Bonnies Media Alumnus Talk Men’s Basketball Past and Present

By Josh Svetz and Sean Lynch

Ryan Lazo – Former sports writer for the NY Post and currently a police officer in the NYPD

Mike Lindsley – Host of ML Sports Platter and owner/reporter for PinstripePassion.com

Mike Vaccaro –  Lead sports columnist for the New York Post

When did you graduate from Bonas?

Lazo: “I graduated from St. Bonaventure in 2013 and had the opportunity to watch the rise of the program in its infancy stages under Mark Schmidt.”

Lindsley: “2002.”

Vaccaro: “1989.”

Did you cover the team while in school?

Lazo: “Yes. I started to cover the team for The Intrepid during my junior year – which also coincided with the Bonnies’ last NCAA Tournament appearance. Pretty good fortune if you ask me. “

Lindsley:  “Covered them sophomore-senior years mostly but was on staff my freshman year for radio doing sports shows.  Was the WSBU sports director sophomore year. I did color for women’s basketball and was a reporter and was a staff guy.  Then sports director. I freelanced for the BV senior year.  Just an article here and there.  A little SBU TV senior year as a sports reporter.”

Vaccaro: “My junior year, I was an editor for the paper so I didn’t get to cover.  I should have said yes because I actually did cover the team my senior year. I had done my editor stuff as a junior so we were able to cover my senior year. I also spent two years with the Times Herald covering the team.”

Describe the experience of covering them?

Lazo: “It was a weird experience both personally and professionally. From a personal standpoint, I had to fight the inner urge to give the team a benefit of the doubt, hide my emotions on the sideline and allow myself to second-guess decisions made in the game instead of defending it as a fan would. Professionally, it was the best job I could have asked for.”

“Going into the 2011-2012 season, there was very high expectations for the Bona program. With Andrew Nicholson in his senior season, and a veteran team around him which included Demetrius Conger, Michael Davenport, Matthew Wright and Charlon Kloof, there was certainly promise. It was the team that had the star in Nicholson, a shutdown defender in both Kloof and Jordan Gathers, an outside shooting presence in Wright and a do-everything player in Conger.”

“It was a slow rise to prominence, not like it has been the last few years. This was a group that learned how to win slowly. They went through the warts in the previous seasons and then with all the pressure, they folded early on. The big loss was to Arkansas State at home. It was mind-numbing. But I believe that was the turning point. The team knew they had the talent and they just had to prove it. Boy, was it fun to watch.”

Lindsley: “It was simply incredible.  NCAA’s in 1999-2000.  Loved it.  Teams were good.  RC was rocking.  Almost beat Kentucky in the tourney. I think covering Division 1 sports really helped me for later in life. Every Bona hoops night was a holiday.”

Vaccaro: “As a student, the team wasn’t terrible my senior year. They were 13-15. Professionally it was a tremendous opportunity, but the coach got fired so Adrian (Wojnarowski) and I had gone to the local news stations and one of them had ended up picking up the story and crediting the BV. For learning how to break a news story; it was a great training ground.”

Who were the Jaylen Adams/Matt Mobley/Courtney Stockards of your team?

Lazo: “The Jaylen Adams from the 2012 tournament team is obviously Nicholson. The way he was able to take over any game and dominate any big was impressive. His footwork in the paint was second to none. He just made defenders look silly.”

“Courtney Stockard is very similar to Conger, which is what Schmidt said when he committed to Bonaventure. Stockard is probably a better defender, but Conger was better offensively. Both attacked the boards. Both could create for themselves and both just had the ability to do the dirty work.”

“The Matt Mobley of the group had to be Eric Mosley. This was the time where Mosley began to come off the bench as the scoring threat who could pile up points in a hurry. Mosley was a high-volume shooter, but nowhere near as efficient as Mobley has been.”

Lindsley: “Tim Winn.  Caswell Cyrus.  David Messiah Capers. All seniors.  What a trio. Capers made three free throws against Kentucky to send it to double OT.  I was losing my mind in Cleveland.  10 rows up center court.  Also had a special sophomore J.R. Bremer. Hit a shot against Temple on January 15, 2000.  From the corner. Loudest I’ve heard the RC.”

How does the team you saw then compare to now?

