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.

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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.”

 

 

Women’s basketball: With trip to Sweet 16 on the line, Bonnies face Beavers

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team will look to keep its season alive on Sunday night when it faces host Oregon State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Bona pulled off an impressive 65-54 upset against Big 12 Player of the Year Brittney Martin and Oklahoma State on Friday night. A victory against the sixth-ranked, two-seeded Beavers on Sunday night would be more than impressive; it would arguably be the biggest in school history.

The 29-4 Beavers have been nearly unstoppable in the friendly confines of Gill Coliseum, with a 15-1 home record. They have won 19 of their last 20 games overall, lost to powerhouse Notre Dame by just a point and were the regular season champions of the Pac-12, the best conference in women’s basketball.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: With trip to Sweet 16 on the line, Bonnies face Beavers”

Women’s basketball: Bonnies make NCAA Tournament, will play Oklahoma State in Oregon

(Photo Credit: Assistant coach Andrea Mulcahy (@CoachAndiSBU)

By Katie Faulkner @kfaulkner20

After a historic season for the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team, the Bonnies are headed to the NCAA tournament for just the second time in school history.

The Bonnies qualified as an at-large selection and received a No. 10 seed. They will play No. 7 Oklahoma State (21-9) on March 18 at Oregon State University.

“You could send us anywhere,” said Bona coach Jim Crowley. “To be a part of this NCAA Tournament and for these guys to get that reward is such a great honor.”

The Bonnies finished the season at 23-7, including 12 conference wins and a perfect 16-0 record at home. SBU ranked No. 34 in the RPI and had a winning record against RPI Top 25 opponents. They also had three wins against current conference champions.

“I think [the A-10] has prepared us very well,” Crowley said. “There’s great coaches and great players in our league and it’s something we’re proud to be part of and we’re looking forward to representing the best we can.”

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: Bonnies make NCAA Tournament, will play Oklahoma State in Oregon”

Men’s basketball: Bonnies still have good tournament chances

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies may have suffered a heartbreaking loss at the Barclays Center last night, but as of now, they are still believed to be in the NCAA Tournament field.

The 90-86 overtime defeat Bona suffered did not drop it back into a First Four game on ESPN, CBS Sports or USA Today’s brackets; it is still a 10, nine and 11 seed, respectively.

SBU’s RPI dropped from 25 to 30, but wins by Buffalo and South Carolina State in their conference tournament championship games would add two automatic qualifiers to its out-of-conference resume. The conference resume is already very strong, with a victory at Dayton and sweep of St. Joe’s were highlights in a regular season co-championship.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bonnies still have good tournament chances”

Bonnies Bracketology Update 2/29/16

(Photos courtesy of GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Where do the Bona men’s and women’s basketball teams rank in each media outlet’s Monday bracketology update? Here are the latest projections:

Men:

ESPN- Joe Lunardi still has the Bonnies in his “First Four Out,” in the third slot this time. Last Thursday a fan asked him on Twitter if the Bonnies have a shot at an at-large bid and he responded, “A good shot.”

A win over St. Joe’s, which just happens to be Lunardi’s alma mater, on Wednesday would surely help Bonaventure’s chances. The team just has to keep winning.

Dayton, St. Joe’s, VCU are still in Lunardi’s field of 68. Dayton is a seven-seed, Joe’s in an eight and VCU is a ten. George Washington is in the “next four out.”

The link: http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/bracketology/_/iteration/244

Continue reading “Bonnies Bracketology Update 2/29/16”

Column: Watson remembered for turning around athletics

Mark Schmidt in 2012 after the Bonnies beat Xavier to win the A-10 Championship
Mark Schmidt in 2012 after the Bonnies beat Xavier to win the A-10 Championship

[Image courtesy of gobonnies.com]

By Joseph Pinter, @JPinter93

Local media who have been around long enough can remember 2006. The men’s basketball team had just gotten blown out by an Atlantic 10 opponent late in the season, and the Reilly Center was quite empty.

