(Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a seven-part weekly series in which the Times Herald will unveil its “Mount Rushmore” of St. Bonaventure men’s basketball — that is, the most notable four players — with the caveat of going decade by decade. Today: The 2000s.)
ST. BONAVENTURE — Three of the selections were no-brainers.
Tim Winn, J.R. Bremer and Marques Green, who arrived on campus one after another (in 1996, ‘98 and ‘00, respectively) and were at the forefront of the program’s success from that era, are three of the greatest guards in school history.
Their place on the program’s All-Time Team and the Times Herald’s Mount Rushmore of Bona basketball for the 2000s was essentially a lock. The question, then, was who would be the fourth?
We considered Peter Van Paassen, a deserving candidate based on his work ethic and popularity with the fans alone. We could have gone with Patricio Prato, a key piece on three postseason teams. We also pondered Ahmad Smith and Michael Lee, two fantastic players whose only real blemish was playing in the program’s worst era, in the mid-2000s.
In the end, however, the easy choice was Caswell Cyrus.
The 6-foot-10 Toronto native was an all-conference player, a thunderous dunker and still holds the Bona record for blocked shots by a wide margin (he has 45 more than Andrew Nicholson, though Osun Osunniyi is on pace to break his mark of 289). Plus, it seemed to only make sense that we select another player from the 1999-00 NCAA Tournament team, the best and most balanced Bona group in a three-decade stretch, and the first team to reach the Big Dance since 1978.
With that, here’s Part 6 of our Bona Mount Rushmore series:
J.R. BREMER (1998-02)
The case: What sets Bremer apart from every other guard in Bona annals? His magnificent senior season from 2001-02.
That year, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 24.6 points per game, fourth-most in the nation, and finished with 738 points, the most in a single season by any Bona player not named Bob Lanier or Tom Stith.
Bremer was one of the top players on three postseason teams — the 2000 NCAA Tournament team and the NIT squads of 2001 and ‘02 — and a two-time Atlantic 10 all-conference selection, making the third team in ‘01 and first team in ‘02 (while also being named the A-10’s Most Improved Player as a senior). He still sits 10th on the program’s all-time scoring list (1,732 points) while also ranking third in 3-pointers (223), sixth in steals (185) and ninth in assists (334).
CASWELL CYRUS (1996-00)
The case: From his initial seasons through Andrew Nicholson’s arrival in 2008, Cyrus was the best big man to play at Bona.
A key figure in the program’s late-90s resurgence and one of the best defensive players in Bona history, Cyrus holds the school record for blocks (289) while also ranking first and third in the single-season category for rejections (with 99 in 1997-98 and 84 in 1996-97), 16th in rebounds (680) and 33rd in scoring (1,121 points).
The Toronto native, who helped the Bonnies to pair of postseasons (the 1998 NIT and 2000 NCAA, where he grabbed 18 rebounds in a triple overtime loss to Kentucky), is one of just two players in Bona annals to make three Atlantic 10 all-defensive teams (1997-00), alongside Marques Green, and was a Third Team All-Conference choice in 2000.
MARQUES GREEN (2000-04)
The case: While a case could also be made for Glenn Hagan or Jaylen Adams as the top point guard in Bona history, Green remains the best from a sheer statistical standpoint.
The Norristown, Pa., native ranks ninth — and second among guards behind Adams — on the program’s career scoring list with 1,734 points. Additionally, he holds the school record for assists (657) and steals (325), numbers that rank eighth and second in Atlantic 10 history, while also sitting No. 1 in career 3-pointers with 281.
Green, who helped Bona to a pair of postseasons (the 2001 and ‘02 NIT), is one of just five players in program history to be named all-conference three teams, making the third team in ‘02, the second team in ‘03 and the first team in ‘04, and one of two (alongside Cyrus) to make three all-defensive teams.
TIM WINN (1996-00)
The case: A program-changing recruit, Winn was the heart-and-soul of the 1999-00 team that reached the A-10 championship game and played in the NCAA Tournament.
One of the toughest players (and arguably the best defensive guard) in program history, Winn sits second all-time in steals (319, just behind Green), a figure that ranks third in A-10 annals, and first in steals per game at 3.0.
The 5-foot-10 guard, who spurned multiple “Power 5” offers to play at Bona, was a two-time all-conference selection, making the second team as a junior and the first team as a senior, and an all-defensive team choice in 2000. Offensively, he still sits 18th at Bona in scoring (1,407 points), fourth in 3-pointers (192) and fifth in assists (449) while serving as the leading scorer on the Bonnies’ first NCAA squad in 22 years.