Bonnies fall short in A-10 opener vs. VCU

 

By: Teddy Caputo  

The St. Bonaventure University women’s soccer team (0-6-4) lost on Thursday at the Marra Athletics Fields Complex to the VCU Rams (6-2) 3-0.

The match started with VCU aggressively attacking the net, with their first shot on goal coming in the second minute by sophomore CiCi Fox.  The Bonnies were fierce with on-ball defense from the start, with junior Micah Hoffbauer leading the way.  She made numerous plays during the game to prevent scoring opportunities for VCU.

However, the Rams were able to get the ball through some of the holes in the defense with crisp passes and accurate crosses, giving them numerous shot attempts early on.  All their shots missed, including two header attempts by sophomore midfielder Samantha Jarebek.

The game was still scoreless until the 44th minute when Jarebek fired a shot that went just to the right of Bonnies’ goalie Lauren Malcolm’s hands, and into the net.  The Rams’ next two goals came in the second half, with midfielder Alyssa Tallent scoring a goal in the 60th minute off a rebound. Jarebek scored her second goal of the game in the 79th minute when her shot deflected of the foot of  Bonnies senior Gretta Lacouture. The deflected shot bounced right and rolled past Malcolm into the net.

Although the Bonnies were behind for most of the game, they did not give up.  Both teams were physical throughout the match, slide tackling one another, colliding into each other and getting many fouls called in the process. There were six fouls called on the Bonnies and four called on the Rams.

The Bonnies had chances waved off by the referee, including the offsides call on junior forward Bella May late in the first half that wiped out the goal she had scored. May also appeared to have gotten tripped in the 66th minute but no foul was called.

Coach Abbey Pearson says the officiating was not to blame in this game. “We are able to handle the adversity and react to that.  Sometimes you get calls your way, and sometimes you don’t” said Pearson. “They (the officials) had an even called game, and the game wasn’t about them tonight, which is the way it should be.”

It also looked like there may have been a scuffle between Hoffbauer and Fox. “When she was pressed out, I don’t think she was expecting me to come up as fast I did, and our feet just got tripped up on each other,” said Hoffbauer.

When asked about improvements for next game Pearson said, “we need to work on connecting passes and playing a little quicker under pressure, which will come in practice. Putting more pressure on each other in practice will prepare us come game time.” Senior forward Mariah Marrero agreed with her coach’s statement. “We had a couple really good chances we could’ve put away,” said Marrero. “We just need to work on finishing and making that final pass to get through.  Once we get that down, more goals will start to come.”

The Bonnies have done well offensively this season, scoring five more goals this year already than their entire season total last year of seven. However, on Thursday the Rams outshot the Bonnies 11 to 7 and 8 to 2 in shots on goal.

I asked Hoffbauer what the Bonnies can do better moving forward, and she said although the team has improved tremendously since the start of the summer, they could do better listening to each other on the field.  “Listening is important for us, because we are talking a lot more than we did before,” said Hoffbauer, “Sometimes we need to stay a little more composed and just settle down.  If we do this, I think we’ll really be able to play around, switch up the field and really open things up on the attack.”

The Rams’ victory over the Bonnies makes the teams an even 2-2 in all-time meetings. The women’s soccer team looks for their first win of the season this Sunday when they face the Richmond Spiders (0-9) at E. Claiborne Robins Stadium in Richmond, Virginia.

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Mearns brings experience, optimism to jumpstart Bonnies lax program

By: Jeff Uveino 

“I hadn’t been on this campus in probably 26 years.”

Randy Mearns sat back in his chair, recalling his NCAA playing days with Canisius College.

Mearns, an All-American lacrosse player at Canisius from 1990-92 and the school’s all-time leading scorer, painted the gameday picture of a rainy afternoon at St. Bonaventure.

“When I was playing at Canisius, St. Bonaventure actually had a men’s NCAA lacrosse team,” Mearns remarked. “The last thing I remember was coming here to play, we lost at the back fields, and I ate bologna sandwiches.”

