Baseball: Bonnies Draw Familiar Foe in A-10 Tournament

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(Aaron Phillips, photo credit Olean Times Herald)

By Josh Svetz @Svetz17

After the St. Bonaventure Bonnies secured the third seed last Friday against Fordham, fans waited anxiously to see who the Bonnies would face in the opening round of the A-10 Tournament.

Before the Saturday games started, it looked certain the Bonnies would take on the surging Saint Joseph’s Hawks for the first time this season.

But a strange wave of events commenced.

The Hawks, who had previously dominated George Washington two games straight, lost it’s regular season finale to the Colonials in a blow out. Then, after being blown out twice by St. Louis, George Mason put together a last-ditch effort and won the final game against the Billikens securing the final spot in the tournament.

St. Louis moved down to the five spot, pushing George Washington up to the fourth and Davidson rested in the sixth spot.

The Hawks were out, and the Bonnies now had a date with one of the toughest teams they’ve faced in conference this season, the Davidson Wildcats.

Back in March, the Bonnies were a sub-par club looking for answers. Out of conference they sat at 5-5, but had a little momentum going with two straight wins over North Dakota State, winning both games despite being shut out in the series opener.

Opening conference play against the Wildcats in North Carolina, the Bonnies stayed neck and neck, tied at one, through four innings.

Then, the inflammation in starting pitcher Brandon Schlimm’s throwing arm acted up. Schlimm gave up three runs and the Bonnies were down 4-1.

Hope shined through when the Bonnies got a man on base, but the sunshine vanished quickly.

A rain delay forced the game to be finished the next day and the Bonnies couldn’t recover, losing 9-2. Just an hour after that loss, the Bonnies had to go out and play again, losing by the same score.

But the next day, in the final game of the series, the Bonnies dominated the Wildcats 17-4, led by a six hit, eight RBI domination by David Hollins. The Bonnies also got a great performance from starting pitcher Aaron Phillips, giving up three-earned runs, five hits and tossing seven strikeouts.

That loss sent the Wildcats into a tailspin, dropping the next five games.

With Phillips likely to start and the Bonnies not dealing with rain delays, pitcher injuries or home field advantage, it’s more likely the team that beat the Wildcats last time will show up, rather than the shell that got beat down twice in a row in a span of three hours.

Still — winning is far from guaranteed.

The Wildcats feature top conference players like Will Robertson and Brian Fortier, two bombers ranking top 30 in the NCAA for home runs.

In fact, the Wildcats rank 20th in the NCAA, averaging 1.26 home runs per game.

But the biggest factor may be ace pitcher Durin O’Linger, who’s compiled a 1.33 ERA through the months of April and May in seven starts.

Despite the offense on both sides, a pitching duel looks evident with two studs like Phillips and O’Linger likely slinging for their teams.

The number one key to victory is Phillips keeping the Wildcat bombers at bay, something he should be able to do giving up just six home runs this season.

As much success as the Bonnies have had recently, there’s two teams that have come to play this season.

This afternoon we find out if the Bonnies are the back-to-back losers Davidson saw in the first two games, or the dominant winners that closed out the Wildcats in the final game of the series.

Men’s basketball: Lee joins coaching staff, Poyser verbally commits

By Cameron Hurst @CameronNHurst

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ABOVE: Dwayne Lee (SJU.edu) BELOW: Jalen Poyser (RunRebs.com)

Although St. Bonaventure’s academic calendar officially concluded over a week ago, the men’s basketball team found itself in the news with two personnel additions.

Last Monday, Chuckie Maggio of The Olean Times Herald reported that Fairleigh Dickinson assistant coach Dwayne Lee will be joining Mark Schmidt’s staff for the 2017-18 season.

Lee has spent the last four seasons as a member of head coach Greg Herenda’s staff, serving as a key figure in helping the Knights earn a 2016 NEC championship and a trip to that year’s NCAA tournament, the first such appearance for the program in 11 years.

However, the new assistant may be more familiar to Bonnies fans from his playing career at Saint Joseph’s from 2002-06, playing 30 games as a sophomore on the 2003-04 team that earned an Elite Eight berth in the NCAA tournament. Following the departure of Player of the Year and eventual NBA All-Star guard, Jameer Nelson, Lee helped guide the Hawks to an NIT finals appearance and two Atlantic 10 tournament championship game appearances during his final two years. He also earned Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team honors during his junior season.