Lazo: “The team I see now versus then is one that is better. Don’t get me wrong, both teams had flaws, but this current team is in better shape to do more damage. Guards win games in college basketball. With both Adams and Mobley, the Bonnies can compete with just about anyone in the country. A dominant big man like Nicholson could be contained in the paint by halting delivery and forcing him outside. Teams can’t do that with Adams or Mobley.”

Lindsley: “Equally exciting but lots of basketball left this year to see if they can lap them.  1999-2000 team had guys more ready quicker.  Patricio Prato was a really good freshman. Bremer was basically a starter but just a Sophomore.  They were better from an IQ standpoint.  And better defensively.  Their win at home was Temple.  This year Rhode Island.  Pretty darn close.  But legacies at Bona are built by making the tournament because it’s so rare and so hard for this school.

“What’s crazy is the X-factors are so similar.  Courtney Stockard now. Vidal Messiah then.  Amazing role players. Inside and outside. Can shoot it.  Defense supreme.”

Vaccaro: “There is no comparison. Not just because they’re more successful, but this is a professional operation now. The Reilly Center is a division one facility now. When it’s game day and it’s on TV, it looks first rate. It’s not a glorified high school gym anymore. The game day operations are state of the art. It’s not even close to when I was a student. It was much simpler. The difference between what the culture has become under Schmidt compared to now, I don’t know if it’s fully understood. For 30 years we charmed the world with this small school on a shoestring budget and we were able to do that in the past until the ESPNs and big TV networks came along. Then, it was impossible to compete.”

If you would have asked me in 1991 if the Bonnies could stay competitive in division one basketball, I would have said there was no chance. And this was a time where the Atlantic-10 was just starting to send teams to the tournament. Temple was good, West Virginia was good. St. Joes was good, George Washington was a sleeping giant and then Calipari came later with UMass, but still, if you would have told me St. Bonaventure would be competitive ever again, I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have believed you more if you said it was going to be a division two program. But what Schmidt has done blows me away.”

“Any coach can get lucky and stumble into a great player once and make a run, like with Andrew Nicholson. For him to have done that and then created something better, it’s mind-blowing. As great as that run was six years ago, this team is better. What he’s done the last four years staggers me. Who knows when it’ll ever be this fun again. We have to savor the ride. It’s just two entirely different realities. I was covering a sputtering division one program that had no idea how to succeed and now you’re talking about a division one team that has a lot of success and culture. I’m excited to see what the team looks like in two years. There’s an administration in place that gets it.”

How would you compare the RC’s energy from then to now? Have some of the recent changes taken away from the experience?

Lazo: “The RC’s energy is certainly coming back, but that also comes with playing winning basketball. While students come and go, the Olean community has stayed with the team. They’ve had to sit through some dormant periods of basketball, but they are excited now and rightfully so. They’ve helped make the RC a tough place to play once again. Watching on National TV this season, the RC has shown itself to be a tough place to play with chants being heard clearly through the TV feed.”

Lindsley: “The RC is still epic.  I think one thing that has helped is the big video boards.  Lots of reaction from the locals. It makes THEM louder. You never worry about the students.  The seats don’t change it much.  We were louder though, kids. “

“All kidding aside. The RC is so special.  I’ve been down twice this year.  Last year I went down.  The year before I saw them beat VCU. My eyes water when I walk-in.  After HUGE wins as a student, I went back hours after the game and sat in the red seats up top at the RC by myself and stared at the court and just thought about what I saw. “

“I know that place is old. And I know it’s cramped, but man I mean it when I say they can’t ever get rid of it. I’m joking.  The RC is as loud as its ever been. Security is ridiculous by the way.  You can quote me on that one. I think if the locals stepped-up for the games like they did for the Davidson game.  It could be unreal. “

Vaccaro: “I was apart of the last gasp of the “old RC”, back when everyone was drunk, rowdy and could say whatever they want with no penalty. There were two home games against Temple where you couldn’t talk to the guy next to you. It was deafening. I still remember the 1991 game against Penn State. I thought the roof was going to come off. Even when the team wasn’t good, the students were still loud and so were the townies. The whole venue rocked. I get why people were upset about the seats, but it’s a business. It’s a school looking to make money and stay in business. If it diminishes the game experience by 1%, I think we have to live with that.”

