GELYON: Return of SBU athletics will be result of a team effort

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Nic Gelyon

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — As I spoke to student-athletes, coaches and representatives from the St. Bonaventure University athletic department about their effort to curb COVID-19 and return to action, I found that I wasn’t finding what I expected.

 I was looking for the moral dilemma. The internecine fight. 

Everybody felt too optimistic when I was talking to them. It was all too happy. 

But then I realized that St. Bonaventure has only had three positive coronavirus cases. The whole semester. All positive cases have since recovered. 

There is nothing to criticize. There is nothing to pick apart. There are no battles between coaches and presidents – ahem, Big 10 conference. There is absolutely nothing to be mad at. Nothing to punch the wall about.  

The fact of the matter is that it worked. The communication, the mindset, the plan. It all worked. 

And so, I leave you with this: we cannot become complacent, as a school community and as a society. Vigilance is the only way that the plan will continue to work.

It will take an effort from all. 

  • The NCAA has made November 25 the date when men’s and women’s college basketball will be allowed to begin. As of Friday, no schedule had been released for either season. Teams will not be allowed to play exhibitions or hold scrimmages prior to their first game. 
  • SBU’s COVID-19 return to action plan is, again, currently in its third and final phase. The plan was last updated on Sept. 14. The athletic department has treated athletes as if they had been “sedentary” throughout quarantine, attempting to prevent nagging injuries by getting athletes in the best condition possible. SBU athletic director Tim Kenney, in a statement to The Intrepid, said that the strength and conditioning department plans to ramp up activity in two-week increments, culminating in, hopefully, the playing of games. 
  • Speaking of which- it does not appear that fall sports are going to happen- not with any sort of normalcy anyway. As Oduro told me, teams are more likely to play against teams in the same region, as to avoid the COVID-19 restrictions and risks involved in cross-regional travel. Oduro mentioned the possibility of weekend tournaments involving four or so teams, with all teams – as he emphasized several times – staying in similar environments. 
  • It seems the athletic department is making fan engagement a priority during a time when not only are no sports happening, but college basketball is delayed. “We have stayed in constant communication with our fan base the past several months… to keep Bona Nation updated and entertained,” said Seth Johnson, assistant athletic director for marketing, licensing and fan engagement at SBU. He went on to say that the university is working on plans to keep the fans involved throughout the season, though there likely will be no fans in the stands. 

Sports at SBU are back… kind of

photo: Nic Gelyon/The Intrepid

By Nic Gelyon

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — It’s unlikely that there will be a fall sports season at St. Bonaventure, at least in the traditional sense.

But that hasn’t deterred student-athletes from working diligently over the last six months, preparing as if there will be.  

University athletics have come a long, long way since March. When St. Bonaventure sent students home last semester due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the athletic department faced the same cloud of uncertainty that has shrouded society for the better part of the last six months.  

The university did not, however, use this uncertainty as a mask for dormancy, or to wait for all the answers to appear out of nowhere.

Coaches and administrators decided, wisely, to get a head start. They immediately began to gather as much information about COVID-19 as possible. 

 “Before school shut down, me and my assistant coach sat down and started doing more research on COVID,” said Kwame Oduro, head men’s soccer coach at SBU.

Oduro was referring to the time in between when his team returned from their winter trip to England and when school went remote. 

“This is a pandemic, man, this is no joke,” he said. “There’s no way we can keep coming to school. That’s when it hit me.” 

The information gathered was relayed quickly to student-athletes to keep them updated, especially as new layers were added weekly to the university’s COVID-19 return to action plan.

“When [Coach Oduro] would get any news from the A-10 or the NCAA, he would just tell us immediately, like schedule a meeting or a Zoom call,” said Cuneyt Vardar, a  junior midfielder on the men’s soccer team. “It would be pretty immediate.” 

In addition to effective communication, realism became a priority for the St. Bonaventure athletic department. 

The department’s actions would display practicality, not perfection- a mindset that is a necessity in 2020. 

“We could have the best laid plans,” St. Bonaventure athletic director Tim Kenney said in a video statement provided to The Intrepid. “But we can’t be naive to think it’s not going to sneak onto campus.” 

The university’s protocol was split into three phases, according to Kenney. 

