By Jeff Fasoldt, @Jeff_Fasoldt
The NCAA basketball season is just around the corner, and St. Bonaventure students and fans are ready to pack the Reilly Center to watch a young team with mammoth expectations.
New names and fresh talent with the likes of Jalen Adams, Jaylen Adams, Iakeem Alston, Jordan Tyson, Marcus Posley and Idris Taqqee will no doubt help the Bonnies this season, but don’t forget about the key returners on a talented squad—and do not overlook senior Andell Cumberbatch.
Last season, after transferring from Barton Community College in Kansas, the 195- pound guard was just a rookie on the team, but contributed immediately and started 25 games as a junior.
Cumberbatch showed incredible poise on the road as he led the team in points both at Iona, with 19, and at Wake Forest, with a career-high 25.
Even with fellow seniors, Jordan Gathers, Youssou Ndoye and Chris Dees on the team, the roster is young, and this year the senior knows that even though it’s only his second year at Bonaventure, it’s his time to take the reigns.
“We have new leaders on this team,” said Cumberbatch. “We had veteran guys last year but now I see myself as a leader because I’m one of the veterans on the team and it’s my senior year.”
At 6-foot-5 Cumberbatch has the ability to drive in the lane and use his athleticism to skyrocket to the rim, or beat defenders off the dribble with finesse. And, opposing teams learned last year that if you leave him open from beyond the arc, he’s capable of making threes.
He also was a force on defense for the Bonnies last season, using his long wingspan to deflect passes and collect steals. Cumberbatch finished 21st in the Atlantic-10 Conference in steals, and he had six steals in the game at Iona, the most by any A-10 player in a single game over the span of the season.
“Over the offseason I improved my strength and shooting ability, I just want to be more consistent from the field,” said Cumberbatch. “I’ll be doing a little bit of everything this year.”
With the loss of Matthew Wright and Charlon Kloof, the Bonnies two main guards last season, Coach Mark Schmidt will most likely turn to Cumberbatch and Gathers to lead the other young guards.
“I don’t want there to be to much pressure on (the younger guards) this year,” said Cumberbatch. “They still need to get their feet wet and get used to the game.”
With expectations so high this year, leadership to take the pressure off will no doubt be important to Schmidt.
“I’ll do whatever it takes for my team to win,” said Cumberbatch.
“Our goal is to win the A-10 tournament and make it to the NCAA tournament.”