Griffin brings experience and versatility to young Bonnies team

By: Isaiah Blakely 

Senior LaDarien Griffin’s St. Bonaventure career started with him averaging 0.5 points per game freshmen year. Now Griffin is the reigning A-10 co-Most Improved player of the year and is looking to carry that momentum into his senior season.

Head coach Mark Schmidt had high praise for Griffin.

“He epitomizes what we try to do at Bonaventure,” said Schmidt. “He came up as a freshman didn’t get any playing time. Most guys especially in today’s environment, they leave… He knew he wasn’t ready yet and he kept on working,” said Schmidt.

Griffin described his first three years at St. Bonaventure as “amazing”. Griffin added that there were, “A lot of ups and downs. A lot of growth on and off the court. It’s just been an amazing experience.”

Griffin averaged 8.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season helping the Bonnies reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This year’s team is a much younger team and is no longer led by Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. The Bonnies are projected to finish 9th in the conference this season which is much lower than their projection last season. Griffin talked about his expectations, and that the only thing that is different is the outside noise is a little easier to handle.

“They always felt the same to me I don’t really listen to other people’s expectations. I kind of go off my own and set my own highs regardless of who’s on the court with me,” said Griffin.

Griffin is looking to help the Bonnies achieve similar success to last season.

“Try to win as many games as possible. Try to get top seed in the A-10 and try to get to the tournament again,” said Griffin. “I feel like that’s everybody’s goal regardless of veteran team or young team. That’s the goal when you come into every season, so you got to work like it,” said Griffin.

Griffin spoke about what the Bonnies have to do to give themselves a chance of reaching their goal of going back to the NCAA tournament.

“Going in with the urgency. You kind of understand what it takes to get a little bit of success and just carry it on to the rest of your life and the game. And I think the urgency is the most important thing,” said Griffin.

Griffin strives to continue to help this team and he talked about what he worked on over the summer to make himself more versatile.

“Shooting. Just trying to get stronger being more versatile. I think that’s the biggest thing probably my versatility to help this team, “said Griffin.

Schmidt talked about Griffin’s versatility.

“He’s shooting the ball better now. We can do a lot of picking and popping with him now. He’s a legitimate four man,” said Schmidt. “But we can also go small like we did last year a lot. He’s long enough to be able to guard that, and he’s stronger then he appears and now we can run some ball screen stuff with him being a five man. That’s hard to guard”

Schmidt also talked about Griffin’s personality as a leader.

“He’s got that personality that he doesn’t think he’s better than anybody. He’s humble,” said Schmidt.

The Jacksonville, Florida native spoke about what it’s been like as a senior leader.

“You can’t have a lot of mistakes,” said Griffin. “You got to try to be perfect, try to do things the right way all the time. For me it’s just being more of a leader to these young guys and show them what we have to do.”

Griffin also spoke about what he wants to be remembered for when his four years are done, and it had little to do with basketball.

“With nothing I did on the court. Probably just that I was able to help other people, bring joy to others just remember me as a person as a student instead of not just the basketball player,” said Griffin.

The senior forward begins solidifying his legacy Wednesday night against the Bucknell Bisons in the Reilly Center.

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Migliore ready to help Bonnies bounce back

By: Teddy Caputo

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies women’s basketball team finished the season last year with a record of 8-22, including 5-9 in non-conference play and 3-13 in conference play. Junior Danielle Migliore was one of the most improved players in the A-10 last season, and she’s looking to help the Bonnies turn things around this year.

Even though the team struggled last year, Migliore, a Frankfort, New York native, had a breakout season.  In her freshman year, she played in 20 games and averaged 1.7 points per game, one rebound per game and eight minutes per game.  In her sophomore year, she started in 29 of their 30 games and averaged 10.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in 32 minutes per game. Migliore had the second-best increase in scoring average year-to-year of any A-10 player.

Danielle Migliore talked about her success last year and how it can help her prepare for this year.

“It helps me knowing how much work I put in last year,” said Migliore.  “If I want to continue staying consistent, then I got to keep putting in the work that I did offseason of freshman year going into my sophomore year.  Knowing that hard work does pay off sticks in my head.”

Migliore talked about how she has prepared for the season.

“Since I knew that I could be successful, I’ve continued working on being consistent, whether that is going to the gym more than the year before or speeding up my foot work and shot.  Hopefully that helps,” said Migliore.

Migliore is looking for more success from herself and the team this season. Migliore talked about what she thought the team could have done better last season.

“Our chemistry was always there, but we didn’t know how to handle the game when we were ahead,” said Migliore.  “We’ve been used to playing and winning games while we were down for most of the game.  But, when we were ahead for most of the game, we would always let a team get back into the game.  We didn’t know how to finish games and didn’t handle the pressure well.”