Phases one and two included activities such as off-campus quarantines, on-campus quarantines, coronavirus education and the gradual progression of strength and conditioning work. 

It might as well have been known as St. Bonaventure’s Coronavirus training camp. 

But training camp is over now. The third phase is pregame. 

In a perfect world, game time for fall sports would be right around the corner, and phase three would involve the actual playing of games. 

For now, though, it is simply an exercise in keeping the athletes fit, gradually increasing intensity in practices. That, of course, is also dependent on the impact that COVID-19 is having on the university. 

Same-sport athletes have been deliberately placed in dorms with each other for this reason. In theory, if athletes surround each other with other athletes, they will, for the most part, stay within similar environments.

Many student-athletes know they will face strange challenges in this new world. Vardar told me that athletes probably will not be allowed to use locker rooms – at least not all at once – or to share towels. 

This does fall in line with the current coronavirus guidelines in the school’s return to action plan. Oduro told me that if fall sports do get off the ground, it will probably only be among teams similar regions, or at the very least teams that are not in restricted states. 

Kenney wants kids to step up in a time of need and take this opportunity to become great leaders. 

“It’s going to take everybody on this campus – not just athletics – in order for us to make this semester a success,” he said. “We can’t let up, and so our kids will have to keep that leadership role and lead by example.” 

Oduro wants the campus community, and especially his athletes, to take this opportunity to reacquaint themselves with SBU and remember how special an experience it is to be on its campus. 

“For all that college experience to still be around, we need to do our part,” Oduro said. “There are going to be some kids that feel like COVID-19 is not going to affect them because they’re young… we have to be a little selfless.” 

Vardar wants to someday become a physical therapist, and the best soccer player he can be. He is going to take the life-changing hand he has been dealt this year and, with hope, make the best of it. 

“I love the anatomy of the body, and I just love to work with people,” Vardar said. “I want to finish my soccer career here at St. Bonaventure.”

Vardar wants to play professional soccer, either in the United States or possibly in Turkey. He has played in Turkey previously, and his uncle has connections to the country. 

“Because of the Coronavirus, (the NCAA) gave us an extra year of eligibility, so for my graduate school at Daeman College,” Vardar said. “I want to play at year of Division II soccer (at Daeman), and that would finish up my college soccer eligibility.”

Fall sports at SBU will continue to practice using safety protocols and COVID-19 testing to ensure the safety of student-athletes and coaches.

And, spoiler alert: According to the NCAA, men’s and women’s basketball can return on Nov. 25.

Bonnies Survive Against Davidson in Triple Overtime Thriller, 117-113

By Jeff Uveino

When St. Bonaventure basketball coach Mark Schmidt walked into the postgame press conference at around 12:30 A.M. and said “It’s past my bed time,” he spoke for everyone in the room.

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies and Davidson Wildcats, two of the top teams in the Atlantic-10, put the crowd through a gut-wrenching, triple-overtime game that didn’t conclude until 12:15 in the morning.

Five players scored over 30 points, eight players fouled out, and 79 free throws were attempted in this instant classic.

The Bonnies eventually prevailed, 117-113, but let’s rewind in order to recollect a night that will go down in Reilly Center history.

This game had everything, right from the start. Senior night. Unusually late 9 p.m. tip-off. No students due to spring break. The nearly 5,000-strong Reilly Center crowd was about to witness a special night.

Courtney Stockard started off the game hot for the Bonnies. The junior forward hit four three-pointers within the first four minutes of the game, sending the crowd into a frenzy before Davidson even knew what hit them. Stockard scored 17 points before any of his teammates got on the board. Early in the first half, it looked like the Bonnies could run away with this one.

However, the Wildcats’ sharpshooting swung the momentum, propelling them to a 41-37 lead at halftime.

“That was two really good teams going at each other and not one team taking a step back,” Schmidt said. “One team would hit a shot; the other team would go down and answer it.”

In the second half neither team found a way to pull ahead of the other. A constant buzz rang through the arena. It felt like the crowd was waiting to erupt as soon as a play warranted it.

The Bonnies’ offense kept them in the game down the stretch, but no matter what they did, they couldn’t find an answer for the Wildcats’ three-point shooting.