Coach Anthony Solomon lashed out at the media members, yelling about the lack of student and community support his team had.

Had I been in the room, I would have asked one simple question: Why would anyone support this team?

Three years earlier the Bonnies were the laughingstock of national media; a basketball program completely undone by the university’s own president. A president overriding NCAA academic standards to admit an athlete? How ridiculous does that sound?

The scandal has been ranked in the top ten in many lists of the worst NCAA scandals of all time. Bleacher Report even ranks it as the seventh-worst ever.

It brought down the program and left a disaster for Solomon to try and clean up. Well, he succeeded about as well as Bill Buckner in the infamous 1986 World Series. The team went 24-88 until a new athletic director was finally hired in 2006.

Enter Steve Watson.

Watson’s father, mother and brother all taught at Bonaventure, and he had grown up in nearby Franklinville, New York. He was a standout basketball player at Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean before playing at the collegiate level at Rutgers and Bowling Green. He played professionally overseas for a few years before entering administration.

He worked in the athletic departments at Dayton and Georgia before being named associate AD at Eastern Michigan.

He knew Bonaventure, knew the area and knew what athletics needed.

He was also what Bonaventure needed.

He hired Mark Schmidt as men’s basketball coach. Four years later, the jokes were gone and the Bonnies were Atlantic 10 Champions. Bonnies fans took over Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for the second round of the NCAA Tournament and the Orlando Magic selected Bonaventure forward Andrew Nicholson in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft.

That same year, the women’s basketball team made it to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

Basketball fever had returned to Allegany in full force.

The truth is, Bonaventure has been lucky to hold onto Watson this long. Nearly everything Watson has done here has been a huge success, including the recent turf fields project for the soccer, lacrosse and softball teams.

Mid-major schools often have trouble keeping people as successful as Watson. We’ve been fortunate to have him as long as we did.

In 30 days or so, Watson will begin his new job as AD at Loyola-Chicago, a Division I school competing in the Missouri Valley Conference. Until then he’ll continue leading Bonaventure’s athletics.

Once settled in Chicago, Watson will take a hard look at the university’s athletics department. You can bet he’ll again consider hiring a new men’s basketball coach — Porter Moser has gone 32-61 in his three seasons at the helm.

Bonaventure would have liked to have Watson running its athletic department for many years, but that’s the reality with mid-major schools. It’s hard to hold onto your best administrators and coaches. They often leave for more money and deeper assets.

Here’s to hoping Watson has as much luck at Loyola-Chicago as he did here.

After all, he’s a western New Yorker at heart. He may be leaving, but he’s still one of us.

We will be forever thankful for his part in restoring the men’s basketball program and setting up Bonaventure’s other sports for future success.

Gone are the days of basketball scandals (hopefully), and the lack of fan support for the program.

Local media members can now fondly look back on that March 2012 afternoon in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Schmidt cut down the nets while fans screamed, “We’re going dancing!” Guard Michael Davenport picked up president Sr. Margaret Carney and spun her around in celebration. Schmidt answered postgame questions about the program’s renaissance, not about its failures.

The memories of 2003-2007 will eventually fade away, but these ones won’t.

We have Watson to thank for that.

pinterjo11@bonaventure.edu

 

University president announces AD’s departure

watson

[Image courtesy of sbu.edu]

By Joseph Pinter, @JPinter93

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. (Nov. 12) — St. Bonaventure University hired Steve Watson as its athletic director in 2006 to rebuild its basketball programs and bring more credibility to Bonaventure sports as a whole.

Since his hiring, the university has won Atlantic 10 Championships in swimming and men’s basketball, made an NCAA Tournament appearance by both the men’s and women’s basketball teams and has completed half a turf fields project for the soccer, lacrosse and softball teams.

Many accomplishments, indeed.

University president Sr. Margaret Carney announced in a press release this morning that Watson has accepted the same position at Loyola-Chicago.

“Steve’s success at St. Bonaventure has opened many doors for him,” Carney said “While it’s always difficult to say goodbye to a senior administrator, we do so with gratitude for his contributions here.”

