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Saint Bonaventure Basketball

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The Stith Brothers


     "St. Bona:  It's First Time In NCAA Basketball Tournament" read the headline of the Olean Times Herald on March 11, 1961.  1960-61 Marked the first trip to the NCAA tournament for St. Bonaventure.  It came under the tutelage of head coach Eddie Donovan. The four previous seasons, the Bonnies made the National Invite Tournament at Madison Square Garden in NYC. 

 That season, the team went 24-4, with defeats of Providence and Boston College and winning three of four contests against Little Three rivals Canisius and Niagara on their way to becoming the second-ranked basketball team in the country. That year, the team was led by two-time All American Tom Stith (photo upper left).

St. Bonaventure entered the tournament as the number three seed overall. The team faced off against Rhode Island in the first round in Charlotte, N.C. The Brown Indians defeated URI 86-76. The Demon Deacons of Wake Forest downed SBU in the second round of the tournament, 78-73. In a consolation game, The Bonnies defeated Princeton to record a 24-4 record overall and finished third in the East Regional of the NCAA tournament. 

In May of 1961, Donovan took a coaching position with the New York Knickerbockers of the National Basketball Association. The search was on to find his successor and continue the winning tradition...        

 (For more material related to the Stith brothers follow this link.)

Weise returns to maintain and grow burgeoning program

Larry Weise (photo right) took over the Bonnies for the 1961-62 season, after captaining the Brown Indians only three years earlier. 

Under Weise, and with the help of a certain Bennett High School grad, the Bonnies reached unprecedented heights in college basketball for a small Franciscan University.

Weise led the Bonnies to one NCIT tournament, and to the NIT at the end of the 1963-64 season. 

The 1967-68 season marked a return to the NCAA tournament under Weise and with help from sensational sophomore  Bob Lanier, senior captain Bill Butler and junior Jim Satalin. In the first round, the Bonnies faced Boston College. SBU defeated the Eagles by a score of 102-93. In the second round of the tourney, the Brown Indians faced off against North Carolina,  falling to the Tar Heals, 91-72.  The team finished with a record of 23-2.

This was only a preview of the tremendous success the team would have over the next few seasons, though the 1968-69 season was a wash at SBU due to NCAA restrictions on postseason play.

1969-70 Season: March to the Final Four

The Brown Indians' team won its first 12 games of the 69-70 season before falling to Villanova in Philadelphia. It was the lone regular season loss for SBU.  The Brown Indians got their revenge against the Wildcats in the third round of the NCAA tournament, this time defeating 'Nova 97-74.  It was in the second meeting with Villanova that Lanier injured his knee,  ending his collegiate career.   That season, the Brown Indians defeated Providence, Seton Hall, and North Carolina State and were ranked as third in the country in most polls.  The team fell in the national semi-final game against Jacksonville, 91-83 and finished its season with a loss in the consolation game against New Mexico State.

It wasn't only Bob Lanier's dominance that lead SBU to it's lone Final Four appearance.    Fellow senior captain Billy Kalbaugh held an integral role as point guard.  

The Troy, NY product was billed as a great leader on the floor, good at handling the press, but not a good shooter. Kalbaugh added consistent shooting to his game during the season and became a quality compliment to Lanier.

Fellow forward Matt Gantt contributed greatly to the success of St. Bonaventure during the season


 Early 1970s: Continuation of Excellence  

  Coach Weise continued postseason success with a trip to the NIT at the end of the 1970-71 season. The Brown Indians won the first two games over Purdue and Hawaii before falling in double overtime, 76-71 against Georgia Tech.  

  Weise continued to coach until the 1972-73 season, he brought tremendous success to the program. His career record at SBU was 202-90.

Satalin returns to continue program

Another former Brown Indian was chosen to replace Weise for the 1973-74 season. Jim Satalin was named head coach of the men's basketball program starting with the 1973-74 season. Satalin lead the team to the NCAA tournament once and two berths into the NIT, including the 1977 NIT Championship.

Birdsong Tires...Houston Expires It's Bonnies' NIT (NY Daily News 1977-03-21)

 Coach Satalin, along with guards Jim Baron and Greg Sanders led SBU to a 94-91 win over Houston at Madison Square Garden.  

Sanders, a junior, led all scorers with 40 points and also had a game-high 12 rebounds. Baron held the Cougar's All-American Otis Birdsong to 38 points.  Senior Essie Hollis added 24 points and seven rebounds for the Brown Indians.  Hollis and Sanders were named by the writers to the All-NIT first team, while teammate Glenn Hagan was named to the second team. 

 On the road to Madison Square Garden, the Brown Indians defeated Rutgers, Oregon and Villanova.

The following season, St. Bonaventure returned to the NCAA tournament, losing in the first round to Pennsylvania. 

Satalin returned to the NIT tournament after the 1978-79 season, but was unable to repeat the 77 championship season, losing to Alabama in the first round.  Satalin's last year at the helm of the Brown Indians, the team stood at .500 with a 14-14 record. Satalin's career record as coach of the Brown Indians was 202-90.

Page created by Archives Intern Michael T. Licata updated 02/02/09