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.”



Men’s basketball: A look at Bona’s past Media Day rankings

(Mark Schmidt Photo Credit:

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

When the Atlantic 10 converges on Pittsburgh on Tuesday for its men’s basketball Media Day, the most discussed topics will be the preseason poll and All-A-10 teams, per usual. Nothing gets the season kicked off quite like debates about where teams are ranked, who the preseason favorites are and what players got left off a team.

For years, St. Bonaventure hasn’t really had much to look forward to on Media Day. The Bonnies have been ranked consistently low in the vote, conducted by select media members. More often than not, the team has outdone its preseason ranking and proven the pundits wrong.

This year, SBU has received more media attention and respect than it has in past Octobers- that’s what a share of the league’s regular season title and NCAA snub will do to team visibility. But as coach Mark Schmidt has said more than a few times over the years, “We didn’t believe (the media) when they said we were bad. Why should we listen to them now when they say we’re good?”

Here’s a season-by-season look at the A-10 preseason polls during the Schmidt era, and how the team has ended up:

D'Lancy Carter photo credit:
D’Lancy Carter photo credit:

2007-08 season: 

Preseason poll: Bonnies picked last of 14 teams. Xavier voted preseason favorite.

Season: Bonnies finish last after finishing 2-14 in the A-10 and 8-22 overall. Xavier won the regular season title with a 14-2 conference record.

Jonathan Hall Photo Credit:
Jonathan Hall Photo Credit:

2008-09 season:

Preseason poll: Bonnies picked last of 14 teams. Xavier voted preseason favorite.

Season: Bonnies finish 11th with a 6-10 A-10 record (15-15 overall). Xavier won the regular season title with a 12-4 conference record.

Chris Matthews Photo Credit:
Chris Matthews Photo Credit:

2009-10 season:

Preseason poll: Bonnies picked 11th of 14. Dayton voted preseason favorite.

Season: Bonnies finished eighth with a 7-9 A-10 record (15-16 overall). Temple and Xavier shared the regular season title with 14-2 conference records. Dayton finished seventh, going 8-8.

Ogo Adegboye Photo Credit:
Ogo Adegboye Photo Credit:

2010-11 season:

Preseason poll: Bonnies picked 13th of 14. Temple voted preseason favorite.

Season: Bonnies tied for eighth with Duquesne with an 8-8 A-10 record (16-15 overall). Xavier won the regular season title with a 15-1 conference record. Temple was second at 14-2.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

2011-12 season:

Preseason poll: Bonnies picked fourth of 14. Xavier voted preseason favorite.

Season: Bonnies tied for third with Xavier at 10-6 (Bonnies defeated Xavier in A-10 Tournament final). Temple won the regular season title with a 13-3 conference record.

Jordan Gathers Photo Credit:
Jordan Gathers Photo Credit:

2012-13 season:

Preseason poll: Bonnies picked 11th of 16. St. Joe’s voted preseason favorite.

Season: Bonnies tied for 11th with Dayton and George Washington at 7-9. Saint Louis won the regular season title with a 13-3 conference record. St. Joe’s tied for eighth with an 8-8 record.

Matthew Wright Photo Credit:
Matthew Wright Photo Credit:

2013-14 season:

Preseason poll: Bonnies picked 12th of 13. VCU voted preseason favorite.

Season: Bonnies finished ninth at 6-10 (18-15 overall). Saint Louis won the regular season title with a 13-3 conference record. VCU finished second at 12-4.

Andell Cumberbatch Photo Credit:
Andell Cumberbatch Photo Credit:

2014-15 season:

Preseason poll: Bonnies picked 10th of 14. VCU voted preseason favorite.

Season: Bonnies tied for sixth at 10-8 (18-13). Davidson won the regular season title with a 14-4 conference record. VCU tied for fourth at 12-6.

Marcus Posley Photo Credit:
Marcus Posley Photo Credit:

2015-16 season:

Preseason poll: Bonnies picked eighth of 14. Dayton voted preseason favorite.

Season: Bonnies shared the regular season title with Dayton and VCU with a 14-4 conference record.


As the summaries show, Bona has either matched or exceeded its preseason ranking in each season since Schmidt was hired in 2007. More often than not, the team can be described as “overachievers” when you look at the projections.

The SBU program isn’t going to lose sleep over where its picked on Tuesday, mainly because of how much evidence there is that media members haven’t (collectively) pinpointed the brown and white correctly over the years.

Basketball: Notes from Big 4 Media Day

(Photo Credit: @BonniesMBB Twitter account)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Some news and notes from Big 4 Basketball Media Day on Wednesday:

Throwing it back: Fans participated in a vote over the summer to determine which throwback uniforms Bonaventure, Buffalo, Canisius and Niagara would wear in the Big 4 Classic doubleheader on December 17.

