Hatred of losing drives Ayeni

By Justin Myers

For sophomore Josh Ayeni, being a better player for his team and himself was a major point of emphasis going into the season.

“(I’m focused on) just being the best player that I can be and doing my best for the team, so we can win games,” Ayeni said.

The 6-foot-8 forward is looking to build off his strong freshman campaign where he earned 24 starts and played in all 32 games. He finished sixth on the team in scoring with 6.7 points per game and averaged 2.6 rebounds.

He also scored in double figures 10 times, the most by a Bonaventure freshman in Atlantic-10 play since Andrew Nicholson’s 21 times in 2008-09.

During the off-season Ayeni worked on many things to improve his game.

“I worked on my three-point shot, consistency and just being a better rebounder” he said.

As a freshman, Ayeni worked hard to adjust to the fast pace of Division I basketball.

“I think it’s the pace of going up and down the court,” Ayeni said. “High school ball is slower and college ball is faster and more technical”.

However, one thing Ayeni didn’t have to adjust was his passion.

“I hate to lose,” he said. “I feel like that drives me to play harder every time and try to win”.

Ayeni, a native of Nigeria, grew up in a different environment compared to the United States.

“Obviously the weather is hotter than Olean,” he said. “In Nigeria, when you’re learning to play basketball they only teach big guys how to play basketball. You have to be really tall to play basketball. But in (the United States) you see little kids of all sizes learning to play.”

Ayeni came to the United States in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since.

“There’s some great people here,” Ayeni said. “it’s a great place to be.”

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Bonnies Win Big Against Maryland Eastern Shore

By Sean Lynch

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies (2-1) won in dominant fashion against the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks (1-3) 96-48 in the Reilly Center behind a powerful push from the underclassmen on the bench and strong performances from the starting five.

At the first media timeout, the Bonnies and Hawks were tied 9-9. After the break, the Bonnies pulled away with a 22-5 run to close out the first half of the game. Bonaventure went into halftime with a 49-27 lead with Nelson Kaputo and Matt Mobley leading the charge for the Bonnies with 15 points each in the first half.

Freshman Tshiefu Ngalakulondi finished with a game high 21 points and shot 8-11 from the field with 4-6 coming from three-point range. The Bonnies were extremely effective from three-point range, shooting 58.3% for the game. Ngalakulondi also had three steals and a block.

Another Freshman, Izaiah Brockington had a career performance off the bench with 18 points and 5 assists.

Bonnies Head coach Mark Schmidt explained the importance of the performances of Ngalakulondi and Izaiah Brockington off the bench.

“This is the type of game especially in the second half where you can put them in there and they can gain some confidence, and this will go a long way in their development,” Schmidt said.

Ngalakulondi talked about his confidence moving forward after this game.

“It definitely boosted my confidence,” Ngalakulondi said. “Just go out there and play as hard as we can because I’m just waiting for my name to be called.”

Ngalakulondi also shared the bond he has with his teammate and fellow freshman Izaiah Brockington.

“It was a lot of fun playing with him out there,” he said. “He’s my roommate as well so we have that bond, so it’s fun playing with him out there.”

The Bonnies forced 16 steals with 5 coming from Nelson Kaputo, 4 from Brockington and 3 each from Ndene Guyene and Matt Mobley

“We played really hard,” Schmidt said. “When you have those deflections and us running around the way we did, you get a lot of stuff off our defense.”

Schmidt looked forward to the next step in the Emerald Coast Classic and the challenges that face the team.

“You wish everyone was healthy. You wish everyone was 100%, but that’s just not how it is,” said Schmidt. “We got our work cut out for us, but we’re going to go down there and see how good we are.”

The Bonnies will take on Maryland next on Nov. 24 at 9:30 p.m. EST as a part of the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, Florida.

 

Five Takeaways From St. Bonaventure Vs. Alfred University

It may not have counted to their record, but the St. Bonaventure Bonnies dazzled, rolling over the Alfred University Saxons, 109-73 in an exhibition game Saturday night, at the Reilly Center.

Here are five things we can take away from the scrimmage.

1. Injuries may, as they usually do, play a factor

Senior star guard Jaylen Adams went down in the first half after appearing to roll his ankle while driving to the rim, wincing and screaming out in pain before limping off the court. He did not play the rest of the game for “precautionary” reasons. Despite how good the Bonnies may look on paper, there is no doubt that they’ll have to deal with injuries as the season unfolds, as will every team in the A-10. Limiting the extent of these injuries and dealing with the adversity they come with will be a big factor for the Bonnies to succeed this season.

