Ndoye leads Bonnies to Big Four Classic win

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

On a day designed to honor the old Buffalo Braves, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies turned back the clock on Saturday with a 1970s NBA staple- dominant big man play.

Youssou Ndoye played arguably the best game of his Bona career in the 74-59 win over the Niagara Purple Eagles at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, scoring 23 points on 9-16 shooting as well as grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking five shots.

“Youssou played with some aggression and some passion and that’s what we needed,” said coach Mark Schmidt. “When Youssou plays the way he did today- the way he’s capable of playing- we’re that much better.”

Ndoye’s 16 shots were a season high by far, as he had only attempted 10 shots over his first three games. His teammates got him the ball, and he cashed in on his opportunities.

“These last couple days in practice we’ve worked on throwing the ball inside and playing off me,” Ndoye said. “We have a young team with a lot of new guys and today we got better at just playing together and knowing where to go with the ball. I think my teammates did a great job of finding me, and I executed on most (possessions).”

The Bonnies shot 46.4 percent from the field, a season high. Andell Cumberbatch and Dion Wright combined for 30 points on 12-23 shooting to complement Ndoye’s massive game.

The execution definitely improved today, and Schmidt took note of that.

“We pride ourselves on our execution and for a young team the execution hasn’t been where it needs to be,” he said. “As we get along in the season and play the A-10 schedule that we’re about to play, execution is everything. You need to execute in order to score offensively. We took a step in the right direction today.”

While the offensive play was much needed, Schmidt knows the team has to have a defensive mindset game in and game out. The Bonnies achieved their team goals of holding the team under 60 points and under 40 percent from the floor once again.

“(For) every team, the personality and emphasis has to be defense,” he said. “You can’t win at this level just playing offense; defense has to be the staple, rebounding has to be the staple. If you can do those two things, you have a chance to be in every game.”

“Offense is fickle but defense has to be there every night and that keeps you in the game.”

Ndoye, who missed the first game of the season for playing in an impermissible summer game, struggled in his first two games but hopes to have found his groove.

“The first two games when I came back I didn’t play the way I used to play; no emotion, no passion. I was just out there getting frustrated over little stuff,” he said. “I’m the senior and the captain of the team so the team’s gotta go as I go. I tried to play the way I used to play, with a lot of emotion and trying to make sure everybody’s in the right direction.”

One contributing factor in the increase of the big man’s touches was Niagara’s choice to play the majority of the game in a man-to-man defense.

“I was hoping that somebody would play man one of these games because all of the teams we play always play zone and I’m always in this box trying to make things happen. I was definitely glad that (Niagara) played man,” said Ndoye.

There was definitely a great atmosphere at the First Niagara Center on Saturday afternoon, with the attendance announced at 7,191. Both teams had large contingents supporting their teams, and the players fed off that emotion.

“I thought it was a good crowd,” said Schmidt. “The Bonaventure people really support us. I thought it was a good environment, and if we can (make some adjustments and) make the arena a little smaller to cut out the upper deck it’ll be that much better.”

“This was a good beginning. This could be an annual thing that could be good for Western New York.”

Men’s basketball: Quick hitters (Niagara)

By Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt

The St. Bonaventure University Bonnies defeated the Niagara Purple Eagles 74-59 in the Big 4 Classic at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo to improve their record to 4-1.

Block party: The Bonnies recorded eight blocks in total with five of those coming from Youssou Ndoye. The Purple Eagles were clearly outsized and outmatched leading to a dominating end on the defensive side and the offensive side as well, with a 40-20 win for points in the paint for the Bonnies.

Ndoye’s big game: Big is an understatement. Youssou Ndoye had the best game of his career this afternoon going 9-16 from the field for 23 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and a steal. Again, being 7-feet tall the Purple Eagles couldn’t match up with him.

Cumberbatch chipping in: Andell Cumberbatch is a senior and establishing himself as the leader, along with Ndoye, of this Bonnies team. He grabbed five boards and had four steals and also put in a solid effort offensively going 6-12 from the field for 16.

Wright is consistent: Dion Wright has shown thus far that he will always give you  solid numbers. He went 6-11 from the field for 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two assists. In the second-half most of Wright’s baskets came off of easy drives in the lane and layups off the glass.

