One day at a time: Adams tuning out the noise despite lofty expectations

By Jeff Uveino

The Bonnies are coming off a season in which they finished with a 20-12 record and bring back lots of experience with four returning starters. This includes the most important piece of the puzzle — senior guard Jaylen Adams.

After originally declaring for the NBA draft following his junior year, Adams later chose to stay at St. Bonaventure for one more season; a decision that will give the Bonnies a huge boost as they compete for the conference championship.

Adams has already amassed one of the most successful careers in Bonaventure history, being named First Team All-Conference in the Atlantic 10 each of the last two seasons. He finished 2nd in the A 10 last season in scoring, averaging 20.6 points per game. A lifetime 83% free throw shooter and 38% three-point shooter, Adams has already shown he has what it takes to lead Bonnies basketball to the next level.

After an ankle injury that sidelined the NBA prospect for the first several games of the season, Adams has returned with a chip on his shoulder and an undeniable focus to finally get the Bonnies over the hump.

The best example of this may have come in their last game against Syracuse, in which Adams scored 23 points and helped the Bonnies get their first win at the Carrier Dome in program history.

After being named preseason First Team All-Conference again this year, and being picked by NBC Sports as their preseason Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, Adams will have to deal with additional pressure to lead the Bonnies deep into the postseason. With many analysts picking them to make an NCAA Tournament run, Adams spoke about what the team needs to do in order to deal with all of the hype.

“I think we just need to tune it out honestly,” Adams said. “The things that people say about us, we can’t let it get to us. If we let it affect us negatively or positively, it’s just weakness. We need to block it out and prepare every day.”

Head coach Mark Schmidt will once again be leaning heavily on Adams for continuous involvement, as he averaged 37.4 minutes per game last season. Adams discussed what he has to do to get ready for such a big work load.

“I just have to prepare my body, prepare for the physical beating and prepare mentally,” he said.

Adams will work with backcourt mate and fellow senior Matt Mobley to take some of the load off him. Mobley, who averaged 18.5 points per game last year, will also be a key piece for the Bonnies this season. This team is packed with talent, which is something that will help their star players prepare and succeed.

“I get to go up against Matt in practice every day and a bunch of other guys that push me, so I’m ready for it,” he said.

For all of the veterans on the roster, this could be the best chance they get to play deep into the postseason and make a run at the NCAA tournament.

“I’ve got a bunch of friends who have been there before and they tell me that it’s one of the best experiences they’ve ever had,” he said. “Coach Schmidt has been there and he tells us all the time there’s nothing like it, so it’s definitely goal number one.”

As a senior, Adams will look to make the most of his last go-around at St. Bonaventure, and expressed how much his time at the school has meant to him.

“It’s definitely a special, special place. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity Coach Schmidt gave me. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” he said. “I’ve built some lasting relationships, and I just love it here.”

Adams has brought plenty of energy to the Reilly Center over his career at Bonas, but even he had to take a moment to reminisce on just how powerful the Bonnies student section, the ‘Wolf Pack’, is during home games. Last season, the Bonnies were 11-4 at home, and just 6-5 on the road and 3-3 at neutral locations.

“I don’t even know if they know it, but they give us an unreal energy. Especially when you see familiar faces that you see around campus cheering for you. They get so excited; the gym literally feels like its shaking. They give us a tremendous boost,” he said.

Although his career at Bonaventure will come to an end after this season, Adams hopes that he can continue to play professionally for years to come.

“I just want to play until the wheels fall off,” Adams said. I love the game and everything about it. Hopefully I don’t have to give it up too soon.”

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Mobley keeping a “junkyard dog” mentality through expectations

By Nicholas Gallo

Despite some early setbacks, Matt Mobley and the St. Bonaventure Bonnies have fought through adversity and find themselves atop the A-10 standings.

Despite missing star guard Jaylen Adams for the first several games of the year, the Bonnies are 10-2 with wins over Buffalo, Maryland, Vermont and Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

Many of those wins are thanks in part to Mobley, who received a nod for Preseason First Team All-A-10 Conference and is on his way to living up to that distinction.

Last year, Mobley finished top three on the team in steals, assists, rebounds, and points. In addition, Mobley led all Division-I players in minutes per game with 38.3. Mobley said that he had a good summer and was in the weight room, on the court, and continuing to improve his cardio.

