to welcome home their team on March 8, 1970, following Bona’s win over Davidson, 85-72, in the NCAA Tournament opener.
On the way to a spot in the Final Four, here co-captains Billy Kalbaugh (back to the camera) and Bob Lanier are greeted by Mayor William O. Smith and county officials at the celebration parade. Lanier posted 28 points and 15 rebounds in the first round win, Matt Gantt (19 points, 16 rebounds) and Kalbaugh (17 points) all scored in double figures and the Bonnies were well on their way to a run that would never be forgotten by Western New York fans.
DAY 92 (August 5)
Coach Mark Schmidt at the press conference announcing his hiring and the front page of The Bona Venture from that week.
Some of the simplest words Mark Schmidt said at the press conference for his hiring as head coach on April 10, 2007, were his most prophetic – ‘We’re not going to stay down.’ Acknowledging the down state of the program at the time and the thoughts some around the country may have had about his accepting the position, Schmidt said that day – exactly 4,500 days ago today – “This is the perfect time to be the head coach at St. Bonaventure. Some people say the program is down, but I can tell you right now, it’s not going to stay down … We are going to build this thing brick by brick, and we are going to do it right. We’re going to bring St. Bonaventure back.”
Over 12 years later, Schmidt is now the program’s all-time leader in wins with 210, passing Larry Weise during the 2017-18 season. Schmidt's teams have won 18 or more games in each of the past six years. More importantly, he led the program to an Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship and NCAA bid in 2012, a share of the league's regular season title in 2016 and spot in the NIT as well as an NCAA Tournament victory and program-best 26 wins in 2018.
And his opening words have stood the test of time.
DAY 91 (August 6)
The crowd celebrates at the Reilly Center on Feb. 7, 2015, following a heart-pounding victory over nationally-ranked VCU, 73-71. Marcus Posley delivered a buzzer-beater to knock off the 18th-ranked Rams – his second such game-winner in as many games following a win at Davidson earlier in the week. His off-balance drive fell in just as the final horn sounded in front of a national TV audience – and 5,135 fans in attendance. Click for game story
Check back each day as we continue our 100 Years, 100 Days Countdown To Tip Off! Continue to the next set of countdown days