The Bonnies, who are tied in the standings for being the greatest NCAA team this decade, moved to 3-0 in the A10 with a 20-point win over Fordham on Saturday. They controlled almost the entire game, except like 4 weird minutes in the 2nd half when FU all of a sudden was only down by 5. Of course, at that point, we remembered that the game wasn't over and easily extended the lead.
The Bonnies continue the northern expansion plan by hosting a game in Rochester against UMass-Amherst. You may have heard of El Classico or El Trafico, but I've tried to name this rivalry El Tweetico. That's because of the interesting relationship between #UMassTwitter and #BonaTwitter. Sometimes, we trash them for Derek Kellogg being Derek Kellogg. Other times, I jump on the b*ndwag*n as the Minutemen go to the Frozen Four.
I'm honestly surprised the Minutemen are still allowed to use that nickname despite its mockery of Rick Pitino. I guess Celtics fans still haven't gotten over his tenure as being the most disgraced Beantown coach until Alex Cora. Just like fellow Bay Stater Elizabeth Warren, Mass-Am had to atone for its offensive past towards Native Americans. I could never imagine Bona's doing such a thing or even having boomer fans that still wear headdresses in 2020...
Unlike St. Bonaventure, UMass-Amherst has never been to a Final Four. They did make an Elite 8 in 1995, but my memory is kind of fuzzy on what happened the following year. 1995 was the last year UM-A won an NCAA Tournament game under slimy head coach John Calimari.
Since then, the only thing The Other Amherst has done is ruin the original Wolfpack student section. In 2014, a ranked Minutemen squad lost big time in the Reilly Center. It gave way to an iconic photo and, unfortunately, a front row of chairback seats. This Orwellian move by the A10 to control freedom of thought is the biggest blemish on commissioner Bernadette McGlade's resume, folks.
The Blunder of the Berkshires is led by Matt McCall, but many A10 fans probably know him as FJK or Fake Jared Kushner. No, it's not because FJK's father-in-law said he would be dating FJK's wife if she wasn't his daughter. It's because they look alike, although McCall is way more stylish, even with his paltry annual salary (compared to Kush) of about $537,000.
Still, UMass-Amherst is my favorite soulless state school in an Amherst, so let's get to this preview's interview. Curry Hicks Sage is a leader of #UMassTwitter, likely the best sub-section of #A10Twitter. His name is a reference to the former home of UMassketball, Curry Hicks Cage. He's also the host of The UMass Basketball Podcast, the place I've made my only podcast appearance a few years ago.
Curry Hicks Sage says Bona fans follow two paths based on body parts. The first is the heart, Merton's Heart.
Avid Bona fans who love the game are as good if not better than any fan base in the A10. They understand how unique a history their program has, are passionate and the ones I've come to know are generally cool enough to be able to take a joke when I dish on them. We'll call this group the Thomas Merton subset of the Bona base. Kind, fun, Franciscan in their egalitarianism and belief in justice.
The other body part is the ass.
At the other end of the spectrum, there's a smattering of the Bona faithful that is completely grimy and classless. We'll call this the Paladino end of the spectrum. Just as Carl wanted to take a baseball bat to even high functioning parts of state government, this small-but-unfortunately vocal subset of Bona nation is not subtle.
One unfortunate example was after the tragic Davidson OT loss before the 2016 snub, when a couple Bonnies allegedly fought the police for some reason?
I believe the melee began because one kid was tossed from the arena with a few minutes to go in the infamous Davidson OT game. Somehow I ended up as an eyewitness to several of that dude's friends getting body slammed by NYPD's finest outside Barclays. It was a moment I'll never forget and one that forever left a bad taste in my mouth about a small faction of the Bona nation. Booze were obviously to blame but there's drunk and then there's whatever those kids were and there was nothing endearing about it whatsoever.
Still, Curry Hicks Sage hasn't let one bad interaction ruin his opinion on the rest of us.