“Two of the main aspects of my game that I worked on this summer was ball handling and shooting,” Mobley said. “I felt like those were the skills that I needed to improve on the most to get to the level where I want to be at.”

The senior guard’s grind has paid off, averaging 17.5 points per game, 1.4 steals and leading the conference in free throw percentage with 85.2% from the stripe.

Mobley and Adams have developed into a great one-two punch; becoming one of the best backcourts in the nation. Mobley said it’s exciting to play with Adams again.

“He draws so much attention and his vision is unlike any point guard I have ever played with,” Mobley said. “He gets his guys in the right spots and it’s great to play with him.”

Last March, the University of Dayton, Saint Joseph’s University, and Virginia Commonwealth University went dancing in the NCAA Tournament. This year, St. Bonaventure hopes to do the same thing as Mobley says he believes they should finish strong.

“We’re ready to go and we are all excited,” Mobley said. “Playing and performing is more important than any Preseason ranking.”

According to atlantic10.com, the University of Rhode Island has been picked to repeat as A-10 champions in the 2017-18 preseason poll and St. Bonaventure is supposed to finish second.

So far this season, the Bonnies have handled those expectations.

While Mobley said that the team felt good about the hype, it won’t change their mindset.

“We still want to embrace that underdog mentality,” Mobley said. “Like our coaches say, we need to act like a ‘junkyard dog’ no matter what.”

Mobley said all the young guys are stepping up and standing out, though, at the end of the day, he said the veterans will determine how far this team can go.

“It’s on us, the captains, to get the young guys going,” Mobley said. “This team’s success is on us.”

Reaction: Stockard-led Bonnies embrace adversity, stun undefeated Maryland

By Josh Svetz

The Bonnies have provided enough highs and lows for a season’s worth of basketball and it’s only been four games.

Tonight was a high, but coming into the contest, most wouldn’t think so.

In fact, the Bonnies would have to overcome hard knocks to achieve any sort of high.

Hours before the game, star guard Jaylen Adams, who has yet to play or practice due to an ankle injury, was ruled out. Junior forward Courtney Stockard was probable, but limited in practice over the week.

Then, as tip-off neared, Bonas fans were left confounded when the official men’s basketball account tweeted that senior Matt Mobley, the Bonnies’ leading scorer, would not start due to being late for a team meeting.

On top of this, Bonas had to contend with the undefeated Maryland Terrapins, a top-20 defensive team featuring several bigs 6-foot-10 and taller alongside two NBA hopefuls, sophomores Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan.

The only way Bonas could hope to sneak out of this game victorious was to take advantage of the Terps’ bottom-200-ranked turnover rate, translating to a turnover every four possessions, and make this game ugly.

That’s exactly what the Bonnies did. They brought the grind to the grinders.

To start, they didn’t let the size difference affect the scoring in the first half.

Bonas deployed a 1-3-1 zone to neutralize talented freshman forward Bruno Fernando and it worked.

Fernando became agitated and frustrated early, taking his head out of the game and mounting up just two points and three rebounds in the first half. While 7-foot-1 senior Michal Cekovsky filled in nicely with nine points, two blocks and two rebounds in the first half, he just didn’t provide the same upside and athleticism of Fernando.

Bonas also capitalized on turnovers, turning eleven first half miscues into twelve points.

The scrappy effort contributed heavily, as Bonas didn’t let the Terps lead by more than four at any time in the first half.

But maybe the number one reason the Bonnies handled their business was their defense.

Forcing turnovers aside, Bonas switched beautifully on screens and closed out on the Terps’ guards. This frustrated the shooters, holding them to 1 of 10 from behind the arc and just 43 percent from the field.

Despite Mobley being held to four points in the first half, everyone else stepped up offensively, with Josh Ayeni, Izaiah Brockington, LaDarien Griffin and Courtney Stockard scoring 24 of the Bonnies’ 30 first-half points.

The Bonnies headed into the locker room down one, but with momentum on their side.

Still, Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon may have summed up the situation best in his sideline interview.

“We haven’t made a jump shot, we have eleven turnovers and we’re up one,” Turgeon said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

With obvious adjustments coming for the second half, the Bonnies would need to continue the defensive tenacity and get something out of Mobley to have a chance.

