Men’s basketball: Bonnies swept by Richmond

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

There’s no way to tell if the Bonnies would have gotten revenge on Richmond with sidelined point guard Jaylen Adams on the court on Wednesday night, but one thing’s for sure: he couldn’t have hurt the cause.

Bonaventure turned the ball over 19 times and allowed the Spiders to shoot 50 percent from the floor in a 71-56 loss that ended up being more lopsided than the score suggested. The Bonnies fell to 13-11, 6-7 in the Atlantic 10 with the loss, while the Spiders improved to 14-12, 7-6 in the conference with the win.

The Spiders had a tight grip on this game for most of the contest, leading for 27 of the 40 minutes. After Bonaventure started the second half on a 19-4 run, Richmond outscored them 33-14 the rest of the way.

“We didn’t play great in the first half, but I thought we came out in the second half and for the first eight minutes played terrific,” said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt. “We defended, we rebounded, we took care of the basketball. We outscored them by thirteen and we were up by four. Mooney called a timeout and after the timeout we weren’t moving the ball and we turned it over five straight times. We made one pass, trying to throw it inside, and that’s where we lost the game.”

Point guard Iakeem Alston was unable to match the Adams’s efficiency, turning the ball over four times with only one assist. Denzel Gregg also had four turnovers, while Marcus Posley and Youssou Ndoye committed three turnovers each.

“I felt as though I turned the ball over way too much, this game and last game,” Alston said. “I try to play hard but I realize I’m failing too much.”

Posley’s shooting struggles continued, as he has now made just two of his last 25 three-pointers. Because of the lack of perimeter scoring, the Bonnies tried desperately to get the ball to Ndoye in the post, which resulted in many of the 19 wasted possessions.

“The reason we turned it over a lot was because we were so focused on trying to get the ball into Youssou while other defenders were reading it and keying in on him,” Alston said. “We just try to force it and they want us to throw it in, knowing everyone is going to collapse down on him.”

“We had some success, but you can’t throw the ball in on one pass,” Schmidt said. “You have to move the ball and move the defense. They load up if you throw it on one pass… We lost our poise, and you can’t do that.”

Ndoye tried to comfort his slumping shooting guard throughout the contest, hoping for some renewed confidence.

“(Posley’s) one of our primary scorers and he had a tough shooting night; I didn’t want him to get down on himself,” Ndoye said. “I just wanted to tell him that we have (his back) and to keep shooting (because) he’s going to find his rhythm.”

The Spiders were able to enjoy balanced scoring, with five players in double-digits. Sixth man ShawnDre’ Jones led all scorers with 17, while Terry Allen had 15, T.J. Cline had 14, Deion Taylor had 11 and Kendall Anthony had 10. While the Bonnies were struggling from three, the Spiders were thriving from behind the arc, making eight of their 18 attempts.

The only edge Bona had was in the rebounding category, outrebounding the Spiders 39-29. They were not able to take advantage, however, because of all the empty trips the other way. They grabbed 18 offensive rebounds yet had only 10 second-chance points, and Schmidt noted the failure to cash in as a key to the game.

“You have a chance to get 51 points and we get 10,” he said. “There were so many easy baskets and layups. When you’re not scoring from the three-point line you need to make those gimmes and we didn’t do that. We lost the game in that three or four-minute span when we took the lead by four and then turned it over too many times. You can’t do that against a good team like Richmond.”

Ndoye was upset with the loss, but said the Bonnies need to forget about it as soon as they can.

“We need to forget about this game, because right now you have to play your best games; it’s championship time now,” he said. “There are only a couple of games left until we go to Barclays Center. Every time you have a bad game you just have to erase it, have a short-term memory and go on to the next one.”

The “next one” is on Saturday, when Bona will try to snap its three-game losing streak at St. Joseph’s.

Quick Hitters: #Bonnies v. Richmond

By Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt 

Adams absence a factor: Bonnies freshman point guard, Jay Adams, missed his second straight game after recently having surgery to mend his broken right-hand ring finger. It’s safe to say Adams was the Bonnies backbone and floor general in every game that he’s played this year. Missing him hurt the Bonnies chances tonight not only because he is such a capable young player, but because they lacked a serious threat from beyond the arc. Marcus Posley is normally as big a threat as anybody, but even he had an off game tonight.

