Holmes scores 38 as Bona blows out Saint Joseph’s

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — If Jaren Holmes had been the only player to score for the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team, the Bonnies would have only lost to Saint Joseph’s by 19 points.

Holmes had a career-high 38 points on 14-for-22 shooting from the field and 8-for-12 shooting from three-point range, as the Bonnies blew out the Hawks, 83-57, on Wednesday at the Reilly Center.

Bona took a four-point lead into halftime, but it was a 25-6 second-half run that spanned nearly 10 minutes of game time that put the Hawks away. During the run, Holmes scored 17 points and hit three triples. After the Hawks finally broke a dry spell from three-point range with a triple by Jack Forrest, Holmes responded with a three of his own.

Four minutes later, he hit two more three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to cap the best shooting night of his career.

“Guys kept giving me the ball in the right spots,” Holmes said. “My job at (SBU) is to hit shots, and I think I did that today. It definitely was my night. “

The junior guard from Romulus, Michigan attributed his success to finding holes in the Hawks’ zone defense, which SJU played nearly the entire game.

“They had holes in their zone, so we were just trying to exploit them,” Holmes said. “I was in those spots and ready to fire. We practice those shots in pregame warmups, and those were the shots that I was hitting tonight.”

Holmes’ shooting confidence, he said, has been aided by not only gelling with his teammates, but by the number of reps he has been able to get in leading up to this season.

“I’ve been getting a lot of reps in,” he said. “Shooting late nights, early mornings, and working with the guys and telling the guys ‘I’m here’ or ‘look for me there’. We’re just trying to feed off of each other. Me getting 38 (points) without my teammates is almost impossible, especially playing (against the) zone.”

Nearly lost in Holmes’ exceptional game was an 11-for-12 shooting night from Jalen Adaway, who scored 24 points without attempting a three-point shot. Adaway also pulled down seven rebounds and handed out four assists.

“(Holmes) and (Adaway) played exceptionally well,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We had 27 assists and seven turnovers; any coach in America would be happy with that. We attacked their zone effectively and we out-rebounded them, so we hit all of our marks.”

Holmes’ eight three-pointers land him third all-time for the most in a game in Bona history, not far behind Jaylen Adams, who hit 10 triples on 13 attempts against Saint Louis in 2018. Holmes also had 10 rebounds in the game, giving him his first double-double of the season.

Schmidt said that Holmes’ commitment to basketball and the time that he puts into the sport have shown.

“Every kid that works their tail off, as a coach, you want them to be successful and have nights like this,” Schmidt said. “I’m proud of him, and I know his teammates are.”

Adaway’s performance didn’t go unnoticed to Schmidt, either.

“(Holmes) has had some success in the Atlantic 10 before, but (Adaway) hasn’t,” Schmidt said of the junior transfer from Miami (OH). “A night like this should give him a lot more confidence.”

The Bonnies out-scored the Hawks 51-29 in the second half and shot 47% from the floor, while SJU shot 37%. Bona junior guard Kyle Lofton was kept off the score sheet for most of the night, but found other ways to contribute, dishing out 11 assists and pulling down eight rebounds to go with his four points.

Taylor Funk and Cameron Brown each scored 13 points for Saint Joseph’s, while Jordan Hall just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds to go with five assists. The Hawks fell to 0-8 and 0-3 in A-10 play.

The win was SBU’s second in a row, as the Bonnies now sit at 2-1 in A-10 play after beating Richmond and losing to Rhode Island. Bona is 4-1 overall.

“We’re getting more camaraderie with the new guys coming in, and I love the step that we’re taking,” Holmes said. “Ultimately, this was just a great win for us and a great stepping stone to keep moving up in the A-10.”

The Bonnies will be back at the RC on Saturday to play George Washington in a game that is scheduled to tip off at noon.

“You win and be competitive in the Atlantic 10 by winning your home games, protecting your home court, and trying to steal some on the road,” Schmidt said. “We’ve stolen one on the road, now we’ve protected our house one time. We have many more times where we need to protect our house, and we need to steal some more on the road.”

Lofton’s game-winner pushes Bona past Richmond for first A-10 win

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Nic Gelyon

RICHMOND, VA — “You want the ball in his hands at the end of the game to make a play.” 