“One difference I’ve seen is the student body. When I was in school, no one missed games. We had bigger numbers, but even if it was a game against Concordia tickets would be sold out. It’s not a bad thing. It speaks to the change in culture. St. Bonaventure used to be a school of all suburban white kids and of course we were going to see the game. Now, it’s more diverse, there’s more students with different interest. 1,800 students don’t have to care about the basketball team and I think it speaks to the influx of diversity. The enthusiasm is still there. It comes out even through the TV. Every student at the game is rocking. The reputation is still there. No one wants to come to Allegany, New York and play St. Bonaventure at the RC.”

Since you’re an alum, you’ve seen what happens when Bonas has successful teams, in terms of producing school funds, increased enrollment, athletic prestige, etc. What does a potential NCAA tournament berth do for Bonas?

Lazo: “As an alum, a tournament berth does help in certain aspects. Let’s be real, a tournament berth means more stories, more eyeballs and free publicity on St. Bonaventure. The more of that the institution has, the better. People want to go to places that look like students and alumni have a good time and have a closeness. When a high school student sees St. Bonaventure play in the tournament and they glance in the stands to see people of all ages gathered for this tiny school in Western New York, it means more than any commercial.”

Lindsley: “It’s everything.  It puts the little engine that could on the map again.  It changes the game.  At Bonas, usually,  there is a year here and there every 10-15 years where all your eggs are in one basket JUST to make the Big Dance.  17-18 is exactly that.

“Some people say ‘wow look what we do for a small school,’ when Bona wins.  Others say ‘Well, we are small and do our best,’ when SBU loses.  Doesn’t matter which way you look at it. This program making the tournament is like a power program making a Final Four because of the circumstances.  And Adams and Mobley and this group can create a serious legacy by making the Big Dance.  The 1999-2000 team did it.  Nicholson and his group did it.  Those are the amount Rushmore teams in SBU history.  Yes. That Lanier guy counts too. “

Vaccaro: “More than most of the schools that will get those bids. It’s an opportunity we don’t get most years. It will be helpful. There’s a reason why Bona’s has maintained a high-profile basketball team even when times were tough. Basketball is a marketing tool. It draws kids to the school. When someone like Woj is talking about Bonaventure on ESPN, it can only help. When I mention the Bonnies once or twice in the Post, that’s gotta help. Even when the alumni not in the media, like the CEO  of Delta tweets “Go Bonnies,” it all helps. It gets our name out there.”

“I wouldn’t have even known about St. Bonaventure if it wasn’t for basketball. I was a big St. John’s fan as a kid, growing up watching Chris Mullin. Bona’s played them and almost won. At the time I was thinking “What the hell’s a St. Bonaventure.” It’s funny because after that game I started looking into it and then I was looking at schools and almost went to Dayton, of all places. But, Bonaventure offered me a journalism scholarship and I liked it. It fit me. But it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for that game. Count me in as one of the kids that was introduced to St. Bonaventure because of basketball. So any exposure is beneficial. Tom Crean talking about Jaylen Adams has to help. It just does.”

“The success of the basketball team in some small way determines the success of the school. We’re a feisty little school, but being feisty won’t determine if we succeed. We have to take on the mindset that we can compete with the best. I think the students take on that mindset too and part of that comes from the basketball team. We don’t have to be the underdog all the time. We can just be successful on our own merit. I think that’s the best thing about the basketball team’s success. People can identify that as a possibility now.”

Bonnies survive scare against Spiders

By Josh Svetz and Sean Lynch

The Bonnies entered the Capital One Arena with the weight of the world on their shoulders.

They’ve been here before. Two years ago, Bona’s was a contender for an at-large bid when they entered the A-10 Tournament as the 1-seed vs. Davidson. That game ended in an overtime heartbreak.

This time, Bona’s delivered.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies extended their win streak to 13 with a 83-77 nail biter over the Richmond Spiders in the Quarterfinals of the Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament.

The first half started off slow for the Bonnies and the Spiders. Both teams did not score until the 16:40 mark off a Courtney Stockard bucket.

Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt emphasized the struggles that they faced offensively in the first five minutes of the game.

“I always tell our guys the first five minutes of the game and the first 10 possessions of the second half are critical,” Schmidt said. “And I thought Matt (Mobley) did a heck of a job to get us going.”

Jaylen Adams started the game off cold. Adams had 0 points in the first half of the game and finished with only five points.