Little did he know that decades later, he would be put in charge of bringing lacrosse back to a school that hasn’t seen a Division I men’s program since 1993.

Mearns, a native of St. Catherines, Ontario, has spent his life around the game of lacrosse. He played in the National Lacrosse League from 1993-2002 for the Rochester Knighthawks and Buffalo Bandits. He was captain of the Knighthawks for six seasons, and captain of team Canada during the 1998 World Championship.

Mearns has served as a coach of team Canada since 2006, leading his home nation to a World Championship in 2014. He also served as head coach of his alma mater for 19 years, leading Canisius to NCAA tournament appearances in 2008 and 2012. However, after the 2017 season, the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame member saw a new opportunity arise.

“My family ended up getting a house in Ellicottville,” Mearns said. “But, when they announced that they were starting a D1 program here, I didn’t really think anything of it.”

It wasn’t until Matt Brown, associate head coach at the University of Denver and member of the Team Canada coaching staff, reached out to Mearns about the job that he started thinking about SBU.

“[Brown] told me, just so you know, Bill Tierney [head coach at Denver] put your name on a shortlist at St. Bonaventure,” said Mearns. “You’ve got to explore that.”

Mearns paused and sighed with a smile, recalling the revelation.

“I was in a situation at Canisius where I wasn’t going to be under contract,” he said. “Not that I was leaving, I just thought that I needed to explore what they were doing at SBU. I didn’t hide anything from my former institution, I just told them that I wanted to go explore this, and they said I had the opportunity to do that.”

After visiting SBU, Mearns was convinced that he could sell lacrosse in the hills of Allegany.

“When I met the staff here, it felt like a family,” Mearns said. “Everything is relationship based, and the academics are phenomenal.”

Mearns was named head coach of the St. Bonaventure men’s lacrosse team in June. His next task?

Recruit.

“What I knew during recruiting was because of the explosion of lacrosse, even though most Division 1 programs had their 2019 teams figured out, there were still 44,000 kids looking for a home,” said Mearns.

He remained confident throughout the recruiting process, recognizing that there are only 72 NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse teams, and there was a large amount of talent still available. Mearns’ experience in the game had also built connections that helped him find quality players.

“I spent 19 years at Canisius, so I already have great relationships with coaches from colleges, clubs and high schools,” Mearns said. “It’s just a matter of reaching out to these guys. You take advantage of the contacts that you have, and then do your own research on kids to make sure you’re bringing in ones that fit well.”

Mearns’ connections to team Canada were another recruiting help. Lacrosse has greatly expanded in the country in recent years, which is reflected by their recent World Championship victory under Mearns.

Of the 32 incoming freshmen men’s lacrosse players, nine are from Canada.

“I realized that we just needed to get the kids on campus,” said Mearns. “Once we get guys here, they understand the vision. They see the academic profile and the family-oriented culture, and it doesn’t become a hard sell.”

The Bonnies will go into the 2019 season as perhaps the youngest team in the NCAA, with a roster of 32 freshmen, one sophomore transfer and one junior transfer. They will open up competitive play on Saturday, Sept. 22, with a scrimmage against John Carroll University, a contest coach Mearns is excited about.

“We won’t know where we’re at until we play games,” he said. “But we’re going to be competitive. We have some really good lacrosse players.”

Mearns acknowledged that building up a new program is no easy task, but he has high expectations for St. Bonaventure men’s lacrosse in the near future. With the right resources, Mearns said, he wants to build the Bonnies program into a national power.

“My goal here is to evolve over the next four years,” Mearns said. “We could win a national championship. Some people might think that’s kind of crazy, but it doesn’t matter what anyone else believes.”

Mearns is bringing his decorated lacrosse background to SBU and is ready to put in the work to build this program up into what he thinks could be a perennial power.

“We haven’t earned anything,” Mearns said. “We have to be humble and work our tails off. Everybody has their own individual goals, and as a coaching staff it’s our job to provide all the resources and mentorship we can to help our guys start to realize those goals.”

