By Jason Klaiber
St. Bonaventure sophomore guard Idris Taqqee stacked up momentum at the tail end of his inaugural year with the Bonnies, scoring 23 of his 33 points in the final 10 games of the season.
“I had to catch the swing of things,” said Taqqee. “I got confident. I had a lot of ups and downs last year with my confidence, but toward the end of the season, they needed me, because Jaylen (Adams) got hurt.
“It was one of those things where you have to do it now or never, so I had to buy in.”
Taqqee sees the approaching season as a platform to gain more recognition from the Reilly Center faithful and to help secure victories for his team.
“I want to make more impact plays,” said Taqqee. “I basically want to stay mistake-free. The bottom line is to win.”
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Taqqee gained much of his tenacity and knowledge of the game of basketball in his four years at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass.
“I learned a lot, because I was playing with a lot of Division-I basketball players,” said Taqqee. “It was good to be in a high-level environment.”
For two years, Taqqee also played wide receiver on Cushing’s football team. With the football season falling before basketball, the workload of weightlifting and sandpits set a routine of hard work in motion before the time came to hit the hardwood.
“It kind of gave me that summertime grind,” said Taqqee.
Taqqee’s entrance into basketball came from following in the footsteps of his father, who played high school ball, as well as watching NBA games.
“It’s one of those things where I just fell in love with it,” said Taqqee.
Born in Los Angeles, Taqqee has rooted for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers his entire life. However, he found additional influence in Richard “Rip” Hamilton and Kawhi Leonard, whom he deemed “underrated” — NBA greats who don’t appear on television or magazine covers on a frequent basis, as he defined it.
“There’s a lot of underrated players in the league,” said Taqqee. “I look up to those players, because I want to see what they do off the court to get where they are.”
He heard from a host of colleges for both basketball and football, but Taqqee said the welcoming nature of St. Bonaventure’s coaching staff, as well as his parents’ support of the school, brought him to SBU.
Though his family raised him in the more populated city of Snellville, Ga., from age two on, Taqqee said he hasn’t minded living in Olean.
“It’s definitely rural, but I have family in Alabama, so I’m used to small, rural areas,” said Taqqee.
While he sees his best days on the court still ahead, Taqqee views beating Davidson 72-71 on the road last season as the high point of his college playing career thus far.
“My parents were there, and I was as close to home as I could get,” said Taqqee. “That was definitely the biggest moment.”
Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt sees a growth of potential in Taqqee coming into this season.
“He’s like that blue-collar guy,” Schmidt said. “He doesn’t do anything great, but he does a lot of good things. He’s going to play good defense, he’s going to get some offensive rebounds, but he has to hit that open shot, and to me, that’s a big, big key for him, and he’s been working on it.
“We have a lot of confidence that he’ll be productive.”