Kaputo “I’m the best I’ve ever been”

For Junior guard Nelson Kaputo, not getting lost in the hype is high on his priorities.

Because of the Bonnies’ NCAA Tournament snubs the past two seasons, the team is motivated to finally get over the hump this season, especially with the tournament-level hype surrounding the team. In fact, CBS Sports ranked the Bonnies the #1 college basketball team in New York on Wednesday.

Kaputo, a 6-foot guard from Toronto, Ontario, shared his thoughts about how the team doesn’t want to get lost in the hype.

“We’ve done a great job blocking it out,” Kaputo said. “We’re focusing on what we have to do.”

The Bonnies put up good numbers on the record sheet, finishing 20-12 on the season and 11-7 in conference play; however, Kaputo expects them to perform better this season due to a new emphasis on work ethic.

“It was a great off-season for all of us,” he said. “Individually, we all have gotten better, and personally, I think I’m the best I’ve been in my life.”

He felt the biggest improvement he made during the off-season was his strength.

“I’ve put on a lot of muscle this summer, and I think that’s going to allow me to be more effective on the court, being able to come off ball screens cleaner and taking bumps better,” he said.”My all-around game is going to improve this year.”

Kaputo said living with the team helped improve their bond.

“Most of the guys lived with one another over the summer and we’ve been around each other every single day,” he said. “The only time we’re not with each other is when we go to sleep.  Most of us live in the townhouses as well, so off that strength alone, the chemistry on the team is going to keep building throughout the season.  It’s like a brotherhood being on this team, and you’re going to see that carry onto the court when we’re out there balling and having fun with each other.”

This brotherhood the team has with each other carries over into Kaputo’s relationships with some of his fellow guards and forwards. He told me about how him, Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley have been in that position of learning from the veterans and how they taught him some things as well.

He is glad that, as a junior this season, he is able to follow in the footsteps as a mentor for some of the younger guys.

“As upperclassmen on this team, that’s the position that Matt, Jaylen and I are in with the younger guys,” Kaputo said.  “We are able to teach them how to understand the system and how to compete at this level, just like the veteran guys, who were in our shoes at one point before, taught us. We understood what it took to be good before and what it takes for us to get where we want to be.”

Kaputo shows a lot of praise for the system Coach Schmidt imparts to his players, but he went over with me how the team could have done better with the system.

“Our struggle last year was figuring out how to play with each other within the system, not the system itself,” said Kaputo.  “I love the system. It’s just a matter of getting to know the guys better and know how we play.  Having a lot of returners from last year should help us with that. Coming into this year, everyone knows their role, and everyone is ready to play.”

While Kaputo shows his admiration for the system, he also shows it towards his head coach.  He told me that Mark Schmidt is a great guy and coach, who is adept to the “open door policy” with his players, knows how to “install the winning mentality into his players” so they win games and gets him playing his best.

“He’s put me in a position to be successful time and time again,” he said.  “There have been times in my career where I haven’t followed through in that position, but he tells me what I need to do to get back on the court. As a player, you want a coach that brings out the best in you, and that’s what he does.”

According to Kaputo, it sounds like Coach Mark Schmidt has command of the locker room and the support of his players to be able to lead his team to new heights this season.

“The whole team has that same picture in mind: the NCAA Tournament, and we’ve been working like it,” said Kaputo.  “I think you guys are in for quite a season.”

 

 

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Coach Fleming and crew take on rival Niagara in first test

By Isaiah Blakely

St. Bonaventure women’s basketball opens the season by playing host against Niagara University as the Bonnies look to bounce back from its 9-20 campaign last year.

Niagara, coached by Jada Pierce, finished 8-22 last season. In the last meeting however, Niagara came out victorious at home 65-43 for the first time since 2006 leaving Bonaventure with a 36-24 series lead.

Second-year coach Jesse Fleming has four new players along with five returners lead by Atlantic 10 preseason All-Conference second team selection Mariah Ruff. Ruff averaged 13.9 points, 4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game last season.

Also headlining the offense is fellow captain Mckenna Maycock, who only started six games last season but was second on the team in minutes. Maycock averaged 7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

Sophomore point guard Jalisha Terry will look for a larger impact this season after she led Bonaventure with 18 points in their scrimmage against Edinboro. Terry averaged 7.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2 assists last season.

Junior college transfer forwards Arielle Harvey and Bree Paulson are about to play their first official game for Bonaventure, while freshman Emily Calabrese looks to get action immediately after starting against Edinboro in an exhibition last Saturday.

With these new players Fleming mentioned the need “to speed up the chemistry curve.” “He was hoping that in the non-conference to have some games that really test us.” Fleming also wanted to “have games that we have a chance to win and we can just grow and learn”.

“These games are a learning experience,” Fleming said. “We need to use these so we’re hitting on all cylinders once A-10 play starts”.

Niagara is the first test and the Purple Eagles are returning three of their top scorers and nine players overall from last season led by redshirt-senior forward Victoria Rampado who lead the MAAC conference in points and was fourth in rebounds averaged 16.8 points and 7.9 rebounds. Rampado finished All-MAAC Second Team last season. Rampado lead the Purple Eagles to the victory over Bonaventure last season scoring 17 points. The 2017 MAAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll ranked the Purple Eagles to finish ninth in the conference.

St. Bonaventure was selected 12th in the Atlantic 10 preseason coaches poll.

