One hundred years of Bonnies basketball has come down to this moment: the Boca Raton Boomer Classic's mega championship at home against Hofstra on Saturday. Bona's won the hall-of-fame championship down on the silver-haired shores of Boca, while the Pride won the less prestigious early bird special in the Naismith bracket. Aside from the Boca Boomer title, Saturday's game is a celebration of what makes many of us happy, frustrated, drunk, socially awkward, create Twitter accounts, wear headdresses in basically 2020 (seriously, this still happens), and ignore school/work responsibilities: Bonnies basketball.
It's been a good journey for Bonnies basketball, which started back when Jebediah Bonaventure Jr. brought two peach baskets to the Enchanted Mountains after he returned from World War I. The first recorded Bona basketball game was December 11, 1919, when the Bonnies defeated a team of alums 29-18. That makes sense because I'm sure a group of random alums in 2019 would only lose by 11 to a Division I team if that happened today. In that 1919-20 season, the Bonnies played teams like Grove City College, Cathedral College and Westminster, three teams that 7-0 Duquesne has actually played this season.
The first Bonnies postseason basketball game was in the 1949 NCIT. While the Bonnies lost 47-43 to Gonzaga, both programs would prove to be equals over the next 70 years by each making one Final Four. Ken Murray led the way in that game against the Zags with 15 points, but in typical Bona fashion, ended the game with 5 fouls.
While the hippies were smoking reefer on the other side of the state near Woodstock, the Bonnies were not slackers in the 60's. We made a couple Sweet 16's and ended the season ranked #3 in 1961 and 1968. Players like Tom Stith, Sam Stith and Fred Crawford laid the groundwork for what would be the coronation of the Bonnies as 1970 world champions. A man many people forgot went to Bona's named Bob Lanier came to Cattaraugus County towards the end of the decade to do just that.
The Nice-70 season started off tremendously. The team went 18-1 in the regular season, with signature wins over Purdue and Belmont Abbey. The one loss to Villanova in the regular season, however, would be a fatal flaw for this season. The good guys cruised their way to the Elite Eight against that same Nova team. Bona's got revenge against the Wildcats in an Elite Eight blowout, but Villanova could not let this earned win go unpunished. A player maliciously wounded the great Lanier and surely, the injury was serious.
The Bonnies went on to the Final Four, but there would be no shot at John Wooden and his UCLA players he paid through Nike, even though it didn't exist yet. The Jacksonville Jaguars got the best of us and the rest is history. They should probably make some kind of documentary about the 1970 Final Four team. I'd call it "Incomplete Hopes."
Bonaventure would go on to slay Phi Slama Jamma or whatever and Houston to win the 1977 NIT, which many historians consider better than the NCAA and NBA titles in that year. We don't need to talk about the 80's and 90's. Reaganomics was bad for Bona basketball. Many of us are familiar enough with the milestones of the 21st century. A double OT heartbreak to Kentucky in 2000, [REDACTED] in 2003, the 2012 Atlantic 10 national championship, the Oklahoma Screw Job of 2016 and the Maryland-Eastern Shore power outage of 2017. UCLA was finally slain in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, with LaVar Ball replacing Wooden this time.
Seven Steps to Victory
Put WD-40 on the garage door hinge of a brace Osun is wearing.
Send Mihalich back to Niagara.
Give Lanier a #31 jersey that says "Not Bob Lainer" on the back. No one will ever notice.
Plant a welding degree in Hofstra's locker room.
Activate Coburn as a double agent by saying the one thing someone from Long Island would never say: the proper pronunciation of the word "coffee."
It's technically a Boomer Classic game, so occupy Eli Pemberton by telling him to fix all our printers in Plassmann, which really just need new ink cartridges.
We are 4-1, which means we don't have to worry about the pressure of possibly blowing a 3-1 lead.
Bona Bandwagon Commenter's Score on #a102k20: Bonnies 98, Hofstra 87
Unrealistic 2k Stat of the Game: If Osun plays, Bonnies shot 53% from the field. If Osun doesn't play, he put up 24 points and 8 rebounds.
Bandwagon Quote of the Day from the LesterGreen Debates: "Keep Lester banned despite the entire board disagreeing all because of ego placed on an online forum.......sure.,,,,but can we get Tom banned as well? Maybe as a compromise? I mean he provides far less info than Lester and was caught using profanities on same thread to same user. Seems fair."
Hofstra Message Board Quote of the Day: "I believe this will be a tough one for us. The Bonnies are always tough to play in Olean, NY and to make matters worse, they are honoring their Final Four team and the game is expected to be a sellout."
Another 100 years of Bonnies basketball begins Saturday. Let's not look ahead to Gannon and let's get this Winn.