2. Courtney Stockard can be a force off the bench 

Junior forward Courtney Stockard came in midway through the first half and looked comfortable despite a 32-month layoff, missing each of the last two seasons due to a foot injury. He had 20 points in 20 minutes, shooting 6-7 from the field including two three-pointers, and 6-7 from the free throw line. If he can log quality minutes off the bench and give the guards time to rest down the stretch, the Bonnies could have one of the deepest teams in the conference.

3. Free throws, free throws, free throws

The Bonnies went 27-35 from the free throw line, which works out to 77.1%. After shooting a solid 76.9% as a team from the line last season, the Bonnies hope to maintain and possibly better that number this season. Making your free throws is essential in close games, especially in the postseason. Perhaps consistency from the line could decide whether this team lives up to the hype.

4. Big man by committee

Unlike the back-court starters, which are set in stone, it is still unclear who will see the most playing time for the Bonnies at the forward position. Junior LaDarien Griffin and sophomore Josh Ayeni started Saturday night, but neither played as much as freshman Ndene Gueye, who logged 20 minutes off the bench, despite recently coming off a shoulder injury. Griffin and Ayeni each saw 17 minutes. Sophomore Amadi Ikpeze should see some playing time due to his 6-10, 250 frame. He saw 12 minutes coming off the bench. It may take a few weeks to find out who will be the starters going forward, but the Bonnies have a few options to consider, a contrast to years past.

5. Athleticism can play a huge factor.

In Alfred University’s defense, they are just a Division 3 school, but St. Bonaventure completely dominated the physical game. The Bonnies Out rebounded the Saxons 44-32, and more than doubled their points in the paint by a whopping 46-18. It will be much more difficult against Division 1 athletes, but showing signs of physicality early is a good sign for the Bonnies.

St. Bonaventure opens up its regular season Friday night at home with a 7:00 p.m. tilt vs. Niagara University.

 

Men’s basketball: Bonnies to play “secret” scrimmage at Kent St. on Saturday

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

When the St. Bonaventure Bonnies take the floor for their first piece of game action tomorrow afternoon against Kent State, there will be no fans cheering from the stands or watching from home. In fact, you won’t even be able to find a box score at the contest’s conclusion.

The matchup is one of the 197 secret scrimmages taking place in college basketball in anticipation of the season. The scrimmages are conducted in private, with only players, team officials and referees in the gym. No official score is kept, though some information is leaked through insiders like ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bonnies to play “secret” scrimmage at Kent St. on Saturday”

Column: Posley has added pressure, but can answer the call

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Don’t cancel your season tickets, Bona faithful. That plan you have to come down for the opening night doubleheader? Stick to it.

Because even though transfer guard/forward Courtney Stockard is out indefinitely with a broken foot, St. Bonaventure has starting guard Marcus Posley to right the ship.

You remember how Posley gets when he’s on fire, right? Twelve points in the final two and a half minutes of regulation against Duquesne; buzzer beaters at Davidson and against VCU; an Atlantic 10 All-Conference third team selection despite some brutal shooting performances after the upset over the Rams.

Continue reading “Column: Posley has added pressure, but can answer the call”

Kenney connects with students in town hall meeting

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

After months of online vitriol from students, alumni and campus newspaper writers over the installation of courtside seats in front of the Reilly Center student section, St. Bonaventure Director of Athletics Tim Kenney finally got his chance to meet with students in person on Tuesday night.

Kenney led a town hall-style meeting in the student section of the arena that was attended by about 30 students. After rewarding the crowd with some Domino’s pizza as promised, he got down to business and discussed the most hotly-contested topic of his five-month tenure.

When Kenney attended the Atlantic 10’s June meetings with fellow athletic directors, conference leaders made it clear that controlling the court surface would be a point of emphasis going forward. Storming the court, which Bona’s student section did three times the past two seasons, was a main point of discussion.

Kenney, who was at UMass before coming to Bonaventure in April, made it clear that the Minutemen had no problem with the court storming after Bona’s upset in January 2014. “It was basically like ‘alright, you kicked our butts, you deserve to do it’,” Kenney said.