The Terps came out re-energized, opening the second half with a 8-2 run in the first five minutes.

Bonas needed to answer, and with Mobley’s shot not falling, he turned to the free throw line to make a contribution.

Mobley went 10 of 10 from the free throw line, six of those coming in the second half.

But with 11 minutes left, the wheels started to come off.

Down by one, Bonas gave up two three-pointers and an and-one layup in the span of three minutes, trailing 44-52 with eight minutes remaining.

But the Bonnies wouldn’t quit.

Layups by Ayeni, Mobley and Brockington cut the deficit to two, and two free throws from Stockard tied the game at 53.

However, Bonas’ three-point defensive woes reared its ugly head, as Terps’ junior Dion Wiley drained a three.

Both teams traded free throws and Mobley made a layup to make the score 59-57 with two minutes to play.

Mobley then tied the game with two free throws.

The free throw line saved the Bonnies, as 21 of their 63 total points came from the stripe.

Then, the Bonnies caught a break when the Terps’ Jackson missed an open three.

Even with the break, Mobley missed a layup but Ayeni grabbed the offensive board and drew the foul.

Ayeni handled the pressure, draining both free throws, giving the Bonnies a 61-59 lead.

An ill-advised foul by Mobley not only gave the Terps’ Cowan free throws, but also gave him his fifth foul, taking him out of the game.

With no timeouts, Stockard-the highest scorer left in the game-was forced into the spotlight, facing adversity from the tenacious Terps’ defense.

But Stockard is no stranger to adversity.

For two years he’s battled back from foot injuries that ended his season twice. Even before the game, that same type of injury limited him all week in practice. But now, with the game in his hands, this was his moment.

He handled the ball inches in front of the half-court line, cutting to the basket and going up strong to put in the game-winning layup with 3.4 seconds left.

Stockard finished the game with fourteen points.

The Terps turned the ball over and that was it. The Bonnies won, despite everyone counting them out, despite all the adversity.

Stockard scored the game-winner, despite the adversity.

The excitement of this win will be short-lived, though, as they turn around and face TCU for the Emerald Coast Classic championship tomorrow at 7:00 p.m.

But as the glow remains fresh, the Bonnies carry a scrappy nature and underdog mentality, just like their leader tonight.

Bonnies look to continue home opener winning tradition, despite questions

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.

Men’s basketball quick hitters: Duquesne (home)

By Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt

Posley regains his edge: It’s no secret that Marcus Posley has struggled to say the least since his two consecutive game winning layups at Davidson and home vs. VCU. However, today he shook off whatever’s been holding him back and put up 29 on 8-14 from the field. With point guard Jay Adams out still with a broken finger, Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt has been praying for Posley to step up and hit shots from outside—today his prayers were answered and Posley went 6-9 from three.

Cumberbatch shines on senior night: Not only did Posley have a big come back game, but senior Andell Cumberbatch showed he can score when he wants to. He was 6-12 from the field for 18 points including 4-9 from beyond the arc. The combination of Posley and Cumberbatch finally knocking down shots took Duquesne by surprise and was too much for them in this one.

Anything can happen: Going into this game Micah Mason and Derrick Colter were two of the hottest three point shooters in the A-10 at 42 and 46 percent. So, one would’ve expected this trend to continue against a Bonnies defense that has lacked solid three point defendability all season long. However, everything went the exact opposite of what you would have thought. The Bonnies shooters shined throughout the game while Duquesne struggled going just 3-15 (20 percent) from three.

Second half done Wright: Dion Wright is no doubt the Bonnies most consistent player, proven by the fact that he goes for at least 10 points almost every game. Today, as the Bonnies guards were playing well, he got off to a slow start—not scoring in the first half. But, the second half was another story as Wright scored 15, and ultimately became the dagger that ended the Dukes as he scored nine from the free throw line.

Quotes:

Duquesne head coach: Jim Ferry

“It’s tough on the road, your margin of error is significantly smaller.”

“We have to focus on getting better, we have two more games before the tournament so we’re just going to go get ready for our next game.” 

St. Bonaventure head coach: Mark Schmidt

“Give our guys credit, Colter and Mason shot 3-15 from three.”

“When you make the first one the basket seems to get bigger.” (on Posley)

“All three seniors played a big role in this one and I’m very proud of how they played.”

