Ikpeze looking for continued improvement in year three

By: Teddy Caputo

With Jaylen Adams, Matt Mobley and Idris Taqee no longer on the team this season, the Bonnies are looking for the next player(s) to step up as a leader and be a dynamic scoring options for them.  One guy who is more than ready for that challenge is Amadi Ikpeze.

Ikpeze has been a solid contributor for the Bonnies in the paint over the past two seasons.  During his freshman year, he played in 24 games, averaging 2.3 points per game, 1.9 rebounds per game and 9.2 minutes per game.  In his sophomore season, he played in 34 games and averaged 4.5 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game and 14.1 minutes per game. Ikpeze talked about what he did to improve his game last season.

“I improved mainly by knowing my spots on the court,” said Ikpeze.  “I’ve become more confident and efficient scoring wise, and I’ve continued to learn the system, both offense and defense, to become a better player.”

Ikpeze talked about how he can carry his improvement from last year into this upcoming season.

“I can definitely look back at it by watching tape and seeing what I do good on the court vs. what I do bad on the court and going from there,” said Ikpeze. “Starting the last 14 games of the season definitely gave me a lot of confidence leading into this season.”

The Bonnies finished last year with a 26-8 regular season record, going 14-4 in conference play and having their first NCAA tournament win since 1970.  Their stellar season has many fans expecting them to keep up the performance this year. Ikpeze, however, isn’t worried, saying, “I don’t see any pressure from last year’s season because it is a new season.  We’re 0-0.  We had a great season last year and we did great things like making the tournament and winning the play-in game against UCLA, but we’re focused on being 1-0 at the beginning of November.”

Ikpeze’s confidence going into this season is nothing but a good thing for a new-look Bonnies who have five new players that will need some guidance from the veterans on the team. Ikpeze spoke about his role on the team as a leader and a veteran player alongside seniors Courtney Stockard, Nelson Kaputo and LaDarien Griffin.

“Being the main voices in the locker room, we definitely have to lead by example and make sure we are giving it 100% in practice every day,” said Ikpeze.  “That’s really where they are going to pay the most attention to when looking for what to do right and wrong.”

One new player who may look to Ikpeze for guidance is freshman center Osun Osunniyi.  “You can’t teach height.  That’s what I’ve been told a lot in my life,” said Ikpeze.  “With Osun alongside me this year, we’re taller and will be more of a contribution to our team and a threat to others.”

A game Ikpeze is most looking forward to on the Bonnies’ schedule is against the University of Buffalo in the Reilly Center mainly because Buffalo is his hometown. Ikpeze added, “I’m excited for every game to show people how much better I’ve gotten and show them what I can do on the court.”

Ikpeze will continue to try and show the country how much better he has gotten over the offseason in their next game against Georgia State University in the Cayman Islands Classic on November 19.

 

 

 

 

Picture Courtesy: GoBonnies

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Bonnies defense dominates to get their first win of the season

By: Justin Myers

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies bounce back after losing their season opener to the Bucknell Bison Wednesday night to defeat the Jackson State Tigers 67-36.

Bonnies junior guard Jalen Poyser led all scorers with 23 points including four three pointers. The Tigers were led by junior guard Venije Wallis with 14 points.

The Bonnies came out aggressive in the first two minutes of the game getting an early 7-0 lead on the Tigers.

Poyser got the Bonnies going early. Poyser hit two three pointers that gave the Bonnies a 14-5 lead.

The Tigers would fight back into the game as Jontrell Walker hit a three-pointer making the score 19-14. This would be the closest the Tigers would be for the rest of the game.

The Bonnies would bring the lead back to double digits as senior guard Nelson Kaputo and freshman guard Dom Welch hit back to back three pointers to make the lead 25-14.

Freshman Kyle Lofton, who led the Bonnies first half scorers with eight points, made a layup with 1:25 to go put the Bonnies up 33-18. The Bonnies would go into halftime with a 34-21 lead.

The Bonnies started the second half with an and one layup from Poyser and a layup from Lofton which would give the Bonnies a 39-25 lead. Lofton and Poyser combined for 39 points.

