By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
St. Bonaventure guard Jay Adams has already accomplished two rare feats this season. The first was cracking the starting lineup as a freshman, which he did on opening day. The second came on Monday afternoon, when Adams was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week.
Since the 2008-09 season, only three Bona freshmen have won the conference’s weekly honor for first-year players: Adams, Matthew Wright and Andrew Nicholson. Nicholson won the award six times en route to winning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year.
Adams averaged 13 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists over the two games last week, scoring 19 in the win over Jackson State and scoring seven points with four assists in the win over Niagara. He was 5-12 from three and 11-12 from the free throw line and helped the Bonnies grab two needed wins.
“I’m kind of excited,” Adams said. “It’s a good accomplishment, the earliest accomplishment, but it just means I’ve got to keep working.
“Really, my teammates have put me in this spot. I just hit a bunch of open shots, but I really couldn’t do it without my teammates.”
“(The award) is great,” said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt. “You get those individual awards but they’re more team awards; if we weren’t winning games we wouldn’t get those. But he’s played really well as a freshman. He has some poise and it’s a credit to him and his teammates–You play the guys who have earned the minutes in practice, and he earned it.”
There are many strengths to Adams’s game, but every freshman endures growing pains and needs to make improvements.
“He can score and he’s produced,” Schmidt said. “He’s gotta do a better job of handling the ball and have a better assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s gotta defend better and have a more consistent effort, playing hard all the time because you can’t play up and down in waves.”
The 6-1 point guard from Baltimore has relished the opportunity to start. The comfort he has shown in such a pivotal role has spoken volumes.
“I was just hoping I was gonna play, so being able to start, I was really excited,” Adams said. “And knowing (Iakeem) was going to play alongside me, I knew it was going to be a good one-two punch.
“I just want to get better, no matter what my role is. I just want to help the team prosper in whatever way I can. At the end of the day, I just want to get better… I’m working on playing defense and being a better leader as the point guard.”
The Bonnies are entering a difficult three-game stretch, hosting the de facto Big Four championship against the 4-1 Buffalo Bulls on Wednesday before they go on the road to face Ohio and Pittsburgh the next two Saturdays.
Buffalo is a formidable opponent, with their only loss coming at no. 1 ranked Kentucky, who they were leading at halftime. Ohio and Pitt are not starting out as great as they have in the past, but any road game is a challenge, especially considering the Bonnies have not played a true road game yet.
“We just have to play hard,” Adams said. “When we play hard and play defense, we’re at our best. We get a lot of points of turnovers so I think defensively that’s what we have to do.
“It’s definitely gonna be a tough game. We play a lot of tough teams, but going into this one it’s personally a different mindset. As a team we have to come out and play as hard as possible, the hardest we’ve played all year.”
For the Bonnies to have positive results in the toughest games of their young season, they will look to their freshman at the point to provide the necessary energy and leadership.