I purposefully emphasized the extremes here but when I think of the median Bona fan it's just a dude in the suburbs of Rochester who works in IT at Corning Glass or a sales guy for a beer distributor on Long Island. Just solid, middle class dudes who will never forget when JR Bremer or Harry Moore hit what to the rest of the world was a fairly unmemorable shot but what for Bona fans somehow lives on in perpetual lure. And honestly, I respect the fuck out of that.
Bonaventure has played the fifth-most games against ZooMass, while the fourth-most common opponent for the Minutemen is the Bonnies. It's unclear if the games, which have been one-sided lately, are a rivalry beyond all of us with itchy Twitter fingers.
I would say it's a twitter construct but the problem is it feels like #BonasTwitter has more factions than #UMassTwitter. The Bona Blog inexplicably blocked me some years ago and many of the Bona B*ndwag*n folks seem equally self serious and devoid of humor. [...] There's still a large swath of Bona fans on twitter who miss a lot of the jokes and are hard to relate to. I'd say it's a friendly rivalry with the good Bona twitter and more of a serious one with the dumb ones.
A young Curry Hicks Sage, however, decided not to adopt the Brown and White, falling for the allure of Calipari.
The first ever game I can remember attending at Mullins Center was a UMass-Bonnies game. I believe it was winter of 94. I was 8. Harry Moore and Shandue McNeill led the Bonnies. I remember in part because my dad, a pretty laid back dude, realized that Shandue went to his HS and in uncharacteristic fashion he ran up to the locker room tunnel post game to yell something or another about their shared alma mater.
But like Petey Buckets last week, CHS has a sweet spot in his heart for the Bonnies.
I spent time at Thomas Merton's monastery in Kentucky in late October and was recently gifted a framed photo of him that I'm gonna put at my work desk next to a UMass basketball mug and a replica banner from Marcus Camby's jersey-to-the-rafters game, so a little piece of Bona lore will live alongside UMass in my daily life.
I'll try to get him to the RC one day, even if it's not an easy flight from the 413 to Cattaraugus County.
I relish making fun of Olean and its abject remoteness but I truly respect what Schmidt has been able to do there. I do think that long term it makes sense for Bona to go and dominate the MAAC, as I think success here may prove unsustainable post Schmidt, but so long as he's there you'll keep kicking our ass. He's the best coach in the league IMO and what he's been able to do there should be cherished daily if you're a die-hard Bonnie. Good luck and see you in Brooklyn!
Seven Steps to Victory
UMass-Amherst is officially a hockey school, so they'll be surprised when the ice is gone from Blue Cross Arena and we aren't wearing Amerks jerseys.
We play here every year, so we know how to literally pound the ROC.
It's a good thing we aren't playing UMass because we'd have to play 10-on-5 against UMass-Amherst and UMass-Lowell players.
Bill Cosby got his doctorate from UMass-Amherst, which inspired a fellow upstanding man named Harvey Weinstein to go to another school in an Amherst.
The Bonnies are 3-2 this season against schools wasting taxpayer money on football boondoggles in FBS (Ohio, Rutgers, FAU, MTSU, SUNY-Amherst).
The Minutemen are 321st in offensive rebounding percentage allowed when they're on defense. That's right, your boy got that KenPom subscription!
The best UMass athlete of the 21st century is literally named Kale, which is the exact opposite of a Rochester garbage plate.
BonaCommenter's Score on #a102k20: Bona's 91, UMass-Amherst 82
Unrealistic 2k Stat of the Game: The Minutemen shot 54%, even though they were down as much as 17. Seems like a math riddle...
Bonnies A10Talk.com Forum Quote of the Day: "If you're talking fake J. Kush I gotta go with the flak jacket look ftw. It could be put to real use if he wanted to go out for a white wine spritzer after a win at St. Joe's."
UMass-Amherst Message Board Quote of the Day: "Getting this game in Rochester is huge. At least the mongrels from that hell hole in Olean will be more than 6" from the court."
May the better team in El Tweetico win: the Bonnies!