 

 

 

Explorers beat Bonnies from beyond the arc

By Jeff Fasoldt

The La Salle Explorers upset the St. Bonaventure Bonnies at a packed Reilly Center Saturday night, improving La Salle’s record to 12-9, and dropping the Bonnies to 11-8 on the year.

In what was Bonaventure’s final Saturday night game of the year in front of their home crowd, not capitalizing on turnovers and plenty of missed shots doomed them from the beginning as they only shot 2-18 from beyond the arc.

Marcus Posley, the leading scorer in the Atlantic-10 Conference, didn’t start for the first time all season due to showing up late to shootaround. And even though he came in just a few minutes into the game, he did not look comfortable coming off the bench as the sixth man, going 2-12 from the field and 0-7 from three point land.

“We thought it was going to be a terrific challenge, and I was glad we were up to the challenge,” said La Salle head coach John Giannini. “We watched more video on Posley than anybody in the conference, but we didn’t change the way we defended against him. We defend the same way against everybody”

On the other side, La Salle’s Jordan Price and Cleon Roberts came up huge for the Explorers. Roberts, who came into the game at 42 percent from beyond the arc, continued to stroke it — going 6-12 from the floor, 4-9 from deep and scoring 20 total. Price picked up his offensive game again after struggling in his last two outings; he had a team-high 22, going 4-11 from beyond the arc.

“I felt like my teammates got me open a lot off of screens,” said Price.

While the Bonnies doubled the Explorers offensive rebounds 15-7, they couldn’t capitalize on second-chance points, and also forced 11 turnovers compared to La Salle’s five, but could not gain an advantage off of those either.

A couple bright spots for the Bonnies in this loss would be both of their big-men. Youssou Ndoye had 17, going 5-11 from the field and also grabbing six boards. Dion Wright had a monster game playing 39 of the 40 minutes, and doing everything he could for his team in this one, scoring a team-high 21, going 8-11 from the field and grabbing 7 rebounds.

“We tried to go inside more, we only shot eight threes in the second half but at the same time you have to hit shots from beyond the arc if you want to win in this league,” said Bonnies head coach, Mark Schmidt.

You have to give La Salle some credit, they came into this game as one of the best defensive teams in the conference and continued to prove they can match up defensively with anybody.

“I felt like we were taking good shots, we just couldn’t make (anything),” said Wright.

St. Bonaventure’s next game will be at Davidson on Wednesday.

Men’s basketball: La Salle preview

By Chuckie Maggio and Jeff Fasoldt

After two weeks away from the Reilly Center, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies return home Saturday night at 7 when they take on the La Salle Explorers.

This is a pivotal game for two teams in the middle of the pack. The Bonnies come in at sixth in the Atlantic 10 with a 4-3 record in conference play, while the Explorers come in ninth at 3-4.

The teams met three times last year, with Bona winning two of the matchups; the last one was in Brooklyn for the A-10 Tournament.

Will the Bonnies grab their fourth win in five games, or will La Salle win their third in four? Let’s break it down:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 118-116 as Bonnies coach, 5-6 vs La Salle.

La Salle- Dr. John Giannini. 169-168 as Explorers coach, 8-6 vs St. Bonaventure.

Key players for La Salle:

Jordan Price- 6-5 sophomore guard. The leading scorer for the Explorers, Price is averaging 15.8 points per game and is shooting over 38 percent from the field for the yellow and blue. He is especially strong from the free throw line at 85 percent in the Explorers 20 games this season. Price could be due for a big game after struggling mightily in his last two games against Rhode Island and St. Josephs — only scoring a combined 10 points.

Jerrell Wright- 6-8 senior forward. Wright is “the guy” inside for La Salle and while he’s not a huge threat on defense, averaging less than a block a game, he is strong offensively at 11.8 points per game and leads the Explorers in rebounds at 6.8 per game. He’s been in double figures his last three games, going 7-12 against St. Joe’s for 19 points.

Keys to victory for La Salle: La Salle needs to continue to rely on their dominating defense if they want to beat the Bonnies at the Reilly Center on Saturday. They come into the game allowing the second fewest points in the A-10 and that can not change. Expect to see lots of three pointers from Cleon Roberts as he’s the man on the perimeter for La Salle at 42 percent on the season.

Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: Don’t look ahead. After this game the Bonnies head to Davidson on Wednesday, then face number 14 VCU on Saturday. Those are two extremely tough battles, especially the VCU one, but SBU must focus on the task at hand and take care of business. Everyone else can look ahead to next Saturday, but Schmidt’s team cannot allow themselves to. After the bad non-conference losses, they know better than to overlook an opponent.

Predictions:

Chuckie- The Explorers have a stingy defense (only 61 points allowed per game), and if the game were taking place in Philly, where La Salle is 7-3 this season, they would probably hold the edge. In the Reilly Center, however, the Explorers don’t have a powerful enough offense to withstand the Bonnies. They only score about 63 points a game, while the Bonnies have averaged 71 in their home games this season. SBU will bring the offensive attack again on Saturday and win a close contest in front of a student section that has been chomping at the bit to watch this team play. 76-71 Bonnies

Jeff- The Bonnies are coming off a tough loss at Rhode Island and have struggled to defend the three on the season. With that said, La Salle is not necessarily a great shooting team. However, if the Bonnies want to win they’re going to have to put up a better effort offensively than St. Joe’s did last Tuesday, scoring only 48 points. Still, I like the Bonnies at home, in the atmosphere of the Reilly Center. 54-51 Bonnies 

Men’s basketball: Duquesne (Away) Preview

By Chuckie Maggio and Jeff Fasoldt

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies, winners of two straight games, head to Pittsburgh on Thursday, where they will face the Duquesne Dukes at 7 in the Palumbo Center.

Bonaventure (10-6, 3-2 in the A-10) is making its second visit to the Steel City this season, the first being the four-point loss to the Pitt Panthers. They come in with momentum after strong wins against George Mason and St. Joseph’s.

Duquesne (6-10, 1-4) has been struggling to get back into the victory column after a win against St. Joe’s. They lost close ones to Rhode Island and VCU but lost more significantly to Dayton and Saint Louis.

The two battles between these teams last year were last-minute affairs. Dukes guard Derrick Colter hit a buzzer-beating three to down the Bonnies at the Palumbo Center, while Bona center Youssou Ndoye’s layup with 33 seconds left broke the tie at the Reilly.

Will the Bonnies extend their win streak to three, or will the Dukes break their three-game losing skid? Here’s the full, properly-inflated preview.

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 117-115 as Bonnies coach.

Duquesne- Jim Ferry. 27-49 as Dukes coach.

Key players for Duquesne:

Derrick Colter- 5-11 Junior guard. Colter comes into this game as the Dukes leading scorer at 12.5 points per game. He also has a good ability to dish it out and give his teammates some easy points as he also leads Duquesne in assists at 3.3 per game.

Micah Mason- 6-2 Junior guard. It’s no secret that Colter and Mason are the two key pieces to an average Duquesne team. Colter is averaging 28.8 minutes per game while Mason is leading the team at 29.5 minutes per game. Mason is right behind his backcourt partner in scoring at 10.6 points per game. Both guards are shooting over 45 percent on the season.

Keys to victory for Duquesne: The reality for the Dukes is that they need Mason and Colter to perform to win. They have no chance against the Bonnies if those two are not up to par. Colter is really their only best three-point shooter at 52 percent so he’s going to have to be on fire from beyond the arc for Duquesne to have a chance.

Keys to victory for Bonaventure: The Dukes are only a percentage point better than Bonaventure at defending the three-pointer, so the perimeter is going to be a focal point in this one, and the Bonnies will have to be sharp. Marcus Posley will need to continue his hot shooting from behind the arc and Jay Adams will have to break his slump, as he is one for his last 12. Defensively, contesting Colter and Mason will be top priority. Both are over 40 percent from deep.

Predictions:

Chuckie- Which Bonnies team will we see Thursday night? I’m going with the good Bonnies, offensively and defensively. Posley will have another 20-point game, Mason will be held in check and SBU will pick up another W before the tough stretch of their conference schedule begins. 78-73 Bonnies

Jeff- It’s always a question which Bonnies team will show up, especially on the road, but I’m going with the Bonnies in this one. They’ll be looking for revenge after last years buzzer-beating loss. 76-74 Bonnies.