That’s St. Bonaventure men’s basketball head coach Mark Schmidt speaking about junior guard Kyle Lofton. Lofton’s step-back three-pointer with just over two seconds remaining in the game iced a 69-66 win for the Bonnies at preseason Atlantic 10 favorite Richmond on Saturday.  

St. Bonaventure continued its dominance over Richmond, a team the Bonnies have beaten in five of six previous matchups in the last four years. 

During last season’s 75-71 nail-biter against the Spiders, then-sophomore guard Jaren Holmes shined, contributing 17 points, four rebounds and an assist in one of his best performances as a Bonnie. Holmes scored another 17 points on Saturday, with three rebounds and two assists.

Holmes, who suffered an injury in the team’s previous game, was a game-time decision, having played just one minute in the Bonnies’ loss to Rhode Island on Wednesday. He managed to play 31 minutes on Saturday in an efficient showing from the now-junior.

 “He’s just a player,” Schmidt said of Holmes. “That toughness, he brings that… that’s what we were missing at the Rhode Island game, that toughness. He makes big time plays when you need them.” 

Lofton wasn’t far behind with 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting, as well as one rebound and three assists. He also went 5-for-6 from the charity stripe. Bonaventure’s 12-for-14 free-throw shooting played an important role in keeping up with a dangerous offensive team in Richmond.  

In the first half, SBU’s largest lead was six points, a lead that would last only until the Spiders went on a run of seven consecutive makes in the final four minutes of the half. St. Bonaventure’s starters, specifically Lofton and forward/center Osun Osunniyi, looked gassed on defense toward the end of the half as the Spiders bullied the Bonnies in the paint with three consecutive layups. Richmond guard Blake Francis’ buzzer-beating three would give the Spiders a 35-33 lead at halftime. 

Schmidt said that halftime is where the problems began for the Bonnies in their loss to URI.

“We didn’t get off to a good start in the second half against Rhode Island,” Schmidt said. “By getting off to a good start in the second half, it sets the tone for the half, and I think the guys did a really good job in that situation.” 

Indeed, coming out of halftime, both teams traded blows. St. Bonaventure went on a streak of five consecutive makes, including a three by Holmes. The Spiders managed to answer back with a three of their own Blake Francis, as they tried to continue their momentum from the end of the half with a 40-39 advantage.   Neither team shot well from beyond the arc on Saturday, with both sides shooting under 30%. 

Francis’ triple proved to be the last time Richmond would lead in this game, as Bonaventure answered it a minute and a half later with a pull-up jumper from Lofton to take a 41-40 lead. 

SBU was aided by several Spider miscues, including forward Tyler Burton fouling out of the game with just over a minute left in regulation. Burton, one of the Spiders’ best three-point shooters and their best free-throw shooter, had been in foul trouble for most of the game.  

With fifteen seconds left in the game and Bona leading by one, Bona guard Dom Welch was called for a foul, sending Spiders forward Grant Golden to the line for two. Had he made both free-throws, Richmond would’ve had a 67-66 lead, and wouldn’t have had to hit a three down the stretch to tie the game. He only hit one of the two. Osunniyi grabbed the rebound and the Bonnies called a timeout. 

Off the timeout, Lofton drove the ball up the court following a game-tying jumper by Blake Francis. He dribbled around the top of the key with six seconds left in the game. With two seconds left, Lofton pulled up, off-balance, a couple feet behind the arc.   

He hit the shot. The Bonnies avoided going 0-2 to start A-10 play, and advanced to 3-1 overall on the season.

Osunniyi finished with seven points and 13 rebounds, while Welch scored 11 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Richmond was led by Francis, who scored 21 points and handed out three assists. Jacob Gilyard had 13 points for the Spiders, while Nathan Cayo turned in a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

After the game, the character of Lofton and Holmes, as well as the entire team, was not lost on Schmidt.

 “Having a difficult game at Rhode Island, you know, we didn’t play well,” Schmidt said. “It was a struggle… we didn’t play a perfect game today by far, but I thought they handled adversity, they learned from their mistakes. The kids responded in a positive way, and that’s what you like from a coaching perspective.” 

Bona will now return home and prepare for St. Joseph’s, against whom the team will host its A-10 home opener on Wednesday.

Bona fades late, opens A-10 play with loss at Rhode Island

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

KINGSTON, RI — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team prides itself upon limiting its opponents defensively, then controlling the offensive pace of the game by taking optimal shots and using the boards as a means for extra chances. 

