Dream season for Bonnies ends against Gators

By Josh Svetz

It’s cliche, but there’s one saying that encapsulates the end of the Bonnies’ NCAA Tournament run.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies couldn’t handle the defensive tenacity of the Florida Gators losing 77-62 Thursday night at Dallas, Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Neither team could pull away in the first half each taking turns stalling on offense. St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams had a hard time staying out of foul trouble, picking up three fouls in the first half.

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Both teams struggled shooting in the first half. The Bonnies shot 6-23 from the field and the Gators shot 9-31. The Bonnies went on a 10-0 run until the 4:28 mark, capitalizing on points from the foul line as the shots would not drop. The Bonnies secured a lead late into the first half at the 3:05 mark 22-21.

Unfortunately for them; it would be their last.

The Gators scored a quick bucket and the Bonnies struggled to keep up with the energy of the Gators. Still, the game was close with the Bonnies in striking distance at the half, 22-27.

But fatigue started to set in. Four games in seven days can take the wind out of any team, especially a short rotation like the Bonnies.

Adams admitted in the press conference that the grind of the season wore him down.

“I’m not one to make excuses, but you could tell we were gassed,” Adams said. “We weren’t used to that many games in that many days. But I think you have to credit Florida’s defense more than anything.”

The Gators came out in the 2nd half blazing on a 7-0 run.

The Bonnies couldn’t buy a bucket, but forced themselves to the free throw line.

The dynamic duo of Adams and Matt Mobley struggled to find openings, combining for just 21 points, a total that on an average night either guy usually surpasses.

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Florida guard Chris Chiozza said the game plan was to focus on the Bonnies’ offensive juggernauts,

“Those are two great guards,” Chiozza said. “We just wanted to make it tough for them to score. We played hard the whole way and were able to keep them from doing what they usually do.”

The Bonnies kept the game in reach, struggling for every point scored.

Then, the wheels came off the Bona Bandwagon. The Gators rained three pointers down as the Bonnies continued to struggle. They went 3-19 from behind the arc.

The Bonnies didn’t ever give up, but the energy just wasn’t there. The culmination of short games, quick travel turnarounds and the emotional drain of winning an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 1970 got to them.

Head coach Mark Schmidt talked about the fatigue factor after the game.

“We were on a high,” Schmidt said. “I think you can fight through it for a couple days, just with adrenaline. But, when you get down by 15, that adrenaline rush goes out the window.”

Plus; Florida was just better.

Yet, even as the Bonnies continued to fall behind and the game was out of reach, the fans made sure to show their appreciation. With a minute to go the Bona faithful cheered loud with a final “let’s go Bona’s” and gave the team a standing ovation filled with claps, hollers and stomps.

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The Gators ended the Bonnies dream NCAA Tournament run, 77-62.

One player coach Schmidt made sure to give his due was Idris Taqqee.

Taqqee is not known as the primary scorer. He sometimes misses layups that make you tear your hair out and you always hold your breath when he goes to the line.

But when it came to heart; no one matched Taqqee. Every rebound, every tipped ball, every loose ball, Taqqee went for it. Even as a guard, he grabbed 13 rebounds and coach Schmidt had nothing but praise for the senior.

“That sucker wasn’t going to quit,” Schmidt said. “He’s one of the top five most unselfish players I’ve ever coached. He doesn’t have great skill, but he epitomizes the toughness that we try to play with. Matt and Jay get a lot of the credit, and deservedly so, but without Idris in that — he’s the glue that brings us together.”

As the team exited the locker room to catch the red eye home it was all love.

They thanked the managers, coaches and even the student journalists that had gone on this ride with them.

Their head’s were high, as they should be.

Looking back on a historic season for the Bonnies, the best in the modern era, coach Schmidt closed the night talking about what this means for St. Bonaventure University as a whole.

“We got the respect of the country now,” Schmidt said. “It’s taken a while to get that. It’s hard to put in words, especially coming off a loss, but we did some incredible things. The guys are going to look back years from now and think ‘wow.’ This team is going to be remembered forever.”

 

 

 

 

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Preview: Bonnies take on Gators in NCAA Tournament

By Jeff Uveino

It’s one of the most anticipated days of the year for college hoops fans—the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament.

With 16 games scheduled for today, the eyes of the sporting world will once again be on college basketball. However, for fans of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies; only one game really matters.

The No. 11 Bonnies (25-7) will take on the No. 6 Florida Gators (20-12) at 9:55 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA tournament on truTV.

