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.

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Bonnies fall to Niagara in Heart breaker

By Jeremy Castro

When Nelson Kaputo slipped and fell with around 10 seconds remaining, causing Matt Mobley’s sixth and most crucial turnover, it almost felt like a microcosm for the entire game.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies men’s basketball team, a team with NCAA tournament aspirations, lost the first game of their season, at home, to the Niagara Purple Eagles by the final score of 77-75.

The Bonnies were slow from the start, finding themselves only scoring ten total points within the first ten minutes of play.

Senior guard Matt Mobley led the way with 7 points, but was 2-11 from the field and 3 of those points were from the foul line. As a team, the Bonnies shot 25.9% from the field in the first half.

By halftime, the Bonnies found themselves down by nine, and by a score of 34-25.

\Head coach Mark Schmidt talked about the offensive struggles in his post-game press conference.

“We played very poor in the first half offensively,” Schmidt said. “I thought being down by 9 [points] at half time was good as we played so bad offensively.”

Coach Schmidt also described why he felt the team struggled in the first half.

“We played tight,” Schmidt said. “We had just one assist in the first half and I think we were 0-8 from three. We had some good looks; we just didn’t play the first 20 minutes the way we needed to play to beat a team of Niagara’s caliber.”

A lot of the talk before, during, and of course after the game was centered around star point guard Jaylen Adams.

Adams injured his left ankle in the team’s exhibition game last Friday against Alfred. Despite suspicions and murmurs on whether or not he would be ready for the game tonight that seem to go on all week, in the end Adams was kept out.

“He is our best player, but we are not going to make any excuses,” Schmidt said.

In the second half, the Bonnies seemed reinvigorated, scoring six quick points in about the span of a minute. However, they just never seemed able to capitalize.

Niagara’s red-shirt senior guard Kahlil Dukes lit up the Reilly Center, ending with total 23 total points on the night, and hitting 6 out of 8 three pointers.

Dukes is one of seven medal winners to return to the program from last season, and the Purple Eagles returned their entire starting five.

The Bonnies were  much better in the second half, with their field goal percentage jumping up to 50%. Not only did the team seem to have new life, but so did the fans. The Reilly Center was rocking and the crowd was back into the game. With 07:47 left in the game, Courtney Stockard hit a straight away three-point shoot which sent the crowd into a frenzy.

This was it. This is where the Bonnies would push on and finish the game out. However, it seemed every time the Bonnies responded, they’d make a mistake keeping them in the hole.

“Every time we got there (close to the lead), we just had a breakdown,” Schmidt said. – a turnover, we didn’t switch on the ball screen correctly.”

Junior forward LaDarien Griffin, who had a career high in rebounds with 10, compared the first and second half.

“(In the second half) we started playing defense,” Griffin said “We started moving the ball. Once we started getting stops and started scoring, then we started chipping at the lead, but we had too many breakdowns at the end.”

One such breakdown was the one I mentioned at the top of this article. With 12 seconds remaining, the ball is given to Matt Mobley with Bonaventure down by three. He brought the ball up the court and, looking for a give-and-go play to open him up for a three point attempt, passes it to Nelson Kaputo. Unfortunately, Kaputo slipped, fell down, and Mobley’s pass went well out of bounds, ending all hope of a comeback. After the comeback the Bonnies staged to get back into the game, it was a heart breaker. But, seeing how the game went, it was not all that surprising, especially missing their star.

“They beat us with the team we had out there,” Schmidt said. “The credit goes to them.”

The Bonnies take on Maryland East Shore at 7:00 PM on Wed. November 15th at the Reilly Center.

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.

Men’s basketball: Bonnies take care of business in exhibition romp

(Matt Mobley Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

With the surprising exhibition game results across the A-10 this weekend (VCU most notably lost to Queens College) there was a small question mark as to how the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team would perform against Alfred University on Saturday afternoon.

The Bonnies were true to the SBU athletic department’s 2016-17 slogan, and left no doubt with a 99-72 victory.

Junior transfer Matt Mobley’s 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including three three-pointers, led Bona. Jaylen Adams and Idris Taqqee had 16 each and Josh Ayeni tallied 12.