The 1969-70 Final Four jerseys were the presumptive favorites, leading for much of the poll, so consider this one an upset: SBU is wearing the uniforms from its 1976-77 NIT championship year. Since this is the 40th anniversary of that season, it’s fitting that these are the threads the team is going with.

Five Bonnies make All-Big 4 teams: Media members voted junior point guard Jaylen Adams player of the year on the men’s side, while senior forward Denzel Gregg and junior guard Idris Taqqee were picked for the second team. Junior guard Mariah Ruff was selected to the women’s first team and redshirt senior forward Gabby Richmond made the second squad.

Schmidt to play nine: Coach Mark Schmidt called depth “so overrated” in a Bona Blog Q&A earlier this week, and he stated on Wednesday that he was going to have a nine-man rotation. He thinks one of the benefits will be competitive practices.

“We’re gonna play nine guys, so they’ll be three or four guys that don’t play,” he said. “The more the competition, the better the players. If you come to practice knowing you have a spot, it’s human nature (that) you won’t work as hard. I think competition drives you, and that’ll be a positive for our team.”

Moving on up front: Schmidt didn’t mention outgoing transfers Jordan Tyson and Derrick Woods by name when he was asked about replacing them. He did, however, seem confident in newcomers like David Andoh, Josh Ayeni, Amadi Ikpeze and Chinonso Obokoh.

“We lost like six points and three rebounds on the two kids that left,” he said. “So hopefully the guys that we’ve brought in can do that and do more. But it’s yet to be determined; we’ve just done individual (workouts).”

Andoh injury update: Andoh, a senior forward, underwent foot surgery in August, but is expected to be ready for the season.

“He started running,” Schmidt noted. “He’s out of the boot and his whole thing’s gonna be getting in shape. I think his foot is now healthy… but as (Patriots coach Bill) Belichick says, I’m not a doctor, I’m a coach.”

Adams after Adidas Nations: After Adams participated in the Adidas Nations Showcase in July, Schmidt said he has more confidence and the program has some more prestige.

“I think he was (picked) the eighth best player out there; I don’t know who votes,” Schmidt said. “But it gives him added confidence and I think it does a lot for a program too… It gives us credibility, it shows that we can get that caliber of a player and it shows our players that Jay wasn’t heavily recruited, but if you have a great work ethic you can be really successful at Bonaventure.”

Obokoh expectations: Obokoh, a grad transfer from Syracuse, is projected to start at center for SBU. Schmidt thinks he could play 25 minutes a game.

“It’s still a process for him, but we’ve got a veteran guy with some strength that can rebound and play defense,” Schmidt said. “You have to be determined, and he’s doing well so far but we haven’t started practice yet. He’s a fourth-year senior, so he’s been through it even though he didn’t play a lot at Syracuse. He’s practiced against really good players, so we’re hoping he’s gonna be a big part of our success this year.

“You don’t bring in a transfer to sit him on the bench. Our expectations are for him to be a productive player.”

Reilly Renovations: As work continues to finish the renovations on the roof, floor and scoreboard in the Reilly Center, the team has been doing individual workouts in the campus’s Richter Center exercise facility.

“We haven’t had the court for the first month, which you always want to practice on your own court,” Schmidt said. “But it’s something we have to deal with and the court looks great. If we had to not practice there for a month and have those renovations done, it’s more important to get those renovations.”

Schmidt on the state of Bona Nation: “It’s tremendous. I said it when I first got the job here, the great thing about Bonaventure basketball is the passion of the fans and the bad thing about St. Bonaventure is the passion of the fans… it’s a cult in a positive sense. There’s just such a love for the school and a love for the basketball program.”



Men’s basketball: A look at Bona’s recruiting targets

(Kalif Young Photo Courtesy of Canada Basketball)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

With two roster spots open for next season, St. Bonaventure’s coaching staff is hot on the recruiting trail.

Redshirt freshman center Jordan Tyson’s transfer wasn’t officially announced until last Thursday, but it was reported a couple weeks ago by the Bona Blog and Verbal Commits. After guard Tareq Coburn committed on March 30 and gave next year’s squad its sixth guard, it was clear that going big was the objective anyway.

Here’s a look at three players Schmidt and co. are looking at to potentially sign for 2016-17:

Kalif Young- 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward, Vaughan, Canada. Young, a three-star recruit who attends Orangeville Prep in Canada, has received offers from Bona, VCU, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Marquette, Loyola Marymount, Pittsburgh and Providence. He told in February that he wouldn’t be making a decision until April or May, but that factors in his choice would be “fit, coaching, and who has had the most professionals that have played my position.”