Wednesday’s matchup against Rhode Island saw the Bonnies struggle with the latter.  

In their conference opener, the Bonnies traveled to Kingston to face URI in what was an ugly game from the opening tip to the final buzzer. The Bonnies and the Rams combined for 44 turnovers as both teams failed to establish any consistent rhythm on offense.  

“They pressured us, but we had a lot of unforced turnovers,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “It just looked like we were a step slow.” 

Another problem for St. Bonaventure was rebounding, as Rhode Island controlled the glass, out-rebounding SBU, 42-29. Both teams were equal on the offensive glass, but URI limited second possessions for the Bonnies by dominating the boards defensively. 

In the first half, the Bonnies secured a 12-6 advantage, but their lead soon dwindled, and the rest of the half was a back-and-forth contest. With neither team able to find a consistent source of scoring, the Bonnies took a 29-27 lead into the break.  

Despite their merits on the defensive end, offensive woes plagued the Bonnies’ scoring attack, as baskets seemed few and far between. The Bonnies shot 39% from the field and only shot 10 free throws compared to 25 for the Rams.  

“We missed a lot of bunnies, you know, we didn’t take the ball to the basket hard enough,” Schmidt said. 

Rhode Island used a 13-0 run to steal the lead at the beginning of the second half, helped by the shooting of Jeremy Sheppard, who led the Rams with 17 points. The Bonnies responded with 10-0 run, led by Jalen Adaway and Anthony Roberts, who made his debut for the brown and white. 

Adaway made an impact in his third game as a Bonnie, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds.  

“We hung in there,” Schmidt said. “Got off to a bad start in the second half, but we fought back and showed some toughness.” 

St. Bonaventure eventually knotted the game at 47 all with 5:24 remaining, but Mahkel Mitchell of Rhode Island responded with a dunk that put the Rams up for good, as they held on to defeat the Bonnies, 63-57.  

The Bonnies’ dynamic duo of Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi had a quiet afternoon, as Lofton finished with only points and Osunniyi finished with eight points. Osunniyi, stifled by the Rams’ defense, fouled out with 3:47 remaining.

Antwan Walker turned in a double-double for the Rams with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Jermaine Harris had eight points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

“There’s no moral victories.” Schmidt said. “We didn’t play well enough to deserve to win today.” 

The Bonnies will prepare for a quick turnaround, as they head to Richmond to face the Spiders, the preseason favorite in the A-10, on Saturday.  

Bonnies begin A-10 play with pair of road games at Rhode Island, Richmond

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Mark Schmidt breaks each college basketball season down into three parts: non-conference play, conference play and the postseason.

For Schmidt and the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team, the first part of the season didn’t go according to plan. The team had six of its eight scheduled games canceled due to a variety of COVID-19 concerns, but won both of the games it was able to play.

After beating Akron and Hofstra, the Bonnies enter Atlantic 10 play undefeated for the first time in program history.

“You just accept it and do the best job you can,” said Schmidt, who is in his 14th season as head coach at SBU, of the team’s unprecedented non-conference slate. “We knew this was going to happen. When it happens, it’s like a punch to the gut, but it is what it is. We’re 2-0, and now we turn our attention to the A-10. It would be just like that if we would have played 11 or 12 games in the non-conference.”

Bona begins A-10 play with a pair of road games against two of the conference’s perennial championship contenders. SBU will first travel to Rhode Island on Wednesday, where they will take on the 3-5 Rams.

“(Rhode Island has) got good size,” Schmidt said. “They’ve got high-major transfers. They’re very aggressive offensively and defensively.”

The Rams, who were picked to finish sixth in the league (Bona was picked to finish fourth), have not only already played eight games this season, but have played three games against Power Five conference opponents. URI’s losses include Arizona State, Boston College and Wisconsin, while the Rams own wins over South Florida, San Francisco and Seton Hall.

URI has lost three games in a row after previously enjoying a three-game winning streak. The Rams have already played one A-10 game, falling at home to Davidson on Dec. 18.

“We’ve got to try to keep them in the half court offensively, and take care of the ball so we don’t turn it over so they can get out on the break,” Schmidt said. “If this is a game that is in the 80s or 90s, they’re probably going to win. We’ve got to try to control tempo as much as we can and do a good job of keeping the ball out of the paint.”

