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Two transfer from St. Bonaventure

By Rodney McKissic

Add two more names to the ever expanding transfer list: St. Bonaventure's Matthias Runs and Jean Yves Toupane who the school announced will not return to the program.

These aren’t huge losses. Runs, a 7-foot sophomore center from Hilversum, Netherlands, played in just two games while Toupane, a 6-foot-7 forward from Dakar, Senegal, played in six and scored four points.

The only other Big 4 player who has elected to transfer thus far is Niagara's Tajere McCall.

Bonnies look to extend Schmidt's contract

By Rodney McKissic

Now that Mark Schmidt has moved on from Boston College, St. Bonaventure is looking to extend his contract.

Schmidt’s current deal runs through the 2018-19 season and the Bonnies hope to extend the coach another two years, according to a source.

“We are thrilled that Mark has decided to continue as the head coach of our men’s basketball program," St. Bonaventure AD Steve Watson said in a statement released by the school. “He has done a remarkable job of building the program. We hope Mark will be our coach for a long time, and to that end, we have started discussions about an extension of our commitment to him.”

ESPN reported Tuesday morning that Schmidt was no longer an option at Boston College. A source confirmed that Schmidt spoke with former South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler, whose search firm is working on behalf of Boston College. According to the source, Boston College athletics director Brad Bates did not ask St. Bonaventure athletics director Steve Watson permission to speak with Schmidt, a common practice among ADs, although Bates was not obligated to do so.

Fogler spoke directly to Schmidt, who kept Watson apprised of the proceedings, the source said. Neither Schmidt nor Watson were available for comment.

Schmidt has a 106-109 record at St. Bonaventure and in 2012 he led the Bonnies to their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2000. Schmidt played at Boston College from 1981-85.

“It is an honor to be the head coach at St. Bonaventure,” Schmidt said in a statement released by the school. “This is a fantastic University with passionate fans in a community my family and I are proud to call home.”

Report: Schmidt no longer an option at Boston College

By Rodney McKissic

St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt is no longer an option at Boston College, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Goodman is also reporting that Syracuse University assistant Mike Hopkins is no longer under consideration as well.

Schmidt reportedly interviewed at Boston College last week; nevertheless according to Mark Blaudschun of www.ajerseyguy.com, Schmidt spoke with Eddie Fogler, whose search firm is working on behalf of the school last week. Schmidt played at BC from 1981-85.

Hopkins interviewed on campus on Saturday and on Monday Ohio University coach Jim Christian emerged as a viable candidate which stands to reason because he’s one of Fogler’s clients. Christian’s head coaching stops include Kent State and TCU.  It is unknown if Christian has scheduled an interview.

Schmidt, who was unavailable for comment, recently completed his seventh season at St. Bonaventure where he has a 106-109 record. In 2012, Schmidt led the Bonnies to their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2000.

Duke Lost??

By Bob DiCesare

Sometimes the participants are the last to know.

UConn seniors Shabazz Napier and Niels Giffey were fielding questions from the riser Friday afternoon when they were asked to comment on the uncertain nature of the NCAA Tournament, what with Louisville barely escaping and Duke getting beat. It went like this:

Giffey: Duke lost?
Napier Duke lost?
Moderator Paul Vecchio: Duke lost, yeah, to Mercer.
Napier: Oh, wow!
Vecchio: I like your focus. You haven't been paying attention.
Giffey: No, I haven't.
Napier: Wow! That's just how the tournament is. Just on any given day, Duke can lose. Louisville could have lost. Who did they play? Mercer?
Vecchio: Mercer.
Napier: That's a good team.

Ennis reunites with CIA Bounce alum Pierre

By Rodney McKissic

It will be a reunion of sorts for Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis and Dayton sophomore forward Dyshawn Pierre, who were teammates with the Canadian-based AAU program CIA Bounce.

Both are coming off strong performances in their second round matchups on Thursday. In his first NCAA Tournament game, Ennis helped the Orange easily dispatch Western Michigan, 77-53, with 16 points and six assists.

In the Flyers 60-59 upset over Ohio State, Dayton trailed 57-55 when Pierre was fouled on a three-point attempt with 26 seconds left and calmly canned all three free throws. That proved to be the difference after each team exchanged baskets, including Vee Stanford’s winner.

“Dyshawn is one of those players where you have to watch him a couple of games to really appreciate how good he is,” Ennis said. “I’ve watched him go up against nearly everybody in that class and really go at them. He’s really an underrated player and one of their keys.”

Ennis played one summer with Pierre on Bounce, the program run by Tony McIntyre, Ennis’ father. He starred at Anderson Collegiate Vocational Institute in Whitby, Ont., where he registered over 3,500 points and nearly 1,800 rebounds.

