Quick Hits: Dayton snaps Bona’s win streak

By Jeff Uveino

The last time St. Bonaventure traveled to UD Arena, they shocked the then #15 ranked Dayton Flyers, fueled off 31 points from Jaylen Adams.

But Wednesday night’s contest wouldn’t produce the same results.

After going in as slight favorites on the road and riding an eight-game win streak, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies fell to the Flyers, 82-72. 

The Flyers started hot, turning a 14-4 run to begin the game, into a 14-point halftime lead.

St. Bonaventure closed the gap at single-digits midway through the second half, and again toward the end of the game, but couldn’t catch the Flyers. 

Dayton was hot from the floor the whole game, shooting 56% on the night. Their defense held the Bonnies in check to the tune of just 39% shooting from the field. 

The Flyers received big scoring contributions from multiple players, led by Darrell Davis, who had 28 points. Trey Landers added 17 points, and Jalen Crutcher had 12 points.  

The Bonnies’ backcourt duo of Adams and Matt Mobley filled the score sheet, but were kept quiet enough by the Flyers’ defense to prevent overcoming the team’s overall poor shooting.

Mobley had 24 points, all of which came in the second half. Adams added 15 points and 7 assists. Freshman Izaiah Brockington had 10 points coming off the bench. 

With the loss, St. Bonaventure fell to 11-3 overall, and 1-1 in Atlantic 10 play. Dayton improved to 7-7 overall with the win, and 1-1 in A-10 play. 

The Bonnies will look to rebound as they travel to Philadelphia for a Saturday game with St. Joseph’s. 

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St. Bonaventure Starts Off Atlantic 10 Conference Play with Win Against UMass

By: Sean Lynch

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies ended 2017 with their first conference win of the season against The University of Massachusetts Minutemen 98-78 at home in the Reilly Center.

Coming off their first ever win in the Carrier Dome against the Syracuse Orange; the Bonnies continued the hot streak with their eighth win in a row to start off play in the Atlantic 10.

Jaylen Adams proved to be a key factor for the Bonnies, finishing with a game-high 32 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds. Matt Mobley finished with 28 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

The Bonnies started the game off hot, going on an 11-0 run after UMass scored the first basket of the game. UMass broke the streak at 16:32 with a Rashaan Holloway free throw.

The Minutemen broke off their own 13-0 run to tie the game at 23-23 after the Bonnies went on a four-minute drought. Courtney Stockard ended the scoreless spree with a free throw at 7:04. Jaylen Adams shot a long three to bring the lead back to seven with 3:39 left in the half.

St. Bonaventure opted for the long ball to close out the first half, hitting five straight three-pointers until Matt Mobley missed with 1:05 left in the first half. The Bonnies closed out the half with a 47-38 lead over the Minutemen.

Bonas started another run with a second half with another 10-0 run, once again thwarted by a Rashaan Holloway free throw at 12:34. The second half remained in the Bonnies hands behind Adams 17 second-half points.

A huge factor on offense came through Bonaventure’s three-point shooting. The Bonnies shot 8-11 (72.7%) in the first half and closed out the game shooting 10-18 (55.6%) from deep.

The Bonnies were also successful in defending the three, keeping the Minutemen at 8-23(34.8%) from long range.

The Bonnies will start the new year in Dayton, Ohio as they will take on the Flyers on January 3 at 8:30 p.m. in UD Arena.

One day at a time: Adams tuning out the noise despite lofty expectations

By Jeff Uveino

The Bonnies are coming off a season in which they finished with a 20-12 record and bring back lots of experience with four returning starters. This includes the most important piece of the puzzle — senior guard Jaylen Adams.

After originally declaring for the NBA draft following his junior year, Adams later chose to stay at St. Bonaventure for one more season; a decision that will give the Bonnies a huge boost as they compete for the conference championship.

