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.

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: See you soon? Bonnies prevail over UMass, clinch five seed for A-10s

(Photo Credit: St. Bonaventure Athletics)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team struggled to score on Saturday afternoon and even found itself down to UMass for over nine minutes. The Bonnies won anyway on Senior Day, 60-56, and clinched the fifth seed in next week’s Atlantic 10 Tournament.

SBU (19-11, 11-7 in the A-10) made just 19 of its 55 shot attempts from the field, including an unusually low six combined baskets from Jaylen Adams, Denzel Gregg and Matt Mobley. Adams made the team’s lone three-pointer in 11 tries. SBU’s 60 points were its second-lowest output of the year, a mark only higher than the 59 it put up against Rhode Island.

UMass coach Derek Kellogg’s gameplan was to mix up his defensive schemes, showing Adams and Mobley many different looks. At times, he had a defender faceguard Adams the entire way up the court. When either of the Bona backcourt mates touched the ball, more often than not UMass (14-17, 4-14) sent in a double-team.

The Minutemen’s defensive pressure and effectiveness was an important takeaway from the game because these teams could meet up in Pittsburgh in less than a week. Since Bona received a single-bye in the tournament, it faces the winner of Wednesday’s UMass-St. Joseph’s opening round game on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena.

St. Joe’s also gave the Bonnies a run for their money in two matchups this year. The Hawks didn’t, however, hold Bonaventure under 35 percent from the field or limit Adams to 2-of-11 shooting from the field.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: See you soon? Bonnies prevail over UMass, clinch five seed for A-10s”

Men’s basketball: Plenty for Bonnies to play for on final day of regular season

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

St. Bonaventure men’s basketball coach Mark Schmidt acknowledged that there was no difference between the fifth and sixth seeds in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, one of which his team will have by tonight.

“There’s none,” he said. “You want to finish as high as you can, that’s the biggest thing. Win or lose we’re tied for fifth… but you only play so many games, you want to try to win as many games as you can. This is the last game of the year, and we wanna win.”

A Bonnies win over UMass this afternoon would clinch the fifth seed and a 2:30 p.m. Thursday start to tournament play in Pittsburgh. If the Bonnies (18-11, 10-7) lose to the Minutemen (14-16, 4-13) and George Washington beats Dayton in D.C., SBU would be the sixth seed and would play at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.

In addition to winning as many games as possible, Saturday is Senior Day. Denzel Gregg, David Andoh and walk-on Caleb McGuire will be honored in the traditional pregame ceremony before their final regular season game in the Reilly Center.

Bona has won three of its last five Senior Day games, including last year’s 85-83 win over UMass. In that game, the Minutemen made a three-pointer a split-second too late at the buzzer and Bona’s comeback from as many as 18 points was complete.

“You always wanna go out on a win when they’re seniors because as a senior, if you ever play at this level, you remember your last game, be it a positive or a negative,” Schmidt remarked. “When you look back at it, you want it to be a positive experience.”

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Plenty for Bonnies to play for on final day of regular season”

Men’s basketball: Counting down Denzel Gregg’s 12 best games in the Reilly Center

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Tomorrow afternoon marks St. Bonaventure senior forward Denzel Gregg’s last regular season game in the Reilly Center. Bonnies fans have watched Gregg develop from an athletic wing off the bench, to the Atlantic 10’s Sixth Man of the Year to the team’s No. 3 scoring option.

The Syracuse, N.Y. native has scored 464 of his 788 career points, grabbed 279 of his 518 career rebounds and recorded 80 of his 135 career blocks at home. He’s always played his best basketball on Bob Lanier Court.

Before No. 12 plays in the Reilly Center for his last scheduled time, here’s my list of his 12 best games there to date:

12. The Debut. Gregg scored just two points in his first official game in the RC, but had eight rebounds to establish himself as a good rebounder early in a win over South Dakota.

“I thought Denzel Gregg was a big plus for us, coming off as a freshman,” SBU coach Mark Schmidt said, before joking, “I can just imagine, you know, 50 years ago, well probably not 50 years ago, when I was a freshman.

“Going in and trying to play, the lights are on and you’re a little bit nervous, a lot nervous. But he was a big plus for us.”

11. Grand finale. Not many remember that Gregg originally committed to Fordham before being released from his letter of intent and becoming a Bonnie. In his sophomore year regular season finale, he scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds in a 66-52 win over the Rams. In one of just six starts that year, he made four of his eight attempts from the field.

“I thought Denzel kept us in the game a little bit in the first half,” Schmidt remarked.

10. Strong postseason showing. The Bonnies suffered a disappointing opening-round NIT loss to Wagner, but Gregg was one of five scorers in double-figures in his first postseason tournament. With 10 points, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals, he produced a solid final junior year stat line.

9. Battle of the Syracuse natives. On Homecoming 2016, Gregg and fellow Syracuse native Tyler Cavanaugh faced off. Both players put up good numbers, but the Bonnies prevailed with a 64-57 win. Gregg scored 11 points, corralled eight boards and blocked two shots as SBU earned win No. 17.

8. First double-double. Gregg scored 15 points and tallied 11 rebounds in the 2015-16 season opener, a win over Binghamton. It was his first career double-double as he went 6-of-12 from the floor and also blocked four shots as well.

Schmidt called Gregg a “spark” in the narrow 63-53 decision.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Counting down Denzel Gregg’s 12 best games in the Reilly Center”