Men’s basketball: Bona’s run ends against Saint Joe’s

By Joe Pinter, @JPinter93

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (March 15) — If someone would have told Mark Schmidt back in October that his St. Bonaventure Bonnies would win 18 games and make it to the Atlantic 10 semifinals, he wouldn’t have been sure how to respond.

“I would have looked at them a little bit sideways,” the coach said.

Turns out it wasn’t such a far-fetched thought.

The Bonnies’ unexpected run to the A-10 semifinals came to an abrupt end today as their lack of depth was exposed against a deeper, more rested St. Joe’s team. The Bonnies fell 67-48.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bona’s run ends against Saint Joe’s”

Men’s basketball: Gathers’ clutch three knocks off Saint Louis

By Joe Pinter, @JPinter93

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (March 14) — St. Bonaventure Bonnies’ fans everywhere knew how this story ended.

Or at least they thought they did.

Saint Louis’ Dwayne Evans’ game-tying three in the face of Youssou Ndoye with 20.9 seconds left gave Bonaventure fans that same punch in their stomachs that is all too familiar to them this season.

But this time, there was more to the game.

On the final possession, Jordan Gathers caught a short pass from Charlon Kloof, and let the ball fly as the clock ticked toward zero.

The rest was a blur. Actually, the whole thing was a blur, Gathers said. He didn’t hear or see anything after the ball left his hands.


Ballgame, Bonaventure. 71-68.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Gathers’ clutch three knocks off Saint Louis”

Men’s basketball: Gathers will have a new role this season

By Matthew Strauss 

Change is necessary and unavoidable, especially in the landscape of collegiate athletics.

As the St. Bonaventure Bonnies men’s basketball team forges ahead with one season in the books since the departure of 2012 NBA first-round draft pick Andrew Nicholson, change may be the toughest test.  However, they are determined to suppress it.  Forced to adapt – as they welcome the challenge.

A member of the team who is arguably dealing with the greatest change is junior guard Jordan Gathers.  Typically used by head coach Mark Schmidt as a two-guard (shooting guard) in the past two seasons, Gathers will now be charged with the task of running the offense when regular starter Charlon Kloof is not at the helm.

A big difference with the Bonnies squad last season without Nicholson was an improvement in perimeter shooting, something that came as a pleasant surprise.  In 2011-12, the Bonnies made 174 three-pointers, while last year’s squad drained 212.  They do not want to stop there either.  There is a focus to continue to improve shooting on a squad that shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc, up 34.5 percent from Nicholson’s senior season.

“I worked on every aspect, every skill I could, but shooting I really worked on my form and technique and just being consistent in making shots,” said Gathers.  Gathers had already seen improvements in his shooting from his freshman year to last year’s sophomore season.  He shot 42.4 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from long range last year.  Those numbers were 33.9 percent and percent respectively in 2011-12.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Gathers will have a new role this season”

Behind The Wolfpack: Bonnies Receive A Boost From Gathers, Drop Duquesne


[Charlon Kloof draws the Duquesne defense into the middle of the paint during St. Bonaventure’s 68-60 victory in the Reilly Center – Photo by Daulton Sherwin]

By Ryan Lazo, Editor in chief, @RMLazo13

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — If St. Bonaventure wants a chance to defend their Atlantic 10 Conference Championship in Brooklyn, these are the games they need to win.

The Duquesne Dukes entered the Reilly Center holding an eight-game losing streak and were the only team in the Atlantic 10 to still be winless. The Dukes also had not won in the Reilly Center since 2009, making them the perfect recipe to get the Bonnies going.

And the Brown and White certainly feasted on the Dukes, early and often, in a game that was never in doubt, winning 68-60 in front of 4,991 boisterous fans.

“I think you saw a team in St. Bonaventure that has won a championship and kind of pulled that game out down the stretch with experience and we did not,” Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said after his team’s ninth straight defeat.

While the Bonnies (10-10, 3-4) do have experience on their side, they also suffered a blow before the game even began when Matthew Wright was ruled out due to a left foot injury.

