SBU’s MERT faces new challenges amid pandemic

photo: SBU MERT/Twitter

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Seventy calls. 

That is exactly what the St. Bonaventure University Medical Emergency Response Team juggled over the course of the fall semester.

According to MERT chief and SBU senior Maggie Cole, the club is made up of 50 volunteers, and approximately 25 are New York State certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certified. Although the number of calls was the highest call volume since 2014, Cole said that only about 10 of them were potentially related to COVID-19.

 For Cole, the craziness began behind the scenes, long before students returned to campus in August.

“It was absolutely chaotic by the time Bona’s had us go home for the semester (in the spring),” Cole said. “We did not even have the new officer coming in.”

In a typical year, the new officer crew will accompany the outgoing officers on Spring Weekend in late April, or until the new officer is cleared. However, that was unable to happen, and the outgoing officers set up individual meetings with the incoming officers. Despite that challenge, Cole gave credit to Gary Segrue, the club’s advisor and SBU’s associate dean for campus safety, for preparing the team with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to enter a potential COVID-19 call and care for a patient.

“Mr. Segrue and safety and security were able to help us out a lot, they were able to get us the PPE we needed and were able to supply us for the whole semester,” Cole said.

Each year, MERT offers the EMT certification course to those who are interested. Despite the aforementioned challenges, 30 new members were able to become trained in stopping blood and administering CPR, as well as completing any necessary paperwork on the scene and taking vitals. 

According to Cole, things were “pretty regular” until the middle of the semester. She said the biggest difference was the number of intoxication calls, which drew the number of calls higher than normal.

The higher call volume brought Cole fear of burning out her fellow MERT members.

“Working with the same 20 to 25 EMTs for the whole semester, especially in a semester like this where we had no fall break,” she said.

Despite being shorthanded, and even losing a majority of their members near the end of the semester due to quarantine protocols, Cole believes the team held itself together quite well.

“I can’t believe we actually did this,” she said.

Since fall semester has come to an end, Cole and her fellow officers have began to secure PPE and complete any other preparations that are needed for next semester.

Atlantic 10 men’s basketball preview, part two

photo: G. Fiume/Getty Images

By Anthony Goss, Ryan Surmay and Peter Byrne

The 2020-21 college basketball season began on Wednesday, and several Atlantic 10 teams are scheduled to begin play over the holiday weekend.

This article is the second of a two-part series highlighting each A-10 team other than St. Bonaventure, which was previewed several weeks ago. After each team completes its respective non-conference schedule, A-10 play is scheduled to begin in late December.

Massachussetts Minutemen
2019-20 Record: 14-17 
Best Player: Tre Mitchell 

Last season, the Minutemen finished in the middle of the pack in the A-10 despite a losing record overall. While their record was not good, they showed massive improvements throughout the season, led by freshman center Tre Mitchell, who put up just under 18 points and eight rebounds per game.

The team had a strong supporting cast surrounding Mitchell, as well, as TJ Weeks Jr. and now-senior Carl Pierre also put up double digit points. While the Minutemen lost six players between graduation and the transfer portal, the trio of Mitchell, Pierre and Weeks can make some noise in the A-10 if all stay healthy. 

Richmond Spiders
2019-20 Record: 24-7 
Best Player: Jacob Gilyard 

Dayton’s undefeated A-10 campaign last season left many other storylines in the league unnoticed. One of these was the impressive season put together by Chris Mooney’s Richmond Spiders, who went 24-7 and 14-4 in conference play to put themselves in contention for an NCAA Tournament bid.

This season, Richmond will run it back with the same squad except for the loss of Nick Sherod, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in October. Sherod’s injury aside, this is a talented team picked by many to win the A-10. Jacob Gilyard, a gifted passer who has excellent vision and sets his teammates up well, runs the show for the Spiders. Gilyard can also score the ball, but most of the scoring duties go to his partner in the backcourt, Blake Francis, a crafty lefty who led the Spiders in scoring last season.

Center Grant Golden is a versatile big who fits perfectly in the Richmond offensive system, which the Spiders rarely deviate from despite the abundance of scoring talent they have. Richmond’s senior-laden squad should win a lot of games this season and contend for an A-10 title, as well as an NCAA Tournament bid.  

Rhode Island Rams 
2019-20 Record: 21-9 
Best Players:Fatts Russell 

The Rams may have had the craziest offseason in the A-10 going into this season, due to players entering the transfer portal and graduating.

The biggest pieces to leave were Cyril Langevine and Jeff Dowtin. The two of them alone combined for roughly 25 points and 15 rebounds per night. While half of URI’s offense and rebounding left, Fatts Russell is staying for his senior year and will be the catalyst for them, averaging 18.8 points and 4.6 assist last season.

David Cox is going to have his hands full with having to essentially rebuild his entire team after a third-place finish in the prior season. For most teams, this task would be too daunting, but they were able to land twins  Mehki and Makhel Mitchell, who both were four star prospects. The Mitchells spent their freshman seasons playing at Maryland. Additionally, wings Malik Martin and Jalen Carey are expected to play significant minutes.