Missed chances sink Bonnies against St. Francis (PA)

By: Justin Myers 

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies (3-2-1) lose to St. Francis (Pa.) (4-3-0) 3-1 on a Wednesday night at Marra Athletics Field Complex.

Within the first 10 minutes of the first half the Bonnies had three chances to take the lead. Shots by Jon-Michael Perkins and Isaiah Wilson missed wide. Minutes later Kosi Nwafornso’s shot on target was saved. After a scoreless first-half where the Bonnies out shot St. Francis 7-5, it was relatively even between the teams.

In the beginning of the second half Issac Boamah was fouled in the box in the 52nd minute. That lead to Nwafornso scoring his fifth goal of the season from penalty spot giving the Bonnies 1-0 lead.

This lead didn’t last long, 56 seconds later the Red Flash tied it up 1-1 with a goal from center back Eddie Ganime.

A few minutes later the Red Flash took the lead when forward Gabriel Castro put one in the back of the net giving them a 2-1 lead.

The Bonnies had a chance to even things up but missed their opportunities with attacks from Boamah and another shot attempt by Wilson.

The Red Flash put the game away in the last minute with a breakaway goal by forward Ryan Berhorst.

Bonnies coach Kwame Oduro liked the team’s effort, but the team needs to finish their chances

“Both teams had good chances they capitalized on theirs and we didn’t” Oduro said.

To improve for their next game Oduro said they need to finish their chances when they get them.

“We have to learn when you’re up a goal how to play and to mentally stay switched on” Oduro said.

Bonaventure looks to bounce back as they travel to Canisius on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

Pro Bonnies have huge opportunity at NBA Summer League

By. Isaiah Blakely

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball program will be well represented in this year’s NBA Summer League

While, the Bonnies backcourt duo of Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley  went undrafted, they were signed by teams. Adams was signed by the Atlanta Hawks on a two-way deal which means he will most likely be playing a lot of his games with the Hawks’ Gatorade-League (G-League) affiliate the Erie Bayhawks. Players who sign two-way contracts can spend no more than 45 days with the NBA team that signed them to a two-way deal.

Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz signed Mobley to play on their summer league team. The Jazz were one of the teams to bring Mobley in during the pre-draft process for a workout which obviously went well enough to where they wanted to take a closer look at him this summer.

Both Mobley and Adams’ pro careers start this evening in Utah and will have the chance to play each other in the last game of summer league in Utah on July 5 before the Las Vegas Summer League begins on July 6.

The Denver Nuggets signed 2016 graduate, guard Marcus Posley, who was a major contributor for the Bonnies in 2015 and 2016. While Posley also went undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft, he was selected in the NBA Development League (Now Gatorade League) Draft with the 22nd pick of  the second round by the Sioux Falls Skyforce, a Miami Heat affiliate. Posley averaged almost 10 points a game. This past season he played in Greece with Koroivos.

Additionally, former SBU forward Demetrius Conger, who graduated in 2013 was signed to play on the Boston Celtics summer league team. Conger has played in a variety of countries overseas including Italy, Greece and Australia, among others. He recently signed with Joventut Badalona in Spain. Conger and Posley play against each other on July 7 in Las Vegas. On July 8, playoffs begin.

All four Bonnies have an opportunity make an NBA team or at least potentially play with an NBA team’s G-League affiliate.

Adams has the most job security because he signed a two-way contract.

The Hawks summer league roster contains a lot of guards so it will be interesting to see how much time Adams gets this summer. But playing right away in summer league for Adams is not as important as it is for Mobley.

The Jazz have a few roster spots open and potentially have some availability at the guard position if guards Dante Exum and or Raul Neto (both restricted free agents) do not come back to the Jazz. Mobley should get some playing time potentially behind the Jazz’s first round pick Grayson Allen. Half of the Jazz’s roster are players from non-Power 5 conferences so you expect the Jazz to give all those guys including Mobley a fair shot to prove that they can either make their roster or make a good impression for another team and make their roster.