Watson will remain at Bonaventure for the next 30 days until he formally hands in his resignation, Carney said.

The search for his successor hasn’t begun yet. Later this week, administrators will discuss plans for an interim athletic director and begin planning a search for a permanent one.

“We’ll do a national search, and if we have an internal candidate that person will be a candidate in that search,” Carney said. “But we’ll invite people from all over the country.”

“We’re committed to getting the best athletic director that we can for St. Bonaventure,” said Rick Trietley, vice president of Student Affairs.

Since Watson is a member of the president’s cabinet, Carney will hire the next athletic director, she said.

Until September 2013 Watson reported directly to Carney, but that has since changed. Watson has reported to Trietley, who reports to Carney.

Both administrators don’t expect a change in the structure.

In the university press release, Carney credited Watson with “strengthening our position” with alumni, even “healing some significant relationships.”

“Steve engendered confidence with our alumni, and that’s evidenced in his leadership of the successful campaigns we’ve had to upgrade some of our athletics facilities,” she said. “He also played an active and supportive role in athletics becoming a better partner with other divisions at the university.”

“Our athletics staff and coaches are second to none,” Watson said. “It has been a privilege to work side by side with some of the best in the business. Sr. Margaret gave me the opportunity to come home almost eight years ago and for that I will be forever grateful.”

“I also want to thank the community and alumni for all their support during my time at Bona’s. St. Bonaventure fans and alums have been amazingly supportive of me and my family. While Chicago will be our new home, our ties to this community will always remain strong.”

Athletic department officials were still coming to grips with the news.

“There’s no doubt we’re going to miss him,” said Steve Mest, associate athletic director for strategic communication. “He’s been a constant presence here for seven years. Students, student athletes, all of our staff, the rest of the university, we have become comfortable with him.”

Some of the athletic department’s employees have been at Bonaventure for a long time, so Mest is confident the department is “going to be able to keep things going” until Carney hires a new athletic director.

Watson’s successor will have one less problem to deal with — the men’s basketball program. Watson took over the athletic department three years after a scandal destroyed the program’s reputation and, ultimately, its success. In the four years before Watson came aboard, the men’s basketball team had a 24-88 record under Anthony Solomon.

One of Watson’s first moves was hiring head coach Mark Schmidt in 2007. Schmidt has revived the program, winning the A-10 Championship and making an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012. He also oversaw the installation of a new basketball playing surface in 2007– Bob Lanier Court.

“I think as AD, (Watson) deserves the ultimate credit,” Mest said of the turnaround. “I mean he’s the captain of our ship here, so to speak. It was his call to hire (Schmidt). He hired him, he found him.”

Hiring Schmidt will most likely be Watson’s greatest achievement yet.

“Every AD wants to hire the right coach, and then give them the tools they need to be successful. Steve clearly has done that in this case.”

Watson also eyed turning around other programs. He co-chaired a committee to develop a strategic plan for Bonaventure athletics — one that included installing turf fields for the soccer, lacrosse and softball teams.

“(Watson and co-chair Trietley) formed a very strong partnership, worked in tandem together, submitted the plan and put the plan through a complete review by our board,” Carney said. “Our board was very pleased with it. The administration was very pleased with it. We’ve been doing all the work in athletics based on that ever since.”

So far, the soccer and lacrosse turf field has been installed and the women’s basketball locker rooms have been renovated.

Watson moves to Loyola-Chicago, which has competed in the Missouri Valley Conference since 2013. Mest said while Watson was extremely intelligent and funny, among other things, he will miss Watson’s personable side the most.

“I think (Watson) was just one of everybody else,” he said. “He’s a regular guy from Franklinville, New York, and that showed in the way he worked with everybody on a daily basis. He’s not a micromanager by any means.”

Watson grew up in Franklinville and attended Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean.

“He asked for and valued our opinions,” Mest said. “So I think as an employee, thats what you’d hope for in a boss.”

pinterjo11@bonaventure.edu