Richmond’s Jacob Gilyard and Khwan Fore proved to be a problem for the Bonnies in the first half. Fore shot 5-6 for 11 points and two rebounds. Gilyard dropped nine points, shooting 3-4 from long range.

The Bonnies went to the locker room tied at 32 a piece.

After a contentious 1st half, Matt Mobley gave the Bonnies the best start possible.

With Adams struggling, someone had to step up. His back court mate Matt Mobley fit the mold. Mobley finished with 29 points, shooting 10-14 from the field and 9-13 from long range.

Mobley talked about his performance from long range and picking his teammate Adams up.

“We told each other last year that no matter what both of us can’t have an off game at the same time, so he was struggling a little bit and wasn’t getting any open looks,” Mobley said. “I had a lot of open looks. My teammates did a great job of finding me and I was knocking down the shots. I just wanted to give us a little bit of confidence.”

Schmidt also placed emphasis on multiple players stepping up for the Bonnies when a teammate has an “off-game.”

“This is not the first time that Jay didn’t play well or Matt didn’t play well,” Schmidt said. “Even in this 13 game winning streak, those guys haven’t played their A-game every game and we’ve had other guys step up and that’s what a team does.”

At one point in the 2nd half Mobley, along with Stockard outscored the whole Richmond team. The Bonnies opened the half on a 21-3 run and kept the pressure up, taking a 53-37 lead. Mobley came back and electrified the crowd again hitting two more threes.

He didn’t miss in the second half until the 10-minute mark. But even with the deficit, the Spiders wouldn’t go away. With nine minutes to go the Spiders knocked down three- straight three pointers and cut the Bonnies lead to single digits. But the Bonnies handled it. And then, Stockard went down. He didn’t return to the game, leaving a big hole on both sides of the ball.

An 11-0 run by the Spiders brought the score to 74-68 with four minutes to play. The Richmond fans took back the Arena from the Bona faithful, out doing the decibel level with their cheers. But as the game went down to the wire; the wolf pack got rowdy.   

“We knew our friends were going to come out and support,” Mobley said. “We have the best fans in the country and they’re going to be everywhere. It definitely felt like a home game, but we’ll need them all back tomorrow.”

The momentum had officially shifted. But the Bonnies held tough, even though the Spiders were down just 2 points with 1:30 to go. However, a familiar face sealed it. Adams knocked down three free throws in the final minute and the Bonnies held on, 83-77.

The Bonnies will play the winner of Davidson vs. St. Louis at 3:30 P.M. tomorrow.

Mobley brought up that there is still work to be done for the Bonnies if they want to be in the NCAA Tournament.

“The only way we can secure our spot is winning [this] whole thing, honestly,” Mobley said. “The snub In 2016, everybody remembers that and we don’t want to go through that again. The only way to avoid that is win [this] whole thing.”

Bonnies clinch 2-seed with 12th straight win

By Isaiah Blakely

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies clinched the 2nd seed in the A-10 tournament with a win over the Saint Louis Billikens (16-15, 9-9 A-10) 64-56, Friday night at Chaifetz Arena.

The Bonnies are now 24-6 and 14-4 in conference, tied for the most conference wins in the program’s history. With a win streak of 12, they are now tied for the second longest win streak in the country only behind Murray State’s 13-game win streak. The Racers clinched the Ohio Valley Conference tournament title on Saturday night.

The Bonnies were led by  redshirt-junior Courtney Stockard. Stockard, a St. Louis native, notched a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Stockard, along with the rest of the team, struggled offensively in the first half. Stockard was 1-8 and the team only shot 39% from the field. Senior Idris Taqqee was a big factor in the first half scoring all seven of his points in that half, including a three pointer that sparked a 9-0 Bonnies run. Freshman Izaiah Brockington scored the last four points of the half to give the Bonnies a 31-25 lead.

The second half was a different story for Stockard. The redshirt-junior shot 7-10 from the field, scoring 16 points at the tail end of the game alone, including a jumper to stop an 11-0 Billikens run with 3:21 to go.

Junior LaDarien Griffin also stepped up, finishing with eight rebounds and scoring all seven of his points in the second half. Sophomore Josh Ayeni also returned to action after missing the last six games due to team suspension for disciplinary reasons .