Posley has the potential to get a solid amount of playing time for the Nuggets because he is one of only three point guards on the roster. The Nuggets’ roster looks pretty solid right now but there could be a spot at the end of the bench for another point guard. In all likelihood Posley is looking to impress another team and show that he has improved since his rookie year in the G-League.

Conger presents an interesting case because he may be looking for an NBA roster spot or he’ll play another year overseas. Having signed with Joventut Badalona in March, if he doesn’t get offered an NBA contract Conger is most likely going back to Spain. For Conger, being on the Celtics summer league team means he’s trying out for other teams. There is one roster spot right now so it would take quite the performance from Conger or any of the players in summer league to make the Celtics roster. This summer league team is full of wing players and so there will probably be a lot of small-ball being played which will allow Conger to show off his versatility. Conger’s success oversees should ensure that he gets minutes to show off his skills against NBA players. The 6-foot-6 forward definitely has a shot to stick in the NBA being an athlete wing is a skillset that teams like.

 

With four players competing in summer league for NBA jobs, these are the times that serve as a reminder of how far the Bonnies program has come, and how it continues trending in the right direction.

 

Alt-pop singer Amir Miles embraces and rejects the come up

By Josh Svetz

Uncensored version published on https://wsbufm.com/

Amir Miles believes he’s the next great pop star. This thought doesn’t come from a point of arrogance; he just knows that to survive in the ever-evolving music industry, you must believe you’re up next.

“In the local scene, I’m no Jimmy Wopo or Hardo, but I’m not a no-name,” Miles said. “I’m just confident in my abilities and my team.”

Miles, 22, is just one of many hopeful musicians trying to catch their big break in the business.

The Pittsburgh singer has already hit several milestones. In the past two years, the alternative-pop singer opened for GZA, Oddisee and Migos just to name a few. He also reached over 800,000 plays on Spotify for his song “Bad Habits.” And on June 6th, he’ll finally get to open for a singer that’s much closer to his music scene than a Migos when he warms up the crowd for Kali Uchis at Stage AE.

But to get to the come up, Miles had to make a lot of mistakes.

Born in Chicago and raised by a single mom, Miles moved to Virginia at age 11 where he began to take interest in music, forming a band with his friends in junior high school for simple reasons.

“We thought it’d be sick to play shows and get girls,” Miles said. “That’s what you expect to happen when you’re a kid.”

What came from that experience would act as the building block to his career in music. Miles played bass guitar and eventually transitioned into vocal work. The band itself disbanded after a year, but he continued to play bass and sing on his own. He started by playing covers of songs he knew, gravitating to rock and R&B music. But after not wanting to be a “copycat,” he started to play chords and make his own lyrics, changing his inflections and words depending on what the melody sounded like.

While the building block to his career laid in place, Miles didn’t believe he could make it as a musician. He originally attended Pittsburgh University to learn business and economics. He figured that getting into the world of music marketing or being the band manager would give him a good chance to get involved with the industry.

Fate had other plans.

His freshman year, he won a rap battle contest along with his resident assistant, Tory Hains, securing an opportunity to open for Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco. He then started to make songs like “On a Dime” and the musician bug bit him fully.

“People were just f****** with it,” Miles said. “And I enjoyed making it. I was set—I’m going to be a musician.”

As he continued to grow as an artist, his grades slipped. He felt misery every time he went to class. School just didn’t feel like the right path. So, he dropped out.

Returning home to Virginia, he struggled in the job market. After receiving two consecutive pink slips, Miles found a home at Zara, a retail company that he described as a European H&M. There, he met his current producer Nxfce (pronounced ‘no face’) and nothing would ever be the same.

Nxfce and Miles talked music regularly on the job, but Nxfce had reservations about working with Miles until he showed him his music. The first studio session, Miles said they didn’t get anywhere. The second studio session, they made “Bad Habits,” Miles’ most popular song to date and a turning point in his career.

Soon after, he returned to Pittsburgh because of the youthfulness of the city and already having a fan base intact.

