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CHAPMAN LEADS BONA TO HISTORICAL LOW POINT

The sad fact is, it could get even worse. There are still 16 Atlantic 10 games left to play, and St. Bonaventure is perfectly capable of losing them all.

But for now, this is the low point. If not in the entire history of basketball at the school, at least in the short, unhappy tenure of head coach Tom Chapman. He wouldn't admit it, but he didn't deny it, either.

"Well," Chapman said after pondering the question for 20 seconds, "we'll be back."

That's the problem. The Bonnies will be back, with the same cast of players. Maybe that's why Chapman looked like a man whose home had just burned to the ground. There might not be any way to salvage this thing.

They have now lost to Niagara. Twice. For the first time in 28 years. No offense to Niagara, which demonstrated a lot of character here Tuesday night in winning, 73-71. But this is the bottom. The nadir. Pick your own word.

Niagara, shrugging off the absence of three of its top eight players, shot 50 percent against the woeful Bonnies. They've done it twice now -- while shooting just 32 percent against the rest of their opponents.

The Bonnies can't rebound. They don't have a reliable point guard. It's hard to find any part of the game they haven't desecrated in their two losses to Jack Armstrong's team. Well, they've done a decent job of taking the ball out of bounds.

Not only are the Bonnies bad, they lack poise. Several times Tuesday, they came down in big situations and settled for 25-footers that missed badly. Down by three points with 1:13 to play, they passed the ball around aimlessly for 25 seconds before Chapman called timeout.

"Well," Chapman said, "when we saw that they were struggling, we decided to try and help them."

That was big of him. Still, you'd have expected a well-prepared college team to get some kind of shot off earlier in such a situation, or at least to have some clue as to what they were supposed to be doing on a critical, late possession.

Chapman was again soundly out-coached by the younger Armstrong. At the times when coaching is most evident -- at the start of the second half, after timeouts -- Armstrong was clearly the superior strategist.

Niagara's winning play, a three-pointer in the lane by Brian Clifford with 1:13 to play, came on a perfectly diagrammed and executed down-screen after a timeout, and was run directly at Tobias Hauff, perhaps the Bonnies' weakest interior defender.

Maybe Chapman should spend more time diagramming plays and less time instructing his players on how to act after games. Players are not allowed to talk to the press after losses -- only after wins. We might never hear from a Bonnie player again.

"We're not allowed interviews after a loss," said Michael Burnett. "That's a team rule. Coach doesn't like it. All teams do that."

Funny, in covering sports for more than 10 years, this is the first I've heard of it.

It says a lot about Chapman, a man who won so often (75 percent of his games over 12 seasons) at the small-college level that he apparently never learned how to lose graciously.

I mean, how can you teach your players about the importance of coping with adversity while setting up one set of rules for behaving after wins and another set for losses? If you treat them like children, is it any wonder they have trouble making curfew?

Explaining his team's victory Tuesday night, Armstrong said there are times when basketball builds character, and other times when it reveals character. He was talking about players, but you could say the same thing about Chapman.

Someone needs to tell Chapman that his small-college winning percentage doesn't mean anything now. He's losing big-time. The least he could do is act big-time.

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