Bona fans– Don’t think what it could have been. Think what it can be

photos courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

BROOKLYN– It looked like a story book ending.

But it ended in a way that broke the hearts of the thousands of Bonnies fans that traveled to Brooklyn over the weekend.

When the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team’s 2018-19 season came to an end Sunday afternoon, it left an opportunity on the table that could have only been dreamed about at the beginning of the year.

The Bonnies fell to Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 championship game, and the college careers of Courtney Stockard, LaDarien Griffin and Nelson Kaputo came to an end.

St. Bonaventure entered the tournament as the fourth seed, but once Sunday came around, it looked like everything they needed to happen to win the tournament came true.

 

The top three seeds in the tournament (VCU, Davidson, Dayton) had all been knocked out, and the Bonnies awaited a Saint Louis team in the final that they had beaten eight days before.

 

But when the final buzzer sounded, it brought sorrow instead of joy for Bonnies fans.

Bona was so close, so close, to making an an improbable run to the NCAA tournament. It would have been the first time the program had ever went to the tournament in back-to-back years and a remarkable end to the careers of three seniors that have been through a lot over the past four seasons at SBU.

But for many Bonnies fans, it became the game, the championship and the tournament run that could have been.

 

Sure, it’s easy to look back at the past and think what could have resulted if a bounce or two could have gone Bona’s way. It’s also easy to look at the turnaround that this team had, after starting the season 4-10 and then coming within seven minutes of an A10 championship.

But at the culmination of this season, what Bonnies fans should really be excited is the year to come– and probably the next three.

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Bonnies center Osun Osunniyi during their win over Rhode Island

The team started three freshmen (when they were healthy) for the majority of the season. Kyle Lofton, Dom Welch and Osun Osunniyi averaged a combined 30 points and 14.4 rebounds per game during the regular season. The trio also scored 35.3 points per game and pulled down 18 rebounds per game during the A10 tournament.

 

Under a coach that is notorious for giving freshmen time to develop before he gives them significant playing time, it is remarkable what this year’s freshman class did.

Lofton and Osunniyi, prep school teammates, each blossomed into impact players in the Atlantic 10 over the course of the year. Both were named to the conference’s All-Rookie team, and Osunniyi was also named to its All-Defensive team.

For his play over the weekend, Lofton was named to the A10 All-Tournament team.

Welch, who missed nine games in the regular season with an injury, took longer to come around than the other two.

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Bonnies guard Dom Welch after hitting a three against George Mason

But the Buffalo native showed his potential in Brooklyn. Welch shot 6-12 from beyond the arc and scored 20 a career-high points in Bona’s quarterfinal win over George Mason, and followed it up with a 13-point performance the next day against Rhode Island.

 

What impressed me the most from Welch over the weekend was his defensive awareness. He was all over the court, and his defensive play, along with his offense, showed that he was finally ready to play at the level Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt had hoped he could.

“The future is bright,” said Schmidt after the loss to Saint Louis. “We’ve got to bring in some more guys, but they are a talented group that is going to continue to get better.”

Schmidt has already landed several players who could fill the roles the seniors left, including Bobby Planutis, a transfer from Mt. St. Mary’s who had to sit out this season, and Justin Winston, a three-star recruit from the same prep school that Lofton and Osunniyi came from (Putnam Science Academy).

Those players and the other returners will have 25-point-per-game shoes to fill that Stockard and Griffin will take with them when they graduate.

Sounds tough, but Bona was put in the same situation this year after they lost Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley’s combined 37.2 points per game.

Maybe I’m just trying to be positive.

But it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Bonnies have a special trio of freshmen on their hands who have big-game experience after playing into Sunday of the A10 tournament. That experience will go a long way in future years if they can find themselves in the same spot.

The 2019 Bonnies came close. But this tournament run, which was almost one for the ages, could be just the beginning of what this young group can accomplish.

I’m not the only one who feels that way. In the final press conference of his career, Griffin showed his enthusiasm for the future of the Bona program.

“Those guys are gonna use this season as motivation and as long as they stay together they’re going to be really special,” said Griffin.

“They’re going to be really, really good.”

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Men’s basketball: Rhody big men prove too much for Bonnies in A-10 quarterfinal

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

PITTSBURGH — For a moment on Friday afternoon, it looked like the St. Bonaventure Bonnies were going to be able to overcome the many challenges Rhode Island presented them.