Originally, he mirrored acts like the Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Miguel. Now, with Nxfce’s more dance-infused and rhythmic beats, he began to cultivate his own sound.

Trying to describe Miles’ sound would give even the greatest music critic problems.

At times, he brings an energy and vigor reminiscent of Michael Jackson. Not to say he matches the king of pop, but when listening to the opening of “Neon//Love,” it’s hard to not hear the inflection of late ‘80s MJ. On “Fade” he sounds like a more exuberant and upbeat Chet Faker. On “Bad Habits,” he inflects the soul of a Sampha, with the vivacious catchiness of “Can’t Feel My Face” Weeknd. No matter what track you play though, he keeps an atmospheric and sexy vibe intact, reminiscent of Ginuwine and Usher.

All these comparisons have one thing in common: it’s music that makes people move. It just so happens that Miles’ biggest concern when he makes music is if it makes people move or not. He used Drake as an example.

“People hear ‘God’s Plan’ and they’re willing to give themselves up (to the song),” Miles said. “They sing, dance, act a fool, because they know the song. They trust the song. They know where it’s going.”

While he may not be Drake, Miles’ recognizes that the buzz he’s obtained from projects like Faceless has made people more comfortable with his music. In turn, he’s starting to get the action he desires from the crowd — dancing.

“That’s what I get most excited about before I go on stage,” Miles said. “Watching people bop, jump, get rowdy. That’s what I love about making music.”

Of course, he’d be the first to tell you that there’s a love/hate relationship with the live show, especially as an opening act.

“Sometimes it sucks,” Miles said. “Yeah, you get to open for these great acts and be like, ‘Yo, I’m a part of the show, I’m a part of the experience.’ But, you’re usually performing for people that don’t know who you are, don’t know what you’re about, don’t care what you’re about and don’t want to learn what you’re about in 30 minutes. They just want to see the main act.”

Miles said he believes this mindset has spread due to the internet.

“I feel like in the ‘90s and ‘00s, people were more artistically curious at live shows because that’s how you found new music,” Miles said. “But now you find music on Spotify, so if you go to a show and haven’t heard the opener’s music on Spotify or SoundCloud, you’re less likely to care about their music.”

But Miles’ biggest concern comes from capitalizing during the come up. He knows he has buzz now and reflects on how people are watching him. Before the come up, he could do whatever the hell he wanted. Now, he has labels making decisions about distributing his music, concert venues considering if they should book him and most of all, people waiting for him to fail.

“It’s do or die,” Miles said. “The next singles have to hit, because if not, then there’s stagnation and that’s the kiss of death in the music industry.”

Again, Miles said the internet has changed the time window. The turnover rate due to social media has become so fast that you need to find a way to stay relevant. Otherwise, people forget you exist.

That’s just the double-edged sword of the modern music industry powered by what’s shareable and viral.

Miles obsesses over music. He soundtracks his life with Gus Dapperton and Rex Orange County. He sings when he gets ready to go out. Hell, even as he’s brushing his teeth, he’s working on his craft.

His conversation topics always include music. One minute he’ll talk about the intricacies of Migos, explaining what creates the draw to the triplet flow. Another he’ll dive into the mystery of Frank Ocean and why his aesthetic matches his art.

The unwind period for Miles comes from watching anime and being around people. He has a complex of wanting to be liked but doesn’t work hard to please. Genuinely, he just wants a good energy and for people to enjoy themselves.

In his dingy, lowly-lit apartment Miles plays Madden as he reflects on his career. He’s using the Seahawks, his favorite Madden team. In the time we’ve talked, he’s won one game but lost the other off a two-point conversion against the New England Patriots, of course.

Unlike the Seahawks though, he sees the end zone.

He’s planning to move out to Los Angeles next year to push his music more and work with other artists. He also plans to write for record labels. Going to LA may lead to one of his biggest fears: fame.

“I’m worried about turning into a commodity,” Miles said. “I don’t want to lose myself. I’ve seen enough people crack. One slip up and people pounce. They’re waiting for you to fail.”