The Bonnies are coming off a 65-58 win over the UCLA Bruins in the ‘First Four’ round in Dayton, Ohio. Now, the Bonnies get to travel to Dallas, Texas to take on a Gators team that went 11-7 in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play. Despite winning their final three regular season games, the Gators were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament by the Arkansas Razorbacks. Florida owns several wins over other tournament teams this season, including Gonzaga, Auburn, and two wins against Kentucky

The Gators have enjoyed recent tournament success, including trips to at least the Elite Eight in five straight seasons. In the 2017 NCAA tournament, Florida lost a heart breaker to the South Carolina Gamecocks, denying them a trip to the Final Four.

The Gators have scorers up and down their roster, averaging 76 points per game. They are led by junior guard Jalen Hudson, who averages 15.3 points per game. Egor Koulechov, a senior guard from Russia, averages 13.6 points per game. Other key contributors are guards KeVaugh Allen and Chris Chiozza, who average 13.6 and 13.5 points, respectively. Chiozza also averages 6.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game, making him a central part of the Gators offense.

While the sunshine of Gainesville, Florida is far from the snow covered tundras of Allegany, New York; the Bonnies and Gators aren’t strangers.

Just last year, the Bonnies and Gators met at Florida in a close and competitive game resulting in a 73-66 loss.

Senior Idris Taqqee remembers the game against the Gators last year. Now, with a better team and a chance to see them on a neutral court, Taqqee said the Bonnies are ready for another shot against them.

“It’s already a rematch so we want to get that revenge,” Taqqee said. ” We want this. We’re hungry.”

Part of the path to getting that revenge is showing up defensively. The Bonnies used a stymieing zone defensive scheme to slow down the Bruins last game as they try for similar results against the Gators.  The Bonnies forced 20 UCLA turnovers, including 10 by their star guard Aaron Holiday.

Another key to the Bonnies’ First Four win was the play of Courtney Stockard, who scored 26 points. Stockard, a junior forward, is the X-factor in a Bonnies attack that features two high-scoring senior guards; Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley.

Adams averages 19.4 points and 5.3 assists per game, and Mobley averages 18.4 points and 5 rebounds per game. The Bonnies shoot nearly 40% from three point range, and their shooting will be a key as to whether they will be able to pull off an upset.
The winner of this game will play either Texas Tech or Stephen F. Austin on Saturday with a trip to the ‘Sweet 16’ at stake.

Junior LaDarien Griffin, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, knows the Gators pretty well. He grew up watching them and even played AAU with Florida forward Kevarrius Hayes.

He couldn’t hold back his excitement when asked about getting a second chance to beat the Gators.

“I used to watch those great teams that they had in awe.” Griffin said. “You grow up and it’s always the goal to beat those type of teams and now we get that chance. I can’t wait man, I can’t wait to play them!”

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.”

Taqqee staying level-headed with high expectations

By Mike Hogan

Idris Taqqee has seen a great amount of action on the floor during his Bonnies career. Playing since his freshman year, Taqqee has experienced all the ups-and-downs of Bonas basketball.

Reporter Mike Hogan sat down with Taqqee to discuss his emotions going into his senior year, his thoughts about the higher expectations, and his basketball future.

 

Big news for you as you were just named a captain, how do you feel about that accomplishment?

 

Taqqee: I’m excited that my teammates have trusted me, and I am really excited to lead them every possession on the court.

 

You’re going into your last season as a Bonnie, what are your emotions in regards to that? How do you wish to be remembered here?

 

Taqqee: I just wish to be remembered for everything that I’ve done well and everything that I have worked on. It’s definitely bitter sweet that it’s my last year, but there’s a lot of things that we want to accomplish and we’re all going to work towards it together.

 

What kinds of things did you work on this offseason? What did you improve on the most?

 

Taqqee: I improved on consistency the most. I worked on every single aspect of my game from rebounding, ball handling, off the ball cutting, I can go on for days about what I worked on, but being consistent was huge.

 

What are the expectations for this year’s squad? What’s the vibe of the locker room?

 

Taqqee: The sky is the limit. We know that we have the capability to do anything that we put our minds to. We know everyone is talking A-10 tournament and the NCAA tournament, but we think we can go beyond that. Above and beyond.

 

In previous years you guys were ranked towards the bottom of the pack in the A-10, with the raised expectations this year how is the team handling them?

 

Taqqee: It’s definitely exciting. I have been here and have been able to grow with change. I’m happy and I am excited to see that, but it’s something where you just have to keep that same approach where nothing has changed. Nothing is guaranteed at the end of the day, but it’s definitely good to see the buzz and excitement.

 

What would it be like for you and the other seniors on this team to go out in your last season’s here making the NCAA tournament?

 

Taqqee: It’d be great man. All of the hard work would pay off, because there’s been a lot of hours spent in that gym. It’s something that I’ve had my eyes on.

 

What are you looking at after Bonaventure, are you looking to keep playing basketball?

 

Taqqee: Yeah, I want to keep playing basketball for as long as I can. I would play basketball for the rest of my life if I could.

