BROOKLYN, N.Y. (March 15) — If someone would have told Mark Schmidt back in October that his St. Bonaventure Bonnies would win 18 games and make it to the Atlantic 10 semifinals, he wouldn’t have been sure how to respond.
“I would have looked at them a little bit sideways,” the coach said.
Turns out it wasn’t such a far-fetched thought.
The Bonnies’ unexpected run to the A-10 semifinals came to an abrupt end today as their lack of depth was exposed against a deeper, more rested St. Joe’s team. The Bonnies fell 67-48.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. (March 13) — With 13:15 remaining on the clock, Youssou Ndoye walked to the bench after receiving his third and fourth fouls.
With the St. Bonaventure Bonnies’ lead reduced to 53-52, coach Mark Schmidt knew he had to sit Ndoye, regardless of how well he had been playing.
“Youssou didn’t do something that we wanted him to do,” Schmidt said. “He was playing really, really well. You could see it in the kid’s eyes like, ‘Here we go again.’ He made a mistake, but good teammates pick him up. That’s what our guys did.”
“I thought Youssou was tremendous in the first half,” he added. “In the second half, the third foul and the technical foul and La Salle made a run at us… It was 53-52 and we had a timeout and we talked about it and our guys responded.”
Tonight, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies will look to rebound after a tough last second buzzer-beater loss at Duquesne last Saturday. The Bonnies will take on the University of Massachusetts Minutemen for what promises to be the second tough battle against their conference foe this year.
The first battle took place at the William D. Mullins Center in Massachusetts. The Bonnies, who were up more than 10 points during parts of that game, ended up falling just short, and the Minutemen hit a few key shots near the end to clinch the victory.
Some key contributors for the Bonnies in their first match against UMass: G Charlon Kloof who had 15 points, C Youssou Ndoye who had 11 points, and G Jordan Gathers who added 11 points off the bench. As a team the Bonnies shot very well from the field—over 50 percent.
At 7 p.m. tonight, the 12-7 St. Bonaventure Bonnies and 8-9 Duquesne Dukes will face off at the Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh in the sixth Atlantic 10 game of the year for both teams. The Bonnies come in with a 2-3 conference record, while the Dukes come in at 1-4 in A-10 play. The game will be shown on the SNY network.
This is one of the most traditional rivalries in college basketball. Saturday night’s meeting is the 111th in a series that started in 1920. Duquesne hold the all-time lead, 57-53, but the Bonnies have won the last three meetings. Will the win streak against the Dukes continue? Let’s break it down!
Change is necessary and unavoidable, especially in the landscape of collegiate athletics.
As the St. Bonaventure Bonnies men’s basketball team forges ahead with one season in the books since the departure of 2012 NBA first-round draft pick Andrew Nicholson, change may be the toughest test. However, they are determined to suppress it. Forced to adapt – as they welcome the challenge.
A member of the team who is arguably dealing with the greatest change is junior guard Jordan Gathers. Typically used by head coach Mark Schmidt as a two-guard (shooting guard) in the past two seasons, Gathers will now be charged with the task of running the offense when regular starter Charlon Kloof is not at the helm.
A big difference with the Bonnies squad last season without Nicholson was an improvement in perimeter shooting, something that came as a pleasant surprise. In 2011-12, the Bonnies made 174 three-pointers, while last year’s squad drained 212. They do not want to stop there either. There is a focus to continue to improve shooting on a squad that shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc, up 34.5 percent from Nicholson’s senior season.
“I worked on every aspect, every skill I could, but shooting I really worked on my form and technique and just being consistent in making shots,” said Gathers. Gathers had already seen improvements in his shooting from his freshman year to last year’s sophomore season. He shot 42.4 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from long range last year. Those numbers were 33.9 percent and percent respectively in 2011-12.
[The St. Bonaventure Bonnies cruised to a 58-43 win over Siena, forcing them into 17 turnovers – Photo by Daulton Sherwin]
By Ryan Lazo, Co-editor in chief/feature columnist, @RMLazo13
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure may have the talent to score at will prompting cheers from the fans in the Reilly Center but in last night’s game against Siena, all they heard was the clank of the rim.
The ball clanked, banged and hit the rim a total of 37 times as the Bonnies only shot 35.1 percent from the field, yet they defeated Siena 58-43 to retain The Franciscan Cup for the third consectuive year.
How is that possible?
Because this team knows how to play defense. In fact, over the final 8:09 of the second half, the Bonnies (5-2) held Siena (2-7) to just three points the rest of the way.
“This is the prime example of stressing to your team that defense has to be the staple,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said following the lowest amount of points his team surrendered since Nov. 20, 2009. “Offense is fickle. Jump-shooting is fickle. If you defend and take care of the basketball, you have a chance to win.”
An offense being fickle would be an understatement for this night.
It seemed for much of the game, Bona was so inept offensively that they couldn’t hit net if it fell on top of them. And knowing full well it was one of those nights that threatened to put basketball back into the 1920s, Charlon Kloof took control of the defense.
In his second season with St. Bonaventure, Kloof has shown the shut-down ability he has on defense. Much like Darelle Revis does in the NFL, Kloof does on the basketball court.