Saint Louis Bilikens 
2019-20 Record: 23-8 
Best Player: Jordan Goodwin 

With a top-four finish in the conference last season and almost all of the roster returning, Saint Louis fans have a lot to look forward to in the 2020-21 season. The Bilikens return their top two players in Jordan Goodwin and Hassan French, who both averaged a double-double this past season.

Goodwin was voted as a preseason first team all-Atlantic 10 selection, and French was voted on to the second team. The Bilikens will also have senior Javonte Perkins returning. The 6-6 wing averaged 15 points per game off of the bench last season, which makes him one of the conference’s best sixth men. 

As a whole, expect Saint Louis to play a similar style to last season. The Bilikens were one of the conference’s worst three-point shooting teams at 34%, so expect guards in Yuri Collins and Jordan Goodwin to attack the paint consistently. The Bilikens will also look to give paint touches to Hassan French on a consistent basis.

As a team that always plays hard and plays tremendous defense, the Billikens are more than capable of competing for an A-10 championship. If they click offensively and play well on the defensive end, this team could make some noise come March. 

St. Joseph’s Hawks
2019-20 Record: 6-26 
Best Player: Ryan Daly 

In Billy Lange’s first season as head coach, he was stuck with the task of taking over for longtime coach Phill Martelli, who led the team to seven NCAA Tournaments and six NITs during his 24-year tenure. However, it did not go according to plan after only winning a total of six games.

Ryan Daly has been a bright spot for the team, averaging 20.5 points, 6.9 rebound and 4.3 assists per game last year. His partner in the backcourt, sophomore Cameron Brown, will also be returning in hopes of building upon last season. The Hawks have two transfers in Greg Foster from Gonzaga and Dhamir Bishop from Xavier coming in, which will help provide some depth: an issue last season.

Fans can be hopeful that Billy Lange’s time on the Philadelphia 76ers can help rebuild their culture since, as the Hawks haven’t had a winning season since the 2015-2016 season. But, for now, there is much more work that needs to be done to get back to that point. 

VCU Rams 
2019-20 Record: 18-13 
Best Player: Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland 

VCU collapsed down the stretch last season, going 1-7 in its final eight games. This offseason, the Rams lost most of their scoring and production from a year ago. This will be one of the younger teams in the conference, but has plenty of potential, led by sophomore guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland. Primarily a scorer off the bench, a plethora of injuries led head coach Mike Rhoades to insert Hyland into the starting lineup as a freshman, and he handled his new role well.

Despite Hyland’s skillset offensively, scoring may come at a premium, as no returning scorer other than Hyland averaged more than five points per game. Rhoades’ defensive scheme extends out to disrupt the offensive flow of opposing teams, while preventing easy shots off of cuts or open attempts from three. With guys like Vince Williams and Corey Douglass leading the charge, VCU should remain one of the better defensive teams in the conference. This may not be a year in which the Rams contend for the conference title, but they will be competitive in the top tier of the A-10.  

Atlantic 10 men’s basketball preview, part one

photo: David Kohl/USA Today Sports

By Anthony Goss, Ryan Surmay and Peter Byrne

The 2020-21 college basketball season begins on Wednesday, with several Atlantic 10 teams scheduled to begin play over the holiday weekend.

This article is the first of a two-part series highlighting each A-10 team other than St. Bonaventure, which was previewed several weeks ago. After each team completes its respective non-conference schedule, A-10 play is scheduled to begin in late December.

Davidson Wildcats
2019-20 Record: 16-14 
Best Player: Kellan Grady 

For a team known for its precision and consistency, Davidson dealt with many issues last season in terms of injuries and unexpected departures.

This offseason, the Wildcats lost guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson, the 2018-19 A-10 player of the year. Despite a slump early last season, Kellan Grady has shown he has the capability of leading a Wildcat offense that operates on motion and ball movement.

Grady can score the ball at all levels, and his shot is deadly from beyond the arc. Grady will be surrounded by Hyunjung Lee and Michael Jones, who can both knock down three-pointers as well. Luka Brajkovic will shoulder most of the work inside with his skillset inside as a low-post scorer.

Defense will be the issue for Davidson, as it usually is in most seasons, and rough nights on offense could get ugly during A-10 play. However, guarding this offense presents a daunting task for opposing teams.  

Dayton Flyers
2019-20 Record: 29-2
Best Player: Jalen Crutcher

First of all, what a season for the Flyers in 2019-20. They had a legitimate shot to win the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed. Those chances do not come very often for A-10 teams.

With that being said, the Flyers lost some major talent heading into this season. The big loss is Obi Toppin, the Naismith Player of the Year who was selected No. 8 overall in this year’s NBA draft by the New York Knicks. Dayton also lost Trey Landers and Ryan Mikesell to graduation, a duo who combined to average just under 20 points a game last year. That’s a total of 40 points per game lost. However, the Flyers return Jalen Crutcher, who is arguably the best player in the league heading into this season. They also bring back two guards in Ibi Watson and Rodney Chatham who each should put up double digits points per game. Lastly, Dayton also loves what they see from 6’11 transfer Jordy Thiamine from Nebraska. He should be a force down low for the Flyers.