Hitting the freebies: In Bonaventure’s first two games against Dartmouth and Siena, the Bonnies shot poorly (about 65-percent) as a team from the stripe and it hurt them especially in the Siena game. Something must’ve clicked because the Bonnies have shot upwards of 75-percent since then. Today they went 19-25 (76-percent) .

Key quotes: 

Mark Schmidt:

“We took a step in the right direction and got a lot better as a team today.”

“When Youssou plays the way he’s capable of playing we’re a lot better.”

“I thought it was a good crowd. The Bonaventure people really support us, and I thought the environment was good.”

Youssou Ndoye:

“We got a pretty young team and a bunch of new guys that are still trying to figure stuff out. I thought today we got a lot better.”

“I was hoping that someone would play man (to man) one of these games.”

 Up next for the Bonnies is the University of Buffalo at 7pm at the Reilly Center Wednesday night.

Men’s basketball: Niagara preview

By Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt and Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The 3-1 St. Bonaventure University Bonnies head to the First Niagara Center on Saturday to battle the 1-2 Niagara Purple Eagles at 2 p.m. in a neutral-site showdown.

The game is one half of the Big Four Classic. Canisius will take on the University at Buffalo following Bonaventure’s game.

All four teams involved in the doubleheader will wear Buffalo Braves-inspired throwback uniforms.

Here’s what to look for in tomorrow’s game:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure: Mark Schmidt. 110-110 as Bonnies head coach.

Niagara: Chris Casey. 8-28 as Purple Eagles head coach.

Key players for Niagara:

Emile Blackman- 6-4 sophomore guard. Blackman, the nephew of former NBA player and coach Mark Jackson, had to sit out last season after transferring from LIU Post but has quickly made an impact this year. He is the team’s leading scorer at 13.3 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting from the floor. He’s dangerous from behind the arc as well, shooting 56 percent from behind the arc for LIU Post.

Rayvon Harris- 6-5 junior forward. Harris, who averaged 6.2 points in 18.4 minutes a game last year, has made steady improvements this year, scoring 11.7 points per game in 29.3 minutes over the first three games. He’s grabbed just under five rebounds a contest as well for the Purple Eagles.

Ramone Snowden- 6-5 sophomore forward. Snowden, who averages 9.3 points a game, has had 7.7 rebounds a contest as well, good for the team lead in rebounding. He’s not the go-to guy offensively, but Niagara counts on him when it comes to dominating the glass, and that’s something he will work to improve.

Key players for St. Bonaventure:

Marcus Posley- 6-1 junior guard. Posley has emerged as the go-to man for the Bonnies early in the season. He’s averaging a team-leading 18 points per game and is shooting 38 percent from the field.

Youssou Ndoye- 7-0 senior forward. Schmidt called Ndoye the “ultimate team player” and he has been consistently pulling down rebounds and swatting shots in his first three games. He’s grabbed a team-leading 10 rebounds per game and is averaging close to three blocks per game.

Jaylen Adams- 6-0 freshman point guard. Charlon Kloof played 33.5 minutes per game as the Bonnies’ senior point guard last year. Jaylen Adams is only a freshman and already averaging close to 28 minutes per game. Schmidt has put trust in his young PG and Jaylen has contributed, shooting 51 percent from the field and averaging 12.3 ppg.

Keys to victory for Niagara: The blueprint for the Bonnies’ first four opponents has been to be lights-out from the floor, specifically from three, to make up for Bona’s size. The Purple Eagles have to do the exact same thing, with Blackman and Snowden leading the way. The Bonnies are going to grab more rebounds, so shooting well is of the utmost importance for this Niagara team.

Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: No one on Niagara’s roster can match the Bonnies’ size. Because of the athleticism that the Bonnies have and their advantage in the paint, expect to see another 2-3 zone thrown at the Bonnies, forcing them to make outside shots. Jaylen Adams, Andell Cumberbatch and Marcus Posley will have to be knocking down the three-ball.

The Prediction: 60-57 Bonnies

Bonnies’ Aim To Surprise Little 3 Rivals

[Photo courtesy of gobonnies.com ]

By Tim Harfmann, Staff Writer, @Timharf

The St. Bonaventure men’s and women’s cross country teams start their season on Friday as they host rivals Niagara and Canisius in the Little 3 Invitational on the St. Bonaventure golf course.