Two Matt Mobley free throws gave Bona a 35-34 lead with 17 minutes to play in the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinal matchup. Ultimately, however, Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson were too much for the Bonnies to handle. The Rams (22-9) won 74-63 and Bonaventure (20-12) must wait for Sunday night to see if its season will continue in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

Iverson grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, while Martin scored 19 points and collected eight boards. The Rams worked inside-out, allowing E.C. Matthews to enjoy a 20-point day.

Coach Danny Hurley’s team was a matchup nightmare, and SBU didn’t have an answer for the big men.

“They were more physical than us,” said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt. “We had a hard time scoring the ball. We tried to change things up (defensively), 1-3-1, 2-3, man-to-man, try to fool them. At times it worked, but they hurt us inside from an offensive standpoint and we didn’t have much resistance.

“One of our weaknesses is we have young guys inside and they took advantage of that. Their defense was really effective… when we had open looks we needed to knock those open looks down in that area as well.”

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Rhody big men prove too much for Bonnies in A-10 quarterfinal”

One down: Bonnies roll over UMass to set Friday date with Rhody

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

PITTSBURGH — There was reason for concern after the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team’s performance last Saturday against UMass. After all, the Minutemen had a chance to ruin Bona’s Senior Day and send the game into overtime at the buzzer.

The Bonnies eased any anxiety early on Thursday afternoon, defeating the Minutemen 73-60 at PPG Paints Arena to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals, where they will face Rhode Island.

Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt has often remarked about the team’s need for complimentary players to score, outside of his “Big Three” of Jaylen Adams, Matt Mobley and Denzel Gregg. The brown and white delivered with four players in double figures- Mobley with 19, Adams with 17, David Andoh with 12 and Josh Ayeni with 10.

Continue reading “One down: Bonnies roll over UMass to set Friday date with Rhody”

Men’s basketball: With national attention building, Bonnies host Rhode Island

(Marcus Posley Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The 11-3 St. Bonaventure Bonnies enter Wednesday night’s home contest against the 10-6 Rhode Island Rams (7 p.m., Time Warner Sports Channel) in a spot they haven’t been in since the 2011-12 season.

The brown and white have long been the perennial overachievers who receive little to no respect from the rest of the Atlantic 10, much less the rest of the country. Now, Bona is tied with VCU for first in the league with a 3-0 conference record and a recipient of a vote for top 25 in the Associated Press poll. National college basketball writers Jon Rothstein and Seth Davis have shown the team some love on Twitter.

Now that they’re getting some hype, which is warranted after three double-digit wins to start A-10 play, the Bonnies face a new challenge- blocking out the noise and beating a talented URI team.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: With national attention building, Bonnies host Rhode Island”

Men’s basketball: Atlantic 10 Week in Review 12/28-1/3

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

It was an exciting week in the Atlantic 10, as the teams closed out their non-conference slates and started league play over the weekend. The conference openers provided some eye-opening results, while some players were absolutely superb.

The best and worst from the week in the A-10:

Team records this week: Dayton 2-0, George Washington 2-0, Rhode Island 2-0, St. Bonaventure 2-0, St. Joe’s 2-0, UMass 2-0, VCU 2-0, Fordham 0-1, George Mason 0-1, Davidson 0-2, Duquesne 0-2, La Salle 0-2, Richmond 0-2, Saint Louis 0-2

Three stars of the week:

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure. The newly-minted Atlantic 10 Player of the Week helped propel the Bonnies to two victories last week. On Wednesday, he recorded a double-double with 16 points and 12 assists in 38 minutes in the win over Niagara. All five of his made field goals in that game were three-pointers.

The Davidson game was the contest that warranted player of the week honors, however. Adams lit up the Wildcats for 30 points, including another five threes and a perfect 11-for-11 night from the foul line. The Baltimore native also recorded six rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block in Bona’s 97-85 win over the defending A-10 champs.

(Photo Credit: sjuhawks.com)

Isaiah Miles, St. Joe’s. This is Miles’s second straight week on the “three stars” list after another stellar performance on offense and on the boards. The 6-foot-7 senior forward scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds in the win over Maryland-Eastern Shore, then scored 17 again in the Richmond victory, picking up 16 boards in that one.

Miles is leading the Hawks in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and free throw percentage, categories that (except for free throws) junior forward DeAndre’ Bembry was expected to lead the team in by a significant margin. Miles’s production is a major reason SJU is 11-2.

(Photo Credit: GoRhody.com)

Four McGlynn, Rhode Island. McGlynn has emerged as the Rams’ leading scorer after a 33-point, six-rebound performance in the overtime victory over Brown and a 16-point night in the win against Saint Louis. He hit six threes against Brown and four more against the Billikens, bringing up his total to 36 made triples on the year.