All in all, this team returns enough talent and solid newcomers to compete for a top-four spot in the conference. Will they go 18-0 again? Doubtful. However, this team is definitely good enough to win 12 or 14 games in the A-10. 

Duquesne Dukes 
2019-20 Record: 21-9 
Best Player: Marcus Weathers 

Since Keith Dambrot took over as head coach, Duquesne has gotten better every season. This upcoming season should be no different, as the Dukes return every starter and seven of their top eight scorers from last year’s team that won 21 games.

They are led by 6-8 forward Marcus Weathers, who averaged 14.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season. Something to look out for with the Dukes is their offensive efficiency under Dambrot. Last season, they had the fourth-most efficient offense in the A-10 behind Dayton, Richmond and Davidson. Duquesne only scored less than 60 points in only three games last season, so they’re a team that is not afraid of a shootout.

After being picked fifth in the league’s preseason poll,, it is more than fair to say that the Dukes could sneak into the top four when the regular season ends.

Fordham Rams
2019-20 Record: 9-22 
Best Player: Chuba Ohams 

After yet another season of single-digit wins and another last-place conference finish with two A-10 wins, it’s safe to say the Fordham basketball program has taken another step backwards. This season, Fordham will be faced with filling the void left from the graduation of its starting backcourt of Antwon Portley (10.4 points per game) and Erten Gazi (8.9 points per game).

The Rams will look toward Chuba Ohams, a redshirt junior, to continue his success from last season after a knee injury suffered during warmups in January ended his campaign prematurely. Before going down, he averaged 11 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest. While their record may not have shown it, their games last season only had a -3.1 point differential, which gives optimism for Fordham fans coming into this season.

Going into his sixth season with the Rams, head coach Jeff Neubauer’s teams have only gotten progressively worse in conference play, winning eight, seven, four, three and two games per season, respectively. Once again, Fordham was the preseason pick to finish last in the A-10.

George Mason Patriots
2019-20 Record: 17-15 
Best Player: AJ Wilson 

Last season, George Mason constantly adjusted its style of play on the fly to accommodate Justin Kier’s injuries. The inconsistency resulting from this spoiled a historic 11-1 start.

With Kier now gone, the Patriots now turn to redshirt senior AJ Wilson, along with Javon Greene and Jordan Miller, to make some noise in the A-10. Wilson likes to operate from the top of the key, and while he prefers going right, he has the strength to finish around the rim on both sides. Wilson does not hunt a three-point shot off the dribble, preferring to shoot off of a screen or a drive-and-kick.

Last season, the Patriots pressed more often than most teams. This defensive mindset should remain this season, but head coach Dave Paulsen’s emphasis on conservative defensive principles will be noticeable for GM. With a crowded field at the top of the conference, it might be hard for the Patriots to move up much this season, but expect them to play spoiler against conference foes with Wilson as the catalyst.

George Washington Colonials
2019-20 Record: 12-20
Best Player: Jameer Nelson Jr.

This is the second year of the Jamion Christian era, and his mark is already being put on the George Washington program. Christian returns budding young talent in Jameer Nelson Jr., Chase Paar and Jamison Battle, who all played together last season.

Christian also brought in several pieces from the transfer market, notably Sloan Seymour and Brandon Leftwich, who played for him at Siena and Mount St. Mary’s, respectively. George Washington’s offense emphasizes shooting, and the bigs will look to stretch out the floor. Look for Nelson Jr. and the rest of the guards to attack in pick-and-roll action, as the Colonials led the nation in such sets last season and it will likely generate most of their offense this year.

Don’t expect a major jump in the standings, as this team simply is not ready to compete at the top of the A-10. But, with Christian’s emphasis on player development, expect to see the core at George Washington to develop toward a bright future.

La Salle Explorers
2019-20 Record: 15-15
Best Player: David Beaty

Last year, the Explorers finished near the bottom of the pack in the A-10, tied for 10th. They finished the season with a .500 record at 15-15, but struggled in conference play, going 6-12.

To make matters worse, the Explorers lost their best player to the transfer portal in Ed Croswell. Croswell averaged 10.4 points and 7.6 boards for LaSalle last season. Furthermore, the Explorers also lost two senior starters in Isiah Deas and Saul Phiri. The two impact starters that remain are senior David Beaty and Scott Spencer, who combined to average about 20 points per game last season.

The Explorers were picked to finish 13th in the preseason poll, so it could be a rocky year in Philly for coach Ashley Howard and his team.

NFL Week 11: Goss’ three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports

By Anthony Goss

The injury sustained by Bengals QB Joe Burrow was a gut punch to football fans all around the country.

After a historic collegiate season at LSU, Burrow was drafted by the Bengals, and his arrival injected enthusiasm and some swagger into the Cincinnati franchise. Make no mistake, the Bengals were not a good team even with him, but every week Burrow took the field, looking to get better and give his team at least a chance.