Both teams went stretches in the second half without scoring. The Bonnies were still up big, 46-30.

In the second half they relied more on the defensive side of the ball holding the Tigers to 17% shooting from the field and 13% from three-point range. Freshman center Osun Osunniyi was a major part of this defensive stand as he recorded six of his seven blocks in the second half.

The Bonnies held an opponent under 40 points for the first time since 1995 in a 76-32 home victory over Appalachian State on Jan. 7, 1995.

St. Bonaventure earned its first win of the season by limiting Jackson State to 15 points in the second half, pulling away after the visitors pulled within nine points.

Coach Mark Schmidt talked about what he thought about the team performance.

“I thought it was a good bounce-back game for us. We challenged them. I thought our guys really responded. Osun Osunniyi didn’t score a basket and Alpha Okoli didn’t score a basket, but they had such an impact on (the game) from a defensive standpoint,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt added, “We have to play hard. A coach a long time ago told me that the game of basketball is 10 percent X’s and O’s and 90 percent how hard you’re going to play. I thought we played really hard today. That was one of the main reasons we won.”

St. Bonaventure will travel to Niagara on Monday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m.

Bucknell comeback spoils Bonnies’ home opener

By: Isaiah Blakely 

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies lost their season opener Wednesday night 88-85 to the Bucknell Bison in the Reilly Center.

Bucknell senior guard Kimbal Mackenzie led all scorers with 28 points including four three-pointers. The Bonnies were led by freshman guard Kyle Lofton who had 18 points.

The opening minutes of this game were sloppy. Both teams combined for five turnovers in the first two and a half minutes.

Bison senior forward and Cameron County native Nate Sestina had a large support section at this game and he got the Bison going early.  Sestina hit a three pointer that sparked an 8-3 run by Bucknell giving Bucknell an early 11-6 lead.

The Bonnies bench came in and sparked a run of their own. Freshman big man Osun Osunniyi a minute into his debut blocked Sestina twice on the same possession. Four straight points by Osunniyi made it a two-point game before senior guard Nelson Kaputo scored an and-one layup. Kaputo’s free throw gave the Bonnies their first lead of the game 17-16. Kaputo ended with 10 points off the bench.

Freshman Dom Welch led the Bonnies first half scorers with eight points, and his layup with 2:58 to go put the Bonnies up 30-21. The Bonnies had five scorers in double figures including Welch who had 10 points.

Sestina who had 15 points and 16 rebounds led a 9-2 run to close the gap 32-31. Sophomore forward Tshiefu Ngalakulondi answered the Bison run with one of his two three pointers to give the Bonnies a 35-31 lead at halftime.

Bonnies started the second half fast. The Bonnies went on a 17-5 run to start the half. This run included a Kaputo three-pointer to push the lead to double digits and a junior Jalen Poyser scored two of his 13 points to put the Bonnies up 52-39 forcing Bucknell to call a timeout with 12:13 to go.

Bucknell sophomore Paul Newman kept the Bison in it by scoring nine straight points and cut the Bonnies lead to seven 55-48. Newman had 10 points off the bench.

Newman checked out and Mackenzie picked up where Newman left off. Mackenzie scores nine of the Bucknell’s next 12 points to trim Bonnies lead to 67-63.

Bonnies senior LaDarien Griffin had a big second half going back and forth with Mackenzie. Griffin hit back to back jumpers to push the Bonnies lead back up to seven with two and a half minutes to go.

Down the stretch a turnover by Lofton leads to junior Avi Toomer to score two of his nine points to tie the game at 71.

Bonnies had a chance to take the lead but Poyser turned the ball over and gave the Bison one more opportunity. Mackenzie’s jump shot rimed out as time expired and this game was going to overtime.

In the extra period Griffin got called for a foul and was injured on the play. Griffin exited the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds. This injury left the Bonnies with very few big man options because junior Amadi Ikpeze and Osunniyi fouled out with six points and eight points respectively.

After the injury junior Bruce Moore hit back to back shots scoring five of his nine points in overtime and putting the Bison up 77-74 with three minutes to go.