With that win the Bonnies continue to put themselves in prime position to earn an at-large in the NCAA tournament. With a win or two in the tournament next week there’s a chance the Bonnies could lock up an at-large bid for the first time since 2000 and make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.

With this win streak and losses by teams in the top 25, the Bonnies could be a top 25 team heading into the conference tournament for the first time since the 1970-1971 season. For all these reasons, plus first seed URI struggling as of late, losing the last three out of five games including a loss to the Bonnies in the Reilly Center, the Bonnies enter next week as one of the favorites to win it all in Washington D.C.

The Bonnies will face off against the winner of Duquesne vs. Richmond. They won both games against Duquesne, and won their only game against Richmond. Both games against Duquesne were decided by a combined nine points and the Bonnies only beat Richmond by single digits. Neither of these teams will be an easy match up on Friday March 9th at 6:00 p.m.

Still, with a possible return to the top 25 and a win streak that matches the best, the Bonnies are in prime position to make noise next at the A-10 Tournament and ultimately make the dream of March Madness a reality.

 

Bonnies Survive Against Davidson in Triple Overtime Thriller, 117-113

By Jeff Uveino

When St. Bonaventure basketball coach Mark Schmidt walked into the postgame press conference at around 12:30 A.M. and said “It’s past my bed time,” he spoke for everyone in the room.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies and Davidson Wildcats, two of the top teams in the Atlantic-10, put the crowd through a gut-wrenching, triple-overtime game that didn’t conclude until 12:15 in the morning.

Five players scored over 30 points, eight players fouled out, and 79 free throws were attempted in this instant classic.

The Bonnies eventually prevailed, 117-113, but let’s rewind in order to recollect a night that will go down in Reilly Center history.

This game had everything, right from the start. Senior night. Unusually late 9 p.m. tip-off. No students due to spring break. The nearly 5,000-strong Reilly Center crowd was about to witness a special night.

Courtney Stockard started off the game hot for the Bonnies. The junior forward hit four three-pointers within the first four minutes of the game, sending the crowd into a frenzy before Davidson even knew what hit them. Stockard scored 17 points before any of his teammates got on the board. Early in the first half, it looked like the Bonnies could run away with this one.

However, the Wildcats’ sharpshooting swung the momentum, propelling them to a 41-37 lead at halftime.

“That was two really good teams going at each other and not one team taking a step back,” Schmidt said. “One team would hit a shot; the other team would go down and answer it.”

In the second half neither team found a way to pull ahead of the other. A constant buzz rang through the arena. It felt like the crowd was waiting to erupt as soon as a play warranted it.

The Bonnies’ offense kept them in the game down the stretch, but no matter what they did, they couldn’t find an answer for the Wildcats’ three-point shooting.

At the core of the Wildcats’ attack were two players, a senior and a freshman. Senior forward Peyton Aldridge, who leads the team in points at 20.5 PPG, seemed to always have an answer to stifle the Bonnies’ momentum down the stretch.

Aldridge finished with 45 points, including shooting 8-11 from beyond the arc.

Alongside him was freshman Kellan Grady, who finished with a career-high 39 points of his own. Grady didn’t miss a shot from the stripe, shooting an impressive 16-16 from the free throw line, including 8-8 during the overtime periods.

“Aldridge and Grady are two of the best players in our league and they showed it tonight,” Schmidt said.

The teams traded blows throughout the second half, then with a minute to play Grady drove to the hoop and went up and over a Bona defender for the dunk. The basket put the Wildcats up by a point.

After a Bona miss at the other end, Aldridge was fouled and sent to the line for the Wildcats. He made just one of his two free throws, putting the Bonnies down by two with four seconds left to play.

In a last-ditch effort, Bonnies forward LaDarien Griffin drove to the basket and scored as time expired, sending the game to overtime with a score of 78-78.

The first overtime began with a downpour of three pointers. Aldridge and Bona guards Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams all hit from downtown, keeping the back-and-forth theme alive.

Adams hit threes on consecutive possessions for the Bonnies, bringing the crowd to its feet. However, Aldridge came firing right back as he had the entire game.

Still deadlocked, the Bonnies and the Wildcats went to the second overtime period, 91-91.

After a big Mobley three early in the period to put them up by five, things were looking good for the Bonnies. However, with 1:24 left in the second overtime, Jaylen Adams picked up his fifth foul.