Sadly, an ACL tear against the Washington Football Team on Sunday will sideline him until at least next season. Burrow will be back, though, and when he gets a better offensive line and as he continues to develop, look out for the Bengals.  

Three Good Things 

Resilient Titans Walk Off in Baltimore 

The loss to the Bengals was confusing, and last week’s showing against Indianapolis spiraled out of control, but the Tennessee Titans picked themselves up and snagged a huge win against the Ravens. 

In the middle of the third quarter, the Titans faced a 21-10 deficit on the road against a Baltimore team desperate for a win itself. The Titans kicked a couple field goals early in the fourth, and after WR AJ Brown rumbled his way into the end zone, the Titans found themselves up 24-21. RB Derrick Henry had another big day, finishing with 133 yards and a walk-off touchdown in overtime to seal the game.

Tennesse moves to 7-3, keeping pace with the Colts in the AFC South and owning a tiebreaker over a possible wild card team. A win next week in their rematch with Indianapolis would vault the Titans into the third seed in the AFC playoff picture.

Mahomes Making a Case for MVP 

At the beginning of the year, it seemed like QB Russell Wilson would run away with the league’s Most Valuable Player award. QB Aaron Rodgers also made some noise recently, but at this point in the season, the defending Super Bowl MVP looks like the clear frontrunner for this year’s regular season MVP award.

Down 31-28 late in the fourth quarter, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes II led a game-winning drive down the field with little resistance, capping it off with a touchdown throw to TE Travis Kelce. Mahomes finished with 348 yards two touchdowns and a rare interception against the Raiders, who are now too far back to challenge Kansas City for the AFC West crown. Mahomes has already surpassed his touchdown total from last season as well, and his incredible passing dazzles audiences every week.

Leading a 9-1 team trying to defend a championship, Mahomes likely has other goals in mind besides the MVP. However, another stellar performance next week when he matches up with future hall of fame quarterback Tom Brady could push the needle further in his direction for the award.

Another Week, Another Big Colts Victory 

Coming off a major win in Tennessee, it would have been easy for the Colts to ride high on their momentum and falter against QB Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. 

Down 28-14 at the half, this looked to be the case. Instead, the Colts rallied in the second half, led by QB Phillip Rivers, who finished with 288 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. The Colts defense came up big, especially in the second half as they forced two fumbles and held the Packers to three points between half time and the end of overtime.

The Colts are not as flashy as some of the other contenders in the AFC, but when Rivers is solid leading the offense and the defense makes plays like they did on Sunday, it’s hard to argue that they cannot make a run deep in the playoffs. The Colts welcome the Titans into town next week for a matchup that may decide the winner of the AFC South.  

Three Bad Things 

Carson Wentz Struggles Continue 

It’s hard to imagine any team having a worse Sunday than the Philadelphia Eagles did. Both of their division rivals competing on Sunday won, and they suffered an ugly loss in Cleveland. There are a lot of issues with this club, whether it is coaching, injuries or other players underperforming. At a certain point though, the quarterback must be held accountable for continuous disappointment on offense.

The safety that they allowed was not ideal, and the weather certainly did not help, but the interception Wentz threw to Browns LB Sione Takitaki was a painful reminder of the turnovers plaguing Wentz this season. Wentz leads the league in interceptions and fumbles. In a division void of a quality team, it has been disappointing to see Wentz get in his own way when many thought the Eagles had the edge after the injury to Cowboys QB Dak Prescott. The road ahead does not get any easier for Philly, either. In their next three games, the Eagles will take on the three teams atop the NFC standings. 

Dolphins Take a Step Back in Mile High 

Last week, the Dolphins won another game to move to 6-3 with a manageable schedule and dreams of a playoff spot in mind. Unfortunately, the Dolphins faltered in a game they might have needed on Sunday afternoon.

The play of rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa has been good, but not great, through his first three starts, and this showed against a hungry Denver defense. Broncos head coach Vic Fangio brought the heat against the rookie, and his defense sacked Tua six times. Defense was also an issue, as the Dolphins struggled to stop the Denver run game and could not create any pressure on QB Drew Lock either.

Without any pressure from the Miami defense, the Broncos were able to control this game, although it remained close throughout. With still a couple of winnable games ahead, there is no reason to panic in Miami, but in a competitive race for a wild card spot, slip-ups like these can be costly.  

Patricia and the Lions Underwhelm Once Again 

Sunday’s game between the Panthers and the Lions was the dichotomy of two polarizing mindsets. For Carolina, there was a clear motivation to play hard and win for a coach that is changing the culture for the Panthers, and that the players respect.

On the other side, it was clear (and it has been clear for a while) that there is a rift between the players and head coach Matt Patricia. Patricia’s tenure in Detroit has been a disappointment, a 20-0 shutout to Carolina reflected this. QB Matthew Stafford’s inefficient performance totaled 178 yards and no touchdowns, and a porous offensive line allowed five sacks on Stafford. Former XFL star QB P.J. Walker had a solid NFL debut for the Panthers, and the Lions’ defensive scheme did not do much to disrupt him.