Rhody is led by senior guard Fatts Russell, who has averaged 14.4 points per game and over three assists per game this season. The last time the Bonnies played the Rams, Russell scored 29 points in an 81-75 URI win at the Reilly Center.

“It’s very important for us to take care of the basketball and get shots up,” Schmidt said. “If we can do that and hopefully get some second shots, we’ll be okay. They are a tremendous athletic, physical half-court team.”

Senior guard Jeremy Sheppard averages 9.3 points per game for the Rams, while Antwan Walker, a forward who transferred to the program from Georgetown, averages 8.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

For Bona, Osun Osunniyi has been a bright spot in the middle of Schmidt’s offense. The junior forward/center has averaged 19.5 points and 10 rebounds per game in Bona’s two victories, while junior guards Kyle Lofton and Dominick Welch trail closely behind, each scoring 16.5 points per game over SBU’s young season.

Bona will enjoy the return of transfer guard Anthony Roberts, who missed the team’s first two games due to an extended quarantine period. Roberts averaged 12.7 points per game for Kent State last season.

Despite the lack of in-game reps that the Bonnies have gotten to prepare for A-10 play, Schmidt said that his team is excited to play “no matter who they’re playing.”

After playing URI, Bona will travel to Richmond to play the Spiders, who were the preseason favorite to win the A-10. The Spiders enter A-10 play with a 6-2 record, owning wins over Kentucky and Vanderbilt. On Dec. 22, Richmond lost at home to Hofstra, a team that Bona had defeated three days prior.

“It’s not an ideal situation,” Schmidt said. “We’ve played two games.”

Bona and URI are scheduled to tip off at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. That game can be seen on ESPN+. The Bonnies will tip off against the Spiders at 5 p.m. on Saturday in a game that can be seen on CBS Sports Network.

“These two games aren’t going to tell us how good we are or how bad we are, just like the first two games that we played didn’t tell us how good we are or how bad we are,” Schmidt said on Tuesday. “I’ll probably tell you in three or four weeks where we’re at.”

Bona survives Hofstra comeback, wins home opener

photo by Craig Melvin

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — For a moment, it looked like another run-away victory. Then, it wasn’t.

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team defeated Hofstra for the second year in a row on Saturday, in a game that turned out to be much closer than the contest’s start would have indicated.

When the Bonnies jumped out to a 30-7 lead early in the first half, flashbacks of SBU’s 28-point victory over the Pride last December transpired. The Bonnies carried a 15-point lead into halftime, but Jalen Ray got hot for Hofstra from the three-point line in the second half and led the Pride back.

After a frenzy of lead exchanges in the game’s final 10 minutes, the Bonnies went on a 13-3 run to close the game and beat Hofstra, 77-69.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “You knew they were going to come back, but I didn’t think they were going to come back in the second half and outscore us by 27 at one point.”

Trailing by 13 points with 15 minutes left in the second half, Hofstra went on a 29-14 run that spanned 11 minutes and gave the Pride a 66-65 lead. From there, Schmidt’s group responded.

With the game tied at 66 points each, Dominick Welch hit a three-pointer that was followed by a 12-foot floater by Kyle Lofton and two Osun Osunniyi dunks.

“When they took the lead, I thought our guys collected themselves, didn’t hang their heads and fought back,” Schmidt said. “But we beat a good team. Our goal was to be 2-0, and 1-0 at home, and we accomplished that.”

Lofton scored a team-high 16 points, and also dished out nine assists and pulled down four rebounds. Welch scored 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds while shooting 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.

“We got comfortable with the lead,” Lofton said. “When we got to the end, we knew it was go time. We couldn’t play laid back. We had to be aggressive. We knew that we had to get stops and rebounds, and finish out possessions.”

Osunniyi had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. He briefly came out of the game two minutes into the second half after picking up his second personal foul.

Osunniyi was replaced by Jalen Shaw, who scored four points in nine minutes of action. In the eight minutes that Osunniyi was on the bench, the Bona lead shrunk from 13 points to three.

“I got into foul trouble, so me not being in the game, I just tried to bring energy from the bench,” Osunniyi said. “It all comes down to the veteran leadership and the more experienced guys telling everybody to stay calm, run our offense and play defense.”