The Bonnies have not had much success against their Little 3 opponents, but head coach Bob Macfarlane is confident that his team has the potential to change that this season.

“Canisius is going to be very good again. Obviously they’re the favorite, both the men and women. I think we have a legitimate shot to be with them in the mix of it,” said Macfarlane.

Canisius’ men’s team won last year’s Little 3 Invitational for the sixth consecutive year, while their women’s team won for the fifth consecutive year. Although the St. Bonaventure men’s team finished in last, the women’s team placed second for the first time in team history.

This year’s invitational will be different as the men will run a 5K race at 11 a.m. compared to a usual 8K race.

The 2012 men’s cross country team, without senior leadership, is made up of four freshmen, seven sophomores and three juniors, two of whom are out for the season due to injury.

“The men’s race will be very tough,” Macfarlane said, “but I think we have some freshmen that can step up and make a big difference.”

The women’s race is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. and will also be a 5K race, which is their normal distance.

Macfarlane, who is in his third year with the Brown and White, hopes to see the women improve from last year’s second-place finish and believes Kady Weisner, a junior transfer from Bucknell University, could make a huge impact in the race.

“Don’t be surprised if you see Kady Weisner win the race,” Macfarlane said, speaking highly of the Saint Marys, Pa. native, “I’m not taking anything away from the other girls, but we brought (Weisner) in to be our number one runner and she hasn’t disappointed me in that aspect. She’ll be very competitive.”

The 2012 women’s cross country team consists of four freshmen, five sophomores and one junior.

This year’s invitational, which St. Bonaventure hosts once every three years, will be held on the golf course compared to the athletic fields, where it has been held in previous years. Macfarlane does not believe the times in this year’s 5K races will be as fast as last year’s, due to Niagara’s flat course, but believes this year’s hilly course should not be a challenge for the Bonnies.

“During high school, the kids were so used to running on hilly courses. That’s all they ever ran on,” said Macfarlane.

Macfarlane said the goal is for each individual runner to have their best times at the Atlantic 10 Championship on Oct. 27 in Philadelphia. However, the 1977 St. Bonaventure alum believes that it should not stop them from being competitive on Friday.

“Let’s put it this way, if we come in last, I’ll be disappointed,” the head coach said.
After Friday’s Little 3 Invitational, the Bonnies will compete in five other races.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have been predicted to finish last in the Atlantic 10 Conference, according to this year’s preseason rankings.

Is Macfarlane surprised that both teams were predicted to finish in the “basement of the A-10”?

“Historically, we’ve never been out of the basement and when I got hired that was one of the goals, not to be the doormat for every team in the Atlantic 10,” said Macfarlane.

“I’m hoping that we will be able to move up a spot or two in the men’s and the women’s this year.”

Unlike previous seasons, both the men’s and women’s teams will compete on a biweekly basis. Macfarlane said the reason is for training purposes.

“We had a stretch last year where we had three meets in three weeks and by the time we got to the Paul Short Invitational, the team was tired,” said Macfarlane.

This year’s cross country schedule is filled with unfamiliar courses. In fact, the Bonnies have not ran on any courses this season.  

“I wanted to check out new courses and the kids wanted to see different colleges,” Macfarlane said.

St. Bonaventure will compete for the National Catholic Championship at Notre Dame on Sept.14 and then travel to Leesburg, Va. for the Mason Invitational on Sept. 29.

“We’re going to see some A-10 schools at George Mason and it will be nice to see a few more A-10 schools that we normally don’t see,” said Macfarlane.

The Bonnies will have another two weeks off before heading to Gettysburg, Pa. on Oct. 13 for the Gettysburg Invitational.

On Oct. 27, both teams will compete in Philadelphia as Temple hosts this year’s Atlantic 10 Championship. Macfarlane said the top 10 runners from each team will compete and out of the top 10 from each team, the top seven will compete at the Northeast Regionals in Boston, Mass. on Nov. 9.

“It will become more of a competitive thing for the kids to strive for,” Macfarlane said.