However, the court storming against VCU in February contributed to the start of the conversation, according to Kenney. The Rams were jostled around as they attempted to leave the court, which is precisely what the Atlantic 10 is trying to avoid in the future.

Kenney protested against the A-10’s original solution, which was going to be a $5,000 fine to schools for storming the court. “We already have money problems as it is,” he said.

The conference responded that if schools had issues with a possible fine, the athletic departments would have to come up with a solution to ensure the safety of all players, coaches and spectators.

Bona got to work, brainstorming ideas and thinking of what was best for everyone involved. A barrier was suggested, which Kenney wasn’t a fan of. “I didn’t want you guys (the students) to look like caged animals,” he explained.

Instead, SBU went with the courtside seats idea. Lost in the outrage the move created was how efficient Kenney and his team were at selling those seats- all 48 were accounted for in just a few weeks’ time.

The rapid sale of the seats allowed Bonaventure to talk with the people who purchased them. “They know all about the Wolfpack and what they’re getting into,” Kenney said.

Donors made it clear that they wanted the Reilly Center’s home court advantage to continue to be one of the best in the country. That’s where the students come in; at least 14 of the 24 chairs being placed in front of the student section will be donated to the students.

The athletic department is not sure how those student seats will be allocated yet, so they sought ideas at the town hall meeting. The most notable suggestion was a raffle- students would put in a dollar or two for a chance to sit courtside. It was an ironic 180-degree turn in the whole ordeal and a sign of true compromise- now, the student body was not only starting to come around on the seats, its members were coming up with ideas to raise money for the school.

The seats weren’t the only area in which Kenney sought input from the students; he also wanted to know how to improve the game experience. A few of those present remarked that they liked t-shirts, so a whiteout like the one in the 2012-13 season was brought up. Kenney took it a step further by saying that the department was thinking about giving out a new shirt for every game. If you’re scoring at home, that would be nine different Wolfpack shirts this season.

These ideas are all centered around the students, with the main goal being to keep the students who are at every game and luring in the students who don’t regularly attend.

“I’m about the students first because you guys are the breath of life to the games,” Kenney said. “The students are the heartbeat of college basketball, and the players and coaches agree.”

Just how successful was the meeting? After Kenney asked if his explanation helped students understand the reasons behind the changes and what the department was trying to accomplish, one student mumbled under her breath, “Yeah, I don’t hate you anymore.”

Men’s basketball: What we know about TBA non-conference schedule

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Tom Petty said it best when he sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.” Any follower of St. Bonaventure basketball who was expecting the men’s non-conference schedule to be released last month can relate to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

August is coming to a close, school is about to be in session and there has still yet to be a press release announcing the first half of the Bonnies’ schedule. Athletic director Tim Kenney said on July 23 that Bona had one more game to secure, so the athletic department may have hit a snag in finding that final opponent.

The schedule may be incomplete, but we can piece most of it together through official announcements by other schools and traditional matchups that are expected to continue.

Here’s what we know about the schedule so far:

The annual exhibition against Mansfield is back on this year, with the Mountaineers’ 2015-16 schedule slating the game for Saturday, Nov. 7. The time has not been announced, but fans can expect a 4 p.m. start, the second part of a doubleheader with the women’s team, which plays Edinboro at 1:30 p.m.

As we reported last month, the men’s and women’s teams will officially open the season on Nov. 13 with a doubleheader at the Reilly Center. The women will play their first game of the preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) at 5:30 p.m. against the Siena Saints, followed by the men’s team facing Binghamton at 8 p.m. The doubleheader has been confirmed by the Bona women’s schedule and the Binghamton men’s schedule.

CBS Sports reported in May that Bonaventure will head to Syracuse on Nov. 17 to face the Orange at the Carrier Dome. Neither school has officially announced the matchup yet, but Syracuse.com’s article with Bonaventure forward and Syracuse native Denzel Gregg confirms it’s a done deal. Orange coach Jim Boeheim will be on the sidelines for the matchup, as his nine-game suspension handed down by the NCAA only applies to ACC contests.

After the Syracuse game, the Bonnies will return home to play Loyola Maryland on Nov. 21, according to Loyola’s official schedule. Bona has never played the Greyhounds, who compete in the Patriot League.