With a Canadian assistant coach in Jerome Robinson and pros like Andrew Nicholson and Youssou Ndoye, the Bonnies certainly have a shot to land Young.

Ivor Baric- 6-foot-9 power forward, Cape Fear Christian Academy in Erwin, N.C. Phenom Hoop Report reported that Baric missed the start of the season due to a high ankle sprain, but MaxPreps’ stats show he averaged 8.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in 12 games. Head coach Dwight Miller told Phenom Hoop Report that the Croatian is a “special player with a high basketball IQ” who has “adapted very well to the speed of the game in the USA.”

The site went on to say that Baric is a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions and is a mobile, face up four man.

Clint Robinson- 6-foot-8, 235-pound power forward, Montego Bay, Jamaica and State Fair Community College. Schmidt was in Missouri on April 9 to watch Robinson work out, per AAU assistant coach Shawn Harmon’s Twitter. Robinson averaged 13.9 points and 8.6 rebounds a game at State Fair this past season. Verbal Commits lists Texas-San Antonio and Texas-Rio Grande Valley as schools who have offered him a scholarship.

The guard group is set, but the need for at least one more post player to join signee Amadi Ikpeze and returnees Derrick Woods, Dave Andoh, and LaDarien Griffin still looms large.

While Schmidt has been known to save a scholarship for future use, at least one more incoming freshman will be coming aboard for next season.


Men’s basketball: Bonaventure working on restructured contract for Schmidt

(Photo Credit:

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

St. Bonaventure Director of Athletics Tim Kenney told The Intrepid Friday that he has been talking with men’s basketball coach Mark Schmidt about a restructured contract for over a month.

Schmidt’s name has been floated around as a possible candidate to fill the Pittsburgh coaching vacancy, while he reportedly interviewed for the Central Florida position before Johnny Dawkins was hired. Rumors that Mick Cronin could be hired at UNLV have led to speculation about the Cincinnati job opening as well.

Kenney and his staff are committed to making sure Schmidt, who just completed his ninth season as SBU head coach, is in Olean for years to come.

“At this time of the year, the coaching carousel causes consternation among many programs with great coaches. St. Bonaventure is no different,” Kenney said. “Mark and I have been talking for over a month on restructuring his contract to ensure that he and his family are happy and he does not need to move on to another program that may lure him with more money.”

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bonaventure working on restructured contract for Schmidt”

Men’s basketball: Bonnies host Binghamton on opening night

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

After St. Bonaventure’s exhibition dismantling of Mansfield last Saturday, Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt called the contest (if you want to call it that) the team’s “second quiz.” The first quiz was the closed scrimmage against Kent St., while tonight’s season opener against the Binghamton Bearcats was seen as the first “exam.”

To pass the first real test, the Bonnies will have to learn from last December’s victory in Binghamton’s Events Center, where they only led the Bearcats by four at the half and pulled away in the second half for a 69-51 win.

The Bearcats’ leading scorer from that game, Nick Madray, transferred to Eastern Michigan, but everyone else who played is still on the roster. That young group includes five sophomores- forwards Willie Rodriguez, Dusan Perovic and Bobby Ahearn along with guards Romello Walker and Justin McFadden. Rodriguez and Perovic are particularly dangerous, as both averaged double-digit points last season.

“They were a young team last year,” said Bonaventure guard Marcus Posley. “They gave us a little fight at their place last year. We didn’t play the best game but this year we’re looking forward to them coming here. We should be fine.

“I felt like we got relaxed last year. We kind of rushed our offense; we took quick shots, one pass and shoot. This year we’re trying to make them work and make them defend.”

Getting relaxed is not allowed in Schmidt’s offense this year, as the small-ball Bonnies are looking to score the ball as fast as possible. After the Mansfield game, Schmidt noted that he wants a faster tempo than the team displayed. As a result, Posley said practice this week was conducted at a quicker pace as well.

“The more that you push them and keep them on their heels, the more it works to our advantage,” he said.

The pace of play starts with the point guard as the floor general, and Posley said that freshman point guard Nelson Kaputo is adapting well to the system.

“I’ve noticed that when we get Nelson in the lineup, (he’s) learning to push the ball more,” said Posley. “In the past he was timid and didn’t know rotations and where to be with spacing, but (he’s) been a leader, telling guys where to go and pushing the ball.

“Schmidt really wants to do that, so once we get that down pat, we’ll be really hard to beat.”

As for the first-game jitters, Schmidt acknowledged that his players will have them and said they should have them every time they hit the court.

