Sunday, March 16, 2014

Atlantic 10 Tournament: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

BROOKLYN, NY -- Semifinal Saturday at Barclays Center. Trains were inundated with early revelers for St. Patrick’s Day. On the train from Secaucus, I met some recent St. Bonaventure alums. On the subway ride from Penn Station, I got to meet and chat with four seniors from Bonaventure. As a Bonaventure alum, I discussed with the four young ladies the changes in the area Bonaventure is based and of course, basketball. They all live closer to school and had to travel several hours to arrive. They all cheerfully admitted to ‘storming the court’ (as many Bona fans did) in the home win over UMass.

Inside, I met with more fellow alums and University President Sister Margaret Carney. “Are you rooting for us?” she asks due to my media affiliation. I assured her, impartiality is the key but deep down…you know the answer.

The objective view notes St. Joe’s, after being tied at 29 at the half, pulled away in the second half to advance. Three games in three days for the Bonnies, one of those ‘off nights, (or days)’ are two explanations.

Both coaches, Phil Martelli of St. Joe’s and Bonaventure’s Mark Schmidt, bought into those thoughts but quickly added, St. Joe’s deserves credit for outstanding defense. They did not limit Bonaventure to four second half field goals by chance.

The second game provided more drama than a 74-­55 final could suggest. VCU lost sophomore guard Melvin Johnson in the early minutes to a knee injury. This went beyond a talented player exiting, as VCU mentor Shaka Smart said in a tone deeper than concer of losing points and minutes, “Melvin is also a great teammate.” The George Washington zone was effective and the Rams found another trip to the finals could be in jeopardy.

By staying with the game plan, so vital in these tenuous situations, VCU stayed aggressive. The ‘HAVOC’ spelled out by letters held in the rafters soon took effect on the floor. Over the last eight minutes, VCU went on a 21­-8 run, limiting GW to one field goal to close it out.

VCU and St. Joe’s would advance. GW and St. Bonaventure exit, with disappointment in a loss, but the positive of achieving the semifinal round.

Ray and the four Bonaventure seniors outside Barclays Center:
St. Bonaventure president Sister Margaret Carney is very popular and accessible to all in the Bona family. Here, Ray poses with Sister Margaret and fellow alum Priscilla Edwards, now a St. John's women's basketball assistant coach:
With victory in hand, Saint Joseph's exits the Barclays Center court:
VCU creating havoc on the inbounds pass:
With VCU's dance team, it is not havoc, but rather, the descriptions are grace and expertise:
VCU's Shaka Smart sizes things up on the sidelines:
Exiting Barclays Center after the semifinals:

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