(Matt Mobley Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
With the surprising exhibition game results across the A-10 this weekend (VCU most notably lost to Queens College) there was a small question mark as to how the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team would perform against Alfred University on Saturday afternoon.
The Bonnies were true to the SBU athletic department’s 2016-17 slogan, and left no doubt with a 99-72 victory.
Junior transfer Matt Mobley’s 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including three three-pointers, led Bona. Jaylen Adams and Idris Taqqee had 16 each and Josh Ayeni tallied 12.
Alfred’s tallest players each stand at 6-foot-6, and Bonaventure took full advantage of having the taller roster. The brown and white outrebounded the purple and gold 46-26 and swatted five shots.
Every scholarship player scored, and walk-ons Caleb McGuire and Jack Galatio were able to see action. Galatio even swished two free throws.
The defense left a bit to be desired, as the Saxons shot 52 percent from the field in the second half, stroking seven threes in each 20-minute period. But the SBU offense was hitting on all cylinders, with a 57 percent clip for the game.
Most importantly for Mark Schmidt’s team, no one was injured in the glorified scrimmage.
“We’re a work in progress,” Schmidt acknowledged. “I thought from an offensive standpoint we played well, but it’s (not just) an offensive game. I thought we did a decent job on the backboard, but we should with the size that we have… but we didn’t do a good job of defending. We weren’t disciplined enough.
“I’m not sure if we didn’t respect them enough. We were taking chances, we weren’t disciplined enough getting into our pack-line defensive system.”
The freshman Ayeni isn’t a polished player yet, but his presence down low was impressive, albeit against smaller big men. He made six of his nine shot attempts and grabbed seven boards.
“He’s aggressive, sometimes too aggressive,” Schmidt said of the Zaria, Nigeria native. “He’s gotta slow down a little bit, but just like all the freshmen, you’re trying to learn. It’s the first time he’s had a uniform on, he’s a little nervous, he went a little bit too fast. But he’s a physical player, you just gotta tone that down a little bit, the way (the refs) are calling the game this year… it was a good first step for him.”
Another freshman forward, Amadi Ikpeze, earned some praise from his coach after making two baskets in the first half.
“I thought it was a really positive thing for him, to play the way he did,” Schmidt remarked.
Senior transfer David Andoh, who is still working himself back into game shape, saw the floor for 10 minutes and made four of his seven shot attempts for eight points. He also collected three rebounds and blocked one shot.
According to Schmidt, Andoh has only completed three full practices, so the ten minutes was “probably what he can do right now.”
“He’s gotta get back in game shape, and the only way you can do that is practicing at full speed the entire practice,” Schmidt said.
The starting lineup of Adams, Mobley, Taqqee, Gregg and Obokoh didn’t contain many surprises. Gregg was a bucket shy of joining Adams, Mobley and Taqqee in the double-digit point club. Obokoh had a quiet debut, partly due to foul trouble. The Syracuse transfer tallied four points and two rebounds in nine minutes of action.
As Schmidt noted, about eight players are going to be in the regular rotation, so two aren’t going to get much time. The minutes distribution tonight looked like this: Mobley played 33 minutes, Taqqee played 32, Gregg had 27, Adams had 20, Ayeni and Tareq Coburn registered 19 each, LaDarien Griffin played 16 and Andoh played 10, while Obokoh and Ikpeze played nine each.
These numbers are clearly going to change in Saturday’s official opener against St. Francis: Adams will definitely average in the high 30s this year, and Schmidt said Obokoh could get around 20 when he’s not in foul trouble.
“It’s hard to evaluate when a game’s going on,” Schmidt said. “We’ll watch tape tomorrow and see where we stand, and we’ll go back to work on Monday. But come (next Saturday) you’ll know who the top eight or nine guys are.”
In his first collegiate game action in a year and a half due to NCAA transfer rules, Mobley performed well, tying for the lead in rebounds (seven) and assists (six) along with the 22 points.
“It felt good to be back out there again,” Mobley said. “Sitting out a whole year, I was anxious, but like coach said you’ve gotta play both ways, so I’ve gotta get better at defense and the offense will take care of itself.”
The father v.s. sons matchup was as special as anticipated. Nick Schmidt scored seven points, while Derek recorded a three-pointer and five rebounds. According to Schmidt, however, the fun wasn’t limited to his sons.
“Most of those guys have been over at our house, stayed overnight,” he said. “I go down to their home in Alfred; they live in a basketball house so I go down there and take those guys out to eat and so forth. So it’s special for my two sons, but it’s special for all those guys to have the opportunity to play a Division I team in this type of environment.
“There’s a sense of pride,” he said. “But at the same time, I wanted to win.”