Second-half Magic for Anthony: There’s a reason why Kendall Anthony is one of the most feared point guards in the A-10. He is undersized but has a quick first step and enough speed to drive to the hoop before big-men can swat him from behind. While only scoring two points in the first half, he turned it on after coming out of the locker room and gathered eight more points to help lead his team to a victory on the road.

Too many turnovers: Richmond came into the game as one of the top teams in the A-10 at protecting the ball, and they held onto that reputation in this game only turning the ball over 11 times. However, things did not go so well for the Bonnies with 19 turnovers on the game—including seven by their starting guards, Marcus Posley and Iakeem Alston.

Caught in the web: Richmond is known for their matchup zone, which confuses opposing offenses and takes advantage of other teams being more athletic then they are. Lets face it, the Bonnies were much larger than Richmond from the guard spot to the forward spot—but the zone takes away the Bonnies big men just enough so that the guards have to jack up three’s.

Winning the ‘three’: When a team plays a zone against you, you must win the three point battle. The brown and white failed to do this tonight, going just 3-13 from beyond the arc. Like you would expect, the Spiders shot 44 percent from three on the night—going 8-18. T.J. Cline, despite being one of the tallest players on Richmond’s team, was leader for the Bonnies from outside going 4-8.

Posley just a little late: Marcus Posley is the most talked about player on this Bonnies team largely in part of his ability to hit big time shots in big games and take over offensively. However, it would be nice for Mark Schmidt if he could’ve gotten going a little earlier in this one. Posley did not score in the first-half. The second half went a little better as he had nine points, but only managed one three pointer on eight attempts.

 

Chris Mooney:

“Ndoye has improved as much as any player that I’ve seen in my coaching career.”

“Our guys did a great job tonight of giving him (Ndoye) uncomfortable touches.”

“Our defense was able to play tighter when it was a half-court game without Jay Adams in for Bonaventure.”

Mark Schmidt:

“For the first eight minutes of the second-half we played terrific, but after Coach Mooney called a time-out everything changed.”

“We missed so many easy baskets and layups. When you’re struggling from the free-throw line you have to have those.”

“(Posley) just has to keep working at it, shooting in the gym. It’s just like when you’re in a hitting slump in baseball so you go to the batting cage.”

 

Men’s basketball: For Bonnies, it’s next man up

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

When freshman point guard Jaylen Adams took to his Twitter account last Friday to confirm that he had undergone surgery on his fractured right ring finger the day before, he used a hashtag that encapsulated the team’s new theme going forward: #NextManUp.

When injury strikes, that becomes a rallying cry. In the Atlantic 10, there’s no time to dwell in self-pity; the conference is too competitive for complaining, especially since everyone else is banged up too. Instead, healthy players have to step into new roles and perform well with little preparation time.

Coach Mark Schmidt delivered the news after the VCU game, when the team learned that Adams would need surgery. The freshman said the injury happened right before the Duquesne game, but the medical staff did not think it was serious and he continued to play.

“We always knew something was a little messed up, but we didn’t know it was that severe,” Adams said.

He played through the pain for six games, a stretch where he averaged 8.8 points and 7.1 assists a game, before x-rays after the VCU contest showed the fracture. If rehab goes well he could play in the Atlantic 10 Tournament in about three and a half weeks, but he’s definitely out for the rest of the regular season.

The man thrown into the fire for Bonaventure was junior Iakeem Alston. It was Baltimore native taking over for Baltimore native (Alston and Adams went to high school about 15 minutes apart), and Alston had to make the jump from playing eight minutes a game to playing 30 in Dayton on Saturday afternoon.

“I was just thinking that I had to step up and not miss a beat,” he said.

The Bonnies lost 75-61 to the first-place Flyers, but Alston performed well in his first start of the season. After three first-half turnovers (two in the first minute of play), he didn’t turn the ball over at all in the second half. In total, he scored 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting from the field, with three assists, three rebounds and a steal.

“I think I played okay,” he said. “I played hard, but I could’ve cut my turnovers down.