Adams finished with 34 points and 5 assists, leaving Bonnies fans wondering if they could pull out a win with their star player on the bench. Although annoyed, Adams said he had to keep his composure for the team.

“I was just nervous that I couldn’t finish the game for my team,” Adams said. “But at the same time, I needed to turn into another coach on the bench.”

With 19 seconds to play in the second overtime, Kellan Grady sunk two free throws to force a third overtime with the game knotted up at 100.

Hey, what’s five more minutes of basketball? As the clock approached midnight, the energy in the Reilly Center didn’t dwindle. It was on another level, something Coach Schmidt made note of.

“Give kudos out to our community,” Schmidt said. “Without the students here, they rallied around us. They came, and they were terrific.”

Two Kellan Grady free throws opened the third overtime. On the ensuing Bonnies possession, Courtney Stockard was called for a charge, his fifth foul.

Stockard left the game with a career-high 31 points.

The St. Bonaventure bench was starting to thin, but things evened out shortly after Stockard fouled out.

On the next Davidson possession, Aldridge was called for a foul away from the ball, his fifth of the night. Players were dropping like flies at the hands of the officials, and it looked like this game might turn into a battle of the benches.

Two more players fouled out shortly after; Wildcat senior Oskar Michelsen, and Bonnies senior Idris Taqqee.

The Bonnies found themselves trailing by three half way through the third overtime. But then, the Bonnies caught a break. Junior guard Nelson Kaputo was fouled while putting up a three, sending him to the line with a chance to tie the game. Kaputo, who shoots nearly 95% from the stripe, sunk all three to tie the game.

The Wildcats took the ball down the court and set up shop. Grady drove, put up a shot, and was blocked by freshman Izaiah Brockington. The referees initially ruled that the ball went out off St. Bonaventure, but after review gave the ball to the Bonnies.

“I thought Izaiah did a really good job (on defense) against a really good player,” Schmidt said.

With less than two minutes remaining, a big dunk from freshman Tshiefu “the Chef” Ngalakulondi put the Bonnies up 110-108. From there, they would never look back.

The rest of the game was a free throw shooting contest in which the Bonnies prevailed. After three long overtimes, they outlasted Davidson, 117-113.

Coach Schmidt commented on his team’s ability to pull out a win in a game that was a real grind.

“We showed some toughness,” he said. “I told the team after the first overtime, someone was going to have to step up off the bench that hasn’t played, and we did.”

The Bonnies certainly received contributions from up and down the roster, as two of the biggest plays of the game came late in the third overtime from freshmen. Schmidt was not the only one who had high praise for the Bonnies bench. Star guard Jaylen Adams also commented on the vitality of their contributions.

“Credit to the bench for finishing the way they finished,” Adams said. “The majority of guys who played the last 10 minutes are guys that usually get under 20 minutes a game, so credit to them for stepping up and making plays down the stretch.”

Senior guard Matt Mobley, who finished with 33 points and played the entire 55 minutes of the contest for the Bonnies, said he never came close to throwing in the towel.

“I just told the guys that we weren’t going to leave until we got the win,” Mobley said. “When Jay and Courtney fouled out, I knew I had to try to get good looks on offense.”I was fortunate enough to get to the foul line which helped a lot. I’m just thankful for the win.”

Mobley also spoke about the toll that playing the whole game took on him physically.

“You start to get a little cramping, but you just need to fight through it,” he said. “The game means too much.”

Coach Schmidt had high praise for his seniors on the night that they were honored, pinning much of the team’s success on them.

“You’re only as good as your seniors,” he said. “We wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are right now without Idris, Matt, and Jay. Those three seniors will never forget this day the rest of their lives. It’s special, and I’m glad I was a part of it.”

It certainly was a special night for the seniors, for St. Bonaventure, and for college basketball. I’d have to speculate that there will be a good amount of “sick days” taken in Olean on Wednesday, and for good reason. The crowd at the RC witnessed one of the best basketball games they’ll ever see.

Jaylen Adams’ postgame emotions sum the night up well.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better. This is a special game, I’m just glad I could be a part of it.”

Bonnies Keep Conference Streak Alive with Tenth Win Against VCU 68-63

By: Sean Lynch

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies outlasted the VCU Rams and won their tenth game in a row in Atlantic 10 Conference play at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, Virginia.

