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St. Bonaventure next up for O'Connor rebuilding program


Tom O'Connor is the new leader at St. Bonaventure, where the last good big man on campus was Bob Lanier.

O'Connor was the Loyola basketball coach for the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons, then was the athletic director for 10 years, a span that included the Greyhounds' move to Division I. His six years as the Santa Clara AD included national successes in both men's and women's soccer and basketball, and now he faces a bigger challenge as the new boss at St. Bonaventure.

The enormous state universities like Rutgers and West Virginia, which play Division I-A football, have boosted the A-10's stature with their broad-based programs, as have George Washington, Massachusetts and Temple.

St. Bonaventure, located outside Buffalo, N.Y., has had to settle with being one of the minor players in Division I athletics in the East. In men's basketball, the Bonnies last had a winning season in 1985-86, and they won just 22 games over the last three seasons under coach Tom Chapman, who's entering the last year of a four-year contract.

O'Connor said he's been brought in to develop an entire athletic program, but at the same time he added, "a lot of attention will be placed on men's basketball."

* Cancel Those Reservations: The 1994 Patriot League basketball tournament might not be held at Navy's new Alumni Hall after all.

Next season the Patriot League was supposed to take its tournament to Army, and then to Annapolis the following year. Last month, however, the league's presidents voted to have the top four seeds in 1993 host first-round games, and the home-court advantage to be in effect throughout the championship game March 9.

Last year's Patriot League tournament was held at Lehigh, and the Bucknell-Fordham final drew 3,300 and played well on ESPN. The home-court advantage will be reviewed next year, but not until after the Patriot League tries the model used by the Northeast Conference.

Towson State and UMBC, meanwhile, will spend their first Big South Conference tournament at the new 12,000-seat arena in Charleston, S.C. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference will complete a three-year stay at the Norfolk Scope, and the state's three member schools hope that the Baltimore Arena will be given a long look for 1994.

* European Vacation: The Towson State soccer and Johns Hopkins baseball programs will spend part of the summer in Europe.

Coach Bob Babb, who in 1988 had the first American college baseball team to play in Russia, will take the Blue Jays to Czechoslovakia and Russia for a two-week tour that begins June 19. Hopkins will travel without third baseman Sean Holub, a junior out of Boys' Latin. The 37th round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers, Holub signed a pro contract, but he intends to return to Hopkins in the fall to complete his degree in Sociology.

Frank Olszewski's Towson State soccer team will play and practice in Germany Aug. 3-17. Olszewski, by the way, trained the Towson State women in the spring. The Tigers are scheduled to play Loyola Sept. 9, but neither first-year program has yet named a coach.

* Onward and downward: The College World Series is a victim of the NCAA's contract with CBS.

Before national television demanded a championship game at a designated date and time, the CWS eight-team field played a straight double-elimination draw. Now it's split into two four-team brackets, with the survivors playing a single game for TV. Under the old format, fans in Omaha last week would have been treated to one last game between retiring Miami coach Ron Fraser and Texas legend Cliff Gustafson, whose teams lost in the bracket finals.

* Recruiting Front: One of UMBC's basketball recruits, Matt Butts, could be a two-sporter for the Retrievers, since he was the state's top high-jumper with a best of 6-10 for Hagerstown Junior College. One of Hagerstown's new inside players will be Bernard Hopkins, who was an All-Metro in football and basketball for Overlea High.

Morgan State's early track signings include Mervo sprinter Ron Keene and Dwight Ferguson, a junior college transfer who's done 10.14 in the 100 meters and 20.52 in the 200.

* Norfolk State wide receiver Gary Morris, who prepped at City College, has signed a free-agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers. . . . Towson State's Pete Schlehr became the first sports information director to receive the Doyle Smith Media Award presented by the USILA. . . . Jeff Eanes, a standout linebacker at Frostburg State, is one of the new football assistant coaches at Western Maryland.

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