Adams has already amassed one of the most successful careers in Bonaventure history, being named First Team All-Conference in the Atlantic 10 each of the last two seasons. He finished 2nd in the A 10 last season in scoring, averaging 20.6 points per game. A lifetime 83% free throw shooter and 38% three-point shooter, Adams has already shown he has what it takes to lead Bonnies basketball to the next level.

After an ankle injury that sidelined the NBA prospect for the first several games of the season, Adams has returned with a chip on his shoulder and an undeniable focus to finally get the Bonnies over the hump.

The best example of this may have come in their last game against Syracuse, in which Adams scored 23 points and helped the Bonnies get their first win at the Carrier Dome in program history.

After being named preseason First Team All-Conference again this year, and being picked by NBC Sports as their preseason Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, Adams will have to deal with additional pressure to lead the Bonnies deep into the postseason. With many analysts picking them to make an NCAA Tournament run, Adams spoke about what the team needs to do in order to deal with all of the hype.

“I think we just need to tune it out honestly,” Adams said. “The things that people say about us, we can’t let it get to us. If we let it affect us negatively or positively, it’s just weakness. We need to block it out and prepare every day.”

Head coach Mark Schmidt will once again be leaning heavily on Adams for continuous involvement, as he averaged 37.4 minutes per game last season. Adams discussed what he has to do to get ready for such a big work load.

“I just have to prepare my body, prepare for the physical beating and prepare mentally,” he said.

Adams will work with backcourt mate and fellow senior Matt Mobley to take some of the load off him. Mobley, who averaged 18.5 points per game last year, will also be a key piece for the Bonnies this season. This team is packed with talent, which is something that will help their star players prepare and succeed.

“I get to go up against Matt in practice every day and a bunch of other guys that push me, so I’m ready for it,” he said.

For all of the veterans on the roster, this could be the best chance they get to play deep into the postseason and make a run at the NCAA tournament.

“I’ve got a bunch of friends who have been there before and they tell me that it’s one of the best experiences they’ve ever had,” he said. “Coach Schmidt has been there and he tells us all the time there’s nothing like it, so it’s definitely goal number one.”

As a senior, Adams will look to make the most of his last go-around at St. Bonaventure, and expressed how much his time at the school has meant to him.

“It’s definitely a special, special place. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity Coach Schmidt gave me. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” he said. “I’ve built some lasting relationships, and I just love it here.”

Adams has brought plenty of energy to the Reilly Center over his career at Bonas, but even he had to take a moment to reminisce on just how powerful the Bonnies student section, the ‘Wolf Pack’, is during home games. Last season, the Bonnies were 11-4 at home, and just 6-5 on the road and 3-3 at neutral locations.

“I don’t even know if they know it, but they give us an unreal energy. Especially when you see familiar faces that you see around campus cheering for you. They get so excited; the gym literally feels like its shaking. They give us a tremendous boost,” he said.

Although his career at Bonaventure will come to an end after this season, Adams hopes that he can continue to play professionally for years to come.

“I just want to play until the wheels fall off,” Adams said. I love the game and everything about it. Hopefully I don’t have to give it up too soon.”

Bonnies Prevail Over Bulls 73-62 in Adams’ Return

By Sean Lynch

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies (5-2) were victorious on Saturday over the Buffalo Bulls (4-3) at Alumni Arena in Amherst.

Guard Jaylen Adams returned for his first game action of the regular season after he injured his ankle in an exhibition game against Alfred State University on Nov. 4.

Working his way back into a normal playing cycle, Adams logged 28 minutes and had 9 points, 4 rebounds and a pair of assists and steals.

Guard CJ Massinburg scored a three pointer to push the Bulls to their largest lead of the game with 31-25 with 3:25 left in the first half. The Bulls went into the second half with a 35 – 32 lead over the Bonnies.

The Bonnies tied it up 51-51 with 10:35 left when they pushed for four points to close the gap. The Bonnies would hold the Bulls basketless for the next 8 minutes of the game until forward Nick Perkins ended the run with a three-point basket with 39 seconds left in the contest.