The teams go back and forth with scoring but after a Welch missed three-pointer, Mackenzie out of a timeout scored a layup to put the Bison up 83-78 with 19 seconds left.

The Bonnies had two chances at a tie. After a missed free throw by Bucknell Lofton gets fouled on a three pointer and his shot rimmed out. He made all three free throws. With three seconds left after Mackenzie made two free throws, Poyser got a shot up but it missed, and the Bison escaped with the win.

Coach Mark Schmidt talked about what he thought about the team performance.

“We didn’t quit. We have a young team,” said Schmidt. “We were going through some injuries during the game. But we have to get better in those situations, whether they’re freshmen or seniors. We need to be able to take that game and win it.”

Bonnies are going to try and take their next game at home Saturday against Jackson State.

 

Picture courtesy: Craig Melvin/SBU Sports Information

Griffin brings experience and versatility to young Bonnies team

By: Isaiah Blakely 

Senior LaDarien Griffin’s St. Bonaventure career started with him averaging 0.5 points per game freshmen year. Now Griffin is the reigning A-10 co-Most Improved player of the year and is looking to carry that momentum into his senior season.

Head coach Mark Schmidt had high praise for Griffin.

“He epitomizes what we try to do at Bonaventure,” said Schmidt. “He came up as a freshman didn’t get any playing time. Most guys especially in today’s environment, they leave… He knew he wasn’t ready yet and he kept on working,” said Schmidt.

Griffin described his first three years at St. Bonaventure as “amazing”. Griffin added that there were, “A lot of ups and downs. A lot of growth on and off the court. It’s just been an amazing experience.”

Griffin averaged 8.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season helping the Bonnies reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This year’s team is a much younger team and is no longer led by Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. The Bonnies are projected to finish 9th in the conference this season which is much lower than their projection last season. Griffin talked about his expectations, and that the only thing that is different is the outside noise is a little easier to handle.

“They always felt the same to me I don’t really listen to other people’s expectations. I kind of go off my own and set my own highs regardless of who’s on the court with me,” said Griffin.

Griffin is looking to help the Bonnies achieve similar success to last season.

“Try to win as many games as possible. Try to get top seed in the A-10 and try to get to the tournament again,” said Griffin. “I feel like that’s everybody’s goal regardless of veteran team or young team. That’s the goal when you come into every season, so you got to work like it,” said Griffin.

Griffin spoke about what the Bonnies have to do to give themselves a chance of reaching their goal of going back to the NCAA tournament.

“Going in with the urgency. You kind of understand what it takes to get a little bit of success and just carry it on to the rest of your life and the game. And I think the urgency is the most important thing,” said Griffin.

Griffin strives to continue to help this team and he talked about what he worked on over the summer to make himself more versatile.

“Shooting. Just trying to get stronger being more versatile. I think that’s the biggest thing probably my versatility to help this team, “said Griffin.

Schmidt talked about Griffin’s versatility.

“He’s shooting the ball better now. We can do a lot of picking and popping with him now. He’s a legitimate four man,” said Schmidt. “But we can also go small like we did last year a lot. He’s long enough to be able to guard that, and he’s stronger then he appears and now we can run some ball screen stuff with him being a five man. That’s hard to guard”

Schmidt also talked about Griffin’s personality as a leader.

“He’s got that personality that he doesn’t think he’s better than anybody. He’s humble,” said Schmidt.

The Jacksonville, Florida native spoke about what it’s been like as a senior leader.

“You can’t have a lot of mistakes,” said Griffin. “You got to try to be perfect, try to do things the right way all the time. For me it’s just being more of a leader to these young guys and show them what we have to do.”

Griffin also spoke about what he wants to be remembered for when his four years are done, and it had little to do with basketball.

“With nothing I did on the court. Probably just that I was able to help other people, bring joy to others just remember me as a person as a student instead of not just the basketball player,” said Griffin.

The senior forward begins solidifying his legacy Wednesday night against the Bucknell Bisons in the Reilly Center.