“Usually when I come off the bench I’m stiff, but (going from) warming up to starting a game, I was pretty loose. I was nervous, but I was just ready.”

As a slasher, Alston can get to the cup any time he wants. He’s a legitimate offensive threat who utilizes a nasty euro-step and cat-like quickness, giving him the potential to be a double-digit scorer every night.

“That’s what I do; I’m a slashing point guard,” he said. “I can get to the rack and create for myself and my teammates. I’m athletic so that opens up a lot for me.”

One of the biggest concerns from the Bona faithful has been the junior college transfer’s free throw shooting. He came into the Dayton game at 47 percent from the stripe and made three of six against the Flyers.

A point guard needs to knock down his freebies, and Alston understood that.

“It’s all about reps,” he said. “I wasn’t playing a lot so I wasn’t really getting in-game situations shooting free throws. I just have to keep getting my reps up and when I get to the line I need to concentrate more and knock them down.”

The Bonnies’ next opponent is the Richmond Spiders. The Spiders have a dynamic point guard in Kendall Anthony, who has plenty of speed and has a strong chance at being named to the All-Conference First Team despite his five-foot-eight stature. Alston revealed that Andell Cumberbatch will be matched up against Anthony to begin the game, but recognized that stopping the star guard will be a team effort.

“He’s a good player,” Alston said. “As a team we have to just find him in transition, slow him down and not let him get into a rhythm early on.”

While the Bonnies hope Anthony doesn’t get into a rhythm Wednesday night, Alston knows he needs to find his groove if SBU is going to grab a crucial win.

“I just have to continue to get that rhythm and feel for starting the game, and having a good start,” he said. “Last game I had two turnovers early on so I just have to keep getting a feel for it in practice and continue to learn how to play with the guys.

“Right now we’re facing a little bit of adversity (after) losing two straight, but it’s about how you respond after the two losses. (Monday) we had a great practice and today (Tuesday) we’re going to have a good practice. It starts in practice so if we have a good practice today the chances of winning (Wednesday) are going to be higher.”

He may have only averaged eight minutes a game going into Dayton, but Alston’s work ethic was consistent all season up to this point.

“It’s a long season so I only worry about what I can control,” he said. “I can’t control how the coaches feel. I’m focused on getting my reps, staying in the gym and keeping my confidence up.

“Ultimately my time was probably going to come. If it didn’t come now, it was probably going to come at some point. I had to make sure I stayed on top of my game and never lost that confidence, whether I played two seconds or 40 minutes.”

The new starting point guard knew stepping in for the A-10’s assist leader was going to be an arduous task, but he showed no diffidence when it came to his own ability.

“I feel like I can do a lot,” he said. “I’m no Jaylen Adams, but I feel as though I can definitely help and try to be the vocal leader out there and bring energy. I’m going to do what I can.”

Adams holds his fellow Marylander in high regard.

“’Keem is great,” he said. “He handled it well, and that’s what he’s going to do; it’s next man up. He’s a great guard so he should be able to do just fine.”

You could form a 20-win squad out of the A-10’s injured or recently-injured players. VCU guard Briante Weber, who is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL, would start at the point. Davidson guard Jack Gibbs, who suffered a slight meniscus tear on Jan. 17, could start at the two-guard position. VCU forward Treveon Graham, who just returned from a sprained ankle, would be the small forward. Richmond forward Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, who suffered a concussion and fractured bone around his right eye on Feb. 8. Davidson center Jake Belford, who is out for the season after December foot surgery, would round out the starting lineup. Adams would be the sixth man, making this hypothetical team a very formidable one.

Injuries are a part of the game, and when they happen it truly is “next man up.” That man is Iakeem Alston, and the Bonnies’ response will determine the course of the remainder of their season.

Quick Hitters: Buffalo

By Chuckie Maggio, @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies defeated the University at Buffalo Bulls 72-63 on Wednesday night. The win improved their record to 5-1 and gave them the unofficial Big 4 championship after beating all three Buffalo-area D-I schools (UB, Canisius and Niagara).

