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March 7, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Friday, March 7th, 2003

by Jon Gonzalez

Well the latest twist is that the Atlantic 10 may discuss dumping St. Bonaventure because the program embarrassed the league by refusing to play its final two games of the season. A-10 school presidents were livid with the Bonnies’ decision to forfeit their season, leaving Dayton and UMass without games.

What a load of garbage.

For days, everyone and their mother has been pilling on the Bonnies for calling it quits. In fact, St. Bonaventure’s decision has turned the basketball program into a running joke overnight. Oh if people were not so quick to judge.

What critics are failing to do is put themselves in the position of the St. Bonaventure players who walked out. They haven’t thought about what they would feel if they were on a team that was suddenly stripped of six games and a trip to the conference tournament. What they would feel if suddenly their whole season was turned to mush just because the school made a mistake and let an ineligible transfer suit up with the team.

Of course I feel badly for the players who wanted to go on and finish the season, but I cannot in good faith be critical of the ones who walked. They were not responsible for Jamil Terrell being able to play when he wasn’t supposed to, they didn’t have a hand in that. It would have been one thing if the A-10 just stripped the team of six wins and stopped there. But they had to go ahead and ban them from the tournament. What for? I know that in many cases where schools are punished, it is the administration’s fault and the players suffer by not being able to go postseason tournaments. But in other situations, bans are usually handed out at later dates, not smack dab in the middle of the season without a sufficient amount of investigation time. Here, the A-10 sucker punched St. Bonaventure with a ban that does not even have a precedent.

So now the A-10 is mad. They basically kick the Bonnies in the boiler and say, “What, you’re not going to finish your games after we unfairly railroaded your season? What nerve!” It’s obscene that the A-10 goes along and ruins St. Bonaventure’s season and gets mad that the Bonnies quit. So I guess they were just supposed to sheepishly agree with your mandate, play the last two games and go away quietly? Has anyone ever heard of taking a stand?

Now I am not in anyway advocating quitting. Fight until the end, never give up, rah rah rah and all that jazz. But this situation is a totally different story and is much deeper than St. Bonaventure giving up. As with many situations in life, there are more important things than right and wrong and winning and quitting. Doing the right thing sometimes takes precedent, and this is one of those times.

The players who quit did so because they felt that they had to, that this was the way they could take their stand. If in their hearts, those St.Bonaventure players who quit felt they were wronged, they had no other alternative. If they would have gone out and played those last two games, they might have well have said that we don’t care what you do A-10, you can make us play out hands behind our backs and we will do whatever you want. In many respects, the real quitting might have been done if they went along and played those last two games. If they would have played the games while disagreeing with the mandate, the Bonnies would have shown no backbone. Now, amid controversy and criticism, the Bonnies who decided to take a stand can stand tall, knowing that they did what they believed was the right thing. Now, go ahead St. Bonaventure, enjoy your spring break.

Side Dishes

Not Quite Yet: With a win Thursday night, No.23 Utah could have clinched the Mountain West Regular season title. But oh those pesky Rams. Michael Morris hit two three-pointers in the final minute as Colorado State (16-12,4-8) beat Utah (22-6,10-3) 66-65. It got so bad for the Utes that even coach Rick Majerus was ejected at halftime for arguing with the referees. Utah can still clinch the top spot in the MWC Tournament with a win against Wyoming on Saturday.

Ho Hum: The Tigers, Blue Devils and Wildcats might as well have played blindfolded in their games Thursday night. No.25 Memphis rolled Houston 71-56 behind John Grice’s 15 points. The win was the Tigers’ 10th straight.

It was senior night at Cameron Indoor Stadium and No.10 Duke didn’t disappoint, or did they? Despite forcing 24 turnovers in a 72-56 route of Florida State, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was angry at the Cameron Crazies. Coach K said that he had never seen a Cameron crowd as dead as the one he saw during the second half of Thursday’s game. Coach K went on to say that the reason for the fan’s actions was that they have been spoiled because of Duke’s success and don’t realize the hard work this years’ team has put forth. But coach, you just beat Florida State.

Arizona did just enough to snuff out Oregon State. The Wildcats beat the Beavers 72-60. The Beavers hung in the contest, but were not game enough for the top ranked ‘Cats.

Off the Bubble?: With wins Thursday night, St. Johns, BYU and Arizona State may have taken a step closer from the bubble to an NCAA bid. The Johnnies beat Rutgers 75-59, BYU took out Wyoming 69-50 and the Sun Devils scorched Oregon 91-77. Meanwhile, in their losses, Oregon and Wyoming did not do much to help their NCAA cases.