Three takeaways from the St. Bonaventure vs Alfred

By: Jeff Uveino

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team rolled over the Alfred Saxons 90-42 in an exhibition game at the Reilly Center. Here’s three takeaways from the game:

  1. The freshman class could be good. Scary good.

The Bonnies had three freshmen score in double figures. Alpha Okoli led the way with 20 points, including shooting four-of-five from three-point range. Kyle Lofton scored 15 points and Dom Welch had 12. All three showed their playmaking ability, the highlight of which came on a thunderous Welch dunk late in the second half. But perhaps the freshman who impressed me the most was 6-10 forward Osun Osunniyi. He’s long, athletic and physical, and showed that he could be a major presence around the rim. Osunniyi had two blocks and four rebounds to go along with five points.

  1. Who will be the star?

The Bonnies got contributions from up and down their roster, but there wasn’t a player that stood out. No one looked like the “star,” or the type of player who could take over a game. This year’s Bonnies are probably already getting sick of being compared to Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, but those two were able to take over games last year, a part of the identity that this year’s team will need to find. Perhaps when Courtney Stockard returns, he can be that type of player for the Bonnies, but that may not happen for another month.

  1. Fifty-point win! (against a Division III team)

Yes, the Bonnies won by 48 points. They dominated on both ends of the floor. However, the teams they’re going to be playing during the regular season are going to be of a much different caliber than Alfred. The Bonnies were a mismatch for the Saxons physically and talent-wise, and for most of the night, they ran circles around them. Amadi Ikpeze dominated around the rim early in the game but was at least three or four inches taller than anyone in an Alfred jersey. It will be interesting to see how the Bonnies perform against some real competition.

 

St. Bonaventure will open regular season play on Nov. 7 at home against Bucknell.

 

Stockard is ready for final season

By: Teddy Caputo 

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies had one of their best seasons in program history, having a 26-8 regular season record, a 14-game win streak during the regular season and an NCAA Tournament win against UCLA. Courtney Stockard is the leading returning scorer from last season and is looking to carry his momentum from last year into his senior season.

Last season, Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley made up an elite backcourt for the Bonnies. The duo was a huge part of the Bonaventure’s success last year, but they weren’t the only ones putting up stellar performances.  When Adams and Mobley struggled in some games during the season, Courtney Stockard, a 6’5 junior forward, stepped up when the Bonnies needed him.  He averaged 13.3 points and six rebounds per game in his first season playing for St. Bonaventure.  Stockard had some impressive performances, including 26 points in the tournament win against UCLA. Stockard also had a career-high 31 points in the triple-OT win against Davidson. Stockard talked about his success last season.

“When we needed somebody to step up, I thought why not anybody but me?” said Stockard. “I wanted to try to be that X-factor and next leader that would make the team more dynamic.”

This year he is in the position to step up and do it again, and he says he is ready for that challenge.

“I want to pick up where I left off last year and stay aggressive throughout the season,” said Stockard.

Stockard is one of three seniors this season alongside fellow teammates Nelson Kaputo and LaDarien Griffin. Stockard talked about their leadership obligations as seniors.

“Since we’re the veteran guys, we want to show the new guys on the team how it’s done and what we did to get to the point we were at last year,” said Stockard.

The Bonnies have five new players who are trying to acclimated to St. Bonaventure.

“With this offseason, there’s been a lot of individual work,” said Stockard.  “With us having a lot of new guys, we have to get them up to par, get them used to Schmidt’s system and used to the college game.”

One of the new Bonnies this season is transfer Jalen Poyser. Poyser is a transfer from UNLV. The junior transfer from Malton, Ontario scored 10.4 points and two assists per game in his sophomore season for the Rebels. Poyser is a guy who Stockard thinks can be productive on the perimeter.

“He’s a pretty explosive player, and I think that’s what people are going to find out really soon,” said Stockard.  “With him on the other wing, he’ll be able to take some pressure off me and I’ll be able to take some pressure off him.” Stockard added, “With that, we’ll be able to make a pretty big impact on this team and on the conference.”

Even though the team is young and inexperienced compared to last year’s team, Stockard believes this team has more talent from than last year’s squad and has high hopes for this season.

“We may struggle to start the season, but I think once these guys get going and get used to the way things are in college basketball, we have enough talent to be dangerous come March,” said Stockard. “If everybody hits their stride and I pick up where I left off last year, then I think we should be pretty good this season.”