Guard Matt Mobley led the charge for Bonas with a game-high 25 points – his fourth 20-point game of the season. Mobley also added three rebounds and a steal.

The defense stepped up for the Bonnies as they held the Bulls to 33.9 % shooting from the field and 24.1 % from three-point range for the game. The Bonnies were also plagued with foul trouble as they had 14 fouls in the first half of the game.

The Bonnies next challenge will come in the form of an away game against the Canisius Golden Griffins Wednesday, Nov. 6 at the Koessler Center at 7 p.m.

Bonnies face biggest test with Adams’ availability uncertain

By Josh Svetz 

Editor’s Note: News about Jaylen Adams being ruled out and Courtney Stockard playing came out after the initial posting of this article.

The show must go on.

Today the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team will get its first big TV exposure of the season against the undefeated Maryland Terrapins (5-0) at 9:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

While the exposure invites excitement, one question remains unanswered as game-time looms.

Star senior guard Jaylen Adams has yet to play this season due to an ankle injury he suffered in an exhibition game against Alfred.

While originally expected to be ready for the Emerald Coast Classic, Adams’ lack of practice time over the week has his status tonight in question.

Its no secret that not having Adams changes the game plan for both teams.

But, the show must go on.

If Adams sits, the Bonnies will look to deploy a three-guard lineup with junior Nelson Kaputo sliding into the point guard spot aside seniors Matt Mobley and Idris Taqqee.

Projected next to the three is junior forward LaDarien Griffin and sophomore big Josh Ayeni, who didn’t start last game due to disciplinary reasons.

If Adams is out, the Bonnies will be relying heavily on Mobley’s slashing and three point shooting ability to carry them.

The Preseason All-Conference First Team selection hasn’t missed a beat, averaging 25.0 points per game (ppg), tied for 10th in the NCAA.

Along with Mobley, the Bonnies will need scoring from a combination Kaputo, Griffin and Ayeni.

Kaputo has stepped in for Adams and seems to be getting into a rhythm, improving his stats and efficiency each game.

Against Maryland Eastern-Shore, Kaputo made the most of his 21 minutes scoring 15 points off 50% from the field, notching 5 steals and finishing with no turnovers in a blowout.

Griffin’s been one of the most consistent Bonnies sliding into the Dion Wright role nicely, averaging 8.7 ppg, 7 rebounds and averaging an assist,block and steal per game.

Ayeni’s had an up-and-down campaign so far, scoring 16 points against Jackson State, only to follow that up with no points, and four fouls in nine minutes against Maryland Eastern-Shore. In fact, there’s a chance the Bonnies start fellow sophomore Amadi Ikpeze instead.

In three games, Ikpeze is averaging 4 points and 3 rebounds with a block a game. Against Maryland Eastern-Shore, Ikpeze made the most of his first start of the season scoring 4 points on 2-4 shooting with 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and an assist.

With questions about who’s going to start in the Bonnies lineup, the bench depth could also take a hit as reports say junior forward Courtney Stockard has been limited in practice all week.

On the plus side, the Bonnies may have found a new contributor in freshman forward Tshiefu Ngalakulondi. “Chef” put himself on the radar in style. Against Maryland Eastern-Shore, the Chef scored 21 points off 73% shooting including four threes and three steals and a block.

Of course, that was against Maryland Eastern-Shore, this is against Maryland, the level of competition couldn’t be more different.

Still, it’ll be interesting to see if Head Coach Mark Schmidt decides to give the freshman some added minutes.

While the Bonnies have many question marks, the Terrapins look like a sure thing.

Through five games, the Terrapins have proved to possibly be better than last season with wins over both Bonnies opponents Jackson State and Maryland Eastern-Shore, along with a convincing victory over previously undefeated Butler.

