Baseball: Bonnies Draw Familiar Foe in A-10 Tournament

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(Aaron Phillips, photo credit Olean Times Herald)

By Josh Svetz @Svetz17

After the St. Bonaventure Bonnies secured the third seed last Friday against Fordham, fans waited anxiously to see who the Bonnies would face in the opening round of the A-10 Tournament.

Before the Saturday games started, it looked certain the Bonnies would take on the surging Saint Joseph’s Hawks for the first time this season.

But a strange wave of events commenced.

The Hawks, who had previously dominated George Washington two games straight, lost it’s regular season finale to the Colonials in a blow out. Then, after being blown out twice by St. Louis, George Mason put together a last-ditch effort and won the final game against the Billikens securing the final spot in the tournament.

St. Louis moved down to the five spot, pushing George Washington up to the fourth and Davidson rested in the sixth spot.

The Hawks were out, and the Bonnies now had a date with one of the toughest teams they’ve faced in conference this season, the Davidson Wildcats.

Back in March, the Bonnies were a sub-par club looking for answers. Out of conference they sat at 5-5, but had a little momentum going with two straight wins over North Dakota State, winning both games despite being shut out in the series opener.

Opening conference play against the Wildcats in North Carolina, the Bonnies stayed neck and neck, tied at one, through four innings.

Then, the inflammation in starting pitcher Brandon Schlimm’s throwing arm acted up. Schlimm gave up three runs and the Bonnies were down 4-1.

Hope shined through when the Bonnies got a man on base, but the sunshine vanished quickly.

A rain delay forced the game to be finished the next day and the Bonnies couldn’t recover, losing 9-2. Just an hour after that loss, the Bonnies had to go out and play again, losing by the same score.

But the next day, in the final game of the series, the Bonnies dominated the Wildcats 17-4, led by a six hit, eight RBI domination by David Hollins. The Bonnies also got a great performance from starting pitcher Aaron Phillips, giving up three-earned runs, five hits and tossing seven strikeouts.

That loss sent the Wildcats into a tailspin, dropping the next five games.

With Phillips likely to start and the Bonnies not dealing with rain delays, pitcher injuries or home field advantage, it’s more likely the team that beat the Wildcats last time will show up, rather than the shell that got beat down twice in a row in a span of three hours.

Still — winning is far from guaranteed.

The Wildcats feature top conference players like Will Robertson and Brian Fortier, two bombers ranking top 30 in the NCAA for home runs.

In fact, the Wildcats rank 20th in the NCAA, averaging 1.26 home runs per game.

But the biggest factor may be ace pitcher Durin O’Linger, who’s compiled a 1.33 ERA through the months of April and May in seven starts.

Despite the offense on both sides, a pitching duel looks evident with two studs like Phillips and O’Linger likely slinging for their teams.

The number one key to victory is Phillips keeping the Wildcat bombers at bay, something he should be able to do giving up just six home runs this season.

As much success as the Bonnies have had recently, there’s two teams that have come to play this season.

This afternoon we find out if the Bonnies are the back-to-back losers Davidson saw in the first two games, or the dominant winners that closed out the Wildcats in the final game of the series.

Taqqee will provide value for #Bonnies

By Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt

A lot of the students that decided to attend St. Bonaventure University come from Western and Central New York, and because of this many were wearing the Syracuse orange and blue before they put on the Bonnies brown and white.

And, because Syracuse basketball is so popular in the area many of us have heard all the hype surrounding the Orange’s new point-guard, Kaleb Joseph. But, his high school teammate, Idris Taqqee, a 6’4, 190-pound freshman for the Bonnies, could be a steal for Bonnies head coach, Mark Schmidt.

Both Joseph and Taqqee attended Cushing Academy in Ashburnam, Mass., and were roommates.

“We played together since we were freshman in high school,” says Taqqee. “He’s very good, and a great player to play with.”

Taqqee is listed as a guard and could probably pass for a small-foward, but we’ve already seen his versatility in the Bonnies exhibition win vs. Mansfield and their home opener win vs. Dartmouth.

In the exhibition, Taqqee proved that he could stroke it from beyond arc with a solid 2-4 from deep performance. He also snagged three rebounds, had three steals, dished out two assists and scored eight points in a solid 18 minutes of action. In the home opener Taqqee saw 12 minutes of action, scored two points, had two offensive rebounds and garnered one steal.

“I’m definitely going to take the shot if it’s open. We try and play fast-pace so you have to take good shots and if we need a three I’m comfortable taking it,” says Taqqee.

After losing senior guard Matthew Wright at the end of last season to graduation, the Bonnies are in desperate need of a three-point shooter. Taqqee will provide value with his size, vertical and impressive defense, but if he can hit a couple three’s down the stretch that will be huge for Mark Schmidt’s young team.

While at Cushing Academy, Taqqee won back-to-back class AA state championships, and averaged 15.8 points-per-game and 7.8 rebounds-per-game. He was named a “Late-Stock Riser” by the New England recruiting report.

Nonetheless, the transition from high school to college is almost always tough for some of these young athletes, and Taqqee has had to adjust accordingly.

“It definitely hit me in the summer when we got in the gym for lifting,” says Taqqee. “It was so fast-paced.”

Lately, Schmidt has been blessed with flush of talent that the people of Allegany, Olean, Bonaventure, and surrounding towns have not seen in awhile.