Summer grind seeing early returns for Griffin

By Nicholas Gallo

Junior forward LaDarien Griffin entered the 2017-18 season looking to be a key contributor for St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team.

So far, he’s arguably one of the top three players night-in night-out on the court.

As a sophomore, The 6-foot-6 forward played 29 games and averaged 2.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 12.3 minutes per game.

Over the summer, Griffin said he stayed up at St. Bonaventure and worked on his game. When he went home, he played with a bunch of different guys, improving his shooting and developing more of an offensive game.

That extra work has paid off thus far.

Not only has Griffin been elevated to a starting role, but he’s been one of the most consistent Bonnies on both ends of the floor.

In three games, Griffin is doing it all, averaging 8.7 points, 7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1 steal and 1.3 blocks, to go along with his 50% shooting mark.

Griffin expressed his desire to help out Bonas’ three-guard attack.

“I’m looking to take some pressure off Idris Taqqee, Matt Mobley, and Jaylen Adams,” Griffin said. “Over two years you witness an enormous number of different situations and I need to do my part.”

Griffin said he wants to contribute more on scoring, playing defense, and being a leader. He believes for the team to have a great season, it will involve defensive play and togetherness.

“For us as a team, we need to commit and play defense, learn what each other’s strengths are, and stay connected as one,” Griffin said. “I believe once we fully are connected as one then we can be a hard team to stop.”

Griffin and some of the veteran players, have helped the freshman transition onto the team. He said he’s tried to help them through “the learning process.”

Griffin knows the hype surrounding the team this season and said he’s not worried about other teams in the Atlantic-10. He said the team needs to worry about what they can control and take care of it.

“If we start watching other teams, that is when we’ll lose sight of what our main goals are,” Griffin said. “I believe we can play with any team in the country and win.”

Men’s basketball: 15 things you may not know about Idris Taqqee

By Katie Faulkner @kfaulkner20

The Intrepid’s latest “Things You May Not Know” article features Bonnies junior guard Idris Taqqee. Here are some fun facts about one of SBU’s captains:

Favorite Musical Artist- Kendrick Lamar

Favorite Food- Macaroni

Favorite NBA Team- Los Angeles Lakers

Favorite Movie- Armageddon

Pre-Game Rituals- Eats a bowl of Frosted Flakes every night

Celebrity Crush- Sanaa Lathan

Hobbies Other Than Basketball- Making music, writing poetry

Favorite A-10 Team to Play- Dayton

Misses Most About Home- Mom’s cooking

Admires Most- Father

Favorite Place to Travel- Los Angeles, California

Instagram or Twitter- Instagram

Funniest Teammate- Matt Mobley

Spare Time Activities- Spending time with family

Men’s basketball: For Bonnies, Taqqee is ultimate “glue guy”

(Photo Credit: St. Bonaventure Athletics)

By Katie Faulkner @kfaulkner20

Every team has a “glue guy,” the gritty player relied on to do the dirty work without much praise in return.  For the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team, junior Idris Taqqee has been that guy.

“Idris is our glue guy, and he’s somebody that every team needs to hit the big shot or dive for the loose ball,” Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt said. “He’s the guy we can depend on every night to be consistent.”

During the 2015-2016 season, Taqqee averaged 5.1 points and four rebounds per game. Though he’s not known for stuffing stat sheets, Taqqee creates problems on defense, forces turnovers and makes 46 percent of his shots from the floor.

During the off-season, the 200-pound Taqqee focused on his strength, allowing him to develop a more finessed game.

“I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on getting stronger,” said the Snellville, Ga. native. “The time I’ve put in has helped me improve with finishing at the rim.”

As a sophomore, Taqqee was named a tri-captain by his peers due to his “work hard in silence” mentality. With the loss of Dion Wright (16 ppg) and Marcus Posley (19 ppg), the Bonnies were lacking in both scoring and leadership.

“Personally, I took a lot from Marcus and Dion and they’re hard players to replace,” Taqqee said. “I’ve asked them a lot of questions on how they approach each season and prepare from game to game.”

With Wright and Posley gone, Taqqee has an opportunity to step into a scoring role.

“He’s shooting the ball better and the next step for Idris is becoming a double-figure scorer, but also continuing to rebound and defend,” Schmidt said.

With three freshman additions (Josh Ayeni, Tareq Coburn, Amadi Ikpeze), Taqqee is impressed with the desire to work hard and continuously improve.

“The freshmen work hard collectively and have impressed me since day one,” said Taqqee. “They’ve been giving 100 percent in practice and it’s going to show on the court.”

Predicted to finish fifth in the Atlantic 10 this season, Taqqee believes the team has improved on the physical aspects of the game.

“As a team we’ve really improved on our overall strength and quickness, and our big men are light on their feet this year.”