Championship Week: In quarterfinal action, (5) Central Florida beat (4) Jacksonville State, (1) Mercer beat (8) Jacksonville 73-57, (7) Georgia State upset (2) Belmont 76-58 and (3) Troy State beat (6) Samford 70-54. Meanwhile, in the SoCon quarterfinal action, (1S) College of Charleston beat (5S) Georgia Southern 67-53, (2N) East Tennessee State beat (3S) Wofford 80-75, (5N) VMI upset (1N) Davidson and (2S) Chattanooga clobbered (3N) Appalachian State 98-67. Be sure to check out the latest scores and recaps in our Championship Week coverage.

Bummer For Bonner?: Matt Bonner’s injured right foot might keep him out of Florida’s lineup for the Gators’ pivotal match-up against Kentucky Saturday. The senior forward was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, which in English means that the tissue which connects the heel bone to the base of the toes. Bonner has had a pain in his foot for about five days and woke up the morning after Tuesday’s loss to Georgia with cramping in the foot. Bonner was on crutches Thursday and he and coach Billy Donovan will consult with doctors to determine Bonner’s playing status for Saturday.

Gopher Gone For Season: Minnesota reserve guard Aaron Robinson will be out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. The sophomore hurt his knee just before halftime of the Gopher’s loss to Indiana on Tuesday. Robinson is scheduled to have surgery to repair the torn cartilage in his right knee on Friday. Robinson was averaging 2.0 points a game this season.

Money Back Guarantee: St. Bonaventure will give refunds to fans who purchased tickets for Saturday’s home game against Dayton. The game was supposed to be the regular season finale for the Bonnies. The move comes after the A-10 stripped St. Bonaventure of six conference wins for use of ineligible player Jamil Terrell. The Bonnies responded by boycotting their final two games of the season. Luckily, fans can take advantage of the cancellations and focus on a good college basketball team. Not sure how that money will make Dayton feel, especially since they lose their season finale, and a chance to make a good impression on the Tournament committee.

Goin’ Back to Nevada: The Kansas Jayhawks will travel to Nevada next season to participate in the Wolfpack Classic. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, a big reason Kansas accepted the invite was because the Jayhawks signed Reno High School star David Padgett in November. Along with Nevada and Kansas, UC Santa Barbara and a fourth team will be in Reno for the event that will be held Dec.20-21.

Dayton Liar: Former Dayton player Sammy Smith plead guilty to making up a story to police about being abducted. Smith plead guilty on Tuesday in Franklin County Municipal Court to a charge of providing false information to mislead a public official. He was fined 150 dollars, placed on probation for one year and has to serve 40 hours of community service. Smith was reported missing on Oct.17 when failed to attend classes and basketball practices. The next night he was found in Lake Worth, TX flagging down a patrolman. Smith told the officer that he was abducted and forced to drive at gunpoint until he escaped. Investigations would prove that the abduction never happened. Smith played two seasons at Dayton before transferring to Capital University in Columbus, OH.

WSU Coach Out: According to ESPN.com and the Spokesman Review, Washington State basketball coach Paul Graham will be fired, probably as soon as Monday. Graham is in the fourth year of a five-year contract. He is 31-78 during the four-year span, having won more 10 games in a season only once. The Cougars are 7-19 this season. WSU’s regular season finale is Saturday at USC.

Tonight’s Menu

A plethora of action featuring conference tourneys galore highlight a busy Friday night of college basketball.

&#8226 VMI looks to continue its magical run in the Southern Conference Tournament as the (5S) Keydets play (2S) Chattanooga in the SoCon semis. The other semifinal game features (1S) College of Charleston against (2N) East Tennessee State.

&#8226 VMI looks to continue its magical run in the Southern Conference Tournament as the (5S) Keydets play (2S) Chattanooga in the SoCon semis. The other semifinal game features (1S) College of Charleston against (2N) East Tennessee State.

&#8226 Penn can pack up its dancing shoes if they can beat Columbia tonight at 7 p.m. A win would clinch a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the Quakers and make them the first entrant into the field of 65. Other Ivy League action of note features second place Brown at Dartmouth.

• Aside from the A-Sun and SoCon resuming their conference tournaments, the Big South and Ohio Valley also head into their semifinal rounds. The Colonial, Horizon, MAAC, MVC, Sun Belt and WCC all start their first rounds today. For all the details on every conference tournament, check out our Championship Week coverage.

Enjoy Championship Week and have a great Friday people. Later.

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