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.”

Mobley keeping a “junkyard dog” mentality through expectations

By Nicholas Gallo

Despite some early setbacks, Matt Mobley and the St. Bonaventure Bonnies have fought through adversity and find themselves atop the A-10 standings.

Despite missing star guard Jaylen Adams for the first several games of the year, the Bonnies are 10-2 with wins over Buffalo, Maryland, Vermont and Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

Many of those wins are thanks in part to Mobley, who received a nod for Preseason First Team All-A-10 Conference and is on his way to living up to that distinction.

Last year, Mobley finished top three on the team in steals, assists, rebounds, and points. In addition, Mobley led all Division-I players in minutes per game with 38.3. Mobley said that he had a good summer and was in the weight room, on the court, and continuing to improve his cardio.

“Two of the main aspects of my game that I worked on this summer was ball handling and shooting,” Mobley said. “I felt like those were the skills that I needed to improve on the most to get to the level where I want to be at.”

The senior guard’s grind has paid off, averaging 17.5 points per game, 1.4 steals and leading the conference in free throw percentage with 85.2% from the stripe.

Mobley and Adams have developed into a great one-two punch; becoming one of the best backcourts in the nation. Mobley said it’s exciting to play with Adams again.

“He draws so much attention and his vision is unlike any point guard I have ever played with,” Mobley said. “He gets his guys in the right spots and it’s great to play with him.”

Last March, the University of Dayton, Saint Joseph’s University, and Virginia Commonwealth University went dancing in the NCAA Tournament. This year, St. Bonaventure hopes to do the same thing as Mobley says he believes they should finish strong.

“We’re ready to go and we are all excited,” Mobley said. “Playing and performing is more important than any Preseason ranking.”

According to atlantic10.com, the University of Rhode Island has been picked to repeat as A-10 champions in the 2017-18 preseason poll and St. Bonaventure is supposed to finish second.

So far this season, the Bonnies have handled those expectations.

While Mobley said that the team felt good about the hype, it won’t change their mindset.

“We still want to embrace that underdog mentality,” Mobley said. “Like our coaches say, we need to act like a ‘junkyard dog’ no matter what.”

Mobley said all the young guys are stepping up and standing out, though, at the end of the day, he said the veterans will determine how far this team can go.

“It’s on us, the captains, to get the young guys going,” Mobley said. “This team’s success is on us.”

Reaction: Stockard-led Bonnies embrace adversity, stun undefeated Maryland

By Josh Svetz

The Bonnies have provided enough highs and lows for a season’s worth of basketball and it’s only been four games.

Tonight was a high, but coming into the contest, most wouldn’t think so.

In fact, the Bonnies would have to overcome hard knocks to achieve any sort of high.

Hours before the game, star guard Jaylen Adams, who has yet to play or practice due to an ankle injury, was ruled out. Junior forward Courtney Stockard was probable, but limited in practice over the week.

Then, as tip-off neared, Bonas fans were left confounded when the official men’s basketball account tweeted that senior Matt Mobley, the Bonnies’ leading scorer, would not start due to being late for a team meeting.

On top of this, Bonas had to contend with the undefeated Maryland Terrapins, a top-20 defensive team featuring several bigs 6-foot-10 and taller alongside two NBA hopefuls, sophomores Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan.

The only way Bonas could hope to sneak out of this game victorious was to take advantage of the Terps’ bottom-200-ranked turnover rate, translating to a turnover every four possessions, and make this game ugly.

That’s exactly what the Bonnies did. They brought the grind to the grinders.

To start, they didn’t let the size difference affect the scoring in the first half.

Bonas deployed a 1-3-1 zone to neutralize talented freshman forward Bruno Fernando and it worked.

Fernando became agitated and frustrated early, taking his head out of the game and mounting up just two points and three rebounds in the first half. While 7-foot-1 senior Michal Cekovsky filled in nicely with nine points, two blocks and two rebounds in the first half, he just didn’t provide the same upside and athleticism of Fernando.

Bonas also capitalized on turnovers, turning eleven first half miscues into twelve points.

The scrappy effort contributed heavily, as Bonas didn’t let the Terps lead by more than four at any time in the first half.

But maybe the number one reason the Bonnies handled their business was their defense.

Forcing turnovers aside, Bonas switched beautifully on screens and closed out on the Terps’ guards. This frustrated the shooters, holding them to 1 of 10 from behind the arc and just 43 percent from the field.

Despite Mobley being held to four points in the first half, everyone else stepped up offensively, with Josh Ayeni, Izaiah Brockington, LaDarien Griffin and Courtney Stockard scoring 24 of the Bonnies’ 30 first-half points.

The Bonnies headed into the locker room down one, but with momentum on their side.

Still, Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon may have summed up the situation best in his sideline interview.

“We haven’t made a jump shot, we have eleven turnovers and we’re up one,” Turgeon said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

With obvious adjustments coming for the second half, the Bonnies would need to continue the defensive tenacity and get something out of Mobley to have a chance.

The Terps came out re-energized, opening the second half with a 8-2 run in the first five minutes.

Bonas needed to answer, and with Mobley’s shot not falling, he turned to the free throw line to make a contribution.

Mobley went 10 of 10 from the free throw line, six of those coming in the second half.

But with 11 minutes left, the wheels started to come off.

Down by one, Bonas gave up two three-pointers and an and-one layup in the span of three minutes, trailing 44-52 with eight minutes remaining.

But the Bonnies wouldn’t quit.

Layups by Ayeni, Mobley and Brockington cut the deficit to two, and two free throws from Stockard tied the game at 53.

However, Bonas’ three-point defensive woes reared its ugly head, as Terps’ junior Dion Wiley drained a three.