Stockard talked about games he’s looking forward to on the schedule.

“I think the Syracuse game would probably be the one,” said Stockard.  “They think the game last year was a fluke, so if we could get it done again this year, we can prove that it wasn’t a fluke, that we can play with you guys and that we’re here to stay.”

Stockard gets a chance to lead the Bonnies and pick up where he left off last season in their exhibition game against Alfred University on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7:15 p.m. in the Reilly Center.

Transfer Poyser brings talent and experience to Bonnies

By: Jeff Uveino

Las Vegas, Nevada to Olean, New York.

2,269 miles separate the two cities. One lies in the middle of a desert, the other nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.

Jalen Poyser chose this change of scenery when he left the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to play basketball for the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. But it wasn’t the freezing Olean winters that attracted him.

Poyser was drawn to the program Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt has built since he arrived at SBU in 2007 — one that has won at least 20 games each of the last three seasons and was an NCAA tournament team in 2017-18.

“They hold you accountable here,” Poyser said. “Coach Schmidt is a perfectionist. He demands you to be the best player you can be, and that’s something that helps me.”

Poyser, a 6-4 guard from Malton, Ontario transferred to SBU following his sophomore season at UNLV. Due to NCAA rules, Poyser sat out the entire 2017-18 season, giving him two seasons of eligibility for the Bonnies.

Poyser was rated a 3-star recruit out of Orangeville Prep by ESPN and 247Sports, and received offers from Oklahoma and Rhode Island, along with UNLV.

In two seasons at UNLV, Poyser appeared in total of 64 games, including 21 starts his sophomore year. As a sophomore, he averaged 10.4 points per game and 2.6 assists per game, and was an 80% free throw shooter.

Poyser hopes he can take what he learned at UNLV and bring it to St. Bonaventure.

“You always have to be ready for the moment,” he said. “No matter what conference you play in you always need to be aggressive and have a winning mentality. Because no matter what school you go to, the end goal is always to go to the (NCAA) tournament.”

While he couldn’t play last season, Poyser watched as the Bonnies made their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012 and got their first NCAA tournament win in 48 years from a 65-58 victory over the UCLA Bruins.

Poyser said he learned a lot from watching Atlantic 10 co-player of the year Jaylen Adams and first-team all-conference selection Matt Mobley lead the team.

“I watched the way they carried themselves on and off the court,” he said. “I saw different ways I could score on the floor and got to read opposing teams’ defenses.”

With Adams and Mobley gone, the Bonnies will look for new faces to lead the way. Poyser discussed strengths he brings to the team and his readiness to take on a large roll.

“I want to be an all-around player, whether I’m passing the ball, rebounding or scoring,” Poyser said. “Basically do a little bit of everything.”

Coach Mark Schmidt is no stranger to finding successful transfer players.

Matt Mobley transferred to St. Bonaventure after two seasons at Central Connecticut State. Marcus Posley, SBU’s leading scorer during their 2016 season, had transferred from Ball State. Current Bonnies senior Courtney Stockard transferred from Allen Community College.

Poyser hopes he can be the next transfer to thrive in Schmidt’s system.

“Those guys are great players and had great careers here,” he said. “I’m hoping I can do the same myself.”

Poyser and the Bonnies will open regular season play against the Bucknell Bison on November 7.

These guys know what we’re up against,” Poyser exclaimed. “I want to help the team get right back to the tournament.”

Men’s Basketball: #Bonnies v. GW Preview

By Jeff Fasoldt, @Jeff_Fasoldt

Head Coaches:

St Bonaventure: Mark Schmidt 99-101 as Bonnies coach

George Washington: Mike Lonergan 35-41 as Colonials coach

This Saturday night, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies return to the Reilly Center to take on a much-improved George Washington team. Last season, GW beat Bonaventure 78-59 in Washington, D.C. But, GW has always had a tough time playing in an environment like the Reilly Center, the last time being during the 2011-2012 season where the Bonnies outscored the Colonials 66-56.

Continue reading “Men’s Basketball: #Bonnies v. GW Preview”