Alfred’s tallest players each stand at 6-foot-6, and Bonaventure took full advantage of having the taller roster. The brown and white outrebounded the purple and gold 46-26 and swatted five shots.

Every scholarship player scored, and walk-ons Caleb McGuire and Jack Galatio were able to see action. Galatio even swished two free throws.

The defense left a bit to be desired, as the Saxons shot 52 percent from the field in the second half, stroking seven threes in each 20-minute period. But the SBU offense was hitting on all cylinders, with a 57 percent clip for the game.

Most importantly for Mark Schmidt’s team, no one was injured in the glorified scrimmage.

“We’re a work in progress,” Schmidt acknowledged. “I thought from an offensive standpoint we played well, but it’s (not just) an offensive game. I thought we did a decent job on the backboard, but we should with the size that we have… but we didn’t do a good job of defending. We weren’t disciplined enough.

“I’m not sure if we didn’t respect them enough. We were taking chances, we weren’t disciplined enough getting into our pack-line defensive system.”

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bonnies take care of business in exhibition romp”

Men’s basketball: Matt Mobley excited to join Bona family

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure coaching staff looked to the future on Tuesday when they got a commitment from Central Connecticut State transfer Matt Mobley.

Mobley, a 6-foot-3 guard from Worcester, Ma., was the 2014-15 Northeast Conference (NEC) Most Improved Player of the Year and a member of the All-NEC second team. He averaged 17.2 points per game last season, good for third in the conference. He also ranked fourth in three-pointers made with 74 and second in minutes played per game with 37.

He will have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but the Bonnies now have a replacement for Marcus Posley, who has one more season in brown and white. Highlight clips show the transfer’s athleticism, sweet shooting stroke and ability to move without the ball offensively. Defensively, he is adept at cutting off passing lanes, leading to two easy points the other way. He played prep school ball at Worcester Academy, the same school Brooklyn Nets guard Jarrett Jack attended before going to Georgia Tech.

“Honestly, I always knew I could play Division I,” said Mobley. “However, I think my senior year in high school (when he averaged 23.2 points and 8.1 rebounds a game) was when I made it clear, and people realized that I was a D-I player.”

The decision to spend the remainder of his college career at Bonaventure was an easy one for Mobley, who plans on majoring in marketing, an area of study he really enjoys.

“On my visit, I really just fell in love with the campus. I felt like it was the right spot for me,” he said.

“Academically, they have my intended major and a great business program. Basketball-wise, I wouldn’t have found a better situation anywhere else. After my sit-out year, I have an opportunity to play a lot of minutes, produce and win games right away, in one of the best conferences in the country. Can’t ask for much more than that.”

Going from the Northeast Conference to the Atlantic 10 is a major jump. The NEC is a perennial one-bid NCAA Tournament conference; the winner of its conference tournament is an automatic qualifier, usually as a 16-seed, but the league never receives any at-large bids to the big dance. The A-10 sent three teams to the tournament last season after sending six in 2014 and has television partnerships with ESPN, CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Group and the American Sports Network. 174 A-10 basketball games will be televised next season; 30 NEC games were televised last season.

As far as how his game will translate to the new conference, Mobley is far from worried.

“I’m ready. A lot of people doubt that I will be able to play in the A-10, but I’ve been doubted my whole life. I’m just ready to work, and prove people wrong.

“I plan on improving on everything (in the sit-out year), all aspects of the game. But a couple of the main focuses will be getting bigger and stronger.”

In the 2016-17 season, coach Mark Schmidt’s roster will have a very different look. Marcus Posley and Dion Wright will be gone, but as of right now the team will have eight upperclassmen and a much-hyped sophomore guard in Nelson Kaputo (assuming he honors his verbal commitment).

Like most Bona fans, Mobley is excited for what’s to come.

“The future is bright for us. I hope to win the A-10 and make some noise in the NCAA tournament.”

Off the court, Bona Nation can take comfort in knowing that the basketball team’s latest addition is a typical college kid. His fun fact about himself? “I love to play NBA 2K.”