At the core of the Wildcats’ attack were two players, a senior and a freshman. Senior forward Peyton Aldridge, who leads the team in points at 20.5 PPG, seemed to always have an answer to stifle the Bonnies’ momentum down the stretch.

Aldridge finished with 45 points, including shooting 8-11 from beyond the arc.

Alongside him was freshman Kellan Grady, who finished with a career-high 39 points of his own. Grady didn’t miss a shot from the stripe, shooting an impressive 16-16 from the free throw line, including 8-8 during the overtime periods.

“Aldridge and Grady are two of the best players in our league and they showed it tonight,” Schmidt said.

The teams traded blows throughout the second half, then with a minute to play Grady drove to the hoop and went up and over a Bona defender for the dunk. The basket put the Wildcats up by a point.

After a Bona miss at the other end, Aldridge was fouled and sent to the line for the Wildcats. He made just one of his two free throws, putting the Bonnies down by two with four seconds left to play.

In a last-ditch effort, Bonnies forward LaDarien Griffin drove to the basket and scored as time expired, sending the game to overtime with a score of 78-78.

The first overtime began with a downpour of three pointers. Aldridge and Bona guards Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams all hit from downtown, keeping the back-and-forth theme alive.

Adams hit threes on consecutive possessions for the Bonnies, bringing the crowd to its feet. However, Aldridge came firing right back as he had the entire game.

Still deadlocked, the Bonnies and the Wildcats went to the second overtime period, 91-91.

After a big Mobley three early in the period to put them up by five, things were looking good for the Bonnies. However, with 1:24 left in the second overtime, Jaylen Adams picked up his fifth foul.

Adams finished with 34 points and 5 assists, leaving Bonnies fans wondering if they could pull out a win with their star player on the bench. Although annoyed, Adams said he had to keep his composure for the team.

“I was just nervous that I couldn’t finish the game for my team,” Adams said. “But at the same time, I needed to turn into another coach on the bench.”

With 19 seconds to play in the second overtime, Kellan Grady sunk two free throws to force a third overtime with the game knotted up at 100.

Hey, what’s five more minutes of basketball? As the clock approached midnight, the energy in the Reilly Center didn’t dwindle. It was on another level, something Coach Schmidt made note of.

“Give kudos out to our community,” Schmidt said. “Without the students here, they rallied around us. They came, and they were terrific.”

Two Kellan Grady free throws opened the third overtime. On the ensuing Bonnies possession, Courtney Stockard was called for a charge, his fifth foul.

Stockard left the game with a career-high 31 points.

The St. Bonaventure bench was starting to thin, but things evened out shortly after Stockard fouled out.

On the next Davidson possession, Aldridge was called for a foul away from the ball, his fifth of the night. Players were dropping like flies at the hands of the officials, and it looked like this game might turn into a battle of the benches.

Two more players fouled out shortly after; Wildcat senior Oskar Michelsen, and Bonnies senior Idris Taqqee.

The Bonnies found themselves trailing by three half way through the third overtime. But then, the Bonnies caught a break. Junior guard Nelson Kaputo was fouled while putting up a three, sending him to the line with a chance to tie the game. Kaputo, who shoots nearly 95% from the stripe, sunk all three to tie the game.

The Wildcats took the ball down the court and set up shop. Grady drove, put up a shot, and was blocked by freshman Izaiah Brockington. The referees initially ruled that the ball went out off St. Bonaventure, but after review gave the ball to the Bonnies.

“I thought Izaiah did a really good job (on defense) against a really good player,” Schmidt said.

With less than two minutes remaining, a big dunk from freshman Tshiefu “the Chef” Ngalakulondi put the Bonnies up 110-108. From there, they would never look back.

The rest of the game was a free throw shooting contest in which the Bonnies prevailed. After three long overtimes, they outlasted Davidson, 117-113.

Coach Schmidt commented on his team’s ability to pull out a win in a game that was a real grind.

“We showed some toughness,” he said. “I told the team after the first overtime, someone was going to have to step up off the bench that hasn’t played, and we did.”

The Bonnies certainly received contributions from up and down the roster, as two of the biggest plays of the game came late in the third overtime from freshmen. Schmidt was not the only one who had high praise for the Bonnies bench. Star guard Jaylen Adams also commented on the vitality of their contributions.