With his long arms, quick feet and determination, Kloof routinely shuts down the opposing team’s best guard.
“He has a gift,” Schmidt said after Kloof held Siena’s Evan Hymes to 5 points on just 2-for-10 shooting. “He has that mentality. He wants to be a stopper. When we play good defense, it starts at the point guard position.”
And it’s the willingness to take on the challenge of guarding the opposing team’s best player that fueled Kloof’s desire to play basketball in the states.
“The first reason I came to America was because of all the great guards,” Kloof said after his 8-point, two assists and two steal effort. “I enjoy it. I enjoy slowing them down.”
But Kloof had help on the defensive side of the ball. Seven different Bona players recorded a steal on the night — Bona had eight in total — with Jordan Gathers being a spark plug off the bench.
Even though the sophomore guard played just 13 minutes, he was able to record a steal and force Siena into a turnover off of an inbounds trap play.
“They’re a great defensive team,” Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro said after his team’s 17 turnover effort. “They played us well, forced us into mistakes. We knew going in they were a good defensive team.”
But you can’t win without scoring and Bona’s senior captain took care of that with a stat-sheet stuffing of a night.
Demitrius Conger shot just 4-for-11 from the field, but he was able to rack up 14 points, grab eight rebounds, dish out four assists, block two shots and topped it all off with one steal.
Conger put his importance to the team on display in the nationally televised game, showcasing how he can affect the game in many different ways as he played the full 40 minutes.
While the team has confidence in their senior leader, having a defense that can win games also helps.
“I told the guys in the locker room that we shot 2-for-20 from 3-point range and still won by 15,” Schmidt said. “Each year you are going to have nights where you don’t shoot the ball well and the good teams win those games because they defend.”
On their two poorest shooting nights of the season, at Cornell where they shot just 41 percent and against Siena, Bona earned victories.
Luckily for the Bonnies, there is no BCS system in college basketball. They don’t have to be pretty, you just have to get the win. And with a defense that never relents, Bona can have the confidence to know they can overcome the most tragic of offensive performances.
[Charlon Kloof and Andrew Nicholson begin to celebrate St. Bonaventure’s first-ever Atlantic 10 Conference title – Photo by Daulton Sherwin]
By Ryan Lazo, Co-editor in chief/feature columnist, @RMLazo13
Mark Schmidt walked up to the podium during his introductory press conference in 2007 and told the media hordes that he planned to have St. Bonaventure University basketball back on the map within five years.
Perhaps a trip to the local market to pick up a mega-millions ticket should be his next stop after proving his proclamation true last season. The Bonnies stunned everyone by capturing the program’s first-ever Atlantic 10 Conference title.
But after losing seniors Da’Quan Cook and Andrew Nicholson, expectations in Olean, N.Y. are considerably lower than last season.
Bona was selected to finish 11th in the preseason coaches’ poll and had no player represented on a preseason All-Conference team for the first time since 2008.
However, the players are striving to prove them wrong.
“Our guys want to prove that they were not a one-man show,” Schmidt said at the Big 4 Media Day. “That’s the chip on their shoulder. We need to make up for those 18 points and nine rebounds.”
And contrary to what many believe, it is possible for the Bonnies to surprise again.
Yes, it’s true that not only was Nicholson the best player in the A-10 but one of the best in the country.
But don’t forget about the team he had around him — a team that returns 10 letter winners from last season including five seniors. And one of those seniors is seemingly a forgotten man.
Michael Davenport had his season cut short after suffering a shoulder injury, but the shooting guard is being counted on by Bona’s head man.
“We’re expecting him to score the ball,” Schmidt said. “He has a chance to be a 1,000-point scorer, and we don’t have many of those throughout a career.”
And he is just one of the reasons why this St. Bonaventure team will exceed expectations and surprise once again.
Why the optimism?
Well, for starters this may possibly be the deepest team Bona has had in years. With a stable of guards that would make even Xavier blush, the Bonnies have the firepower to go shot-to-shot with the elite teams of the conference.
And it starts with the continued development of Demitrius Conger. Conger was second on the team in scoring last season, averaging 12.1 points per game and also grabbing 6.2 rebounds per game.
But it was the semi-final game against University of Massachusetts Amherst where he unveiled the potential he has.
In a game begging for someone to step up with Nicholson riding the pine because of foul trouble, it was Conger who took over. Utilizing an assortment of moves: hop-steps, up and unders and spin-moves, he was able to open up space in the lane for his own shot and set up others.
And when it was over, he finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists — just two assists shy of St. Bonaventure’s first triple-double.
But the depth doesn’t stop there.
Charlon Kloof took over the reins of point guard and gave Bona a weapon it didn’t have in years. Not only was Kloof able to find open teammates, but he could also create for himself.
Perhaps even more important was how he completely shut down opposing teams’ guards on defense.
Add in Jordan Gathers and Youssou Ndoye after one full year of experience under their belts, and this Bona team suddenly looks dangerous.
Well, a finish in the top seven of the conference is not out of the question.
And as Bona fans found out last season, one weekend during the conference tournament can change everything.
St. Bonaventure may have lost their star in Nicholson, but the depth and talent of the team is more than enough to keep them well armed in defense of their A-10 title.