The junior sharpshooter had propelled Bona to two historic victories in Philadelphia with his 3-point shooting prowess. Wright went 6-for-10 from three in the victories over Temple and Saint Joseph’s and is shooting a blistering 57 percent in A-10 games, but his replacement had the answer.

“We need other guys stepping up,” Bona coach Mark Schmidt said of his team. “And that’s the sign of a good team and hopefully it can continue.”

And in Wright’s absence, it was Jordan Gathers who put his stamp on the game with back-to-back buckets, seemingly turning back the clock to the player who helped the Bonnies to an A-10 title.

“Once you hit your first shot, the floor starts to open up and the basket starts to get bigger,” Gathers said after his 5-for-5 shooting night for a career-high 13 points. “I just felt comfortable out there shooting it today.”

The Los Angeles native’s outburst could not have come at a better time for the Brown and White. Duquesne (7-14, 0-7) made a conscious effort to key on Demitrius Conger and Chris Johnson, St. Bonaventure’s two leading scorers, and needed someone else to step up.

Conger was blanketed all night by the Dukes’ Kadeem Pantophlet, frustrating him to just a 2-for-8 shooting night for 11 points. To Ferry, it was the best defensive effort anyone has put on the senior out of Brooklyn.

“We did a tremendous job on Demitrius Conger, I think the best job anyone has done on him this year,” Ferry explained. “And then you get Jordan Gathers to hit three threes, and what does he have on the year now? Five, six? He hasn’t made them all year.”

And Ferry’s right.

Conger is the Brown and White’s biggest offensive weapon, making him the point of emphasis for opposing teams. But when a team has other players producing from out of nowhere, it’s the maturation of a team beginning to gel.

With unexpected production from Gathers, clutch 3-pointers from Michael Davenport and Charlon Kloof, Bona received production from everywhere they looked, a mark of a mentally tough squad stepping up when needed.

Even Eric Mosley got into the act, scoring 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range.

“When we’ve won we shot the ball,” Schmidt said. “Saint Joseph’s, Temple, today. We made some tough shots and when we shoot it, we have a chance to win.”

Truth be told, it’s very hard to lose when you shoot 12-for-22 from 3-point range on the game for an absurd 54.5 percent. And it’s even tougher when you dominate the boards by a 35 to 24 margin.

It’s a recipe for success and with just nine games left, four of those at home, Bona needs to win out. After suffering through the most difficult stretch of their schedule — St. Bonaventure was the only team in the A-10 to play all of the top-4 teams in the preseason poll in their first six games — the opportunity is in front of them.

While Bona still has to play some tough teams including La Salle, Butler, UMass and Charlotte — three of those are within the friendly confines of the Reilly Center.

“We had five games left in the Reilly Center and we want to be 5-0,” Schmidt said of his team’s goal. “You can’t accomplish that without being 1-0 and that was the goal today.”

If they accomplish that goal, Bona will be able to defend their A-10 title in Brooklyn. And as we’ve seen last year and this season, if the Brown and White get hot at the right time and shoot a blistering percentage from outside, they can beat anyone.

Whether they get the chance to step foot on the court at the Barclays Center will come down to defending their home court and receiving contributions from everyone — becoming the mentally tough team they have shown glimpses of being.

Behind The Wolfpack: Bona Defense Leads To Victory Over Siena


[The St. Bonaventure Bonnies cruised to a 58-43 win over Siena, forcing them into 17 turnovers – Photo by Daulton Sherwin]


By Ryan Lazo, Co-editor in chief/feature columnist, @RMLazo13

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure may have the talent to score at will prompting cheers from the fans in the Reilly Center but in last night’s game against Siena, all they heard was the clank of the rim.

The ball clanked, banged and hit the rim a total of 37 times as the Bonnies only shot 35.1 percent from the field, yet they defeated Siena 58-43 to retain The Franciscan Cup for the third consectuive year.

How is that possible?

Because this team knows how to play defense. In fact, over the final 8:09 of the second half, the Bonnies (5-2) held Siena (2-7) to just three points the rest of the way.

“This is the prime example of stressing to your team that defense has to be the staple,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said following the lowest amount of points his team surrendered since Nov. 20, 2009. “Offense is fickle. Jump-shooting is fickle. If you defend and take care of the basketball, you have a chance to win.”

