CORVALLIS, Ore – St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowley has noticed a discernable difference in vibe from the Bonnies team that was preparing for the Atlantic 10 tournament and the one getting ready for the NCAA Tournament.
The Bonnies clearly were tight going to the A-10 tourney, and it showed. They came out slow, missed 18 of their first 23 shots from the field, fell into an early hole and never recovered. In the days leading to the NCAAs, they have been loose in practice while soaking up the experience.
“Let’s just go play,” Crowley said. “That certainly has been the message. We’ve had a different feel in practice. There’s always an excitement when you’re in the NCAA Tournament, where you’re playing and those kinds of things. You’re still dealing with kids, so who knows? We want to play well.”
Tenth-seeded Bona will play seventh-seeded Oklahoma State in the first round. St. Bonaventure was scheduled to have practice at 4:20 p.m. Thursday after Oklahoma State finishes its workout.
The Bonnies are stationed in Salem, Ore., about 45 minutes from Oregon State University, because there weren’t enough hotel rooms available in the small college town of Corvallis. The campus is about 90 minutes from Portland.
Oregon State, the No. 2 seed that will play Troy, didn’t know it would play host in the first round until the brackets were announced on Monday. Most teams and media are staying elsewhere. After getting dumped early in the A-10 tourney quarterfinals, the Bonnies would have gone anywhere for a chance to play in the NCAAs.
The Oregon State-Troy game begins at 5 p.m. ET Friday. The St. Bona-Oklahoma State game will follow. Both games will be televised on ESPN2. The team that wins both games this weekend advances to Dallas for the Sweet 16.
“They should be able to enjoy the perks that come with reaching this point,” Crowley said. “It was different in Tallahassee (in 2012) because nobody was there. Florida State didn’t play. It had an NCAA feel, but it didn’t. This will. The game before is Oregon State, and they’ll have some people here.”