“Credit to the bench for finishing the way they finished,” Adams said. “The majority of guys who played the last 10 minutes are guys that usually get under 20 minutes a game, so credit to them for stepping up and making plays down the stretch.”

Senior guard Matt Mobley, who finished with 33 points and played the entire 55 minutes of the contest for the Bonnies, said he never came close to throwing in the towel.

“I just told the guys that we weren’t going to leave until we got the win,” Mobley said. “When Jay and Courtney fouled out, I knew I had to try to get good looks on offense.”I was fortunate enough to get to the foul line which helped a lot. I’m just thankful for the win.”

Mobley also spoke about the toll that playing the whole game took on him physically.

“You start to get a little cramping, but you just need to fight through it,” he said. “The game means too much.”

Coach Schmidt had high praise for his seniors on the night that they were honored, pinning much of the team’s success on them.

“You’re only as good as your seniors,” he said. “We wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are right now without Idris, Matt, and Jay. Those three seniors will never forget this day the rest of their lives. It’s special, and I’m glad I was a part of it.”

It certainly was a special night for the seniors, for St. Bonaventure, and for college basketball. I’d have to speculate that there will be a good amount of “sick days” taken in Olean on Wednesday, and for good reason. The crowd at the RC witnessed one of the best basketball games they’ll ever see.

Jaylen Adams’ postgame emotions sum the night up well.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better. This is a special game, I’m just glad I could be a part of it.”

Bonnies Bracketology Update 2/22/16

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 prognostications:

Men:

ESPN- Joe Lunardi has the Bonnies in the “First Four Out,” the top bubble team to just miss the cut.

Lunardi had SBU in the tournament after Saturday’s win over Dayton. However, a Saint Mary’s win over Gonzaga on Saturday night made the Gaels the leaders of the West Coast Conference.

This knocked Mark Schmidt’s team out of the current tournament structure because Gonzaga is still projected to be in the tournament, removing one bubble team from the picture. That bubble team happened to be Bona: http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/bracketology/_/iteration/237

Continue reading “Bonnies Bracketology Update 2/22/16”

Men’s basketball: What proposed rule changes mean for Bonnies

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

On Friday, the NCAA men’s basketball rules committee announced that it would recommend some rule changes that will go into effect for next season, pending an NCAA vote.

The recommendations include shortening the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30, increasing the restricted area arc in front of the basket from three feet to four feet and reducing the number of timeouts from five to four, with no more than three carrying over from the first to the second half.

Here’s a rundown of what these rule changes would mean for the St. Bonaventure Bonnies:

Great match for the personnel: The Bona roster is made up of athletes who can run the floor and get points in transition. A quicker tempo will serve this team well, and the VCU game in February is proof. SBU thrived in that game against Shaka Smart’s club, committing just nine turnovers and showing some real composure in the upset victory. Against a team that plays at a slower pace, like Rhode Island, the Bonnies have proven to be sloppy (15 turnovers against Rhody) and inefficient (just 18 field goals, with 35.3 percent shooting) in a losing effort.

The shorter shot clock will force teams like Rhody to embark a bit out of their comfort zone, while Mark Schmidt’s team should have an easier time adjusting to having five seconds fewer to work with.

Fewer timeouts means more flow: There has been a major lack of flow to the game the past few years, as timeouts, both team and media, have been called at a dizzying rate. The coaches are not going to be fond of these new timeout rules, but the players should be overjoyed in their increased freedom to just play basketball, and the fans should be overjoyed in their increased freedom to just watch basketball. The coaches get in the players’ way sometimes with their micromanaging styles. They are still going to micromanage, but the NCAA rules committee is reigning them in a bit, and that’s a start.

More offense= more excitement= higher attendance?: The majority of basketball fans would rather watch a run-and-gun game with a lot of points on the board than a defensive struggle, and college students are no different. The brown and white haven’t had any struggles with getting fans to Saturday games, but those Wednesday night games have been hit-or-miss as far as attendance. Too many seats have been left empty in the Reilly Center the past few years, and the rather unexciting college basketball product has had much to do with that.