An offense being fickle would be an understatement for this night.

It seemed for much of the game, Bona was so inept offensively that they couldn’t hit net if it fell on top of them. And knowing full well it was one of those nights that threatened to put basketball back into the 1920s, Charlon Kloof took control of the defense.

In his second season with St. Bonaventure, Kloof has shown the shut-down ability he has on defense. Much like Darelle Revis does in the NFL, Kloof does on the basketball court.

With his long arms, quick feet and determination, Kloof routinely shuts down the opposing team’s best guard.

“He has a gift,” Schmidt said after Kloof held Siena’s Evan Hymes to 5 points on just 2-for-10 shooting. “He has that mentality. He wants to be a stopper. When we play good defense, it starts at the point guard position.”image

And it’s the willingness to take on the challenge of guarding the opposing team’s best player that fueled Kloof’s desire to play basketball in the states.

“The first reason I came to America was because of all the great guards,” Kloof said after his 8-point, two assists and two steal effort. “I enjoy it. I enjoy slowing them down.”

But Kloof had help on the defensive side of the ball. Seven different Bona players recorded a steal on the night — Bona had eight in total — with Jordan Gathers being a spark plug off the bench.

Even though the sophomore guard played just 13 minutes, he was able to record a steal and force Siena into a turnover off of an inbounds trap play.

“They’re a great defensive team,” Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro said after his team’s 17 turnover effort. “They played us well, forced us into mistakes. We knew going in they were a good defensive team.”

But you can’t win without scoring and Bona’s senior captain took care of that with a stat-sheet stuffing of a night.

Demitrius Conger shot just 4-for-11 from the field, but he was able to rack up 14 points, grab eight rebounds, dish out four assists, block two shots and topped it all off with one steal.

Conger put his importance to the team on display in the nationally televised game, showcasing how he can affect the game in many different ways as he played the full 40 minutes.

While the team has confidence in their senior leader, having a defense that can win games also helps.

“I told the guys in the locker room that we shot 2-for-20 from 3-point range and still won by 15,” Schmidt said. “Each year you are going to have nights where you don’t shoot the ball well and the good teams win those games because they defend.”

On their two poorest shooting nights of the season, at Cornell where they shot just 41 percent and against Siena, Bona earned victories.

Luckily for the Bonnies, there is no BCS system in college basketball. They don’t have to be pretty, you just have to get the win. And with a defense that never relents, Bona can have the confidence to know they can overcome the most tragic of offensive performances.

Behind The Wolfpack: Bonnies’ Staff Looks To Runs In The Future

[Photo courtesy of]

By Ryan Lazo, Co-editor in chief/feature columnist, @RMLazo13

Allen Iverson may have given practice a bad name, but it’s where most college basketball players improve each season, and that’s exactly what Matthias Runs has in front of him.

Last week, the NCAA ruled the 7-foot forward from The Netherlands was ineligible to play this coming season, but he would be able to practice with the team. The experience he will gain is going to be immeasurable.

“It’s critical,” Bonnies assistant coach Dave Moore said about Runs’ practicing. “You are going up against a guy that is bigger and stronger then you every day, so you’re either going to die or get better. We’re excited that Matthias is going to be able to practice and develop with us.”

Developing players outside of games is nothing new to the Bona coaching staff. Last season witnessed the immediate growth of two freshmen — Jordan Gathers and Youssou Ndoye.

Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt always states that the best thing about freshman is they become sophomores, but he saw both of his freshmen take significant strides during the course of the season.

And the foundation for both of their success came down to the hours spent during practice.

For Ndoye, it meant going toe-to-toe with future first-round NBA draft pick and Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year Andrew Nicholson.

“Youssou really took it as a challenge and got better and better every day,” Moore said of the energetic big man. “You saw the results at the end of the season with the contributions he made.”

Ndoye, following a rocky beginning to the season in which he was plagued by foul trouble, showed his true ability when he took over an overtime game against University of Rhode Island for a critical victory.