The annual Bonaventure-Canisius rivalry game is slated for Nov. 24 at Koessler Athletic Center in Buffalo, according to Canisius’s schedule. The Bonnies lost by three the last time they traveled to Canisius, but they’ve defeated the Golden Griffins the past two seasons.

The Hofstra Pride announced that they will come to Bona on Nov. 28, which is the Saturday of Thanksgiving break. The game will be the first meeting between the two teams since 1992, but Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich is very familiar with the Reilly Center confines after 15 seasons at Niagara. Mihalich went 8-6 against SBU while he was the head coach of the Purple Eagles.

The America East powerhouse Vermont Catamounts, who have made seven straight postseason appearances dating back to 2009, announced last month that they will visit the Reilly Center on Dec. 8. The Catamounts are another first-time team on Bonaventure’s schedule.

The fourth school that is confirmed to be making their first trip to the southern tier is South Carolina State, who the Bonnies will host on Dec. 19. The Bulldogs and Bonnies have one thing in common: their respective schools have been going through significant financial turmoil. South Carolina State, South Carolina’s only HBCU (historically black college/university), declared financial exigency in June. Exigency is the academic equivalent of bankruptcy, and while the school avoided a forced closure, it is on probation. Bona may be one of the last opponents SCSU ever faces.

The traditional Franciscan Cup matchup between Bonaventure and Siena will be held on Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. in Albany, N.Y., as Siena announced last month. The Saints have defeated the Bonnies the past two seasons.

That leaves three non-conference games that are not yet official. Unless some unforeseen discrepancy occurs, Big Four rivals Buffalo and Niagara will fill two of those slots. The Bonnies have faced UB each of the last five seasons and battled Niagara each of the last 12.

One of the reasons we don’t know the dates for these two games is that until a couple weeks ago, Bonaventure, UB, Niagara and Canisius were trying to negotiate another Big 4 Classic at the First Niagara Center. After last year’s doubleheader, which drew 7,191 fans, coach Mark Schmidt expressed interest in making it an annual event. “This could be an annual thing that could be good for Western New York,” Schmidt said.

The schools could not come to an agreement for a 2015 event, however. An event like the Big 4 Classic is a great way to showcase the Buffalo-area schools, but giving up a home game to play at a neutral site was something the programs were ultimately reluctant to do. Bona will still be playing Buffalo and Niagara, but they will be doing so on the road and at home, respectively.

Only one game is truly up in the air at this point. The mystery opponent is anyone’s guess, but Ohio is a possibility. The Bobcats haven’t released their non-conference schedule either, and they have played the Bonnies four times in the last nine seasons. Bona won last year’s matchup on the road, 80-70.

Bonaventure’s non-conference schedule isn’t official yet, but the majority of the games are. Besides the mystery opponent, we know who the team will play in November and December.

Here’s the list view:

Friday Nov. 13 v.s. Binghamton
Tuesday Nov. 17 at Syracuse
Saturday Nov. 21 v.s. Loyola MD
Tuesday Nov. 24 at Canisius
Saturday Nov. 28 v.s. Hofstra
Tuesday Dec. 8 v.s. Vermont
Saturday Dec. 19 v.s. South Carolina State
Tuesday Dec. 22 at Siena

TBA: at Buffalo, v.s. Niagara

One unknown opponent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atlantic 10 comments on Bona seating change

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The Atlantic 10 has weighed in on the new courtside seats St. Bonaventure is putting in the Reilly Center.

The controversy over putting seats in front of the Bona student section died down after athletic director Tim Kenney explained the move’s safety implications, but there was still some confusion over the conference’s silence in the matter.

When reached for comment this week, A-10 Assistant Commissioner Drew Dickerson said the decision was St. Bonaventure’s and was not forced by the conference.

“The conference discusses student-athlete, staff and fan safety/sportsmanship annually at every business meeting; this includes in-arena and on-campus field facilities,” Dickerson said. “Each member institution decides how best to manage their own facilities with respect to seating, safety and security.

“SBU’s new in-arena seating plan should not be confused with the conference’s commitment to safety (and) sportsmanship as this not a new topic, and it will continue to be an important discussion for the conference.”

Dickerson’s comments make it clear that there was no order that SBU add these seats. Rather, Bona felt this was the best way to manage the Reilly Center with respect to “seating, safety and security.” For Kenney and his staff, it was a peaceful resolution to avoid discipline down the road, as the conference seems to have been patient with the “Reilly Rowdies” for quite some time.