This season has been the culmination of the underwhelming seasons and disappointing finishes during the Matt Patricia tenure. The Lions will not be able to overcome their sixth loss this early in the season, and at this point, it looks like the team is ready for the season to be finished. 

Keep an Eye On… 

Thanksgiving Day Divisional Matchups 

On the biggest feasting day of the year, the Washington Football Team heads to Dallas to face the Cowboys in what should be the biggest game between 3-7 teams in recent memory. Thursday’s winner will take control of the NFC East for the time being.

On Thursday, the Steelers have an opportunity to start wrapping up the AFC North before Christmas comes around, but they will have to fend off a Baltimore squad that needs a momentum boost after consecutive weeks of disappointing finishes.  

Holmes ready to carry on family legacy after name change

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — When Jaren Holmes graduated from high school, his principal gave him two diplomas.

One diploma was awarded to Jaren English, the familiar Romulus High School basketball guard who had led the Eagles to the Michigan Class A state semifinals. English, as he was known, would go on to play at Ranger Community College in Texas before transferring to St. Bonaventure.

 The other diploma was awarded to Jaren Holmes. 

And, while Bona fans got to know him as Jaren English last season, in his heart, he was already Jaren Holmes.

“I was always going to change my name as soon as I got settled,” Holmes said. “After junior college and signing here with the Bonnies, it was set in stone.”

Holmes’ desire to change his name came long before he arrived at SBU. His younger brother, William, had wanted to change his last name to reflect his mother’s since he was 15. However, the two were each in the middle of their respective athletic recruitment processes at the time.

For Jaren, it was basketball. For William, baseball.

“For my brother’s 16th birthday, he wanted to change his name,” Holmes said. “I didn’t know if I really wanted to do it because it was kind of shaky for me recruitment-wise. I didn’t know what my future held. I had gone by English my whole life.”

When the two went to their mother, Gia, with the idea, she had her reservations on the name change, as well.

“My mom thought it would be best to wait until we’re older so that my father couldn’t contest it and make sure that we keep the name, even though he hasn’t done anything for us,” Holmes said. “The type of person that he is, to have two sons directly 10 minutes away from him and you never see them for 21 years and 19 years, I knew the type of dude that he was. I knew that he would try to contest it just to be spiteful to my mom.”

Gia Holmes also required that if either Jaren or William wanted to change their last name to Holmes, the other would have to do so, as well.

“She didn’t want one son to have English and one son to have Holmes,” Jaren Holmes said. “She wanted to show that me and him worked together on this.”

Holmes recalled going out to dinner with his brother for William’s 16th birthday. As the two sat at their table, Holmes said, he found out just how much it meant to William to have his mother’s last name. 

“(William) said, if you don’t want to do it, I understand,” Holmes said. “But this means more to me than anything in the world.”

His brother’s emotions, Holmes said, were powerful.

“He’s never been emotional when it comes to my father,” Holmes said. “When I saw him break down in that instant, I knew that this is what I’ve got to do.”

William Holmes’ baseball career had started to pick up at the time. He began getting scouted while playing at Western International High School in Detroit, and became aware that there was a good chance he would be drafted by a professional organization.

“I want to pay mom back, and I don’t want (our father) to have any ties to us in our careers,” Jaren Holmes recalled William saying. “That he can go and say, ‘those are my sons,’ and we have his last name.”

The two went back to their mother and told her that they were going to do it. Upon getting settled, they would each change their last name to Holmes.

Two years later, William was picked by the Los Angeles Angels in the fifth round of the 2018 Major League Baseball draft. After a year-long legal process, William changed his last name from English to Holmes. Jaren, while still committed to the agreement he made with his brother, would wait for his basketball career to progress before doing the same.

After a year at Ranger CC, Holmes arrived at SBU in the summer of 2019 with the intention of changing his name as soon as he could.

“As the first year came about, it was hard for me to do anything court related because I was in summer session and didn’t have the time to appear in court,” Holmes said. “Especially me being a first-year player here, I was trying to make a good impression.”

After a 2019-20 campaign during which he started 23 of 24 games played for SBU and averaged 11.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, Holmes knew that it was finally time to make the change.

“I let everybody that’s close to me know that my name was going to be Holmes next season,” Holmes said. “That was my main goal during this pandemic, was to make sure that my name was Holmes by the start of the season. I knew that (the fans and community) would accept me no matter what.”

Holmes’ court date, which would be held over Zoom, was scheduled for Sept. 30. His brother, mother and grandparents made the trip to listen to the hearing. As his family surrounded him in a hotel room, Holmes recalled the judge telling him that his request for a name change had been granted.

For the first time, he was legally Jaren Holmes.

“When the judge told me that, I saw my mom break down,” Holmes said. “My grandmother behind her broke down, and for the first time, I saw my grandfather cry. Everyone just kind of jumped on me, as if I was adopted. It felt like something had changed, but these are the same people that have been with me since day one.”