An offensive explosion is the perfect way to get more behinds in the seats. If the game is played at a quicker pace, students and townspeople alike will be more inclined to brave the weather and come watch the Bonnies. This means more money for the university, and if you’ve been paying attention to SBU’s enrollment and financial troubles you know more cash is a good thing.

More clarity on block-charge calls: Whenever bodies collide in the post, the dreaded block-charge call is about to be made, and that’s enough to make any fan groan. More often than not, the offensive or defensive player has a legitimate gripe if they are charged with the foul, but an increased restricted arc should lessen those collisions. This means less foul trouble, which means the most talented players are more likely to be on the court at the end of the game, making for the best finish possible. It’s hard to see how any fan would be against that.

The rule changes, assuming they get approved by the NCAA, will be good for the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. Bona fans should be excited for a faster pace of play that fits the current roster, as well as less commercial time. The changes don’t make them the favorites in the Atlantic 10 or anything of that sort, but the overall quality of the game should be improved at the Reilly Center and throughout the country this year.

 

 

 

 

Jason MacBain’s Determination, Age Set Him Apart

image

[Sports Information Director Jason MacBain introduces Bona players and coaches to the media following a game at the Reilly Center – Photo by Daulton Sherwin]

By Ryan Lazo, Editor in Chief, @RMLazo13

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — Now batting for the New York Yankees, No. 2, the shortstop, Jason MacBain.

If the following sentence seems weird, that’s because it is. The shortstop for the New York Yankees is Derek Jeter, not Jason MacBain. However, in an alternate universe in which MacBain could have picked his profession, that’s what he would be.

“I wanted to be the shortstop for the New York Yankees ever since I could remember,” MacBain said sitting in his office filled with sports memorabilia. “But look at me! I realized pretty quickly that was not going to happen.”

But while MacBain is not a baseball player, he still has accomplished a feat that no one else has ever done. He’s the youngest Division I Sports Information Director (SID) in the country. 

And his trip to the become the youngest SID has been a long, strange journey, starting with studying Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Bonaventure University.

“If I could not be a baseball player which was a long-shot anyway,” MacBain explained. “I had to be a part of it in someway.”

MacBain took all the required courses, soaking in everything professors had to offer him, but even that was not enough for the man who longed to be on the baseball diamond.

The pop of mitt and the thunderous crack of the aluminum bats brought MacBain to the office of St. Bonaventure’s baseball coach Larry Sudbrook. No, MacBain was not entering the manager’s office for a try-out, but for a way to stick around the game longer.

Sudbrook made him a student manager, a position MacBain held for all four of his years at St. Bonaventure. Sudbrook, impressed by Macbain’s work ethic, said he was a different type of worker.

“You would tell MacBain to do something one time and you would never have to tell him to do it ever again,” Sudbrook said. “And even better is he’d have it done beforehand every time after that. Not only did he make my job easier, but he got along with the team so well.”

The dedication MacBain brought to the student manager position was only equaled by his dedication to be the best journalist he could. He quickly rose through the ranks at The Bona Venture, St. Bonaventure University’s student newspaper since 1926, to become Editor-in-chief.

However, even with the success MacBain had in writing for the sports section and holding the Editor-in-chief role, he sensed that it was not the profession for him.

“I realized that so many people long to be in sports journalism,” MacBain said. “I knew that the only way to make it was to stand out and I didn’t. I needed to find a different way.”

And, while MacBain sat in his first MBA graduate program class, he realized that he was in the wrong graduate program. MacBain’s thought process brought him to the Integrated Marketing Communications program.

“It was an up and coming field. Only about five universities were using it at the time,” MacBain said as he remembered his research. “I saw that this may be another way to get into the field.”

It wasn’t a guarantee, but his thesis on a way to improve marketing of St. Bonaventure University’s Athletic Department, almost exclusively on the basketball programs, earned him high-marks.

But it wasn’t until he received a phone call as he did some landscaping that he knew he would be around the sports field that he loved.

“Steve Watson called me and said he wanted me to interview for the position of Assistant Sports Information Director,” MacBain said. 

But Sports Information Director Dallas Miller was skeptical. 

MacBain had never once interned in the Sports Information offices and did not have the background experiences necessary for the field. But Sudbrook went to bat for his former dedicated student manager. 