He also worries about his relationships if he indeed becomes famous.

“They’re not going to be natural,” Miles said. “They’ll always be skewed, and people have agendas. Like, do they f*** with me for my music, for me? Do they want something? Do they truly just want to connect? That’s always going to be in the back of my mind now.”

Miles still has a way to go before reaching that point, but it still scares him. He’s not in the business for the money or the fame, or even the girls. He just wants the experience few will ever know.

“When I’m on my death bed and I think about where my life went, I’ll be able to say it went everywhere,” Miles said. ”I’m here for the adventure. I want my life to be a f****** movie.”

Check out Miles at Stage AE June 6th when he opens for Kali Uchis. Tickets are available here: https://www1.ticketmaster.com/kali-uchis-pittsburgh-pennsylvania-06-06-2018/event/1600546DDA6EB60E 

 

 

 

Dream season for Bonnies ends against Gators

By Josh Svetz

It’s cliche, but there’s one saying that encapsulates the end of the Bonnies’ NCAA Tournament run.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies couldn’t handle the defensive tenacity of the Florida Gators losing 77-62 Thursday night at Dallas, Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Neither team could pull away in the first half each taking turns stalling on offense. St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams had a hard time staying out of foul trouble, picking up three fouls in the first half.

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Both teams struggled shooting in the first half. The Bonnies shot 6-23 from the field and the Gators shot 9-31. The Bonnies went on a 10-0 run until the 4:28 mark, capitalizing on points from the foul line as the shots would not drop. The Bonnies secured a lead late into the first half at the 3:05 mark 22-21.

Unfortunately for them; it would be their last.

The Gators scored a quick bucket and the Bonnies struggled to keep up with the energy of the Gators. Still, the game was close with the Bonnies in striking distance at the half, 22-27.

But fatigue started to set in. Four games in seven days can take the wind out of any team, especially a short rotation like the Bonnies.

Adams admitted in the press conference that the grind of the season wore him down.

“I’m not one to make excuses, but you could tell we were gassed,” Adams said. “We weren’t used to that many games in that many days. But I think you have to credit Florida’s defense more than anything.”

The Gators came out in the 2nd half blazing on a 7-0 run.

The Bonnies couldn’t buy a bucket, but forced themselves to the free throw line.

The dynamic duo of Adams and Matt Mobley struggled to find openings, combining for just 21 points, a total that on an average night either guy usually surpasses.

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Florida guard Chris Chiozza said the game plan was to focus on the Bonnies’ offensive juggernauts,

“Those are two great guards,” Chiozza said. “We just wanted to make it tough for them to score. We played hard the whole way and were able to keep them from doing what they usually do.”

The Bonnies kept the game in reach, struggling for every point scored.

Then, the wheels came off the Bona Bandwagon. The Gators rained three pointers down as the Bonnies continued to struggle. They went 3-19 from behind the arc.

The Bonnies didn’t ever give up, but the energy just wasn’t there. The culmination of short games, quick travel turnarounds and the emotional drain of winning an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 1970 got to them.

Head coach Mark Schmidt talked about the fatigue factor after the game.

“We were on a high,” Schmidt said. “I think you can fight through it for a couple days, just with adrenaline. But, when you get down by 15, that adrenaline rush goes out the window.”

Plus; Florida was just better.

Yet, even as the Bonnies continued to fall behind and the game was out of reach, the fans made sure to show their appreciation. With a minute to go the Bona faithful cheered loud with a final “let’s go Bona’s” and gave the team a standing ovation filled with claps, hollers and stomps.

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The Gators ended the Bonnies dream NCAA Tournament run, 77-62.

One player coach Schmidt made sure to give his due was Idris Taqqee.

Taqqee is not known as the primary scorer. He sometimes misses layups that make you tear your hair out and you always hold your breath when he goes to the line.

But when it came to heart; no one matched Taqqee. Every rebound, every tipped ball, every loose ball, Taqqee went for it. Even as a guard, he grabbed 13 rebounds and coach Schmidt had nothing but praise for the senior.