The lead man for the Terrapins is sophomore Anthony Cowan, averaging 14.0 ppg, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

NBA draft hopeful and fellow sophomore Justin Jackson has improved on every number from last season except for scoring at 8.0 ppg.

Along with Cowan, the Terrapins have two players scoring in double-figures, including 6-10 freshman forward Bruno Fernando.

The Terrapins bring pressure and use both their bigs to create turnovers on defense, while also sporting a top-20 scoring defense, holding opponents to 58.4 ppg.

With Adams, the Bonnies will have a better three point scoring team, but rust could affect the star.

Without Adams, the Bonnies will need Kaputo to pick up the slack.

Regardless of who plays, the Bonnies will need to force the Terrapins to shoot from behind the arc, as they shoot just over 37% from the triple, compared to their 52% from the field.

Turnovers could also dictate the game.

In the Terrapins closest win, the Bucknell Bison punished their bigs and set the tempo, limiting the turnovers in the first half, getting out to a 15-point lead. But in the second half, the Terrapins switched to handle the bigs and sped up the Bison’s guards, resulting in a 80-78 win over the Bison.

For Bonas, early in the year they struggled with turnovers against Niagara. To combat the Terrapins’ pressure, they’ll need to slow down the tempo and establish an inside game early to open three pointers for the guards, especially Mobley.

Opening as a nine-point underdog, its hard to tell which Bonnies team will show up tonight.

But one thing is for sure; with or without Adams, the Bonnies are in for a grind.

 

 

 

 

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.”

Kaputo “I’m the best I’ve ever been”

For Junior guard Nelson Kaputo, not getting lost in the hype is high on his priorities.

Because of the Bonnies’ NCAA Tournament snubs the past two seasons, the team is motivated to finally get over the hump this season, especially with the tournament-level hype surrounding the team. In fact, CBS Sports ranked the Bonnies the #1 college basketball team in New York on Wednesday.

Kaputo, a 6-foot guard from Toronto, Ontario, shared his thoughts about how the team doesn’t want to get lost in the hype.

“We’ve done a great job blocking it out,” Kaputo said. “We’re focusing on what we have to do.”

The Bonnies put up good numbers on the record sheet, finishing 20-12 on the season and 11-7 in conference play; however, Kaputo expects them to perform better this season due to a new emphasis on work ethic.

“It was a great off-season for all of us,” he said. “Individually, we all have gotten better, and personally, I think I’m the best I’ve been in my life.”

He felt the biggest improvement he made during the off-season was his strength.

“I’ve put on a lot of muscle this summer, and I think that’s going to allow me to be more effective on the court, being able to come off ball screens cleaner and taking bumps better,” he said.”My all-around game is going to improve this year.”

Kaputo said living with the team helped improve their bond.

“Most of the guys lived with one another over the summer and we’ve been around each other every single day,” he said. “The only time we’re not with each other is when we go to sleep.  Most of us live in the townhouses as well, so off that strength alone, the chemistry on the team is going to keep building throughout the season.  It’s like a brotherhood being on this team, and you’re going to see that carry onto the court when we’re out there balling and having fun with each other.”

This brotherhood the team has with each other carries over into Kaputo’s relationships with some of his fellow guards and forwards. He told me about how him, Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley have been in that position of learning from the veterans and how they taught him some things as well.

He is glad that, as a junior this season, he is able to follow in the footsteps as a mentor for some of the younger guys.

“As upperclassmen on this team, that’s the position that Matt, Jaylen and I are in with the younger guys,” Kaputo said.  “We are able to teach them how to understand the system and how to compete at this level, just like the veteran guys, who were in our shoes at one point before, taught us. We understood what it took to be good before and what it takes for us to get where we want to be.”

Kaputo shows a lot of praise for the system Coach Schmidt imparts to his players, but he went over with me how the team could have done better with the system.

“Our struggle last year was figuring out how to play with each other within the system, not the system itself,” said Kaputo.  “I love the system. It’s just a matter of getting to know the guys better and know how we play.  Having a lot of returners from last year should help us with that. Coming into this year, everyone knows their role, and everyone is ready to play.”