Holmes said that as his mom held him in that moment, he knew that he had done the right thing. 

“That moment with my family was probably greater than any basketball moment I had ever been in,” Holmes said. “Bigger than any game I’ve ever played in. Bigger than any situation, bigger than any big shot. It just felt like my path led me to this and I was finally coming into who I was supposed to be all along.”

Holmes recalled the countless hours that his mother had spent helping her sons pursue their athletic careers. Her, along with Holmes’ grandfather and his late uncle John, he said, had collectively filled the role of father figure for Jaren growing up.

“My mother has done literally everything for me,” Holmes said. “Stretching herself as thin as you can think possible so that we can be happy. That right there, on a teacher’s salary, supporting two boys who play completely different sports… without her, I wouldn’t be playing here at Bonaventure.”

Just as Holmes’ family has supported and assisted him with his basketball career, they have encouraged him to follow another passion: broadcasting.

“When I was younger, I always watched ESPN,” Holmes said. “I loved sports. My mom and my grandparents always said, Jaren, you would be good at that.”

Holmes, now a sports media major, loves baseball as much as he does basketball. He grew up a Tigers fan, but now roots for the Angels because of his brother.

“I always knew I wanted to be a sports broadcasting major, and I always wanted to be a sports journalist because I love talking about sports,” Holmes said. “As I found out this year, what goes on behind the scenes is much broader and harder than I could have ever expected.”

Holmes regularly appears as a reporter and anchor on SBU-TV, the university’s student-run television broadcast that airs live each Friday while school is in session. He hopes that once he’s done playing basketball, broadcasting will be a way for him to stay involved with the game.

“I feel like I have a knack for it,” Holmes said. “For being on television and being on camera. Does it sometimes interfere with basketball? Yeah. But my mom never complained, so I’m not going to complain.”

Whether it’s on the basketball court or in front of the video camera, Holmes hopes that he can now carry on his grandfather’s legacy since changing his name.

“William and I see it as a chance to rebuild our family tree,” Holmes said. “It’s an honor to represent my mom, and represent my grandfather.”

Now in his second season at SBU, Holmes is optimistic and satisfied with where he’s at.

“Honestly, I couldn’t be happier,” Holmes said. “I love going by the name Holmes. My brother and I made a pact at that dinner that night that we would carry on that legacy no matter what. We would always be the men that our mom would try to raise us to be.”

Bonnies in “good spirits” after positive COVID-19 tests prevents trip to Bubbleville

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team paused all team activities on Thursday following a positive COVID-19 result within the program, the university’s athletics department announced.

A member of the team’s Tier 1 personnel, which includes student-athletes, coaches, team managers and support staff, produced the positive test.

As a result, the team will not travel to “Bubbleville” at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut this coming week, and has shut down all team activities for two weeks.

“It’s unfortunate that this hit us right before we were about to play, and we don’t know how many games we’ll actually get in,” said junior guard Jaren Holmes. “Right now we’re in good spirits, and we’re just going to continue to get better and become closer.”

The Bonnies had been scheduled to play three games in the bubble, including a season-opening matchup against Towson on Wednesday. Stephen F. Austin and Army West Point were SBU’s other two scheduled opponents.

“I think this gets us that much more hungry to play,” Holmes said. “We’re going to be there for each other no matter what, and right now, we’re the ones who have to get each other through this.”

If the program doesn’t return any additional positive tests beforehand, it can resume team activities on Dec. 3. That’s 12 days before the Bonnies are scheduled to play Akron in Cleveland, Ohio, which will now serve as the team’s season opener.

“We’ve done everything right,” Holmes said. “I don’t think there’s a team more focused than us when it comes to handling this. We’re taking this thing seriously.”

The program’s positive test comes in the midst of a spike in COVID-19 cases within both the university community and Cattaraugus County. As of Friday evening, SBU had announced 37 new positive tests this week among students that were tested on campus, according to the university’s online COVID-19 tracker.

The Bonnies are now left with two non-conference games on their schedule, as they will host Buffalo on Dec. 22 after traveling to Akron.

“We’re taking the positives in everything,” Holmes said. “We can find ways to get better throughout these two weeks and be ready to go as soon as we get back.”

NFL Week 10: Goss’ three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Getty Images

By Anthony Goss

Last week, I noted that the Steelers had a small COVID-19 outbreak within their organization, and one of those exposed was QB Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger basically did not practice all week and attended zoom meetings online.

Despite this hindrance, he was able to take the field Sunday, and his performance (333 yards and four touchdowns) dismantled the Cincinnati Bengals defense. This has been a strong year for the veteran QB, and he has shown how much the Steelers missed him last season. This year, the Steelers (9-0) are strong on both sides of the ball, but Roethlisberger should be the unquestionable leader for comeback player of the year.  

Three Good Things 

Cardinals Win on a Prayer 

Sometimes, a football game comes down to great players making great plays. 

