Adams Career Night Pushes Bonnies Past Bilikens 79-56

By: Mike Hogan

What. A. Night.

As I was sitting in my seat on press row before the game flipping through the pregame notes, a few things caught my eye.

One was that Matt Mobley was just two points away from 1,000 career points, and the second was that Jaylen Adams was just 32 points away from cracking the top ten on the Bonaventure all-time scoring list.

As I read that, I felt a special feeling about tonight. I had a funny feeling that another  Adams-like explosion was going to happen, and boy did it ever.

While the Bonnies got off to a little bit of a sluggish start and found themselves down early in the game, that didn’t last for long. The Jaylen Adams show began early, and it just kept going.

The Bonnies defense looked elite tonight, and it was a big reason why they were able to get their offense cooking in the middle to end of the first half. They forced the Billikens into 16 turnovers and scored 21 off of those turnovers.

St. Louis head coach, Travis Ford, was disappointed in his team tonight, and it showed in the postgame presser. He walked away from tonight most upset about the turnovers and lackluster offensive play.

“Turnovers,” Ford said. “That’s what it comes down to, we didn’t take care of the ball.”

While he was disappointed with turnovers, he also had some insights about Jaylen Adams’ night and how his defense performed overall.

“He had a great performance, no question,” said Ford. “A lot of good tough shots. I don’t know if anything would have worked. A lot of those shots over a bigger guy that we had on him. You know, when you get to that point against a guy playing as well as Adams, and I’ve won games against guys who have played like that, possessions become so important. They’re making three’s and we’re turning it over, that’s a really bad combination.”

Matt Mobley had a quiet night, but still made history scoring his 1,000th career point, becoming the 15th player in Bonnies history to join that club.

While that was impressive to see in person, what we saw from Jaylen Adams tonight was beyond believable. Let’s just keep in mind that four days ago Adams set a career high with 40 points against Duquense, but that meant nothing because he just followed that performance up with 44 points. A new career high.

Not only did he set a new career high for points in a game, but he also set a single game record for most threes in a game by a Bona player with ten, and became the first Bonnies player to have back to back 40 point games since 1969.

We undoubtedly witnessed the best shooting performance in Bonaventure history tonight. Adams shot 10-13 from three, and 14-18 overall. He missed four shots. Four.

As I sat on press row watching this happen, I couldn’t help but think back to pregame warmups where I read through the program and had a funny feeling that the Jaylen Adams show was going to occur again. And, man, was the Reilly Center rocking. It was an unreal atmosphere. Electric.

“Jay was playing like the player of the year,” said Bonnies Head coach Mark Schmidt. “St. Louis cut it down to three, and Jay just took over the game from there. I think I was in that zone (referring to Jay) back in my CYL days when I was eight years old playing with six foot high rims.”

The conversation in the media room turned to other forty point performances that have gone down in the Reilly center, but Schmidt noted that this was different from others such as Andrew Nicholson.

“It’s different. Andrew’s were a lot of dunks and layups, and Jay made a lot of shots where there was pressure, and guys were getting into him,” said Schmidt. “For Jay to score this many points and only miss four shots, that speaks volumes.”

Jaylen Adams had a swagger to him tonight, and he wasn’t afraid to show that on the court and express it postgame with the media.

“Early on I was able to get some shots to go. I got some easy ones in transition that got me going early,” said Adams. “Once I made my first couple, it felt like I couldn’t miss out there. I was just blacking out, and letting the game come to me. They were playing the screens a little different tonight, and they backed off on some of them,” said Adams. “That allowed me to get some space and shoot.”

While Jaylen Adams has had a remarkable career as a Bonnie, there is no denying that he is making his last season his best. With back to back 40 plus point performances, Adams is arguably playing the best basketball of his career.

“I would just say the preparation in the gym before the games,” said Adams. “I had a really good week in the gym, and it payed off. I just had a good week in the gym. For me, it’s never been about individual accolades. Obviously I want to continue to do what I’ve done in the last two games, but I am just trying to will some wins.”

While Jaylen Adams has been on historical run that fans and media will never forget, the Bonnies have obviously been playing their best basketball of the season over the last five games. While a slow start in conference play seemed to suck the air out of the Bonnies high hopes, air has since been blown back into the Bonnies and gave them new life.

As a team, the Bonnies are playing better defense, and better team offense. There is a flow, a rhythm to this team right now. If the Bonnies ultimate goal is the field of sixty-four, playing like this down the final stretch with a lot of crucial games to be played, playing like they have been in the last five will certainly help.

