Share this article

print logo

SOLOMON KEPT BUSY WITH TASKS AT BONA

There is no offseason this year for Anthony Solomon.

St. Bonaventure's new men's basketball coach has been living a 78-rpm existence since he was hired 25 days ago to replace Jan van Breda Kolff.

Taking over a scandal-ridden program staring at NCAA sanctions sometime this year has provided the former Notre Dame assistant with challenges beyond the norms faced by an incoming coach.

Solomon stayed in Olean for two weeks after his introductory news conference to perform a variety of tasks. Among them, he had to meet with returning players and staff, assemble a staff, line up recruiting targets and inherit van Breda Kolff's summer basketball camp.

Solomon spent last week back in South Bend, Ind., before returning to Olean on Tuesday. Solomon and his wife, Tracy, are purchasing a home in Allegany.

"It was good for me to stay here," Solomon said Thursday. "I wanted to make sure I saw all of our young men before I went home. Then it was time to go to Indiana and step back. I was able to catch my breath, get a perspective of what I've gone through and look at things outside the box."

What did Solomon see? Here's a late spring look at the program:

The roster -- There are just six scholarship players left for next season. They are senior guard Marques Green, sophomore guard Ahmad Smith and four juniors: center Saulis Dumbliauskas, forwards Moe Young and Cortez Sutton, and swingman Patrick Methot-Lottin.

"I'm ready to march with those that will march with me," Solomon said. "I feel very good about these six young men who have raised their hands and said, 'I'm with you coach.' "

Solomon interviewed all of them and reaffirmed their commitment to the program. When Bona's academic fraud fiasco exploded March 3, none of the six was willing to board the bus for the game at
Massachusetts that was eventually canceled. Green and Methot-Lottin were the only ones still on campus while the other four already had bolted for spring break.

Methot-Lottin could be reclassified as a sophomore as the school is planning an appeal of his status to the NCAA. He suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury in December at Alabama and his medical redshirt status is in doubt because the player boycott that ended the season left him over the maximum number of games allowed for a redshirt. He would have been at the allowed percentage had Bona concluded its season.

Bona can't schedule its appeal until Methot-Lottin is given medical clearance to play, and that may not happen before practice begins in October.

"We're just excited June is around the corner and we don't practice for another four months," Solomon said. "Patrick is working hard at it. We'll see how he's doing in the fall."

Jamil Terrell, the focus of the scandal, is attending summer school and is not expected to play.

"We've been consistent from Day One on this issue," Solomon said. "We want to help Jamil with his college education and getting a degree."

Recruiting -- NCAA rules don't allow off-campus recruiting until July, but Solomon has been hosting potential players in Olean and is expected to bring in four or five newcomers. He's not allowed to comment on specific players.

"There's quite a bit of PT available here," Solomon said, invoking Dick Vitale-speak for playing time. "I've been very brief when I'm asked about that (by recruits). Basically, I ask them to look at the current roster. I'm at six players and that speaks for itself."

Solomon said it's still possible to get graduating high school players and that he also will be looking at junior college additions. The primary focus will be on the front line, as well as depth on the perimeter.

The defectors -- Star swingman Mike Gansey was released earlier this month to transfer to John Beilein-led West Virginia. Freshman center Calvin Brown, a backup last season, was officially released Thursday and is expected to attend a school close to his home in Washington, D.C., probably Norfolk State.

Both incoming recruits signed last fall -- Patrick Tathum of Brampton, Ont., and Dan Cage of Indianapolis -- received releases and will go elsewhere. Tathum has signed with Cleveland State while Cage is headed to Vanderbilt.

Solomon spoke to Gansey and Brown, and to Cage's high school coach. He did not speak to Tathum, who immediately announced in March he wasn't coming.

"I spoke my side and those individuals had a chance to speak theirs," Solomon said. "The decision was in their hands. I wish them all the best."

Assistant coaches -- Earlier this month, Solomon hired close friend Jayson Gee as the first member of his staff. Thursday, he added David First. Both have extensive head coaching experience, Gee at Division II University of Charleston (W.Va.) for seven years and First for 12 years in high school.

For the last seven years, First taught calculus and coached Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass., and tutored Torin Francis, who became Solomon's prized recruit at Notre Dame last year. Solomon has another hire to make. Holdovers Billy McCaffrey and Mark Wade are not being brought back.

Scheduling -- Associate Athletics Director Derek Morel took over this area while the coaching situation was in limbo and negotiated a deal with Syracuse that's expected to be announced Monday during a news conference at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. It appears Bona will meet the defending national champions in Rochester on Dec. 3 and play the next two years in the Carrier Dome.

The schedule won't be finalized until late August, but the season opener is set, a Nov. 21 visit to Olean by Robert Morris.

"When I took the job, much of the work had been done by Derek, and I've been very pleased," Solomon said. "He's thought ahead a year or two in several instances, and when everything is signed and sealed we'll all be pleased."

Solomon confirmed Bona is in talks with West Virginia about a neutral-site series beginning in 2004-05. One game would be played in Blue Cross (incoming WVU freshman Tyler Relph is from Rochester), while the other would be in the Charleston Civic Center as a homecoming for Gee.
e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

There are no comments - be the first to comment