Prior to his time at Saint Joseph’s, Lee had the opportunity to play for legendary head coach Bob Hurley at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City. During Lee’s tenure, the Friars won two straight New Jersey State Tournament of Champions titles and a No. 2 National Ranking by USA Today. 

It was also Hurley who convinced Lee to stay in school after tragedy struck his family during his freshman year at Saint Joseph’s. Lee, mourning the death of his mother, had contemplated leaving SJU to pursue a full-time job so as to support his younger siblings. Hurley, however, convinced him otherwise, noting that a college degree could benefit him and his family more in the long run.

“[Hurley] was definitely a shoulder to lean on at that rough time in my life,” Lee revealed in a feature published by the SJU athletic department in 2013. “He was there first as a coach and a friend. Then secondly, to offer his advice on what he thought would be the right route for me to go. I didn’t know which way I should go. It was hard for somebody at that age to know exactly what to do, especially given the circumstances with my two younger brothers.”

It is no secret that Hurley has played a huge role in the life of St. Bonaventure’s newest assistant coach, but it is the Hall of Fame coach who holds his former pupil in the highest of regards.

Upon being hired by Fairleigh Dickinson in 2013, Hurley praised the university’s hire, calling Lee “one of my favorite kids I have ever been associated with.”

Lee will replace former SBU assistant Jerome Robinson, who officially accepted an assistant coaching position at New Mexico, under fellow Canadian Paul Weir.

However, while St. Bonaventure loses Robinson, their chief presence in Canadian recruiting, they hold onto his parting gift — the verbal commitment of UNLV transfer Jalen Poyser.

Poyser, one of three notable transfers leaving Las Vegas,  announced following the Rebels’ 11-21 season, that he’d look for a new program to call home.  Aside from St. Bonaventure, Poyser generated interest from Texas, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Tulane, among others.

But, in the end, Poyser went with the choice closest to his home in Malton, Ontario which lies only 26 minutes from Toronto, where Robinson is from.

Poyser, in announcing his decision via Twitter, cited that his decision to attend Bonaventure remained as “the best decision” for him and his family and thanked Robinson specifically for helping him come to the decision.

During his sophomore campaign at UNLV, Poyser played in 31 games, averaging 10.4 points, while also averaging 27.1 minutes. He went 38-132 from beyond the arc and also averaged 2.7 rebounds.

He will be ineligible for the 2017-18 season, but in utilizing its final available scholarship, St. Bonaventure opted to plan for the future, similarly to the way they did in signing Matt Mobley to eventually replace Marcus Posley.

 

Bonaventure adjunct’s actions speak louder than words

[Photo courtesy of Sophia Kucharski]

By: M.K. Killen

Angela Reisner may not be on St. Bonaventure University’s campus every day, but her bubbly personality has made an impression on many students.

“Angela is adorable, engaging and passionate,” said Simmi Kalsi, a sophomore biology major. “She’s just such a fun and phenomenal person. She’s super understanding, and she even brings us a bowl of candy every class—and takes requests.”

Reisner teaches courses in American Sign Language (ASL) on Monday and Tuesday nights. Students describe Resiner as energetic, fun and kind-hearted.

Continue reading “Bonaventure adjunct’s actions speak louder than words”

Baseball: Bonnies blast Flyers in A-10 opener

(Aaron Phillips Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By David Malchak

The St. Bonaventure University baseball team emerged victorious over Dayton on Saturday afternoon, winning 9-0 in the first Atlantic 10 home game.

The Bonnies were carried on a dominant starting pitching performance by junior Aaron Phillips. He struck out seven batters in eight innings, and only gave up four hits and three walks.

Continue reading “Baseball: Bonnies blast Flyers in A-10 opener”

Men’s basketball: No NIT for Bonnies; season ends with 20-12 record

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

For the first time in St. Bonaventure men’s basketball program history, the Bonnies reached 20 wins in a season but will not participate in a postseason tournament.

After Friday’s Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinal loss to Rhode Island ended Bona’s chances of getting an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, SBU learned Sunday night that it would not be receiving an invite to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

At 20-12, with a fifth-place finish in the Atlantic 10, Bonaventure had a case to be one of the 32 teams in the NIT field. However, the Bonnies had no wins over teams in the top 100 of the KenPom ratings. Also, 10 teams received automatic bids by virtue of winning their conference’s regular season championship but failing to win their conference tournament.