Taqqee saw St. Bonaventure as the perfect opportunity.

“My decision to come her really was because of the coaches,” says Taqqee, who chose Bonaventure over Towson and Vermont. “And, the opportunity to be in a small-school setting in the classroom.”

As the weather gets cold, Bonnies fans hope Taqqee and the rest of the team stay hot. They are 1-0 and take on Siena, tomorrow night at 7 pm.

 

 

 

 

Rick Trietley embraces new position

By Joe Pinter, @JPinter93

Many times, Larry Sudbrook said, Rick Trietley has stopped by practice to see how the team was doing. Or walk down to Sudbrook, the baseball coach’s, office to chat about everything that was going on.

“Rick was always somebody that cut through the Reilly Center and its offices upstairs,” Sudbrook said. “He’s got an athletic background. He likes athletics. He has the army background of competition and working out, and being in shape was something that always led Rick to certainly being seen and being present in the building.”

The athletic coaches better get used to seeing a lot more of Trietley.

Since being named vice president of Student Affairs at St. Bonaventure University, Trietley has added the athletic department to his Student Affairs division which also includes: the Damietta Center, Career and Professional Readiness Center (CPRC), Center for Activities, Recreation and Leadership (CARL), Residential Living and Conduct, Safety & Security and the Wellness Center.

He has taken the time to meet with every coach and athletic staff member. He said getting to know the issues the individuals face is essential to his new position.

“Taking over the responsibility for athletics is just a huge thing,” Trietley said. “Our athletics department is very large. And really when you look at NCAA DI athletics, it’s a very large operation. And until I have a few months under my belt of overseeing athletics and learning about our athletics program at an in-depth level, (his position) is going to remain real busy.”

One decision that Trietley was a part of shortly after beginning his new position was what to do with the two vacant Sports Information Director posts. Once Jason MacBain and Matt Moretti left for Florida Gulf Coast, the decision was made to bring in a new senior associate director of athletics for external communications who will oversee all of the fundraising and communications in the department.

Steve Mest, the current associate athletics director for external relations, will also become the new associate director of communications, overseeing the sports information department. The full reorganization also includes a few graduate students and interns that will assist Mest and the yet-to-be-hired new assistant AD.

Pertaining to the student-athletes, Trietley said the department is continuing to focus on drug and alcohol issues, and this year started a program called Alcohol EDU.

“We’re pretty excited about this program because what this program does is it’s an online program that every one of our incoming freshmen had to complete prior to coming on campus,” Trietley said. “And Alcohol EDU is proven scientifically by studies the national government has done to work. So we’re very happy that out students now have that training, are able to look hard at the results of the surveys of that training and now program at that level to help our students avoid binge drinking.”

For part two of the program that tries to shed the “Bonaventure is a party school” phrase, students fill out another survey five or six weeks after coming to campus to see if their habits have changed.

Trietley also spoke of how the school has recently changed its student health care provider, switching from Dr. Shake’s office in Olean, N.Y. to Champion Corporation, which is based in Coudersport, Pa. He said the new provider has been a “big hit” so far on campus.

Trietley’s role in strategic planning has helped himself improve at making adjustments for the students, he said.

He reviews most of the judicial cases at Bonaventure and helps Vito Czyz, director of Safety & Security, provide the safest environment for the students.

Trietley said without the great individual directors in the Student Affairs division, his job would be much more difficult.

And Steve Kuchera, the former associate director of CARL, had his work at Bonaventure thought highly enough of to get a promotion and move down to work at a school in Virginia. After he left, Abby Cohen, former associate director of First Year Experience, interviewed and received the associate director of CARL position. Chris Brown, former coordinator for housing and residential education, was then named the new associate director of First Year Experience.

All the reshuffling of the decks has left an opening at the top of the Residential Living and Education office.

“What we’re doing at this time is totally revamping the job description,” Trietley said. “We wanted to take our time and rework the job description then start the recruitment process. Our goal is to hire a person for the start of the spring semester. In the meantime we’re taking the two RDs and giving them interim additional responsibilities, but we definitely intend to fill that position.”

When he’s not revamping titles and reorganizing departments, Trietley is extremely friendly and personable, Sudbrook said.

“Everybody likes a chance to hear their boss’ thoughts and for their boss to hear their thoughts; whether you agree or whether he agrees,” Sudbrook said. “When you hear each other’s thoughts you know where you’re coming from. This is my 29th year at SBU and it’s the first time anybody at that level has come and spoke to each coach individually to hear them out. It was certainly something that got everybody off on good footing.”

Potential plans for renovations of Robinson and Falconio halls are currently being discussed, Trietley said. A renovation that could pay major dividends.

“As a college prospect is looking at schools, though it’s not going to be at the top of their list, certainly where they live is going to be important,” he said. “We’re thinking renovation to Rob-Fal could make a major difference.”

The Richter Center has no renovations on tap after receiving nearly all new workout machines this past summer. Trietley said Bonaventure is the only school in the nation with the high-tech equipment. The machines have been replaced every three years.

Trietley will, however, not become complacent with any aspect of his division.

“We spend our summers constantly reviewing what we’re doing, how we’re doing and in what ways can we do better,” he said. “While there may not be major changes in each department, each year you are going to see changes. We’re just trying to offer a better service and program with the student body.”

pinterjo11@bonaventure.edu