It’s no secret that Rhody is struggling significantly without star guard E.C. Matthews, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the team’s season opener. McGlynn, a Towson transfer, has found himself in the perfect situation as he tries his best to help keep this team afloat.

Best win: St. Bonaventure over Davidson. Bona putting 97 boards on the board against the defending A-10 regular season champs was the surprise of a weekend where there were no major upsets. Adams was obviously the star of the night but Derrick Woods also had a career high with 11 points. Marcus Posley and Denzel Gregg came alive in the second half, with 17 and nine points respectively in the final 20 minutes. Jordan Tyson’s 18 productive minutes cannot be overlooked, either; he gives this team the depth they need, especially when Dion Wright is in foul trouble.

Worst loss: None. No loss really belongs in this category this week. Each of the non-conference losses were road losses. The only teams that got blown out in A-10 openers were Saint Louis and George Mason, who were expected to lose and will likely be in the cellar of the league again. For the first time this year, no loss qualifies as the “worst loss” of the week.

Best games in the week ahead: St. Joe’s-VCU on Tuesday, Dayton-UMass on Wednesday and UMass-Bonaventure on Saturday are three games to watch this week. All three games will be televised, with St. Joe’s-VCU on American Sports Network or the A-10 Network and the two other games on CBS Sports Network.

Men’s basketball: Atlantic 10 Week in Review- 12/14-12/20

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The Atlantic 10’s men’s basketball week started and ended with a thud, but the league was still 11-5 overall. Here are the best and worst performances of the past seven days:

Team records this week: Duquesne 2-0, Dayton 1-0, Fordham 1-0, George Mason 1-0, George Washington 1-0, Rhode Island 1-0, Richmond 1-0, St. Bonaventure 1-0, St. Joe’s 1-0, UMass 1-0, Davidson 0-1, Saint Louis 0-2, VCU 0-2

Three stars of the week:

Derrick Colter, Duquesne. The Dukes had another 2-0 week to extend their win streak to four, and Colter was their top player this time around. The 5-foot-11 senior guard averaged 18.5 points, five assists and 4.5 rebounds while playing 73 of the 80 possible minutes against South Carolina State and Robert Morris. Those scoring numbers included six threes and a perfect 13-of-13 mark from the free throw line. Considering Colter battled cancer a year ago, he and his teammates have to be overjoyed that he’s leading a 10-2 Dukes team in scoring.

Trey Davis, UMass. Davis dropped 40 against New Orleans on Wednesday and made headlines in the postgame interviews as well. When asked how he got out a major slump in which he shot 15-of-57 from the field in the team’s three previous losses, Davis told MassLive.com, “Man, my mom turned my phone off after the game we just lost. She was mad. Talking about my free throws and all this other stuff.

“She said ‘Why are you missing free throws and all these jump shots?’ So she just turned my phone off and she told me ‘Get it together.'”

Needless to say, Davis figured it out, going 10-of-18 from the floor and 18-of-20 from the line to lead the Minutemen to victory. Coach Derek Kellogg may consider asking Davis’s mom to shut off her son’s phone before every game.

T.J. Cline, Richmond. Cline hit a career-high five three-pointers and made six other field goals to give him a team-leading 27 points in the Spiders’ 77-61 victory over Old Dominion. The fact that this performance came against an ODU team that entered the matchup allowing just 57.8 points a contest made it easy to put Cline on this list. It was his second 27-point game of the season, and he’s getting hot at the right time; like many A-10 teams, the Spiders have two more non-conference games before the conference tests begin.

Best win: Rhode Island over Iona. The Rams held an Iona team that came into the game averaging 84 points a game to 74 on Saturday. The Gaels staged a furious comeback from a 12-point deficit to send it to overtime, but Hassan Martin had six points, two boards and a block in the extra session to help Rhody survive and improve to 7-4.

Worst loss: Davidson gets blown out by Pitt, 94-69. This wasn’t a bad loss in terms of competition- the Panthers came in at 8-1 and received votes for the AP Poll and Coaches Poll last week. Still, it was peculiar to see a Davidson team lose by 25 in a game they had a decent chance at winning (Vegas had them as 5.5-point underdogs). The Wildcats were outrebounded 52-31, allowed four Pitt players to score in double figures and, most importantly, shot an anemic 20 percent (6-of-30) from three-point range. Coach Bob McKillop’s team lives and dies by the three, attempting the third-most triples per game in the country. On Sunday, the longball just wasn’t going in, and it cost them at Madison Square Garden.