“When the job became available, I spoke to Steve Campbell who was on the search committee,” he explained. “Listen, we can search all we want for someone who has a degree in this, but you’re not going to get anyone better than MacBain.”

And while MacBain did not have experience, his dedication allowed him to impress not only Miller, but himself. 

Spending long nights in a cramped office inside the Reilly Center, the stubborn MacBain never once asked for help as he taught himself the responsibilities needed to be a great Assistant Sports Information Director.

MacBain would watch how other universities would use social media to help elevate the status of their programs and discuss how they can do the same at St. Bonaventure. The never-ending work ethic impressed Miller.

“I would say that Jason is a grinder and I mean that in a positive way,” Miller said. “No matter how big the task, no matter how late at night it might take to complete, Jason was the type to really drill down and do the work to get it done.”

And when Miller became hired by the Buffalo Bills as a Social Media Director, there was no one else Bona turned to than MacBain. 

“He see things in way that none of us see,” Assistant SID Matt Moretti said. “While others just see what’s in front of them, he sees how to use the social networking to market a brand. His work ethic never stops.”

It’s that work ethic that has Sudbrook believing that this is just one stop on the way to a more appealing position in just a few years.

“I think his skill set won’t keep him here long,” Sudbrook said. “I think he’ll move onto a bigger school, one with a football program. He’s going to be extremely successful in this line of work.”

While MacBain did not experience the success of hearing his name being chanted in Yankee Stadium, his work ethic has helped him become the youngest Division I SID in the country, success no one else has found.

Lazorm09@bonaventure.edu

Ndoye’s Improvement Bodes Well For The Bonnies

[Youssou Ndoye soars for a dunk last season against Rhode Island – Photo courtesy of gobonnies.com]

By Joseph Phelan, Assistant Sports Editor, @jphelan13

After losing the production of Andrew Nicholson and Da’Quan Cook from last year’s team, St. Bonaventure turns to Youssou Ndoye to supply the force inside.

The Brown and White have a deep and experienced team, but one that lacks bigs. The 7-footer from Senegal is the only active Bona player taller than 6-foot-8 on the roster.

“We are very limited as far as bigs and size,” senior guard Michael Davenport said.

And in a league full of talented big men, the Bonnies needed Ndoye to develop his game and he has done just that. Attending the same big man camp that turned Nicholson into a star, Ndoye has already improved greatly.

“He used be like that tripod right there that skinny, but in the summer he took a lot of time to work on his body,” Davenport said as he pointed toward a skinny cameraman. “He’s gained a lot of muscle.”

But the gained muscle won’t prevent Ndoye from picking up the cheap fouls that made him find a spot on the bench. Davenport said that it’s up to everyone on the court to help their big man out.

“The other four guys out there have to protect Youssou because at all times we need him out on the floor,” Davenport said. “We don’t need him in foul trouble. That comes with staying up on defensive assignments.”

Ndoye excited the Brown and White faithful last year with the energy and raw ability he brought to the floor, but his goal was to turn the raw ability into sustained talent.

“I went to the camp that Andrew (Nicholson) used to go for the last three years,” Ndoye said.“I spent like a month lifting, conditioning and basketball stuff. I wanted to get better in all areas of my game.”

And it seemed like he did just that when the Bonnies took on Mansfield this past weekend during their exhibition tune-up. While the Mountaineers are a Division II school, it was still obvious how much the Bona big man improved.

Ndoye shot 5-for-8 from the field for 14 points in just 21 minutes of action. And two of those points may have come on the most impressive dunk one will ever see.

His footwork was better around the basket, his shot seemed to fall easier and his extra strength helped him dominate the smaller opponent

Head coach Mark Schmidt said that while most freshman do not play well, he liked the way Ndoye continued to develop in tough circumstances.

“He wouldn’t have played a lot last year if Marquise (Simmons) didn’t get hurt, but he learned,” he said. “The only way you gain some experience is by playing and getting into the fire and getting your feet wet and I thought he did a great job as the season went along and as he played more he got better.”

And that experience will only help Ndoye and St. Bonaventure defend their Atlantic 10 Conference title.

“I think that first year was a tremendous learning experience for him and it gave him some confidence because there was times during the season that he played really well and that’s going to be a carryover hopefully to this year,” Schmidt said.

