By Kerri Linsenbigler
Features Assignment Editor
Bonnies Fever has reached new heights on campus and in the community.
The success of the men’s and women’s basketball teams this season has sparked a surge of school spirit. Their upcoming appearances in the NCAAs have especially triggered Bona Madness on campus.
Lindsey James, a literacy graduate student, said she’s been staying up late to read articles published about the Bonaventure men and women’s basketball teams, including a Sports Illustrated article declaring the NCAA Tournament is the most valuable to Bonaventure compared to any other in the tournament.
“Being there means more to us than it does to other places,” James said, “And I honestly think that’s true.”
The road to the men’s Atlantic 10 championship Sunday was filled with disheartening losses, triumph and, of course, passionate Bonaventure fans.
The Bona Bubble
After the semifinal win against Massachusetts Saturday, students scrambled to find a way to Atlantic City. However, some students opted to stay behind and cheer on the Bonnies from campus.
“I had work and practices, and I wasn’t able to stay overnight with my friends Sunday,” Julia Anderson, a sophomore sports studies major, said. “I had classes and a test Monday that I couldn’t miss. I had a lot of work to do.”
Anderson watched the game with her roommate and said she was jealous of everyone who traveled to New Jersey.
“I do think it was a big opportunity I missed, and I’m kind of upset I couldn’t make it,” Anderson said. “But then again, just the weekend it was on, I had so much going on and it is nice that after the game I was able to do work and get things done other than sit on a bus.”
Even though Anderson did not travel to Atlantic City, she did drive to Nashville for the men’s game against Florida State today.
“I wanted to have my own opportunity to go to a game,” Anderson said. “I want to cheer on the Bonnies.”
Other students made the most of staying on campus. James said she went to a friend’s townhouse to order pizza and watch the championship game.
“It was awesome,” James said. “(My friends and I) were walking back to my house, and we all had our WolfPack shirts on, and every single car that went by was honking their horns and cheering for the Bonnies.”
However, James said she regretted missing the postgame ceremony, which wasn’t shown on TV.
“It would have been nice to see (Andrew) Nicholson cutting the net and actually getting the trophy,” she said.
Rebecca Gunning, a sophomore journalism and mass communication major, also stayed on campus for the game.
“I really couldn’t afford to go at the time,” Gunning said. “So me and my friends decided to stay here and watch it.”
Gunning and her friends headed to Randy’s Up the River to watch the title game. She said few students were there, but many residents of Allegany and Olean had come to watch.
“You could hear everyone yelling at every shot,” Gunning said. “Especially during the last couple of minutes, everyone was really intense.”
The realization both the men’s and women’s teams were headed to NCAAs seemed surreal, Gunning said.
“I think it’s a great thing for the community,” she said. “I expected the women to get in, but now the men at the last second get in. I just think it’s great.”
Even though she enjoyed the atmosphere at Randy’s, Gunning said she regretted staying in Allegany instead of heading to the boardwalk. This was one of the reasons she drove to Nashville yesterday.
“I didn’t want to miss it and have those same regrets again,” she said.
Regardless of who went to the game and who stayed behind, James said the excitement this week on campus has been incredible.
“The fact that they’re both in the tournament is amazing,” James said. “I’m very proud to be a Bonnie all the time, but especially now.”
Due to the huge amount of interest, the university scheduled two buses to bring students to Atlantic City. Unfortunately, only one made it.
“(My roommate) said if they make it to Sunday, then we’ll definitely take the bus, no question,” Lisa Malmgren, a senior journalism and mass communication, said. “We wanted to be first in line. We waited for two hours and signed up for the first bus.”
Vinny Russo, a senior accounting major, also got in line to take the first bus from Bonaventure to New Jersey.
“I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience,” Russo said. “This was the highlight. And now we finally made it to the Atlantic 10 tournament. I had to go to the championship game.”
About halfway through the trip, the bus driver discovered a fuel line had broken, according to Malmgren.
“At first, nobody thought we were going to go back. We thought we were going to be late to the game,” Malmgren said. “We just wanted to get there.”
When a new bus didn’t arrive until 10:30 a.m., the students knew they had no chance of making it, she said. So, one student suggested they stop on the way back to campus to watch the game. Approximately 50 students on the bus piled into Applebee’s in Hornell to cheer for the team.
“We watched the whole game in Hornell, which was actually really fun if the alternative hadn’t been being at the game,”Malmgren said.
“We made the best of a bad situation,” he said. “They gave us the whole bar area and turned all the TVs over to CBS. We were going crazy like we were at the game.”
Both Russo and Malmgren drove to Nashville yesterday, but they aren’t bitter about missing the game in Atlantic City.
“It was lucky that we were the first ones in line (for the bus), and it was lucky for them that their bus made it to Atlantic City,” Malmgren said.
To Russo, the success of the basketball teams and their impact on the community outweighed the bus’ situation.
“I don’t even think you can describe it in words, to be honest,” Russo said. “Basketball is such a big part of the community, not even just for Bonaventure. I think everyone’s proud of the way we fought back.”
All the way
Many students and alumni made it all the way down to Atlantic City, making a strong Bonaventure presence in the Garden State.
“We had such high expectations this year,” said Mike Iulianello, a sophomore marketing major. “I felt like it was one of those moments you couldn’t miss if you were a Bonaventure student.”
Whether they took the bus or drove themselves, Bonaventure students showed up in huge numbers to support their team.
“You saw Bonaventure people everywhere,” Iulianello said. “It was cool to go seven hours away and you still feel like you’re in the Bona Bubble. It felt like a home game.”
Amit Singal, a senior biology major, said the atmosphere and the national exposure made the game enjoyable.
“It was worth it for sure,” Singal said. “We never get that kind of attention.”
Singal said many of his friends from high school attended larger universities and had never seen St. Bonaventure basketball before Sunday. The attention is good for the school and the basketball teams, he said.
“It’s huge for the basketball program,” Singal said. “I think it has a lot to do with the girls, too. The combination of both programs doing so well the same year is big.”
Singal, Iulianello and Kevin Murphy, a senior accounting major, all said the trip to the NCAAs will have a great impact on the school and the community.
“It’s bigger than most of us realize it is,” Iulianello said. “It’s just great camaraderie for the school.”
“It put us back on the basketball map,” Singal said.
Iulianello said he and his friends consider this one of their top sports moments, and he’s glad he had the opportunity to attend.
Murphy and Singal agreed.
“I have a couple more months of school left,” Murphy said. “I figure the times you have are more important than the classroom.”