St. Bonaventure-Florida St. Preview
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies insist they feel no pressure with
nothing to lose and everything to gain in the NCAA tournament.
Memories of a painful loss a year ago still haunt the
10th-ranked Florida State Seminoles who have no intention of
The two will square off Friday in the East region.
”Personally, I’ve thought about it every day since the VCU
game,” Florida State senior Bernard James said Thursday of last
year’s 71-70 overtime loss to VCU in the regional semifinals.
A motivated Florida State (24-9) won its first ever Atlantic
Coast Conference tournament title and a three seed in the
The Seminoles use that VCU loss to check any ego in a season
where they beat North Carolina and Duke twice.
Florida State’s 76-73 win on Jan. 21 over Duke snapped the Blue
Devils’ 45-game home winning streak and the Seminoles captured the
ACC crown with their second win over the Tar Heels.
James said they’ve already talked about this tournament being
their chance to right the wrong of their loss a year ago.
”We use it as a constant reminder every day to stay focused and
to perform at the top of our ability,” James said.
The 14th-seeded Bonnies’ biggest win may have been in the
Atlantic 10 tournament as they beat first Massachusetts, then
Xavier for their first-ever title too. That gave them their first
NCAA berth since 2000 just a few days after coach Mark Schmidt
thought his team was headed toward the College Basketball
Now Schmidt says they’re playing with house money after the
miracle in Atlantic City.
”As a kid you grow up dreaming about playing in the NCAA
tournament and a week ago that dream wasn’t going to become
reality, and somehow, some way it became, and our guys can’t wait
to play,” Schmidt said. ”They’re excited looking forward to the
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton warns not to buy into St.
Bonaventure as a Cinderella cliche. He has seen enough video on the
Bonnies to know better. Hamilton said they’re a team that could
compete in the ACC with 6-foot-9 senior forward Andrew Nicholson,
the A-10 player of the year.
Hamilton said he’s probably like the NBA scouts that have taken
so many notes on the possible first-round draft pick. Nicholson not
only averages 18.4 points a game, he hits 65 percent of his shots,
which is better than Bonnies’ legend and former NBA player Bob
Lanier. Nicholson also shoots 39.6 percent beyond the arc, helping
the Bonnies average 70.7 points per game.
”He’s a moving target, and you really can’t key on him as
well,” Hamilton said. ”He’s not always on the post. He’s not
always on the perimeter, plus he can take you off the
This is just the sixth NCAA trip all-time for the Bonnies, a
program that has been building back since 2003 when a player who
transferred in with only a welding certificate from a Georgia
community college was ruled ineligible and the team was barred from
the A-10 tournament. The players boycotted their final two regular
season games, the coach was fired and the president resigned.
Nicholson said he’s glad to be on a team that brought
respectability back to the program. Sophomore point guard Charlon
Kloof said they’re not satisfied with just being here.
”For us, it wasn’t that much of a surprise to win the A-10,”
Kloof said. ”We wanted to surprise the world. For us, it’s OK, we
reached one of our goals, let’s try to see what we can do in the
NCAA tournament.’ So you just try to take it one day at a time, one
game at a time.”
The Seminoles are pretty used to finishing the season in the
NCAA tournament with this a school record fourth straight trip.
This is their highest seeding since 1993 when they reached a
regional final for a program that lost the 1972 national
championship game to UCLA.
This group plays stingy defense, leading the ACC holding
opponents to 38.1 percent shooting. And they’re very experienced
with four seniors who’ve started the last half of the season.
They’re led by James and top scorer Michael Snaer, a junior. The
Seminoles are 15-3 since a 79-59 loss at Clemson that prompted some
James said they’ve taken their communication to a new level over
the past four or five games.
”We’re talking all the time on the court. It’s basically what
our coach has been trying to get us to do since Day one,” James
said. ”And it’s a little easier said than done, but once you get
that mindset, the mindset we’re in now of talking constantly, just
letting your teammates know every single thing you’re doing when
you’re on the court.”