Migliore also spoke about what she likes about the team this year and what the offseason was like.

“We’re a more loose team and we like to have fun, and that’s when we play good,” said Migliore.  “Compared to last year, we didn’t play like we were enjoying it as much.”

The Bonnies did lose some key players from last year’s team such as sophomore guards Jalisha Terry and Rhianna Council, but they also added five new players to the roster.  When talking about the new players on the team, Migliore spoke highly of them.

“I think the younger girls have become more used to what we do here,” said Migliore.  “They’re always on time for things, we always play together and run through the offense and defense repetitively, so it gives us greater team chemistry now.”

Migliore continued, “My role for the younger girls is to lead by example.  I’m not the type to constantly get on their case and tell them to do ‘this, this and this’, but I could be in the gym or practicing my jump shot and they could look up to that.”

Migliore joins teammate senior guard Mckenna Maycock, as the most experienced players on the team this year.

In the women’s exhibition game on Friday, Nov., 2 2018 against Alfred University, Danielle Migliore scored 14 points on 5-9 shooting coming off the bench, also adding six rebounds and two assists in an 88-43 victory.  Migliore and the Bonnies play in their first regular season game of the season on the road against long-time rival Niagara University on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Three takeaways from the St. Bonaventure vs Alfred

By: Jeff Uveino

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team rolled over the Alfred Saxons 90-42 in an exhibition game at the Reilly Center. Here’s three takeaways from the game:

  1. The freshman class could be good. Scary good.

The Bonnies had three freshmen score in double figures. Alpha Okoli led the way with 20 points, including shooting four-of-five from three-point range. Kyle Lofton scored 15 points and Dom Welch had 12. All three showed their playmaking ability, the highlight of which came on a thunderous Welch dunk late in the second half. But perhaps the freshman who impressed me the most was 6-10 forward Osun Osunniyi. He’s long, athletic and physical, and showed that he could be a major presence around the rim. Osunniyi had two blocks and four rebounds to go along with five points.

  1. Who will be the star?

The Bonnies got contributions from up and down their roster, but there wasn’t a player that stood out. No one looked like the “star,” or the type of player who could take over a game. This year’s Bonnies are probably already getting sick of being compared to Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, but those two were able to take over games last year, a part of the identity that this year’s team will need to find. Perhaps when Courtney Stockard returns, he can be that type of player for the Bonnies, but that may not happen for another month.

  1. Fifty-point win! (against a Division III team)

Yes, the Bonnies won by 48 points. They dominated on both ends of the floor. However, the teams they’re going to be playing during the regular season are going to be of a much different caliber than Alfred. The Bonnies were a mismatch for the Saxons physically and talent-wise, and for most of the night, they ran circles around them. Amadi Ikpeze dominated around the rim early in the game but was at least three or four inches taller than anyone in an Alfred jersey. It will be interesting to see how the Bonnies perform against some real competition.

 

St. Bonaventure will open regular season play on Nov. 7 at home against Bucknell.

 

Oliver’s time in junior college prepared her for SBU

By: Jeff Uveino 

Amanda Oliver is one of five players entering her first year with the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball program. But the junior forward is no stranger to competing at the collegiate level.

Oliver, a 6-1 forward from Orlando, Florida, she played two seasons at Florida Southwestern Community College before transferring to SBU.

She averaged six points per game and eight rebounds per game her sophomore year at Florida Southwestern, and was a two-time all-conference selection. She hopes to bring what she learned in junior college to the Atlantic 10.

“It will help me in the long run,” Oliver said. “I just had so much skill work to work on, as well as the mental aspect of the game.”

Oliver played in 63 games at FSCC, starting 57 of them. The mental and physical experience that she got, Oliver said, will help her game going forward.

“It pushed me beyond a mental point where I didn’t think I could go,” she said. “Having those two years is going to help me and motivate me.”

Oliver hopes to bring a defensive presence to a Bonnies team that allowed 69 points per game last season and only scored 63. She averaged 1.7 blocks per game her sophomore year at FSCC.

“I want to bring hustle,” she said. “Anything I can do to help the team or what is needed to win a game. I love defense so that will be a big part of my game.”

On the offensive side of the ball, Oliver will look to be a factor in what she described as the “run-and-gun” type offense the Bonnies will play. With the regular season coming fast, Oliver talked about some of the things head coach Jesse Fleming and the Bonnies have been working on this preseason.

“We’re trying to score quickly in possessions with layups and transition threes,” Oliver said. “We have a lot of set plays ready so I think we’ll be prepared.”

St. Bonaventure opens regular season play on the road. They travel to play rival Niagara University on Nov. 6.