Both teams traded free throws and Mobley made a layup to make the score 59-57 with two minutes to play.

Mobley then tied the game with two free throws.

The free throw line saved the Bonnies, as 21 of their 63 total points came from the stripe.

Then, the Bonnies caught a break when the Terps’ Jackson missed an open three.

Even with the break, Mobley missed a layup but Ayeni grabbed the offensive board and drew the foul.

Ayeni handled the pressure, draining both free throws, giving the Bonnies a 61-59 lead.

An ill-advised foul by Mobley not only gave the Terps’ Cowan free throws, but also gave him his fifth foul, taking him out of the game.

With no timeouts, Stockard-the highest scorer left in the game-was forced into the spotlight, facing adversity from the tenacious Terps’ defense.

But Stockard is no stranger to adversity.

For two years he’s battled back from foot injuries that ended his season twice. Even before the game, that same type of injury limited him all week in practice. But now, with the game in his hands, this was his moment.

He handled the ball inches in front of the half-court line, cutting to the basket and going up strong to put in the game-winning layup with 3.4 seconds left.

Stockard finished the game with fourteen points.

The Terps turned the ball over and that was it. The Bonnies won, despite everyone counting them out, despite all the adversity.

Stockard scored the game-winner, despite the adversity.

The excitement of this win will be short-lived, though, as they turn around and face TCU for the Emerald Coast Classic championship tomorrow at 7:00 p.m.

But as the glow remains fresh, the Bonnies carry a scrappy nature and underdog mentality, just like their leader tonight.

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.”

Lights Out: A first-person account of the game that wasn’t

By Jeff Uveino

Walking into the Reilly Center Wednesday night felt as normal as any other game day.

The students filing in, the teams shooting around and Kodak Black echoing through the loudspeakers–just a typical pregame in the RC. At 6:30 p.m., the St. Bonaventure Men’s basketball team prepared to play the Hawks of University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

As the teams took warm-ups, I noticed that several lights above where UMES was shooting were out.

My initial reaction was that this was a tactical move: make the opponents warm up in the dark while we warm up in the light. An obscure strategy, but perhaps a slight advantage. Boy, was I wrong.

Shortly after noticing the lights were out, I got word that it was because of a power outage in the arena, quite an interesting development for my first time covering a Bonnies game.

Rumors spiraled around about the source of the outage and how it would affect the game, but it seemed as if no one knew for certain. Security guards, media personnel, and curious students searched for answers.

But one thing was for sure; we would have to wait.

The planned start time of 7 p.m. came and went, as the teams continued to shoot around. The scoreboards were now completely out, as was the jumbotron over center court.

A smiling Jaylen Adams hobbled around the floor, shooting with his team despite the boot he wore to protect his sprained ankle and the obvious notion of being ruled out for the contest.

More time passed. Still nothing.

Behind the scenes, the lights in the halls and media room flickered. There appeared to be lights on around other parts of campus, but no signs of progress in the Reilly Center.

Around 8 p.m., an announcement was made in the arena that National Grid would be testing the power in an attempt to have the game played. The Reilly Center, the crowd was told, would go almost completely dark for about 15 minutes.

Phone lights came on throughout the stands, electricians scrambled around campus, and “Let’s go Bonas” chants continued to cry out intermittently, as they had for nearly two hours at this point.

St. Bonaventure University President Dr. Dennis DePerro even tried his hand at a few foul shots to entertain the crowd.

Suddenly, around 8:30 p.m., the power flashed back on, sending the relatively quiet student section into a frenzy.

It appeared as if the problem had been fixed, and the game would be played after all. I couldn’t help but think that this game would be remembered for a long time as something along the lines of the “power outage game,” and be added to Reilly Center lore.

But it didn’t end there.

Everyone back into place, the Bonnies ran out to warm up once again. The crowd was alive, and Twitter was going crazy trying to keep up with what exactly was going on.

However, Matt Mobley barely had time to lead the team out and drop in a lay-up before the jumbotron went dark with an abrupt bang.

Next were the scoreboards on the ends of the gym, then the overhead lights.

At this point, the night was starting to feel like a nightmare.

The teams retreated back into the locker rooms, and everyone anxiously waited once again to hear a final word on what the outcome of the game would be.

The crowd was thinning, but those remaining could still be heard.

You could feel the collective frustration bouncing around the arena.

The players wanted to play, the coaches wanted to coach, and the Wolf Pack wanted to be the Wolf Pack.

At approximately 8:35 pm, the official announcement was made that the game would not be played. The arena was empty in an instant.

The decision was made that the game would be ruled a “no contest,” meaning that it would not count toward the record of either team. Rumors that the home team would have to forfeit if the game was not played were shot down in an instant, and a frustrated Bonas community went on its way.

After the game, barely a soul could be found throughout the arena.

The only people left were a few scattered security guards making sure everyone exited safely. After all—the power was scheduled to go out for another test in 5 minutes, as was announced. Leftover pizza sat under the continually-flickering lights of the media room.

After the frenzy of events was over, I had to take a few minutes to make sense of what had just happened.

After a heartbreaking loss to Niagara University last Friday night, now Bonas fans had to go through this? An unpredictable and unforgettable start to a season where many experts had the Bonnies making the NCAA tournament.

St. Bonaventure’s next game will be played Saturday afternoon vs Jackson State University at 4:00 pm. Who knows what will happen next? Bonnies fans have already had enough disappointment and bewilderment for a whole season.

If one thing is for sure, it is that November 15, 2017 in the Reilly Center is a day that will be remembered around the community for years to come. A decade from now, alumni and staff will reminisce:

“Remember the night when the power went out? Twice?”

I certainly won’t forget.