In the game’s final 77 seconds, Ndoye dunked, drew a charge, blocked a shot and grabbed the game’s final rebound.

Ndoye’s trajectory is exactly what Moore and the rest of the Bona coaching staff has in mind with Runs.

“Those guys (in the Canarias Basketball Academy) know how to work,” Moore said of where Runs played last season. “They are already used to being worked as hard as they can, so it helps shorten the learning curve.”

Demitrius Conger, the Bonnies leading returning scorer, said being able to practice is key for the European big man.

“For him coming over from Europe, it’s a really different game, but to have that year to get ready helps,” Conger said.

Runs agreed, saying he has already seen the differences.

“It’s way more physical,” Runs said of what he’s experienced. “I’m bruised up every time I’m getting off the court.”

But Moore said the Bonnies latest CBA import has what it takes to be special.

“There is not too many people on the planet his size that can move the way he can move,” Moore said of Runs’ natural ability. “It’s exciting to be able to work with.”

While Runs needs to get stronger, the excitement around the coaching staff about the talent he possesses and the work he puts in can lead to greater success.

“We want him to be a pro,” Moore said of Runs.

If that happens, then St. Bonaventure fans will have even more reasons to cheer in the coming years and help warm up those long and harsh winters in Western New York with victories.

Behind the wolfpack: Bonnies drop Xavier, make history

[Andrew Nicholson celebrates St. Bonaventure’s victory over Xavier in the Atlantic 10 Championship Tournament – Photo by Daulton Sherwin]

By Ryan Lazo, Co-editor in chief/feature columnist, @RMLazo13

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (March 11) – Five years ago, St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt stood at the podium during his introductory press conference and discussed bringing Bonnies basketball back.

Flash forward to today, and he has done just that.

The Bonnies defeated the Xavier Musketeers in the 2012 Atlantic 10 Championship, 67-56, at Boardwalk Hall in front of 6,101 spectators.

It marks the first Atlantic 10 title the Bonnies have won in program history, completing a magical run through the end of the season.

They enter the NCAA Tournament as the No. 14 seed in the East region and will face No. 3 seed Florida State on Friday.

Take a second to comprehend this fact.

St. Bonaventure, the smallest school in the A-10, won the title and will face FSU in the NCAA Tournament.

The foundation for this run did not begin this season but four years ago with the recruitment of Andrew Nicholson.

Residing in Mississauga, Ontario, Nicholson was in relative obscurity but did not escape the eyes of Bona scouts.

“Our assistant coach said I needed to get there and see a kid because he reminded him of Greg Oden,” Schmidt said of Nicholson. “As soon as he started playing, I had goose bumps.”

Staring down a Xavier team that had gone undefeated in four previous A-10 finals, Nicholson took control and carried the team when it needed him the most.

The Musketeers had no answer once Nicholson touched the ball in the post, sending multiple men to help with no avail. Like so many teams before them, they could not limit the A-10 Player of the Year.

He not only dominated on the offensive side, tallying 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting but on the defensive side as well with a championship game record eight-blocks.

“That’s what I came to Bonaventure for,” Nicholson said. “To bring the Bonnies back. We did it.”

But once again, it was a team effort that helped the Bonnies outlast the Musketeers.

Without Charlon Kloof’s defense on Tu Holloway, limiting him to 17 points on only 5-of-13 shooting, or Jordan Gathers’ defense on Mark Lyons, the Bonnies would not have enjoyed all the adulation after the game.

Without the team focus on rebounding, a focus of their’s throughout the tournament, out-rebounding Xavier by a 42-29 margin, the Bonnies could have been manhandled inside.

But this did not happen, and the reason is simple.

Schmidt not only has laid a solid foundation of players who complement each other, but the experiences of losing in heartbreaking fashions allowed them to learn.

Instead of watching an Xavier team celebrate winning a fifth A-10 Tournament crown, the Bonnies learned from their experiences and executed to perfection a winning game plan.

As St. Bonaventure cut down the nets for the first time, Bona fans stood in the stands smiling, crying and cheering after witnessing Schmidt and his team accomplish something truly special.

They put St. Bonaventure basketball back on the map and will dance into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000.