“At first you look at him and his game is a little awkward but as you keep watching him you can see his mid-range game and finishing around the basket,” Ennis said. “Offensively, he has the full package but he does a great job.”

Ennis spoke with Pierre briefly today about Bounce alums still the NCAAs and making noise throughout college basketball. That includes Ennis’ brother, Dylan, from Villanova, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Iowa State’s and Melvin Ejim and Naz Long.

“It will be a great day for Canada basketball to have two players on this level contributing and going at each other,” Ennis said. “It’s a big step for us to have this many players and having so many contributors not only playing on these teams but contributing throughout the country.”

Syracuse faced different styles in the ACC

By Rodney McKissic

Before Syracuse entered the ACC, the Orange heard they would have to change its style because their new league was more finesse than physical. Not true according to C.J. Fair.

“I think the physicality of the ACC was underestimated or underrated I should say,” Fair said. “You got some teams that have similar styles like Virginia has a similar style to Pittsburgh. You play against Duke, they’re more up and down. It’s just you get a taste of everything in the ACC, not just one style.”

Bayr Moussa Keita agrees.

“Everybody told us it’s a run and gun type of play, but we play different teams, and they have a different style of play. You play Boston College and they’re going to make you hold the ball and work the defense. If you play Duke, they’re going to go up and down. So I think I underestimated it.”

Football with Doug Marrone laced Greg Paulus' coaching career

By Tim Graham

Mike Krzyzewski was an obvious influence on Greg Paulus' basketball coaching career.

Thad Matta, too, of course.

So has Jim Boeheim.

But don't forget Doug Marrone.

That's right. Paulus credits the Buffalo Bills coach for making a difference.

Paulus essentially was immersed in Boeheim's program while growing up in Syracuse. Paulus played point guard for Krzyzewski at Duke.

Now Paulus is an assistant to Matta at Ohio State.

But in between Duke and Ohio State, the two-sport Christian Brothers Academy star decided to give football another whirl. He enrolled at Syracuse in 2009 as a graduate student and won the starting quarterback job in Marrone's first season as head coach.

"I learned a lot about myself, a lot about changing the culture of a program," Paulus said today at the First Niagara Center, where Ohio State will play Dayton on Thursday in the NCAA basketball tournament.

"We've seen where Syracuse was before Coach Marrone and where it is now. It's come a long way, and I'm proud to have had that opportunity.

"Moving forward, I lean on those experiences even though they're different sports. I know what I got out of that, a great deal."

Paulus turned down scholarships to play football at Notre Dame and Miami (Fla.), choosing instead to concentrate solely on basketball. At Duke, he became only the fourth freshman to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in assists.

He graduated from Duke in four years, leaving him one year of athletic eligibility if he wanted it. With no guarantees, he reported to his hometown program, which had been in shambles and had just hired a first-time head coach.

"It happened very quickly," Paulus said. "I ended up graduating from Duke in May, and the football season starts in August.

"I'm not someone who pays attention to the odds. All I wanted was an opportunity. I knew it was for one year, so all I wanted was a chance to compete for a starting position.

"I made the transition to try to learn the playbook, meet the guys on the team and try to help out the Syracuse program in whatever way possible. It was a quick turnaround to learn everything, but I had a lot of fun with it."

Paulus beat out incumbent Cameron Dantley and redshirt freshman Ryan Nassib for the job. Marrone wanted to establish a new culture, and a winner from a program such as Duke basketball was a gift. Paulus was named a captain.

Paulus' football stat line was mediocre. He completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 2,024 yards and 13 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. The New Orleans Saints invited Paulus to minicamp in 2010 before he focused on basketball coaching full-time.

"I would do it again in a heartbeat," Paulus said. "The opportunity to play football for a year, get my masters from the Newhouse School of Public Communications and have a chance to play for Doug Marrone is something that I'll never forget."

And when the Bills went into opening day with a total of one NFL start among their three quarterbacks, including Duke pal Thad Lewis, did Paulus have any fanciful thoughts?

"No desire," Paulus said with a laugh. "Just to see Coach Marrone do it at the highest level, I was real proud to have played for him."

If the higher seeds win Thursday, then Paulus will face Syracuse for the second time in his coaching career. Ohio State defeated Syracuse to reach the 2012 Final Four.

Canisius to CIT

By Bob DiCesare

Canisius has accepted a bid to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and will host a first-round game at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Koessler Athletic Center against an opponent to be determined.

It's the second straight postseason appearance for the Griffs (21-12), who last Sunday fell to Iona in the semifinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament.

Canisius played in the CIT last season, defeating Elon and Youngstown State before a third-round loss to Evansville.

The invitation extends the careers of Canisius seniors Billy Baron, Chris Manhertz, Chris Perez and Jordan Heath. Baron averages 24.2 points and needs eight points for reach 1,700 for his collegiate career.

