Sunday, March 13, 2016.
A day that doesn't sit well with Bonnies fans. The Atlantic 10 Tournament in Brooklyn had already left a sour taste in the mouths of Bona fans with an overtime loss in the quarterfinals to the Davidson Wildcats 90-86. Many students including myself took the chance to take an opportunity the day after to take a day to sightsee in New York City.
Sunday morning came as my friends and I packed up from my home and got ready to head back to school. The trip felt normal. Talking about our trip to Chinatown, the Bonnies loss in the tournament and our workloads waiting for us after a long weekend away.
We decided to stop in Binghamton to grab a bite to eat at Tully’s and to watch the Selection Sunday show. We were hopeful. To us, the Bonnies had done all that they had could. There were questions about the Bonnies non-conference schedule and if they had done enough to secure a spot.
The show began without much fanfare and the team of analysts rolled through the beginning of the bracket. There was no sign of Bonaventure as they got to the halfway point of the bracket.
That’s when we turned to our phones. A bracket had been leaked on Twitter. The Bonnies were not listed on it. As they continued with the list, each team on the leaked bracket began to match up. A sliver of hope remained. As the final team rolled out, so did our hopes of being in the NCAA Tournament.
A feeling of dread swept across the table. Hands went to faces, people left the room and an instant sadness set in. The ride back to Olean was a difficult one. We tried to keep up our conversation, but there was a general silence that held for the rest of the way home. The Bonnies ended up losing their NIT game to the Wagner Seahawks 79-75.
This year felt different.
We had a similar car ride back home from the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Fewer people in the car left more silence on the way back home. The Bonnies had lost in the semifinals to Davidson 82-70. The team’s destiny in the big dance was once again left up to fate.
After hearing about Davidson’s win over the University of Rhode Island. The questions began to come back. “Did we do enough this year to make it?” “Will Bonaventure be snubbed once again?” We decided to pre-occupy ourselves with a Kanye West song bracket for the rest of the ride home, forcing our negative thoughts to take a back seat to the sounds of “Slow Jamz” and “30 Hours.”
The watch party in the Reilly Center was slowly starting to fill up. Students, local Bonnies fans and members of the media began to fill out the arena. The big video board at the center court held the broadcast. My hands went numb from the anticipation of the broadcast. Memories of the feelings of 2016 began to float through my head.
A new format for the selection show was used. The bids would be announced in alphabetical order. The automatic bids rolled through, eight at a time. The anxiety slowly began to build.
It came time for the at-large bids, first with the Crimson Tide.
With each team mentioned, seconds lasted forever. Rolling through the alphabet song learned in our youth, we followed along with each pick. Notre Dame was left out and a loud cheer broke out from the Bona faithful.
“Rhode Island” got mentioned and the room held their breath. The ‘S’ announcement came with Seton Hall first. For those fans who spell “Saint” out, the nerves set in.
And in an instant, the brown and white logo flashed onto the screen.
The students were sent into an absolute frenzy. I looked to grab my closest friend in a bear hug, tears streaming down my face. This moment made up for the entirety of 2016.
Now you may ask me “Why would you be excited about a first round play-in game?”
This is not something that is a regular occurrence here. This is now tournament appearance number seven for Bonaventure and the first since 2012. After an appearance in 2000, the Bonnies' last trip to the dance was 1978.
A big deal to a city of 14,452, an enrollment of 1,700 and a sea of Bonaventure alumni, alumna and fans spread around the world.
It feels like retribution. All the questions from 2016 coming back to this 2018 team. The emotions the fans, players, coaching staff and anyone else connected to the team felt after the snub. The mid-majors getting some pull from the committee.
Once again you may ask yourself why you would be interested in such a small game in which the Bonnies face a tough UCLA team. A game in which the Bonnies may be given a minor chance of winning and advancing on to the second round of the tournament.
That leaves a bigger question for you.
Where will you find yourself on Tuesday at 9:10 p.m.?
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