“That sucker wasn’t going to quit,” Schmidt said. “He’s one of the top five most unselfish players I’ve ever coached. He doesn’t have great skill, but he epitomizes the toughness that we try to play with. Matt and Jay get a lot of the credit, and deservedly so, but without Idris in that — he’s the glue that brings us together.”

As the team exited the locker room to catch the red eye home it was all love.

They thanked the managers, coaches and even the student journalists that had gone on this ride with them.

Their head’s were high, as they should be.

Looking back on a historic season for the Bonnies, the best in the modern era, coach Schmidt closed the night talking about what this means for St. Bonaventure University as a whole.

“We got the respect of the country now,” Schmidt said. “It’s taken a while to get that. It’s hard to put in words, especially coming off a loss, but we did some incredible things. The guys are going to look back years from now and think ‘wow.’ This team is going to be remembered forever.”

 

 

 

 

Preview: Bonnies take on Gators in NCAA Tournament

By Jeff Uveino

It’s one of the most anticipated days of the year for college hoops fans—the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament.

With 16 games scheduled for today, the eyes of the sporting world will once again be on college basketball. However, for fans of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies; only one game really matters.

The No. 11 Bonnies (25-7) will take on the No. 6 Florida Gators (20-12) at 9:55 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA tournament on truTV.

The Bonnies are coming off a 65-58 win over the UCLA Bruins in the ‘First Four’ round in Dayton, Ohio. Now, the Bonnies get to travel to Dallas, Texas to take on a Gators team that went 11-7 in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play. Despite winning their final three regular season games, the Gators were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament by the Arkansas Razorbacks. Florida owns several wins over other tournament teams this season, including Gonzaga, Auburn, and two wins against Kentucky

The Gators have enjoyed recent tournament success, including trips to at least the Elite Eight in five straight seasons. In the 2017 NCAA tournament, Florida lost a heart breaker to the South Carolina Gamecocks, denying them a trip to the Final Four.

The Gators have scorers up and down their roster, averaging 76 points per game. They are led by junior guard Jalen Hudson, who averages 15.3 points per game. Egor Koulechov, a senior guard from Russia, averages 13.6 points per game. Other key contributors are guards KeVaugh Allen and Chris Chiozza, who average 13.6 and 13.5 points, respectively. Chiozza also averages 6.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game, making him a central part of the Gators offense.

While the sunshine of Gainesville, Florida is far from the snow covered tundras of Allegany, New York; the Bonnies and Gators aren’t strangers.

Just last year, the Bonnies and Gators met at Florida in a close and competitive game resulting in a 73-66 loss.

Senior Idris Taqqee remembers the game against the Gators last year. Now, with a better team and a chance to see them on a neutral court, Taqqee said the Bonnies are ready for another shot against them.

“It’s already a rematch so we want to get that revenge,” Taqqee said. ” We want this. We’re hungry.”

Part of the path to getting that revenge is showing up defensively. The Bonnies used a stymieing zone defensive scheme to slow down the Bruins last game as they try for similar results against the Gators.  The Bonnies forced 20 UCLA turnovers, including 10 by their star guard Aaron Holiday.

Another key to the Bonnies’ First Four win was the play of Courtney Stockard, who scored 26 points. Stockard, a junior forward, is the X-factor in a Bonnies attack that features two high-scoring senior guards; Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley.

Adams averages 19.4 points and 5.3 assists per game, and Mobley averages 18.4 points and 5 rebounds per game. The Bonnies shoot nearly 40% from three point range, and their shooting will be a key as to whether they will be able to pull off an upset.
The winner of this game will play either Texas Tech or Stephen F. Austin on Saturday with a trip to the ‘Sweet 16’ at stake.

Junior LaDarien Griffin, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, knows the Gators pretty well. He grew up watching them and even played AAU with Florida forward Kevarrius Hayes.

He couldn’t hold back his excitement when asked about getting a second chance to beat the Gators.