Stockard is ready for final season

By: Teddy Caputo 

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies had one of their best seasons in program history, having a 26-8 regular season record, a 14-game win streak during the regular season and an NCAA Tournament win against UCLA. Courtney Stockard is the leading returning scorer from last season and is looking to carry his momentum from last year into his senior season.

Last season, Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley made up an elite backcourt for the Bonnies. The duo was a huge part of the Bonaventure’s success last year, but they weren’t the only ones putting up stellar performances.  When Adams and Mobley struggled in some games during the season, Courtney Stockard, a 6’5 junior forward, stepped up when the Bonnies needed him.  He averaged 13.3 points and six rebounds per game in his first season playing for St. Bonaventure.  Stockard had some impressive performances, including 26 points in the tournament win against UCLA. Stockard also had a career-high 31 points in the triple-OT win against Davidson. Stockard talked about his success last season.

“When we needed somebody to step up, I thought why not anybody but me?” said Stockard. “I wanted to try to be that X-factor and next leader that would make the team more dynamic.”

This year he is in the position to step up and do it again, and he says he is ready for that challenge.

“I want to pick up where I left off last year and stay aggressive throughout the season,” said Stockard.

Stockard is one of three seniors this season alongside fellow teammates Nelson Kaputo and LaDarien Griffin. Stockard talked about their leadership obligations as seniors.

“Since we’re the veteran guys, we want to show the new guys on the team how it’s done and what we did to get to the point we were at last year,” said Stockard.

The Bonnies have five new players who are trying to acclimated to St. Bonaventure.

“With this offseason, there’s been a lot of individual work,” said Stockard.  “With us having a lot of new guys, we have to get them up to par, get them used to Schmidt’s system and used to the college game.”

One of the new Bonnies this season is transfer Jalen Poyser. Poyser is a transfer from UNLV. The junior transfer from Malton, Ontario scored 10.4 points and two assists per game in his sophomore season for the Rebels. Poyser is a guy who Stockard thinks can be productive on the perimeter.

“He’s a pretty explosive player, and I think that’s what people are going to find out really soon,” said Stockard.  “With him on the other wing, he’ll be able to take some pressure off me and I’ll be able to take some pressure off him.” Stockard added, “With that, we’ll be able to make a pretty big impact on this team and on the conference.”

Even though the team is young and inexperienced compared to last year’s team, Stockard believes this team has more talent from than last year’s squad and has high hopes for this season.

“We may struggle to start the season, but I think once these guys get going and get used to the way things are in college basketball, we have enough talent to be dangerous come March,” said Stockard. “If everybody hits their stride and I pick up where I left off last year, then I think we should be pretty good this season.”

Stockard talked about games he’s looking forward to on the schedule.

“I think the Syracuse game would probably be the one,” said Stockard.  “They think the game last year was a fluke, so if we could get it done again this year, we can prove that it wasn’t a fluke, that we can play with you guys and that we’re here to stay.”

Stockard gets a chance to lead the Bonnies and pick up where he left off last season in their exhibition game against Alfred University on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7:15 p.m. in the Reilly Center.

Opinion: The firing of DJ Durkin couldn’t come soon enough

By: Isaiah Blakely 

Maryland’s decision to fire former head coach DJ Durkin over his mishandling of Jordan McNair’s death was the right decision, but the decision took too long. Maryland Terrapins head football coach was fired on Wednesday, a day after Maryland officials reinstated him.

Durkin had been on paid administrative leave since August 11. Maryland University had taken responsibility in early August and at that point you must fire the head coach. They fired strength and conditioning coach Rick Court the same day they took responsibility for McNair’s death. That was the correct decision, but to not fire Durkin as well does not make sense. Durkin is the head coach and at the end of the day Durkin is the overseer of everyone on his staff which includes Court. An incident like this requires the man in charge to be fired.

Maryland had an opportunity to make the right decision back in August so they could clean house and make a timely responsible decision. Instead they let this incident cloud over their program for months. The athletic program and the school continued to look worse as more and more bad news broke.

An investigation was done by an external investigator, and in October the investigators found out that Maryland football had an abusive culture and a culture that lacked accountability. They found that Court used homophobic slurs and Durkin acknowledged that there was verbal abuse, but didn’t believe Court crossed any lines.

Durkin’s negligence and not seeing anything wrong should have been a sign that he needed to be fired. It’s not acceptable to run college football programs like this, and at what point did Maryland University think to just cut their losses and save some of their reputation for their athletic program and their university. Durkin is not a prestigious coach or even been super successful one in his short stint with the Terrapins. He had an 11-15 record in his two seasons, so the only reason for waiting to fire Durkin was financial.

I understand the initial hesitation to fire Durkin because he had $5.1 million left on his deal and firing him without cause resulted in the school owing him that money, but money can not always be the deciding factor especially in decisions like this.