St. Bonaventure is 25-4 against Niagara at home and will look to keep up that impressive record on Friday, at 5 p.m. at Reilly Center.

Frustration fuels Bonnies Loss

By Michael Hogan @Mike_Hogan42

The Bonnies found themselves in another nail biter early against Hartwick, until two late goals by the Hawks sunk them in a 3-1 defeat Saturday evening at Marra Athletics complex.

The Hawks were the first to draw blood as senior, Mark Berry, found the back of the net in the 17th minute off of a beautiful assist by teammate Harry Morton.

The Bonnies had a frustrating first half on the offensive side, as they squandered chances to score. One of those chances came in the 28th minute when an offside call neglected Nicola Bonso’s potential equalizer.

Continue reading “Frustration fuels Bonnies Loss”

Big-men lead Bonnies to victory over Bulls

By Jeff Fasoldt, @Jeff_Fasoldt

The St. Bonaventure University Bonnies defeated the University at Buffalo Bulls 72-63 to clean sweep the “Big 4” for the first time since the 2011-2012 season with wins over Canisius, Niagara and Buffalo.

Content with running the court and feeding the ball to their big men inside the Bonnies dominated the paint, outscoring the Bulls 42-28.

Youssou Ndoye led the Bonnies in rebounding with 13 and scored 17 inside while and Dion Wright led Bonaventure in scoring with 19 and grabbed eight boards for himself.

“Ndoye is definitely a big presence,” said Shannon Evans, Buffalo’s leading scorer (21). He made some big shots early and got them going tonight.”

In the first half an impressive defensive effort by the brown and white held the Bulls to just 22 percent shooting and just 18 points.

Justin Moss, who coming into this matchup was the only player in the MAC Conference that is top-five in rebounding (9.2 per game) and scoring (17.6) had a team-high 14 rebounds but was held to just eight points.

The Bulls, who trailed the entire game, made a run in the second half off some three-pointers from Shannon Evans and Will Regan to cut the Bonnies lead to seven, but ultimately fell short as the Bonnies defense was just too much for them to handle.

Continue reading “Big-men lead Bonnies to victory over Bulls”

Men’s basketball: UB preview

By Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt

This Wednesday night matchup of western New York teams has the makings of a good one.

The University at Buffalo Bulls and the St. Bonaventure University Bonnies both come into the game with record of 4-1. The Bonnies dropped one at home to Siena and the Bulls only loss so far was to top-ranked Kentucky at Rupp Arena.

The Bonnies are coming off their best offensive performance against Niagara, and Youssou Ndoye had the game of his life with 23 points (More than he had in his first three games combined), 10 rebounds and five blocks.

Here’s what to look for tomorrow:

The coaches: 

St. Bonaventure: Mark Schmidt. 111-110 as the Bonnies head coach.

Buffalo: Bobby Hurley. 23-11 as the Bulls head coach.

Key players for Buffalo:

Justin Moss– 6-7 junior forward. At 17.6 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game he is the Bulls leading scorer and rebounder. He is a forward that is primarily a threat from the paint as he has not made a three so far this season.

Shannon Evans– 6-1 sophomore guard- Evans is the second leading scorer behind moss and the leading assist man with four per game. He’s not much of a threat from deep (under 30-percent) but is active defensively with a two steals per game and will try and get in the Bonnies guards heads.

Lamonte Bearden– 6-3 freshman guard. This young man is the most dangerous player for the Bulls. Scout.com ranked him as a 4-star recruit and Rivals.com writer Eric Bossi named him one of the top-five steals of the 2014 recruiting class. So far, Bearden has played well with 11.0 points per game and and just under three assists per game.

Key players for St. Bonaventure: 

Youssou Ndoye– 7-0 senior forward. The Bonnies anchor and big man got his offensive game going last week and was content with Niagara playing a man-to-man defense against him and not the 2-3 zone that Ndoye has struggled scoring against. Against Buffalo it could be a different story as they carry some size and will defend Ndoye much better than the Purple Eagles did.

Iakeem Alston– 6-1 junior guard. The rookie transfer for the Bonnies hasn’t seen a lot of playing time so far, but came in and played very well last week as Jay Adams, the Bonnies starting PG, got in foul trouble. Alston has superior ball-handling skills and is averaging 2.3 assists in about 12 minutes per game. He struggled to finish at the rim in his first few games but hit a nice jump shot against Niagara, which will boost his confidence. Look for Schmidt to go to Alston early tomorrow.

Andell Cumberbatch– 6-5 senior guard. Cumberbatch is a another player on the rise for the Bonnies. He’s been playing 33 minutes per game, second only to Dion Wright with 37 and he’s averaging 14 points per game. He’s a true wing player that can rise up and rebound the ball (7.0 per game) and if he can get his stroke going from beyond the arc he could help the Bonnies a lot.

Key to victory for Bonnies:

Ndoye will be heavily guarded by the Buffalo forwards in this one. They are bigger up front and will force other players to make plays. Marcus Posley struggled last game but will have to make shots in this game if the Bonnies want to win against a tough UB squad.

Key to victory for Buffalo: 

Stop Ndoye. He made Niagara look silly in the Bonnies rout this past weekend and perhaps smells blood coming into this game. Don’t be surprised if Hurley turns to a 2-3 zone to try and slow down the Boniness big men after their huge game against Niagara’s weak man-to-man defense.

Score prediction: 70-60 UB Bulls.