Bills QB Josh Allen capped off a seemingly game-winning drive with a great throw to WR Stefon Diggs with 34 seconds left in the game. Then, wit htwo seconds remaining, QB Kyler Murray avoided a defender to scramble left, heaving the ball into the end zone right into the enormous hands of WR DeAndre Hopkins.

There is a lot to pick at for Buffalo, whether that be the porous defense against Murray, or Allen’s costly interceptions that led to the team’s blown lead, but at the end of the day, Arizona’s best players made an outstanding play. Murray has been outstanding this year, and his dual-threat ability has given defenses fits. The win vaulted the Cardinals into first place in the NFC West division, setting them up for a rematch against the reeling Seahawks in Seattle on Thursday night.  

Brady and the Bucs Bounce Back 

When the Buccaneers are not playing the Saints, they look like one of the best teams in football. QB Tom Brady rebounded after one of his worst games by throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns, adding another on a quarterback sneak. 

All of the talented weapons on the perimeter for Tampa Bay got involved, including WR Antonio Brown, who posted seven receptions for 69 yards. His progress going forward could make this offense even more dangerous. Carolina looked completely outmatched as the Bucs defense buckled down in the second half after allowing seventeen points and a couple big plays in the first half. The Buccaneers now turn to a Monday night tilt against the Los Angeles Rams, which will be an important game for wild card seeding. 

Colts take Control on Thursday Night 

After a disappointing effort against the Ravens, the Colts had a short week to prepare for the Titans and RB Derrick Henry, but they were up for the challenge. The Titans outgained the Colts on the ground, but the Colts defense stifled QB Ryan Tannehill in the air.

RB Nyhiem Hines accounted for 115 total yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for a Colts offense coming off of a bad outing against Baltimore. A blocked-punt touchdown gave the Colts separation in the third, and after another touchdown in the fourth, the Colts held on to win 34-17. After a hot start, Tennessee has cooled off and now Indianapolis has the edge in the AFC for the foreseeable future.  

Three Bad Things 

Seahawks Start to Fade 

Seattle rode the play of QB Russell Wilson to a fast start, but as the competition has picked up, the Seahawks have now lost three of four and some major flaws have come to light.

Seattle has a porous defense giving up the most yards per game in the league, most of those coming through the air. All of the Rams’ touchdowns came on the ground, but QB Jared Goff threw for 302 yards to eight different receivers. The Seahawks have been able to mask the defensive woes with the play of Wilson; on Sunday though, the Rams kept him out of rhythm by forcing horrible reads and some bad turnovers. 

Wilson’s play was poor, but there was not any help coming from another source against Los Angeles. The Seahawks offensive line allowed six sacks, and Wilson’s best target, WR DK Metcalf, struggled to get open against one of the league’s top defenders in CB Jalen Ramsey. It’s a quick turnaround for the Seahawks, who host the Cardinals on Thursday night, but Seattle has never lost three games in a row with Russell Wilson under center. 

Eagles Blow Another Divisional Matchup 

There will be an NFC East team hosting a playoff game, and surprisingly, it still might be the Eagles. In a must win game to create separation in this horrible division, the Eagles looked awful. QB Carson Wentz took care of the ball, but his 208 passing yards were nothing of substance.

Coaching has been a gripe in Philadelphia for a while, and Sunday only furthered those frustrations. Head coach Doug Pederson brought his team out of the bye week flat, and he mismanaged several third down and fourth down scenarios. The decision to go for two when the Eagles were down by four was a bad one to put it lightly. 

Philly needed this game, as it has a gauntlet of tough matchups upcoming: at Cleveland, Seattle, at Green Bay, New Orleans, and at Arizona. If they can steal one of those games and finish strong in the division, the Eagles should be able to host a Wild Card game, but they have a lot of work to do. 

Ugly Weather, Ugly Night for Baltimore 

As the rain poured down in Foxborough, so did the Patriots run game on a strong Baltimore defense. Baltimore gave up 173 yards against the Patriots, well above their season average. QB Lamar Jackson had a nice showing with 249 yards and two touchdowns and one pick, but the Baltimore offense lacks the flare it showed last season.

Penalties were another killer in this game, as the Ravens finished with eight for 64 yards. There’s no cause for panic in Charm City in terms of playoff hopes, but hopes of reclaiming the AFC North dwindled with their loss on Sunday night 

Keep an Eye On…. 

Wild Card Race in the AFC 

To this point in the season, the AFC runs nine deep with teams contending for playoff spots and records of at least 6-3. The NFL added an extra playoff spot this season in each conference, but there will still be two solid teams left out of the postseason come January.

Watching the playoff picture come together will be intriguing as these teams contend for playoff spots and division crowns. A notable matchup of this group will take place next Sunday when the Titans travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens.  

NBA Draft Preview: predicting every first-round pick, potential trades and where LaMelo Ball will land

photo: NBA.com

By Tom Doyle

BRISTOL, CT —  The NBA playoffs are over, and teams are now deep into the evaluation process and finalizing their decisions of who to pick on this year’s draft.

The draft is set to take place at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, and unlike last year, this year’s draft class is full of uncertainty.  No one knows who is going to be drafted first overall.  