Senior Guard Jaylen Adams had another important performance for the Bonnies. Adams finished with 21 points, four rebounds and six assists.

Junior Forward Courtney Stockard stepped up for the Bonnies with a huge double-double. Stockard had 21 points along with 14 rebounds in a big effort on both sides of the ball.

The beginning of the first half was marred by sloppy play. The Bonnies and Rams traded missed shots and turnovers in the first three minutes until Adams broke the scoreless tie with a three-pointer at the 17:56 mark.

The Rams broke off a 10-0 run against the Bonnies late in the first half. Consistent takes from Senior Forwards Justin Tillman and Khris Lane. The Rams closed out the first half with a 30-29 lead over St. Bonaventure. Turnovers were a huge problem for both teams as the Bonnies finished with 12 and the Rams with 10.

A 5-0 run got the Bonnies to a 33-30 lead at the start of the second half. Another run gave the Bonnies an 8-0 momentum push until the 13:49 mark.

After a back and forth affair into the closing minutes. Senior Guard Matt Mobley pushed the lead to four with a late three to put the game at 58-54 with 3:08 left in the game.

After trading buckets, the game stood at 65-61 with 23 seconds left. After Mobley was fouled and went 1-2 from the line, the Bonnies had the lead at 66-61. The Bonnies would close out the game with 2-2 from the line for Adams and a missed shot from Sophomore Forward Issac Vann.

Turnovers proved to be both a problem and a big help for the Bonnies as they turned the ball over 17 times, but VCU had 18 turnovers.

With the win, the Bonnies are tied with the Duquesne Dukes for second place in the A10 with a 12-4. The Bonnies will square off next against the Davidson Wildcats for Senior Night on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. in the Reilly Center.

Reaction: Stockard-led Bonnies embrace adversity, stun undefeated Maryland

By Josh Svetz

The Bonnies have provided enough highs and lows for a season’s worth of basketball and it’s only been four games.

Tonight was a high, but coming into the contest, most wouldn’t think so.

In fact, the Bonnies would have to overcome hard knocks to achieve any sort of high.

Hours before the game, star guard Jaylen Adams, who has yet to play or practice due to an ankle injury, was ruled out. Junior forward Courtney Stockard was probable, but limited in practice over the week.

Then, as tip-off neared, Bonas fans were left confounded when the official men’s basketball account tweeted that senior Matt Mobley, the Bonnies’ leading scorer, would not start due to being late for a team meeting.

On top of this, Bonas had to contend with the undefeated Maryland Terrapins, a top-20 defensive team featuring several bigs 6-foot-10 and taller alongside two NBA hopefuls, sophomores Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan.

The only way Bonas could hope to sneak out of this game victorious was to take advantage of the Terps’ bottom-200-ranked turnover rate, translating to a turnover every four possessions, and make this game ugly.

That’s exactly what the Bonnies did. They brought the grind to the grinders.

To start, they didn’t let the size difference affect the scoring in the first half.

Bonas deployed a 1-3-1 zone to neutralize talented freshman forward Bruno Fernando and it worked.

Fernando became agitated and frustrated early, taking his head out of the game and mounting up just two points and three rebounds in the first half. While 7-foot-1 senior Michal Cekovsky filled in nicely with nine points, two blocks and two rebounds in the first half, he just didn’t provide the same upside and athleticism of Fernando.

Bonas also capitalized on turnovers, turning eleven first half miscues into twelve points.

The scrappy effort contributed heavily, as Bonas didn’t let the Terps lead by more than four at any time in the first half.

But maybe the number one reason the Bonnies handled their business was their defense.

Forcing turnovers aside, Bonas switched beautifully on screens and closed out on the Terps’ guards. This frustrated the shooters, holding them to 1 of 10 from behind the arc and just 43 percent from the field.

Despite Mobley being held to four points in the first half, everyone else stepped up offensively, with Josh Ayeni, Izaiah Brockington, LaDarien Griffin and Courtney Stockard scoring 24 of the Bonnies’ 30 first-half points.

The Bonnies headed into the locker room down one, but with momentum on their side.

Still, Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon may have summed up the situation best in his sideline interview.

“We haven’t made a jump shot, we have eleven turnovers and we’re up one,” Turgeon said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

With obvious adjustments coming for the second half, the Bonnies would need to continue the defensive tenacity and get something out of Mobley to have a chance.