However, the Bonnies do not need Ndoye to dominate to win games, they just need him to be himself.

“We’re not expecting him to replace Andrew — no one is going to replace him. We’re expecting him to be Youssou,” Schmidt said. “To be able to run the court, score inside, play that physical game, be a guy that we can rely on and be a guy that can do the dirty work for us inside.”

And if Ndoye can do just that, the Brown and White faithful will be witnesses to plenty of wins in the Reilly Center and the continued development of a talented big man.

phelanjc11@bonaventure.edu

A preview of women’s basketball

By Joseph Phelan, Assistant Sports Editor, @jphelan13

Last year happened—St. Bonaventure won 31 games, the Atlantic 10 regular season championship and advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, but as great as it was, it is now only a sweet memory.

 Jessica Jenkins, Megan Van Tatenhove, Armelia Horton and Jennie Ashton have graduated. It is a new chapter in St. Bonaventure women’s basketball. But don’t think for a second that history can’t repeat itself, especially with Jim Crowley still at the helm.

 With six new faces and three new starters, the Atlantic 10 coaches picked Bonaventure to finish seventh out of 16 teams in the conference.

 That is a fair assessment, considering the Bonnies will be without 67.7 percent of their scoring from a year ago.

 Despite being chosen to finish in the middle of the Atlantic 10, the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll gave Bonaventure six votes for the preseason Top 25.

 Bonaventure was the only Atlantic 10 team to even receive votes. 

The Bonnies will return four players who averaged more than twenty minutes a game.

 Alaina Walker might be the most important.

 A member of the Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team a year ago, Walker is one of two seniors who will play this season. Senior Chelsea Bowker is out for the year because of surgery on her ankle.

 At 5’9”, Walker might not be the tallest, but her defensive abilities allow her to cover many positions on the perimeter and inside.

 Last year, because of an injury to Van Tatenhove, she covered 6’2” Laura Sweeney of Villanova.

 Walker might be the most versatile defender in the Atlantic 10.

 Another key contributor to last season’s Sweet 16 team: Doris Ortega.

 Ortega played exceptionally in three tournament games, averaging a team-high 11.3 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game and connecting on 91 percent of her free throws.

 Ortega, a junior, has the ability to put up even better numbers this season, as she becomes the unofficial No. 1 scoring option.

 CeCe Dixon electrified opposing defenses with her quickness, ball handlinga seasonand ability to knock down 3-pointers a season ago.

 Dixon will now face the challenges of becoming a full-time starter.

 Like Ortega, Dixon played exceptionally in March. She averaged 8.7 points per game in three NCAA Tournament games.

 The nucleus of Dixon, Ortega and Walker will be crucial for the success of the Bonnies.

 But it is the players who will play with them that are the most meaningful if the Bonnies are looking to the postseason tournaments.

 Senior Jordan McGee, a junior college transfer a year ago, made great strides during her first season with the Brown and White.

 McGee, who played in all but one game last year, is the type of player every coach wants on his or her team. This team player works hard, plays great defense and dives on the floor for loose balls.

 A player who has patiently been waiting for her opportunity is Ashley Zahn.

 Zahn, a junior, spent the last two seasons behind Jenkins and Bowker. And just like the two of them, Zahn can shoot the ball.

 Last year Zahn connected on 77.8 percent (7 of 9) of her 3-pointers last season.

 Sophomore Tatiana Wilson saw limited minutes last year, but she has the capabilities of scoring the basketball and playing tough defense.

As for the freshmen.

“They have all shown flashes at times at being able to deliver the specific skill that we recruited them for,” said assistant coach Ryan Gensler.

Despite the early growing pains of adapting to college basketball, Gensler senses an admirable trait among them.

“One of the great things about them is they’re eager to learn, they’re eager to put in the time,” he said.

Saturday marks the beginning of their collegiate basketball careers.

 “Once the lights come on, we really hope that confidence starts to exude, and they’ll really start to value the things that we value as a program on the court,” said Gensler.

Although there might be uncertainty on how good this Bonnies team can be this year, one thing is certain: Crowley gives them the best chance to win.

phelanjc11@bonaventure.edu