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NO BONNIES-GRIFFS GAME FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1945-46

Look closely at the St. Bonaventure men's basketball schedule released on Tuesday.

See anything missing?

Perhaps you noticed there's no date with Canisius.

For the first time in 56 years, there will be no traditional clash between the Bonnies and the Golden Griffins.

The story basically goes like this: For financial reasons, Bona wanted 12 home games. Originally, Saint Louis was scheduled to come to the Reilly Center, but the schools couldn't agree on a date. Bona then tried to get Western Michigan, but ran into the same scheduling problem.

Davidson agreed to come to Olean, but could only come on Dec. 15 -- the date the Bonnies were supposed to go to Buffalo to play Canisius at the Koessler Center.

Bona asked Canisius to move the game, but the schools couldn't come up with an acceptable date.

So, there' no Little Three showdown between the Franciscans and the Jesuits this coming season.

"I'm sick about it," said Bona athletic director Gothard Lane. "I thought there were some dates we could do it, but some weren't good for us and others weren't good for Canisius. . . . Everybody thinks scheduling is easy first of all. And 80 percent of it is relatively easy. The other 20 percent is difficult. It's a lot more complicated than people think."

It was pretty simple for Canisius, though.

"I did not want this to happen on my watch. We tried our best to make the whole thing work," said Canisius athletic director Tim Dillon. "I thought it was taken care of. We signed a contract back in early June. . . . I didn't think we had a problem until the first week of September when they had some problems with their schedule.

"They asked if we would consider making a move. We came back and said sure. We'll do what you need us to do and then we came back with another date and they said, no, that's not good enough. Try something else. With them in their conference and us in our conference, things just haven't worked out the way they should."

There was no buy-out in the contract -- typical for local schools who deal with each other on a regular basis, but Dillon hasn't ruled out adding such a clause in future contracts because he said, "It just makes good business sense."

The immediate problem for Canisius is finding a replacement game. Dillon said he and head coach Mike MacDonald have three or four possible teams, but the likelihood will be that at this late date it will not be a home game for the Griffs.

This year's meeting was supposed to have been Bona's second trip to the Koessler Center. Bona played at the Canisius facility in 1994-95, winning by 67-53.

The teams have meet 150 times since the 1919-1920 season. There have been only three other seasons when the schools did not meet -- 1943-44, 1944-45 and 1945-46.

Bona holds a 92-58 all-time advantage, but in the last five years, Canisius holds a 3-2 edge. During the last 10 years, the series has been even, at 8-8.

Lane insists he wants the series to continue next year and Dillon still wants to play.

Lane said he proposed starting a standing date with Canisius and Niagara to escape future conflicts.

"We can say that Bonaventure and Canisius will always play the fourth Tuesday of every November every year, or every third Wednesday in December or whatever the case may be," Lane said. "That way everyone knows, two or three years down the road that a certain date every month is a traditional game and you can work your schedule around it so some of these problems won't happen again."

But Dillon is slightly confused at Lane's suggestion.

"This is the third year we've done that," Dillon said. "We even did that with (former associate head coach Joe) Lombardi who was on Jim Baron's staff. That's what we did and we have honored that. When Gothard mentioned that to me the other night, I said that's what we're already doing."

The interruption of the series with Canisius perhaps overshadows what is a rather strong St. Bonaventure schedule, which does include a visit from Niagara on Nov. 24. Bona plays Big East Conference champion Boston College at the HSBC Arena on Nov. 28 and has road games with Oklahoma of the Big 12 Connecticut of the Big East on Dec. 28 at the Hartford, Conn., Civic Center. Rhode Island, and former head coach Jim Baron, return to Olean on Sunday, Jan. 6.

The complete Bona schedule:

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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