Ray, who scored a game-high 28 points, was instrumental in Hofstra’s second-half comeback. He shot 6-for-10 from beyond the arc, including 5-for-7 in the second half, when 19 of his points were scored. Isaac Kante finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Pride, while former Bona guard Tareq Coburn scored nine points.

Schmidt mentioned several positives that he took away from his team’s performance, including out-rebounding Hofstra by 15 and having a team total of 19 assists compared to 11 turnovers.

“We’ve got to get better,” Schmidt said. “We can’t give up 20-point leads. There are a lot of challenges going on, but I’m proud of our mental toughness.”

Lofton, Welch and Osunniyi each reaching double-digit scoring figures was also encouraging, Schmidt said.

“We need them,” he said. “They’re juniors now; they’re the main guys. Those three guys, along with Jaren (Holmes), need to score the ball.”

Holmes finished with nine points and eight rebounds, while Jalen Adaway had nine points and five rebounds. Eight different Bonnies got on the score sheet.

This is the first time that SBU has started 2-0 in a season since 2013-14, and the first time that Bona has won its home opener since 2016-17. Bona will host “Big 4” rival Buffalo on Tuesday to wrap up the Bonnies’ non-conference schedule.

“I think everybody is slowly starting to find their way on this team,” Osunniyi said. “The new guys are trying to find their way and see where they fit in. That’s good for us.”

Osunniyi dominates, leads Bonnies to opening victory in Cleveland

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Tom Doyle

CLEVELAND, OH — In its first game in nine months, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team picked up its first win of the season by beating the Akron Zips, 81-74, at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Tuesday afternoon. 

The Bonnies were led by Osun Osunniyi, who had a career-high 25 points to go with eight rebounds and three assists. The Bonnies controlled the entire game, stretching their lead to 10 points for most of the game.   

“I’m proud of our effort with all the challenges we have had since the Atlantic 10 Tournament was cancelled last year and having to quarantine,” said Bona head coach Mark Schmidt. “I thought the kids came out excited to play and the veterans got us out to a great start.”

The Bonnies forced the Zips into 17 turnovers with swarming defense on Akron star point guard Loren Cristian Jackson.

 “We were active defensively and we did a decent job on Jackson,” Schmidt said. “We made baskets when we needed them and got decent stops. (Osunniyi) did a good job inside and (point guard) Kyle (Lofton) did a good job handling the ball.”

Jackson would finish with a team-high 22 points.

Bona’s defensive success started early with a couple of steals from Lofton and Dom Welch.  This led to two assists from Osunniyi, a Welch three-pointer and a Lofton layup, stretching the lead to 23-12 with nine minutes remaining in the first half. 

In the second half, the Bonnies didn’t slow down. The Bonnies lengthened their lead to 50-33 before Jackson cut it to 10 with 9:45 remaining. But, the Bonnies kept their composure and didn’t let them back into the game, led by Osunniyi. 

Lofton finished with 17 points and five assists for Bona, while Welch scored 18 points and pulled down five rebounds.

After the game, Osunniyi spoke about his ability to expand his offensive game this year. 

“It felt good,” Osunniyi said. “Shooting the midrange shot and knocking it down, I’ve been working all summer on that and just trying to expand my game and not just be an inside presence.”

The Bonnies were not sharp shooting the ball, shooting 1-for-14 from three-point range and 20-for-28 from the foul line. Fortunately for them, Akron shot 6-for-32 from three, and the Zips couldn’t get stops on the defensive end when they needed to. 

The Bonnies will continue their season against Hofstra on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Reilly Center. 

Bonnies navigate through preseason, await bubble trip

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Ryan Surmay

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The 2020-2021 college basketball season has already shown that it will be much different than usual. 

This season is going to cause new challenges that teams haven’t faced before, and on the morning of Nov. 11, a new challenge presented itself as St. Bonaventure University announced that there will be no fans allowed at basketball games in the Reilly Center this season. 

“The bench has to be twice as loud now,” said Bonnies junior guard Kyle Lofton. “Give it your all and pick each other up.”

SBU head coach Mark Schmidt said that the Reilly Center is one of the best home court advantages in college basketball, so the team is going to do their best to make up for it by bringing more energy. 

“If you’re a competitor, it doesn’t matter if there’s 10,000 fans or one,” Schmidt said. 