Bona has a policy against accepting any invitation to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), so the careers of seniors Denzel Gregg and David Andoh came to an end on Friday. The brown and white won 20 games in back-to-back years for the first time since the 1976-77 and 1977-78 seasons.

Men’s basketball: Rhody big men prove too much for Bonnies in A-10 quarterfinal

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

PITTSBURGH — For a moment on Friday afternoon, it looked like the St. Bonaventure Bonnies were going to be able to overcome the many challenges Rhode Island presented them.

Two Matt Mobley free throws gave Bona a 35-34 lead with 17 minutes to play in the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinal matchup. Ultimately, however, Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson were too much for the Bonnies to handle. The Rams (22-9) won 74-63 and Bonaventure (20-12) must wait for Sunday night to see if its season will continue in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

Iverson grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, while Martin scored 19 points and collected eight boards. The Rams worked inside-out, allowing E.C. Matthews to enjoy a 20-point day.

Coach Danny Hurley’s team was a matchup nightmare, and SBU didn’t have an answer for the big men.

“They were more physical than us,” said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt. “We had a hard time scoring the ball. We tried to change things up (defensively), 1-3-1, 2-3, man-to-man, try to fool them. At times it worked, but they hurt us inside from an offensive standpoint and we didn’t have much resistance.

“One of our weaknesses is we have young guys inside and they took advantage of that. Their defense was really effective… when we had open looks we needed to knock those open looks down in that area as well.”

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Rhody big men prove too much for Bonnies in A-10 quarterfinal”

One down: Bonnies roll over UMass to set Friday date with Rhody

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

PITTSBURGH — There was reason for concern after the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team’s performance last Saturday against UMass. After all, the Minutemen had a chance to ruin Bona’s Senior Day and send the game into overtime at the buzzer.

The Bonnies eased any anxiety early on Thursday afternoon, defeating the Minutemen 73-60 at PPG Paints Arena to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals, where they will face Rhode Island.

Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt has often remarked about the team’s need for complimentary players to score, outside of his “Big Three” of Jaylen Adams, Matt Mobley and Denzel Gregg. The brown and white delivered with four players in double figures- Mobley with 19, Adams with 17, David Andoh with 12 and Josh Ayeni with 10.

Continue reading “One down: Bonnies roll over UMass to set Friday date with Rhody”

Men’s basketball: Bonnies should be just fine with underdog role

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The tweets started to pour in, all with a similar theme or agenda.

“Leaving for Brooklyn in a half hour. Four spots left in my car. Come to the Plassmann/Murphy lot with gas money.”

St. Bonaventure guard Jordan Gathers had just made a buzzer-beating three-pointer to upset No. 1 seed Saint Louis in the 2014 Atlantic 10 Tournament at Barclays Center. The Bonnies, who had fallen to the No. 8 seed in the tourney after losing four straight games to close out the regular season, were going to Semifinal Saturday. And an ambivalent-turned-spontaneous SBU community was joining them.

Bona lost that semifinal game to a St. Joseph’s team that had two future NBA players on the roster in DeAndre’ Bembry and Langston Galloway. However, the Bonnies went on a mini-run that pleased the fans and masked the fact that they went 6-10 in A-10 regular season play that year.

In a tournament that has proven to be unpredictable, the Bonnies should be just fine with another underdog role this year, as the No. 5 seed.

Last year, Bonaventure was in the rare position of being the third seed and one of the favorites to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Coach Mark Schmidt’s team played a strong game that Friday night, but lost to Davidson in overtime. Dayton, VCU and SBU were the three big favorites, but it was No. 4 St. Joe’s, which had lost three of its last five regular season games, that claimed the title on Sunday.

The No. 1 overall seed has won the Atlantic 10 Tournament twice since 2004. Over that time, three teams outside of the top four, without the benefit of a double-bye, won four straight to take the title: Xavier in 2004 (third West division), Xavier in 2006 (No. 10 seed) and VCU in 2015 (No. 5 seed).

In an unpredictable tournament, the Bonnies have three things every champion for the past nine years has had:

-A top five seed in the tournament

-An All-A-10 First Team player.

-A coach who has been to an NCAA Tournament before as a head or assistant coach.

Bona is, indeed, a dangerous team, with the best backcourt and highest-scoring offense overall in the conference.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bonnies should be just fine with underdog role”