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Canadian Connection: Bonnies Head North of the Border for Naismith Classic Showdown vs. Rutgers

Saturday, Nov. 16 - 7:30 p.m.
ScotiaBank Arena - Toronto, Ontario
Online Coverage: Live Stats | Live Video | Live Audio
TV: ESPN+ | Radio: WPIG 95.7 FM / Bonnies Basketball Radio Network
James Naismith Classic Homepage | Complete Game Notes (PDF)

The Bonnies head north of the border for a meeting with Rutgers in Toronto as part of the James Naismith Classic on Saturday. It's been a decade since St. Bonaventure and Rutgers have faced off, but it will mark the 40th meeting all-time between the former Atlantic 10 foes.

The Bonnies will play in the finale of a tripleheader Saturday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, home of the defending NBA champion Raptors. St. Bonaventure faces off against Rutgers at 7:30 p.m. in the nightcap of a full day of action: Buffalo vs. Harvard kicks things off at 2:30 before Tennessee takes on Washington at 5:00 p.m.

Named for Dr. James Naismith, known as the inventor of the game of basketball, was born in Almonte, Ontario on Nov. 6, 1861, and thus his Ontario roots are the reason the classic bearing his name takes place in Toronto. He went on to become a physical education teacher, chaplain, author, and physician, and founder of the University of Kansas basketball program. He wrote the original rules of basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts, where the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame stands today.

For all Naismith Classic ticket information, please click here.

There will be a St. Bonaventure fan gathering Friday night and another prior to the game on Saturday.  

Friday beginning at 7 p.m. at The Friar: A Firkin Pub- 160 John St, Toronto and Saturday at 3 p.m. inside Bier Markt - 58 The Esplanade, Toronto.

St. Bonaventure basketball has long had ties to Canada. Some of the top players in Bonnies history hailed from Ontario in particular. Below is a listing of some of the top Bonnies to come from Ontario:
• Andrew Nicholson '12 – A native of nearby Mississauga, Ontario, Nicholson left SBU as one of the top players to ever don the Brown and White, ranking second in career scoring with 2,103 points after leading St. Bonaventure to its first-ever Atlantic 10 Championship as a senior. An All-American Honorable Mention, the 6-foot-9 forward was an NBA first round pick by the Orlando Magic in 2012 and also played for Washington and Brooklyn in the NBA. Today he is one of the top players in the Chinese Basketball League.
• Matthew Wright '14 – a Toronto product, Wright scored 1,037 points for the Bonnies and ranked eighth in program history at the time of his graduation with 156 career 3-pointers. Post-Bonaventure, he has become a star overseas, most recently in the Philippine Basketball Association. 
• Nelson Kaputo '19 – Kaputo was a four-year member of the Bonnies, coming to the program from Toronto. He was a part of a graduating class that won 86 games as he played in 115 career contests – including the 2016 NIT and 2018 NCAA Tournament. 
• Caswell Cyrus '00 – Cyrus is Bona's all-time leader in blocks with 289 and scored 1,121 points during his career. He was key to helping the Bonnies to the 2000 NCAA Tournament as well as the 1998 NIT.
• Vidal Massiah '02 – Massiah averaged 6.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game over his four seasons, playing in 115 career games out of his native Toronto.
• Rocky Llewellyn '89 – From Toronto, Llewellyn ranks 14th in program scoring with 1,572 career points, averaging 20.2 points as a senior season when he was named All-A-10. He's 10th all-time on the program list of 1,000-point, 500-rebound players with 617 rebounds.
• Barry Mungar '86 – Another Toronto native, Mungar ranks 22nd in program scoring with 1,361 points. The 6-foot-8 forward was selected in the NBA Draft by Washington post-Bonaventure and represented his home nation as a member of Team Canada in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He's now an SBU Athletics Hall of Fame member.

• Rob Samuels '85  – From Windsor, Ontario, Samuels ranks 35th in all-time scoring with 1,112 career points including the 1984-85 season when he averaged a career-best 13.8 ppg. He was named Second Team All-Atlantic 10 that season and the forward was also an A-10 All-Rookie Team pick following his freshman season of 1981-82.
• Norman Clarke '84 – Clarke ranks 37th in program history with 1,097 points and sixth in assists with 419. Also a product of Toronto, Clake also represented Canada as part of the 1988 Canadian Olympic Team. 
"I think our players will be excited to play a Big Ten team in an NBA arena in a culturally-rich city where most of them have never been. Over the past 20-to-25 years, we've had many great players who we recruited from the Toronto area, including (2012 first round NBA draft pick) Andrew Nicholson who was one of our all-time best," Schmidt said. "I also think we'll have strong fan support there, so all in all, this is an exciting opportunity and we are thrilled to be invited to participate."
St. Bonaventure is in a relatively unique spot, traveling outside the lower 48 for a contest. It will also be the first time playing in Canada for the program, but the Bonnies played three games in the Cayman Islands last year. Other games outside the lower 48: The Bonnies opened 2002-03 in the U.S. Virgin Islands, defeating Virginia Tech and Michigan before losing to BYU in the Paradise Jam title game; SBU defeated Hawaii and lost to Northern Arizona in Hawaii in 1998; and the Brown and White beat Furman and Oral Roberts before losing to Iowa in the finals of the 1997 San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico. 

Former Atlantic 10 rivals, this will be the 40th meeting all-time between St. Bonaventure and Rutgers – but the first in over a decade and just the second since the Scarlet Knights left the league in 1995. In the last meeting, St. Bonaventure scored an overtime road win, 64-63, on Nov. 23, 2008. In all, Rutgers owns a 21-18 edge in the series.

Perhaps the most famous meeting came in 1977 when the Bonnies needed a buzzer beater from Glenn Hagan to score a 79-77 win in overtime as part of the first round of the NIT. The Bonnies, of course, would go on to win the NIT championship after the thriller over Rutgers in Princeton, just 20 miles away from the RU campus. That win avenged a loss the year before, 85-80, when Rutgers sealed a perfect 26-0 record. 

St. Bonaventure is 33-37 all-time against current members of the Big Ten. Aside from Rutgers, the Bonnies also have a long history with another former Atlantic 10 foe, Penn State (11-10). The Bonnies also boast a winning record against Purdue (2-0) and Maryland (1-0) and .500 against 
Wisconsin (1-1).
Bona's last game vs. a Big Ten team was a win - the Bonnies knocked off Maryland, 63-61, on Nov. 24, 2017 in Florida at the Emerald Coast Classic. One current Bonnie played in that game - Amadi Ikpeze, who had four points in 16 minutes off the bench. 
  • Rutgers was picked to finish 12th in the Big Ten Conference in a preseason poll of 28 members of the media.
  • The Scarlet Knights have started the season with a 3-0 record, handing losses to Bryant (73-71), Niagara (86-39), and Drexel (62-56), all at home. Junior guard Geo Baker leads the team in scoring for the Rutgers, averaging 14 points per game so far.
  • The Scarlet Knights matched their conference win total of the last three years (7) combined in 2018–19, finishing with an overall record of 14-17 and 7-13 in conference play.
  • Rutgers was named the Most Improved Team of the 2018-19 season by Sports Illustrated in its year-end wards. The Scarlet Knights improved 70 positions in the rankings since the season's initial rating, best among all power conference programs.

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