Within the team, there’s a mutual respect as no player wants to be the one to let their guard down. Schmidt has stressed the importance of staying away from large crowds to allow for the season to be completed in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

 “You don’t want to be the one to ruin it for everybody else,” he said. 

The players realize how big of an impact it could be if a positive test occurs. Other schools have been forced to shut down because of outbreaks on their teams. 

“Seeing [other teams shut down] makes you realize it can happen,” Lofton said. “Our first game is in two weeks… if someone gets it, it won’t happen.” 

The team is schedules to kickoff its season on Nov. 25 against Towson in the Mohegan Sun bubble in Connecticut. 

Schmidt and his team has been trying to keep a sense of normalcy with its preparations. He said that that apart from mask wearing, practices haven’t looked too different from previous years.

“We’re doing everything we would have done for the last 31 years,” Schmidt said. “The only difference is I got a mask on. I know some coaches are doing non-contact but we haven’t changed. My thought process is do everything you can off the court, but we’re not going to change what we do on the basketball court.”

Lofton expressed the importance of keeping distanced and solely being focused on basketball for the time being.

“Guys are here to play basketball and are having fun, so it makes it easier,” he said. 

Lofton and co-captain Osun Osunniyi were both voted to preseason all-league teams, as Lofton was named preseason second-team all-Atlantic 10, while Osunniyi was preseason third-team all-league and A-10 all-defensive team.

The team, meanwhile, was picked to finish fourth in the A-10. SBU has finished in the league’s top six each of the past five years.

While this team has no seniors, they have nine juniors who are used to playing big minutes. Lofton, Osunniyi, Dom Welch and Jaren Holmes each averaged over 30 minutes per game in the last season.

“We have juniors but in essence they’re like fifth year seniors,” Schmidt said. “They’ve played a lot of minutes.” 

For the team, there’s a level of anticipation due to not being in a situation like the Mohegan Sun bubble before.

“It’s new,” Schmidt said. “I’ve never been in a bubble but it’s one of the safest things they can do.”  

Schmidt, Osunniyi look forward to Mohegan Sun bubble

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Osun Osunniyi and the Bonnies are aware of the potential consequences of the Coronavirus.

Last season, the virus erased any hopes that the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team had for a run to an Atlantic 10 tournament title in Brooklyn, as well as the NCAA tournament.

“We know that we want to play,” Osunniyi said. “The bad feeling of being in Brooklyn and having the tournament not happen, and not being able to play for so long that we want to play so bad.”

With the pandemic ongoing, the road back to Brooklyn will start at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on Nov. 25. St. Bonaventure is one of over thirty teams beginning its season in “Bubbleville.”

In ascramble to piece together schedules, multiple-team events, also known as MTEs, have become a favorable solution for teams nationwide.

By doing this, programs limit travel while constructing quality non-conference match ups. Of the locations for such events, Mohegan Sun has become arguably the most popular bubble destination as programs
search for games in a safe environment.

“It’s going to be different for us,” Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said. “But I think it’s one of the safest things that we can do for our players.”

Safety is a key this season; consequentially, the schedule will not play out as normal. Usually, SBU has a scrimmage and an exhibition game to get ready for competition, but that luxury is absent this season.

“By this time, we would have our ‘secret scrimmage’ and be getting ready for an exhibition game,” Schmidt said. “It’s a little bit concerning when the first game you play counts.”

Exhibition or not, the season begins with several match ups against quality mid-major programs. In their first game, the Bonnies face a Towson team bringing in several new pieces and contending for the Colonial league crown.

In the days following, SBU will take on Stephen F. Austin, a program notorious for giving high-major teams headaches in March. The Lumberjacks pulled off one of the most shocking upsets in college
basketball history last year at Duke.

Vermont, another SBU opponent in the bubble, sits atop the America East perennially, and handed the Bonnies a heart-breaking loss in the Reilly Center last season.

“We have a difficult schedule,” Schmidt said. “It’s great for our non-conference to play Towson, a very good team and as you alluded to with Stephen F. Austin, and Vermont is picked to win their league again.”

SBU will likely play a fourth game in the bubble, and can schedule up to three other non-conference games before starting league play in late December. Regardless, Schmidt knows his squad is itching to get back in action.

“They’re tired of playing against each other,” Schmidt said. “Our guys are looking to play anybody other than themselves, and we’ve got a challenge the 25th against Towson.”