“Hopefully they’re nervous, they should be nervous before every game; if they’re not nervous there’s something wrong with them,” Schmidt said. “They should be energized every game because we only have 30 of them. There’ll be nerves, but hopefully the exhibition game got some of the young guys’ nerves settled.”

Opening night means some nerves for the coaching staff as well since the first game is tough to prepare for. There are no recent tapes to analyze, no box scores to peruse. Add in the fact that the four freshmen, redshirt or true, are complete unknowns and you have many mysteries on your hands going into the first matchup.

“You go into the unknown,” Schmidt said. “You don’t know what the opponent’s going to do, there’s no tape on them, so the first game is always a big concern… we’ve got a fight on our hands.”

Every team is a work in progress going into the opening weekend of college basketball, but Posley said the team is starting to come together.

“We’re just working on our team defense and executing plays,” he said. “Some guys looked like they didn’t know the plays too well (in the exhibition game), so executing is a test for us.

“Watching practices after the exhibition game, we’ve been executing all the plays that (Schmidt) put in front of us. There have been minimum mistakes, and that’s a big step for us. Our rotations have gotten a lot better too from a week ago, so I’m I have a lot of faith in us.”


Column: Schmidt’s Kaputo comments show newcomer’s potential

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Need any more evidence that the newest St. Bonaventure basketball signee is a special talent?

If Nelson Kaputo’s spot on Canada’s under-17 national team, top-ten ranking on North Pole Hoops’s Canadian prospect list and 47-1 record in his final season at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto aren’t convincing enough for the notoriously skeptical group known as Bonnies basketball fans, maybe some rare comments from his new coach in Bonaventure’s official press release will do the trick.

Mark Schmidt’s initial comments were par for the course, not drastically different from any of his quotes on new recruits. “We are ecstatic to have Nelson join our program,” Schmidt said. “He’s a consummate point guard … a pass-first point guard with a great feel for the game. He’s an attacker and a playmaker on the floor.”

A couple paragraphs down, however, Schmidt did something unusual- he talked about depth and even started to talk strategy for a bit.

“Nelson gives us depth,” Schmidt said. “We won’t have to shift Marcus (Posley) to the point guard if something happens to Jay (Adams) – we can keep him at his natural position (shooting guard). He really gives us more flexibility. Maybe we’ll play all three of them together at times. It’s just a good situation to have more depth.”

Even in the press releases for his most highly touted signings (Andrew Nicholson and Jalen Adams come to mind despite ending up on opposite sides of the spectrum), Schmidt has not really discussed where an incoming player fits in his scheme. He usually opts to wait until practice starts in October to talk about roles with his players, and most of them don’t really know how much playing time they’re going to get until game action.

In this case, Schmidt is already setting the expectation that Kaputo will have a spot in the rotation based on his talent level and the level of competition he has faced in Canada. After all the hard work it took Canadian recruiter Jerome Robinson and the coaching staff to recruit him, then successfully get him reclassified to the 2015 high school class so he is eligible to play this upcoming season, it’s a very realistic expectation. The work ethic will obviously need to be consistently high since the Bonaventure coaching staff is notorious for keeping poor practice performers on the bench, but judging off of his national team selection, practice shouldn’t be a major issue for the 416er.

The addition of Kaputo to the rotation brings us to the most important word in the press release: depth. The Achilles’ Heel of the 2014-15 Bonnies was that they were not a deep team, and they got exposed when Adams suffered that season-ending finger injury and an unprepared Iakeem Alston was thrown into the fire. As Schmidt pointed out, Posley had to play out of position when Alston struggled, causing a total lack of flexibility in the season’s final stretch. Kaputo fixes that problem, but he’s more than just a band-aid; he may prove to be just as skilled of a point guard as Adams.

Even if Adams is healthy the entire year, it will certainly help Schmidt and the Bonnies to have a capable guard to come off the bench and give him a breather when he needs it. A six-man rotation was the norm last year, and Posley and Adams were the only guards to consistently average double-digit minutes a game (Alston didn’t see much action until it became necessary to plug him in). This upcoming season, Kaputo and emerging sophomore Idris Taqqee will be expected to provide quality minutes in reserve. The year after that, Matt Mobley will be eligible to join the fold. The guard group could be loaded for years to come.

The potential of the trio (Adams, Kaputo and Posley) playing together at times was an unexpected look into the brainstorming of the man entering his ninth season at the helm. Schmidt talking strategy in June is almost as unprecedented as an Atlantic 10 team having three 6-foot-1 guards on the floor at the same time.

We may have a term for all of these anomalies come March: the Kaputo Effect.