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Taqqee staying level-headed with high expectations

By Mike Hogan

Idris Taqqee has seen a great amount of action on the floor during his Bonnies career. Playing since his freshman year, Taqqee has experienced all the ups-and-downs of Bonas basketball.

Reporter Mike Hogan sat down with Taqqee to discuss his emotions going into his senior year, his thoughts about the higher expectations, and his basketball future.

 

Big news for you as you were just named a captain, how do you feel about that accomplishment?

 

Taqqee: I’m excited that my teammates have trusted me, and I am really excited to lead them every possession on the court.

 

You’re going into your last season as a Bonnie, what are your emotions in regards to that? How do you wish to be remembered here?

 

Taqqee: I just wish to be remembered for everything that I’ve done well and everything that I have worked on. It’s definitely bitter sweet that it’s my last year, but there’s a lot of things that we want to accomplish and we’re all going to work towards it together.

 

What kinds of things did you work on this offseason? What did you improve on the most?

 

Taqqee: I improved on consistency the most. I worked on every single aspect of my game from rebounding, ball handling, off the ball cutting, I can go on for days about what I worked on, but being consistent was huge.

 

What are the expectations for this year’s squad? What’s the vibe of the locker room?

 

Taqqee: The sky is the limit. We know that we have the capability to do anything that we put our minds to. We know everyone is talking A-10 tournament and the NCAA tournament, but we think we can go beyond that. Above and beyond.

 

In previous years you guys were ranked towards the bottom of the pack in the A-10, with the raised expectations this year how is the team handling them?

 

Taqqee: It’s definitely exciting. I have been here and have been able to grow with change. I’m happy and I am excited to see that, but it’s something where you just have to keep that same approach where nothing has changed. Nothing is guaranteed at the end of the day, but it’s definitely good to see the buzz and excitement.

 

What would it be like for you and the other seniors on this team to go out in your last season’s here making the NCAA tournament?

 

Taqqee: It’d be great man. All of the hard work would pay off, because there’s been a lot of hours spent in that gym. It’s something that I’ve had my eyes on.

 

What are you looking at after Bonaventure, are you looking to keep playing basketball?

 

Taqqee: Yeah, I want to keep playing basketball for as long as I can. I would play basketball for the rest of my life if I could.

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.

With injuries behind him, Stockard ready to prove the doubters wrong

By Mike Hogan

Courtney Stockard is no stranger to adversity.

The junior-transfer forward has suffered not one, but two major foot injuries that have kept him out for his first two seasons so far here at St. Bonaventure University. The addition of Stockard a few seasons ago brought along a lot of hype, but the momentum was halted by injury setbacks.

That is, until Stockard returned to the court last Saturday in an exhibition win against Alfred University. Stockard scored 20 points and shot 6-7 from the field, while adding a steal in his first on-court action in 32 months.   

Reporter Mike Hogan sat down with Stockard to discuss his journey back and his vision for his remaining time at St. Bonaventure.

Your Bonaventure career has previously been put on hold due to two serious foot injuries, what were these setbacks like for you and what did you learn about yourself?

Stockard: I learned how mentally tough I am. Sitting out for two years, watching the team has made me mentally tough and let me see the game from a different perspective.

What was the rehab process like during both injuries?

Stockard: It was a very long process. I’m glad that I’ve gotten through it. I’m glad it’s over, and I’m glad that I’m able to go back out there and compete.

What is one thing that you want to tell the fans that may think that you’re not the same player anymore after going through these injuries?

Stockard: Just that I’ve put in the work. I have faith in the process, and I have faith in my skill set. I put in enough work to help me get back to that player I once was.

In what ways are you looking to contribute to this year’s squad?

Stockard: I just want to be the guy that will give us a lift on defense. I want to be able to take some of the scoring burden off of Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley when they are getting keyed in on. I’ll just bring energy to the floor.

Now that you are back and healthy, what are you looking to accomplish overall during the rest of your time here at Bonaventure? And what do you think about the higher expectations for this team?

Stockard: My biggest goal is getting to the tournament with this group of guys. We want to develop that brotherhood, it’s a team goal. We’re thankful that everyone is realizing the talent that we have, but we don’t really feed into it. We’ve kept the same mindset that we’ve had in the past. We just have to stay hungry and treat it like we’re ranked last.