By Mike Hogan
As the New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro, one of St. Bonaventure’s most accomplished journalism graduates, stated in his article on the Bona Blog — it’s the season Bonnies Fans have been awaiting for a very long time.
The journey starts tonight in the Reilly Center at 8 p.m. against longtime rival Niagara.
Preparing To win (possibly) without Adams
One of the biggest storylines that has gotten a lot of attention this week is whether or not Jaylen Adams will play tonight vs Niagara. Adams is questionable with an ankle injury that he sustained during the exhibition match-up against Niagara last Saturday.
Adams did not practice all week and sources say he’s been spotted on crutches, likely ruling him out for tonight.
If Adams can’t go, Junior guard Nelson Kaputo will likely get the start.
Last year, after not playing the first nine games for academic reasons, Kaputo averaged 2.0 points and 0.8 assists per game. Against Fordham last year he played 36 minutes and dished out six assists for the Bonnies. His highest scoring total came against George Mason, where he played 20 minutes and scored 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting.
Can History Repeat Itself?
The Bonnies have won their last six meetings with Niagara dating back to 2011, including last year’s game in Buffalo where the Bonnies came away with a 79-69 victory. Tonight marks the 158th meeting between the two big 4 rivals, with the Bonnies currently leading the series by an overwhelming 88 wins to 69 losses, and the margin only gets bigger at the RC where the Bonnies hold a 53-18 record vs Niagara.
Stacking up the Squads
This year’s team brings a lot of experience to the table as the team is returning four starters and seven letter winners. While Adams is questionable for tonight, Matt Mobley will still be there to pick up the slack as the two are known to be one of the best back-court tandems in the country. The lineup will also feature other strong role players such as Idris Taqqee, Josh Ayeni, LaDarien Griffin, Nelson Kaputo, Courtney Stockard, and Amadi Ikpeze. New additions like Izaiah Brockington, Tshiefu Ngalakulondi, and Ndene Gueye will also be mixed into the action.
Niagara brings experience to the table, as the team returns all five of its leading scorers from last year’s team which finished at 10-23. While last year’s results were not desirable Niagara is also primed to have a pretty solid year as they were picked to finish in the top five of the MAAC. The guys to key on for Niagara are Matt Scott who was named to the all-preseason MAAC first-team, and senior guard Kahlil Dukes who earned second team honors. Scott lead the team in scoring, rebounding, and steals last season, while Dukes was 11th in the MAAC in scoring and hit 92% of his shots from the line.
Keys for victory and prediction:
Obviously, if Adams is indeed ruled out for this game, other guys will have to chip in and take the pressure off of Mobley. Look for guys like Stockard (who scored 20 points in last week’s exhibition), and Idris Taqqee to step up and take the scoring load off of Mobley. Overall, even without Adams, this is a game the Bonnies should be able to handle. Look for Niagara to come in and play aggressive with nothing to lose. Niagara didn’t finish well last year, but they did put up a fight against the Bonnies, and they certainly aren’t a pushover.