Tomorrow at 4, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team kicks off the 2014-15 season with an exhibition game against Division II Mansfield Mountaineers. This is the seventh meeting between the two teams, with Bonaventure leading the series 5-1.
Everyone is interested to see what this year’s team is going to look like, with six players set to make their debut in brown and white. In last year’s game against the Mountaineers, Andell Cumberbatch introduced himself to the Bona faithful by scoring 23 to lead all scorers. Who will make a positive first impression tomorrow? Let’s break it down.
St. Bonaventure: Mark Schmidt. 106-110 as Bonnies coach.
Mansfield: Rich Miller. 119-124 as Mountaineers coach.
Key players for Mansfield:
Charles Pemberton, 6-4 senior forward. PSAC Defensive player of the year last season for the Mountaineers. He broke Mansfield’s single season block record with 62 last year. He averaged 13.2 points for the black and red as a junior, which was good enough for second on the team. Pemberton led the team in field-goal percentage with 66.5-percent on the season.
Joe Bell, 6-6 senior forward. Bell was All-PSAC first team last season and was named Mansfield’s most valuable player. He finished second in the PSAC in scoring in scoring last year, and was 15th in the nation (Division-II) with 21.8 points per game. He also was a force for the Mountaineers on the boards last season with 7.9 rebounds per game, which was good enough for sixth in the PSAC.
Andreas Katopodis, 5-10 freshman guard. Katopodis is from Lefkada, Greece, but played his high school basketball at Lee Academy in Maine. Katopodis won three high school state championships and was voted the best athlete in his school. He excels beyond the three-point line as he hit 47 from beyond the arc last season in high school. He’s been invited to practice with the U16 and U18 Greek national team. He was invited to the Northwestern Greece all-star game where he won the three-point contest.
Key players for Bonaventure:
Youssou Ndoye, 7-foot senior center. Mansfield is a very small team; their tallest player stands at 6-foot-7. Therefore, the Bonnies will look to feed the big guy early and often. Ndoye’s preseason accolades were well-deserved, but he has to start out strong by overwhelming this Mansfield squad. To do that, he’ll have to dominate on both sides of the floor, while avoiding foul trouble. Consistency is the key for Ndoye.
Jaylen Adams, 6-1 freshman guard. Jordan Gathers is not expected to play in the exhibition, so the youngest player on this Bonaventure team will likely be the first point guard off Schmidt’s bench on Saturday when JUCO transfer Iakeem Alston gets subbed out. One of the big questions surrounding Adams has been how he will handle the physicality of college ball. We’re about to get our first look.
Marcus Posley, 6-1 junior guard. Sources close to the team said Posley led the team in scoring in the closed scrimmage against Kent State. He seems most likely to have a big debut like Cumberbatch did last year because of his ability to score from anywhere on the court. He can make deep threes, knock down midrange jumpers and drive to the hoop with efficiency. Look out for the transfer from Indian Hills Community College (and Ball State before that) to have an immediate impact on the exhibition.
Keys to victory for Mansfield: If Mansfield, a very undersized Division-II team, wants to have any chance in this game they will have to shoot the lights out from beyond the arc. That means their freshman from Greece, Katopodis, is going to have to shake off whatever nerves he has coming into the Reilly Center and knock down shots.
Keys to victory for Bonaventure: The Bonnies have the size advantage, are more athletic, have better shooters and have the home court advantage as well. The key in an exhibition is to show some intensity, set the pace and play your game, while limiting turnovers along the way.
The Prediction: 91-65 Bonnies