McCrea Voted MAC POY

By Bob DiCesare

It’s no secret there was deep disappointment in the Javon McCrea camp when UB’s star forward failed to capture the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year award as a junior. But by the end of his senior season there wasn’t much in the way of debate. McCrea today was named the conference’s top performer by an overwhelming margin in a vote of media members who cover the league.

McCrea, a native of Newark in central New York, received 20 of a possible 25 votes to outdistance Western Michigan guard David Brown, who placed second with three. WMU center Shayne Whittington and Toledo point guard Julius Brown each received a vote.

Steve Hawkins, who guided Western Michigan to the regular-season title and the top seed in this week’s MAC Tournament, was voted Coach of the Year, also by a substantial margin. Hawkins received 16 votes to four of Northern Illinois coach Mark Montgomery. Toledo’s Tod Kowalcyzk was next with three votes followed by UB’s Bobby Hurley with two.

McCrea became UB’s all-time scoring leader this season, a campaign during which he hit double figures in points and rebounds 15 times in the same game and in 10 of 18 conference games. He scored 25 points or more four times in the final nine regular-season games and struck for a career-high 34 points against Bowling Green on Senior Day Saturday.

“This is a very deserving honor for Javon who has meant so much to our program and to the league," Hurley said in a UB release.  "He has had a monster season and he is the most complete player in the MAC.  Playing at such a high level statistically and helping us win a MAC East Championship put him in a rare group of players that have achieved and accomplished what he has in his career and we are proud of him for that."

McCrea emerged as the leading scorer and rebounder in conference play, averaging 19.6 points and 9.6 boards. He was third in field goal percentage at 57.7 percent and, in testament to his excellent passing abilities, placed 10th in assists at 2.7 a game. 

No other active player in the nation can match McCrea’s career statistically diversity of at least 1,900 points, 900 rebounds, 200 blocks and 200 assists. McCrea is three points shy of 2,000 career and 25 rebounds away from 1,000. Among MAC players he ranks 14th al-time in scoring, 18th in rebounding and fifth in blocked shots.

As a junior McCrea averaged 18 points and 7.9 rebounds but saw the MAC POY go to Ohio guard D.J. Cooper who, like McCrea, was three-time first-team all-MAC and one of the most dominant performers in conference history. Cooper averaged 14.1 points and 7.1 assists last season and led the Bobcats to a 14-2 MAC record compared to UB’s 7-9.

UB placed third overall in the MAC this season at 13-5 and claimed an outright East Division title for the first time in school history. The Bulls open the MAC Tournament at 9 Thursday night in Cleveland with a quarterfinal game against tonight’s Eastern Michigan-Northern Illinois winner.

 McCrea is the third UB played to win MAC Player of the Year honors, joining Turner Battle (2005) and Mitchell Watt (2012). He is the second Big 4 player to win a conference POY away this season. Canisius guard Billy Baron was selected as the top player in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Baron Named MAAC's POY

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Canisius guard Billy Baron, the rock-steady force behind the program's rise from the depths, this evening was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Year during award festivities at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Baron is the first Griff since Darrell Barley in 1996 to receive the honor and the third overall. Craig Wise was the MAAC's top player in 1995.

A two-time first-team all-MAAC selection, Baron is the nation's No. 3 scorer at 24.4 points per game and ranks among the national top 20 in 12 statistical categories, including No. 2 in minutes played. He has averaged 25.7 points, 6 assists and 5.1 rebounds against MAAC opponents while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 87 perfect from the foul line.

Meanwhile, on the women's side, Niagara's Victoria Rampado, a 6-foot-2 forward from Niagara Falls, Ont., was named the conference's Rookie of the Year. She averaged 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds.

Baron is also a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award that goes to the nation's premier point guard and is a nominee for the Lute Olsen Award given to the top guard at the mid-major level.

Canisius, the No. 4 seed in the MAAC Tournament, plays Siena in a MAAC Tournament quarterfinal at 2:30 Saturday afternoon.

Other MAAC individual awards went to:

Men: Coach: Tim Cluess, Iona. Sixth Man: Maurice Barrow, Fairfield. Defensive: Rhamel Brown, Manhattan (three-time winner). Top Rookie: Khallid Hart, Marist.

Women: Coach: Billi Godsey, Iona. Player: Damika Martinez, Iona. Sixth Man: Aaliyah Robinson, Iona. Defensive: Leanne Ockenden, Marist.

-- Jerry Sullivan and Bob DiCesare

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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare | bdicesare@buffnews.com


Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic began his journalism career in 1989 after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and has worked for The Buffalo News since 2001. A proud father of four children, he enjoys reading in his spare time.

@RodneyMcKissic | rmckissic@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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