Some Quick Hitters from the game:

Ndoye plays big once again: Youssou Ndoye has played dominant basketball the last two games. The Bonnies’ senior center followed up a 23-point, 11-rebound game against Niagara with 17 points, 13 boards and four blocks against the Bulls for his sixth career double-double. He has gone 14-for-25 from the field and 12-for-16 from the free throw line the past two games. There have been many rumblings about Ndoye being a potential second-round draft pick in the NBA, and he’s starting to show his full skill set.

Wright takes charge: Tonight was one of Dion Wright’s most assertive games as a Bonnie. The junior forward scored 19 points on 9-17 shooting and added eight rebounds as well. Wright’s length and presence on both ends continue to cause matchup nightmares for opposing teams, and he was able to take over in stretches against the Bulls.

Alston steps up off the bench: Backup point guard Iakeem Alston had an impressive stat line in 13 minutes of play. The junior registered five points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds to lead the reserve effort. For a bench that didn’t score any points Canisius, the spark Alston provided was a big key for the Bonnies.

Dominant defense: The Bonnies held Buffalo to just 18 first half points and achieved their goal of holding the opposing team under 40 percent shooting from the field once again. With key road tests against Ohio and Pittsburgh coming up, Ndoye and Wright will continue to spearhead one of the best defensive starts Bona has had in recent memory.

Ball security is key: In the games against Siena and Jackson State, the Bonnies turned the ball over a combined 38 times. Tonight, they only committed eight turnovers. With the inexperienced guards Bona has, protecting the basketball is of the utmost importance, and the results showed up on the scoreboard.

Alston joins talented group of Bona guards

By Josh Svetz

The St. Bonaventure basketball team is always looking to add new talent to separate themselves from the rest of the Atlantic 10. Head coach Mark Schmidt and the rest of the staff look for some of the best high school prospects in the country like everyone else, but in some cases Schmidt taps into the talented junior college circuit. Iakeem Alston is one of these cases.

Graduating from renowned Dunbar High School in Baltimore, the 6’2, 175-pound guard Jones helped the Poets win two Class 1A state championships. In his senior season, Alston was a huge part of the Poets’ success, averaging 16 points, five assists, and three rebounds a game. In addition to this, Alston was selected to the Baltimore All-City team and was also named the MVP of the Mayor’s Academy Tournament.

Alston’s talent drew lots of interest from the JUCO circuit and he decided to enroll at Sheridan Junior College in Wyoming. As a key player for Sheridan, he led the Generals to a 51-13 record during his two years there. As a freshman, Alston averaged nine points, 2.6 rebounds, and three assists while shooting 51 percent from the field and helped Sheridan to a share of the 2012-13 Region IX North title. As a sophomore, he averaged 8.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals while playing 22 minutes a game for the Generals.

After his stint with Sheridan, Alston became one of the highest-rated JUCO basketball prospects in the nation. He drew interest from Pittsburgh, Iowa and Loyola Marymount among others, but ended up choosing St. Bonaventure.

After visiting the school with his father, Alston found many different aspects he enjoyed about the school.

“I liked the coaching staff, environment and the people,” said Alston. “I like everyone on the team.”

Now that he is finally on campus, the junior guard has already set some goals for himself this season and wants to use his experience to become a leader on and off the court.

“I want to be a leader, said Alston. “I want to improve on my game from last season. That’s always the goal.”

With that in mind, Alston likes his team’s chances in the highly competitive Atlantic 10 conference.

“I think we have a pretty good team,” said Alston. “It’s just about bringing everything together.”

While Alston is treating every game with equal importance, one game in particular has special meaning to him. On December 13, St. Bonaventure goes to Pittsburgh to play the Panthers at home. It just so happens that his cousin and former high school teammate is Pittsburgh sophomore forward Jamel Artis. Naturally, there’s been some friendly verbal jabs thrown between the two former teammates.

“There’s a lot of trash talking between us,” said Alston. “He texts me a lot about the game; it’s going to be fun.”

For now, Alston’s main focus is helping the Bonnies remain undefeated as they take on Atlantic 10 rival Siena this Wednesday at the Reilly Center. He had six points, three assists and two rebounds in the 16 minutes he played in the season opener, a 77-57 win over Dartmouth.