The fact that Maryland reinstated Durkin after the investigation clearly stated that there were several problems with the culture of the football team, and the university was accountable for the death of McNair is lazy and unaware.

The Board of Regents ignored McNair’s parent’s pleas to fire Durkin for months. Then they finally caved to the outside pressure of student groups planning protests. Even state politicians got involved and condemned the board’s decision.

Maryland eventually made the right decision to fire Durkin, but there were several moments in the process where they could have fired him sooner. Maryland University chose to worry about their potential financial obligations to Durkin instead of their moral obligations to all their students and alumni.

Johnson looks to improve going into sophomore year

By: Aidan Conaghan 

Abigail Johnson is one of the six returning players to the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team.

Last year injuries limited Johnson to just eight games. She averaged four points and seven rebounds a game. Going into her second season Johnson is very excited on what she can bring to the team this year.

“Having a year now is definitely a big thing for me because now I’m looking forward to what I can really bring to the team as an individual,” said Johnson.

Johnson grew up in England where she played for Barking Abbey in the top women’s league in the UK.

“I’m doing much better than last year. I’m getting used to the way things are here and I feel more comfortable being so far from my family,” said Johnson.

One of Johnson’s strengths is her elite rebounding.

“For me I feel like everyone has a gift and with me I do hope to be one of the leading rebounders in the A-10 and to bring a presence in the paint this year,” said Johnson.

With the addition of five new players Johnson likes the direction the program is heading going into the new season.

“I feel like there is more chemistry on the court. We just look good this year compared to last year,” said Johnson.

Even after an 8-22 record last year Johnson still feels the team can be successful this year.

“I’m expecting to get A-10’s and doing really well overall,” said Johnson.

Johnson and the Bonnies open their season on Nov. 6 when they travel to Lewistown, New York to take on the Niagara Purple Eagles.

Transfer Poyser brings talent and experience to Bonnies

By: Jeff Uveino

Las Vegas, Nevada to Olean, New York.

2,269 miles separate the two cities. One lies in the middle of a desert, the other nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.

Jalen Poyser chose this change of scenery when he left the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to play basketball for the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. But it wasn’t the freezing Olean winters that attracted him.

Poyser was drawn to the program Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt has built since he arrived at SBU in 2007 — one that has won at least 20 games each of the last three seasons and was an NCAA tournament team in 2017-18.

“They hold you accountable here,” Poyser said. “Coach Schmidt is a perfectionist. He demands you to be the best player you can be, and that’s something that helps me.”

Poyser, a 6-4 guard from Malton, Ontario transferred to SBU following his sophomore season at UNLV. Due to NCAA rules, Poyser sat out the entire 2017-18 season, giving him two seasons of eligibility for the Bonnies.

Poyser was rated a 3-star recruit out of Orangeville Prep by ESPN and 247Sports, and received offers from Oklahoma and Rhode Island, along with UNLV.

In two seasons at UNLV, Poyser appeared in total of 64 games, including 21 starts his sophomore year. As a sophomore, he averaged 10.4 points per game and 2.6 assists per game, and was an 80% free throw shooter.

Poyser hopes he can take what he learned at UNLV and bring it to St. Bonaventure.

“You always have to be ready for the moment,” he said. “No matter what conference you play in you always need to be aggressive and have a winning mentality. Because no matter what school you go to, the end goal is always to go to the (NCAA) tournament.”

While he couldn’t play last season, Poyser watched as the Bonnies made their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012 and got their first NCAA tournament win in 48 years from a 65-58 victory over the UCLA Bruins.

Poyser said he learned a lot from watching Atlantic 10 co-player of the year Jaylen Adams and first-team all-conference selection Matt Mobley lead the team.

“I watched the way they carried themselves on and off the court,” he said. “I saw different ways I could score on the floor and got to read opposing teams’ defenses.”

With Adams and Mobley gone, the Bonnies will look for new faces to lead the way. Poyser discussed strengths he brings to the team and his readiness to take on a large roll.

“I want to be an all-around player, whether I’m passing the ball, rebounding or scoring,” Poyser said. “Basically do a little bit of everything.”

Coach Mark Schmidt is no stranger to finding successful transfer players.

Matt Mobley transferred to St. Bonaventure after two seasons at Central Connecticut State. Marcus Posley, SBU’s leading scorer during their 2016 season, had transferred from Ball State. Current Bonnies senior Courtney Stockard transferred from Allen Community College.

Poyser hopes he can be the next transfer to thrive in Schmidt’s system.

“Those guys are great players and had great careers here,” he said. “I’m hoping I can do the same myself.”

Poyser and the Bonnies will open regular season play against the Bucknell Bison on November 7.

These guys know what we’re up against,” Poyser exclaimed. “I want to help the team get right back to the tournament.”