The Terps came out re-energized, opening the second half with a 8-2 run in the first five minutes.

Bonas needed to answer, and with Mobley’s shot not falling, he turned to the free throw line to make a contribution.

Mobley went 10 of 10 from the free throw line, six of those coming in the second half.

But with 11 minutes left, the wheels started to come off.

Down by one, Bonas gave up two three-pointers and an and-one layup in the span of three minutes, trailing 44-52 with eight minutes remaining.

But the Bonnies wouldn’t quit.

Layups by Ayeni, Mobley and Brockington cut the deficit to two, and two free throws from Stockard tied the game at 53.

However, Bonas’ three-point defensive woes reared its ugly head, as Terps’ junior Dion Wiley drained a three.

Both teams traded free throws and Mobley made a layup to make the score 59-57 with two minutes to play.

Mobley then tied the game with two free throws.

The free throw line saved the Bonnies, as 21 of their 63 total points came from the stripe.

Then, the Bonnies caught a break when the Terps’ Jackson missed an open three.

Even with the break, Mobley missed a layup but Ayeni grabbed the offensive board and drew the foul.

Ayeni handled the pressure, draining both free throws, giving the Bonnies a 61-59 lead.

An ill-advised foul by Mobley not only gave the Terps’ Cowan free throws, but also gave him his fifth foul, taking him out of the game.

With no timeouts, Stockard-the highest scorer left in the game-was forced into the spotlight, facing adversity from the tenacious Terps’ defense.

But Stockard is no stranger to adversity.

For two years he’s battled back from foot injuries that ended his season twice. Even before the game, that same type of injury limited him all week in practice. But now, with the game in his hands, this was his moment.

He handled the ball inches in front of the half-court line, cutting to the basket and going up strong to put in the game-winning layup with 3.4 seconds left.

Stockard finished the game with fourteen points.

The Terps turned the ball over and that was it. The Bonnies won, despite everyone counting them out, despite all the adversity.

Stockard scored the game-winner, despite the adversity.

The excitement of this win will be short-lived, though, as they turn around and face TCU for the Emerald Coast Classic championship tomorrow at 7:00 p.m.

But as the glow remains fresh, the Bonnies carry a scrappy nature and underdog mentality, just like their leader tonight.

With injuries behind him, Stockard ready to prove the doubters wrong

By Mike Hogan

Courtney Stockard is no stranger to adversity.

The junior-transfer forward has suffered not one, but two major foot injuries that have kept him out for his first two seasons so far here at St. Bonaventure University. The addition of Stockard a few seasons ago brought along a lot of hype, but the momentum was halted by injury setbacks.

That is, until Stockard returned to the court last Saturday in an exhibition win against Alfred University. Stockard scored 20 points and shot 6-7 from the field, while adding a steal in his first on-court action in 32 months.   

Reporter Mike Hogan sat down with Stockard to discuss his journey back and his vision for his remaining time at St. Bonaventure.

Your Bonaventure career has previously been put on hold due to two serious foot injuries, what were these setbacks like for you and what did you learn about yourself?

Stockard: I learned how mentally tough I am. Sitting out for two years, watching the team has made me mentally tough and let me see the game from a different perspective.

What was the rehab process like during both injuries?

Stockard: It was a very long process. I’m glad that I’ve gotten through it. I’m glad it’s over, and I’m glad that I’m able to go back out there and compete.

What is one thing that you want to tell the fans that may think that you’re not the same player anymore after going through these injuries?

Stockard: Just that I’ve put in the work. I have faith in the process, and I have faith in my skill set. I put in enough work to help me get back to that player I once was.

In what ways are you looking to contribute to this year’s squad?

Stockard: I just want to be the guy that will give us a lift on defense. I want to be able to take some of the scoring burden off of Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley when they are getting keyed in on. I’ll just bring energy to the floor.

Now that you are back and healthy, what are you looking to accomplish overall during the rest of your time here at Bonaventure? And what do you think about the higher expectations for this team?

Stockard: My biggest goal is getting to the tournament with this group of guys. We want to develop that brotherhood, it’s a team goal. We’re thankful that everyone is realizing the talent that we have, but we don’t really feed into it. We’ve kept the same mindset that we’ve had in the past. We just have to stay hungry and treat it like we’re ranked last.

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.