There is no Zion Williamson or Anthony Davis, both obvious top picks, this year. The most likely scenario is that the first three picks should be LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman in some order. 

The Minnesota Timberwolves pick first.  They traded Andrew Wiggins and a 2021 first round pick for D’Angelo Russel last season.  If they draft point guard LaMelo Ball from the Australian National Basketball League, it could clog their back court and make them a smaller team.  So, will it be Anthony Edwards? 

The Georgia product is a 6-5 shooting guard with extreme athleticism, and is the most NBA-ready player in this draft.  He is also a piece the Wolves could use at shooting guard.  The only set pieces they have this year are at point guard and center, in D’Angelo Russel and Karl-Anthony Towns, respectively.    

The Golden State Warriors have the number two pick in the draft.  Here is where the draft gets fun.  Golden State is coming off of a season where it was ravaged with injuries, and missed Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson for almost the entire year. 

This came off a year in which the Warriors saw their two-time NBA finals MVP Kevin Durant leave for the Brooklyn Nets.  Now, they have former first overall pick Andrew Wiggins filling in at small forward with Curry and Thompson still in the back court.  

Three-time all-star Draymond Green and Kevon Looney will presumably start in the front court.  So, where does a number two overall pick fit in with this star-studded starting five?   

Expect a lot of trades.  In three straight drafts, a top five pick was traded.  Markelle Fultz was traded for Jayson Tatum in 2017, Luka Doncic was traded for Trae Young in 2018 and Deandre Hunter was traded for multiple first round picks in 2019. 

Could Minnesota trade the pick and get a proven all-star in Bradley Beal?  He has been brought up repeatedly, but it seems the Washington Wizards want to hold onto Beal after he led the Eastern Conference in scoring. 

The Nets could move Caris Levert or Spencer Dinwiddie in a deal to pair another player with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.  They have their eyes on James Harden.  Harden wants to be traded to Philadelphia or Brooklyn, according to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.   

The Denver Nuggets could be looking to move on from Gary Harris and Bol Bol.  Expect the Denver Nuggets to make a little noise during the draft.

After Michael Porter Jr. emerged in the playoffs, Harris fell out of the lineup, and with Will Barton expected to be back next year, Harris is trade-able.  

ESPN reported that the Los Angeles Clippers may be trying to move Lou Williams this week as well, and Dallas is interested. 

The Oklahoma City Thunder are the team with the most assets in the draft.  They have accumulated an abundance of draft picks after trading Paul George, Russel Westbrook and Chris Paul.  They have the draft capitol to move up in the draft and pair a young player with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.   

With severe flaws in the top three prospects, expect one of the top three teams to trade down.  There is value in picks 5-10.  The Warriors could trade down for an asset and a pick with several teams that have been rumored to want to move up in the draft.  

“Moving up is definitely an option,” said Detroit Pistons General Manager Troy Weaver. 

The Warriors could swap picks with Detroit’s seventh pick and bring in a veteran such as Derrick Rose and another pick.  This could free up the point guard spot for Detroit to use on Ball and fill a sixth man role the Warriors are lacking.   

Here is my 2020 NBA Mock Draft: 

[Name, Position, University/Country, Age] 

  1. Minnesota: Anthony Edwards, G, Georgia, 18 
  1. Golden State: James Wiseman, C, Memphis, 18 
  1. Charlotte: Lamelo Ball, G, Australia, 19 
  1. Chicago: Deni Avdija, G, Israel, 19 
  1. Cleveland: Obi Toppin, F, Dayton, 22 
  1. Atlanta: Issac Okoro, F, Auburn, 19 
  1. Detroit: Onyeka Okongwu, F, USC, 19 
  1. New York: Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State, 20  
  1. Washington: Killian Hayes, G, France, 18 
  1. Phoenix: Devin Vassell, G, Florida State, 20 
  1. San Antonio: Patrick Williams, F, Florida State, 19 
  1. Sacramento: Kira Lewis Jr., G, Alabama, 19 
  1. New Orleans: RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand, 19 
  1. Boston: Jalen Smith, F, Maryland, 20 
  1. Orlando: Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky, 19 
  1. Houston: Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina, 20 
  1. Minnesota: Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford, 19 
  1. Dallas: Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova, 21 
  1. Brooklyn: Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis, 21 
  1. Miami: Isaiah Stewart, F, Washington, 19 
  1. Philadelphia: Aaron Nesmith, G, Vanderbilt, 20 
  1. Denver: Desmond Bane, G, TCU, 22 
  1. Utah: Jaden McDaniels, G, Washington, 20 
  1. New Orleans: Josh Green, F, Arizona, 20 
  1. Oklahoma City: Aleksej Pokusevski, G, Serbia, 18 
  1. Boston: Leandro Bolmaro, G, Barcelona, 20  
  1. New York: Nico Mannion, G, Arizona, 19 
  1. Oklahoma City: Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky, 21 
  1. Toronto: Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego St., 22 
  1. Boston: Xaiver Tillman Sr., F, Michigan St., 21