“I used to watch those great teams that they had in awe.” Griffin said. “You grow up and it’s always the goal to beat those type of teams and now we get that chance. I can’t wait man, I can’t wait to play them!”

Bonnies NCAA Tournament Preview: First Four

By: Jeff Uveino

“You dream as a player to play in the big dance.”

That’s what St. Bonaventure Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said in his press conference after the Atlantic-10 tournament this past weekend, and it’s what his Bonnies will be doing on Tuesday.

For the first time since 2012, the Bonnies are back in the NCAA tournament.

After receiving an at-large bid, St. Bonaventure will travel to Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday to play in the ‘First Four’ round.

The Bonnies will take on the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins at 9:10 P.M. for the right to become the 11th seed in the Eastern Regional and face 6th seeded Florida.

This will be the first matchup between the Bonnies (25-7) and the Bruins (21-11) in over 40 years. Their last meeting came in 1975, when UCLA rolled over the Bonnies on the way to a National Championship.

UCLA comes in at 21-11, including an 11-7 record in their conference (the Pacific 12). They were eliminated in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament via an overtime loss to the Arizona Wildcats, who enter the NCAA tournament as a 4th seed.

The Bruins have a good amount of offensive firepower, averaging nearly 82 points per game. They rank 2nd in the Pac-12 and 28th in the nation in scoring.

The Bruins offense is led by junior guard Aaron Holiday. Holiday can shoot it with the best of them, averaging 20.3 points per game. He is an 83% free throw shooter, and 43% three point shooter. Holiday scored 34 points in back-to-back games in the Pac-12 tournament, in wins over USC and Stanford.

Another factor into the UCLA attack that could trouble the Bonnies is their size. The Bruins start three players who are 6’8 and taller, including 6’8 freshman forward Kris Wilkes, 6’11 senior forward Gyorgy Goloman, and 7’0 senior center Thomas Welsh.

Welsh averages 13 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, and poses a significant threat under the basket. Wilkes averages 13.7 points per game, and Goloman averages 7.3 PPG. Welsh and Goloman can also shoot it from downtown, as they both average over 40% shooting from three point range.

The Bonnies big men will be faced with the task of slowing down this attack from under the basket, which will be no easy task given their recent injury problems. Bonnies forwards Courtney Stockard and Josh Ayeni both suffered injuries during the Atlantic-10 tournament in Washington, DC this past weekend, and their status for Tuesday is still up in the air.

Stockard suffered a hamstring injury during the Bonnies quarterfinal win over the Richmond Spiders, and did not play during their semifinal loss to the Davidson Wildcats. Ayeni went down with an apparent knee injury during the Davidson game, and did not return.

No official word has come out about Stockard yet, but sources have told the Intrepid he’s probable to play. Ayeni is currently questionable, though sources said they don’t expect him to play.

St. Bonaventure will still have forwards Amadi Ikpeze (4.7 PPG) and LaDarien Griffin (8.7 PPG) for starters, as well as Tshiefu Ngalakulondi (2.3 PPG) off the bench.

Getting healthy, as well as controlling the glass, will be big factors if the Bonnies want to be successful on Tuesday.

Despite the challenges the Bruins bring to the table, Coach Schmidt is confident in his team’s ability.

“We won thirteen straight games, had some huge non-conference wins, and some big wins in our league,” he said. “I don’t think there was a hotter team going into the postseason than us.”

The Bonnies will look to their high-scoring guards to keep pace with UCLA, including seniors Jaylen Adams (19.8 PPG) and Matt Mobley (18.5 PPG).

Mobley earned A-10 All-Championship Team honors last weekend after his performance in the conference tournament, including making 9-of-13 three pointers in a 29-point outing against Richmond.

Coach Schmidt has been to the NCAA tournament before, appearing three times as a player at Boston College. However, none of his current players have, and he knows that they will be getting an opportunity of a lifetime.

“It’s probably the best day of your life as a college basketball player [when selected],” he said. “They deserve to have those goosebumps.”