While Kaputo shows his admiration for the system, he also shows it towards his head coach.  He told me that Mark Schmidt is a great guy and coach, who is adept to the “open door policy” with his players, knows how to “install the winning mentality into his players” so they win games and gets him playing his best.

“He’s put me in a position to be successful time and time again,” he said.  “There have been times in my career where I haven’t followed through in that position, but he tells me what I need to do to get back on the court. As a player, you want a coach that brings out the best in you, and that’s what he does.”

According to Kaputo, it sounds like Coach Mark Schmidt has command of the locker room and the support of his players to be able to lead his team to new heights this season.

“The whole team has that same picture in mind: the NCAA Tournament, and we’ve been working like it,” said Kaputo.  “I think you guys are in for quite a season.”

 

 

Bonnies look to continue home opener winning tradition, despite questions

By Mike Hogan

As the New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro, one of St. Bonaventure’s most accomplished journalism graduates, stated in his article on the Bona Blog — it’s the season Bonnies Fans have been awaiting for a very long time.

The journey starts tonight in the Reilly Center at 8 p.m. against longtime rival Niagara.

Preparing To win (possibly) without Adams

One of the biggest storylines that has gotten a lot of attention this week is whether or not Jaylen Adams will play tonight vs Niagara. Adams is questionable  with an ankle injury that he sustained during the exhibition match-up against Niagara last Saturday.

Adams did not practice all week and sources say he’s been spotted on crutches, likely ruling him out for tonight.

If Adams can’t go, Junior guard Nelson Kaputo will likely get the start.

Last year, after not playing the first nine games for academic reasons, Kaputo averaged 2.0 points and 0.8 assists per game. Against Fordham last year he played 36 minutes and dished out six assists for the Bonnies. His highest scoring total came against George Mason, where he played 20 minutes and scored 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting.

Can History Repeat Itself?

The Bonnies have won their last six meetings with Niagara dating back to 2011, including last year’s game in Buffalo where the Bonnies came away with a 79-69 victory. Tonight marks the 158th meeting between the two big 4 rivals, with the Bonnies currently leading the series by an overwhelming 88 wins to 69 losses, and the margin only gets bigger at the RC where the Bonnies hold a 53-18 record vs Niagara.

Stacking up the Squads

This year’s team brings a lot of experience to the table as the team is returning four starters and seven letter winners. While Adams is questionable for tonight, Matt Mobley will still be there to pick up the slack as the two are known to be one of the best back-court tandems in the country. The lineup will also feature other strong role players such as Idris Taqqee, Josh Ayeni, LaDarien Griffin, Nelson Kaputo, Courtney Stockard, and Amadi Ikpeze. New additions like Izaiah Brockington, Tshiefu Ngalakulondi, and Ndene Gueye will also be mixed into the action.

Niagara brings experience to the table, as the team returns all five of its leading scorers from last year’s team which finished at 10-23. While last year’s results were not desirable Niagara is also primed to have a pretty solid year as they were picked to finish in the top five of the MAAC. The guys to key on for Niagara are Matt Scott who was named to the all-preseason MAAC first-team, and senior guard Kahlil Dukes who earned second team honors. Scott lead the team in scoring, rebounding, and steals last season, while Dukes was 11th in the MAAC in scoring and hit 92% of his shots from the line.

 

Keys for victory and prediction:

 

Obviously, if Adams is indeed ruled out for this game, other guys will have to chip in and take the pressure off of Mobley. Look for guys like Stockard (who scored 20 points in last week’s exhibition), and Idris Taqqee to step up and take the scoring load off of Mobley. Overall, even without Adams, this is a game the Bonnies should be able to handle. Look for Niagara to come in and play aggressive with nothing to lose. Niagara didn’t finish well last year, but they did put up a fight against the Bonnies, and they certainly aren’t a pushover.