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.

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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. 

Men’s basketball: Delaware preview

By Jeff Fasoldt,  @Jeff_Fasoldt

 

The Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens are 0-10 with a few tough three/four point losses on their résumé so far. They are desperate to get a ‘W’ on the board as they take on the St. Bonaventure University Bonnies at the Bob Carpenter Center Tuesday night at 7.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies men’s basketball team will look to bounce back after a tough loss to Maryland-Eastern Shore a week ago at the Reilly Center that dropped the Bonnies record to 7-3 with losses coming to Siena, Pitt and Maryland-Eastern Shore so far. 

A-10 play begins January third against UMass, so it’s important Bonnies head coach, Mark Schmidt, has all the kinks worked out of his young team as the battles begin.

Delaware is desperate and this could be a “trap game” for the brown and white with the big game against UMass right around the corner.

Here’s a full breakdown for the game Tuesday night:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 114-112 as Bonnies head coach.

Delaware- Monté Ross. 115-141 as Blue Hens head coach

Key players for the Blue Hens:

Kyle Anderson- 6-3 senior guard. Has only played in three games for the Blue Hens this season but has been strong averaging 17.7 points per game and is shooting it well from beyond the arc at 33 percent. He ranked third in University of Delaware history in three pointers coming into the season with 215.

Cazmon Hayes- 6-4 sophomore guard. Has played all ten games for Delaware this season and has strong numbers at 13.9 points per game, 33 percent from three-point range and is averaging 3.4 rebounds per game. Hayes leads the Hens with 10 steals on the season.

Key to victory for the Blue Hens: 

Control the tempo. Bonaventure is a team that likes to run and get up and down the court. They will trap you, go for steals, do pretty much anything to force you to turn the ball over or set their team up for a fast-break. The Blue Hens will have to slow it down, set up their offense and hit open shots, which they’ve done all season despite their record.

Keys to victory for Bonaventure:

Don’t overlook the Hens. This Delaware team is 0-10 but that doesn’t matter at all. They’ve been missing two of their best players in Marvin King-Davis and Kyle Anderson to start the year and they now have them back. They only lost their last game at Robert Morris by three and they are desperate for a win and out for blood. Remember, this is a team that won the Colonial Athletic Association last year and advanced to the NCAA tournament.

My prediction: Bonaventure’s size wins this one for Mark Schmidt in a battle that will be surprisingly close to a lot of people, 66-59.

 

Men’s basketball: Quick hitters (Niagara)

By Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt

The St. Bonaventure University Bonnies defeated the Niagara Purple Eagles 74-59 in the Big 4 Classic at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo to improve their record to 4-1.

Block party: The Bonnies recorded eight blocks in total with five of those coming from Youssou Ndoye. The Purple Eagles were clearly outsized and outmatched leading to a dominating end on the defensive side and the offensive side as well, with a 40-20 win for points in the paint for the Bonnies.

Ndoye’s big game: Big is an understatement. Youssou Ndoye had the best game of his career this afternoon going 9-16 from the field for 23 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and a steal. Again, being 7-feet tall the Purple Eagles couldn’t match up with him.

Cumberbatch chipping in: Andell Cumberbatch is a senior and establishing himself as the leader, along with Ndoye, of this Bonnies team. He grabbed five boards and had four steals and also put in a solid effort offensively going 6-12 from the field for 16.

Wright is consistent: Dion Wright has shown thus far that he will always give you  solid numbers. He went 6-11 from the field for 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two assists. In the second-half most of Wright’s baskets came off of easy drives in the lane and layups off the glass.

Hitting the freebies: In Bonaventure’s first two games against Dartmouth and Siena, the Bonnies shot poorly (about 65-percent) as a team from the stripe and it hurt them especially in the Siena game. Something must’ve clicked because the Bonnies have shot upwards of 75-percent since then. Today they went 19-25 (76-percent) .

Key quotes: 

Mark Schmidt:

“We took a step in the right direction and got a lot better as a team today.”

“When Youssou plays the way he’s capable of playing we’re a lot better.”

“I thought it was a good crowd. The Bonaventure people really support us, and I thought the environment was good.”

Youssou Ndoye:

“We got a pretty young team and a bunch of new guys that are still trying to figure stuff out. I thought today we got a lot better.”

“I was hoping that someone would play man (to man) one of these games.”

 Up next for the Bonnies is the University of Buffalo at 7pm at the Reilly Center Wednesday night.

Mens basketball: Bonnies hold off Griffins at home

By Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt

In what was the 163rd time these two teams faced off, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies defeated the Canisius Golden Griffens at the sold-out Reilly Center for the second year in a row—the first time either team has won consecutive games of this rivalry since ’03-04.

Marcus Posley led the Bona men with 20 points, going 5 for 14 from the field, and Dion Wright had 12, going 5 for 10 from the field.

“We brought him in here to make shots,” said Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt. “It doesn’t matter if we are shooting well or can’t make a shot, he’s still going to take shots.”

Youssou Ndoye, in his second game of the season, went 3-4 from the field with eight points and a team-high 12 rebounds.

“Youssou is the ultimate team player in my opinion,” says Schmidt. “All he cares about is winning. He didn’t get the ball a lot but his mannerisms were positive and thats what you need from a senior leader.”

For Canisius, Jeremiah Williams carried a team-high 14 points and was a monster from beyond the arc, hitting his first three and going 4-6 overall; sophomore Phil Valenti grabbed 11 boards for the Griffins.

The first two games St. Bonaventure struggled mightily from the free-throw line, shooting 65-percent as a team. 76-percent from the stripe this game has to make Schmidt happy with his young team as they needed every point they could get.

Canisius went into the half with a 30-28 lead, and Bonnies fans perhaps had that nervous feeling in their stomach.

“They made eight threes in the first half so we were happy to only be down by two,” said Schmidt.

This couldn’t be more true, as Canisius went an astounding 8-18 (44.4-percent) in the first half, but the barrage slowed down as Griffins players could hit only two in the second half. (2-7)

Against Siena, many would point to the Bonnies poor offensive execution against the 2-3 zone as the reason why they lost, and there was no doubt Canisius coach Jim Baron was going to let the Bonnies play against a man-to-man defense after the struggle they had Wednesday night.

As the offense has struggled from outside in three games this season, you would expect more teams to play 2-3 zone as the season goes on. Schmidt doubts that.

“In the Atlantic-10 teams won’t play us 2-3 zone,” says Schmidt. “When you’re better athletically than these non-conference teams that’s when they’ll play zone. I’ve been doing this for 27 years and early in the season you see the 2-3 zone.”

“We fought back and blue collared it,” said Schmidt on the victory.

The Bonnies will be at home again Tuesday night as they take on Jackson St. out of Mississippi at 7pm.