Best games in the week ahead: UMass-Providence on Monday at 7 on ESPNU and La Salle-Miami (FL) on Tuesday at 5 on CBS Sports Network are the most intriguing matchups. St. Bonaventure-Siena and VCU-Buffalo, both on Tuesday night at 7, are underrated games you should take a look at as well.

Men’s basketball: A-10 Awards

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The Atlantic 10 Tournament is less than a week away. Before the conference converges on Brooklyn, it’s time to hand out some awards. The Intrepid doesn’t have an official ballot, but here’s how I would vote on each league honor:

Player of the Year: DeAndre Bembry, St. Joseph’s. I originally had Dayton’s Jordan Sibert winning this award because he’s the best player on the team I think is the best in the conference. However, the award is for the best overall player in the conference, and Bembry has been just that this year. The sophomore leads the league in scoring at 17.8 points per game and averages 3.5 assists a contest. He has scored or assisted on 45 percent of his team’s baskets, which is absolutely insane, and he’s seventh in rebounds as well at 7.9 a game. The Hawks aren’t the best team in the A-10 by any means, but Bembry has kept them afloat; there’s no way they are 7-10 in the league without him. All those factors make the St. Joe’s forward the Player of the Year.

Honorable mention: Sibert, Jordan Price (LaSalle), E.C. Matthews (Rhode Island)

Defensive Player of the Year: Hassan Martin, Rhode Island. Martin leads the league in blocks at 3.14 a game and is eighth in rebounding at 7.7 a contest. He has had nine games with double-digit rebounds and six games with five or more blocks. All the more impressive: he has more blocks (88) than personal fouls (73). The sophomore’s most impressive game this year was against La Salle on Jan. 22, when he registered 10 blocks and nine rebounds to go with his 14 points. You don’t see a forward come a rebound short of a triple-double every day, but Martin is not your average forward. He should take home the hardware.

Honorable mention: Shevon Thompson (George Mason), Youssou Ndoye (SBU)

Rookie of the Year: Christian Sengfelder, Fordham. If Jaylen Adams hadn’t missed the last third of the conference slate due to injury he would have definitely been the front-runner, but Sengfelder had an incredible freshman season as well. He led a young Rams team in rebounds (7.3 a game) and field goal percentage (49 percent) while playing just under 34 minutes a game. Teammate Eric Paschall has a strong chance at this award as well after leading the team in scoring with 16.5 points per game, but Sengfelder’s defense will likely give him the upper hand.

Honorable mention: Paschall, Adams

Most Improved Player: Kendall Pollard, Dayton. Pollard went from playing 8.5 minutes a game to playing 28.6, and he made the most of his increased workload. He scored 12.4 points a game after scoring just 2.2 last year and grabbed 5.5 boards a game as opposed to averaging 1.3 last season. His improvement was certainly necessary after the December dismissals of Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson left the Flyers with just seven scholarship players.

Honorable mention: Jack Gibbs (Davidson), Mo Alie-Cox (VCU)

Sixth Man Award: T.J. Buchanan, Rhode Island. In a season where coaches were reluctant to use their benches, Buchanan has arguably been the most productive reserve. He has not started a game this season but has played 22.8 minutes a game in which he is leading the team in assists per game with 2.6 in addition to his average of 5.5 points. Four double-digit point games also help Buchanan’s case.

Coach of the Year: Archie Miller, Dayton. The decision is clearly between Miller and Davidson’s Bob McKillop. The Wildcats’ dominating victory over VCU on Thursday night gave them a chance to win the regular season title and will surely swing some votes McKillop’s way. There is no wrong selection, but Miller has done more with less the whole season, and even coming up just short for the top spot wouldn’t lessen the incredible performance he’s had. Not many coaches go 16-4 after booting their best big men off of the team, and guiding the Flyers through all the adversity should help Miller grab the top spot.

Honorable mention: McKillop, Dan Hurley (Rhode Island)

First Team All-Conference:

Kendall Anthony, Richmond

Jordan Sibert, Dayton

DeAndre Bembry, St. Joseph’s

Treveon Graham, VCU

Hassan Martin, Rhode Island

Second Team All-Conference:

Jordan Price, La Salle

E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island

Marcus Posley, St. Bonaventure

Dyshawn Pierre, Dayton

Shevon Thompson, George Mason

Third Team All-Conference:

Jack Gibbs, Davidson

Tyler Kalinoski, Davidson

Patricio Garino, George Washington

Dion Wright, St. Bonaventure

Youssou Ndoye, St. Bonaventure

All-Defensive Team:

Mandell Thomas, Fordham

JeQuan Lewis, VCU

Hassan Martin, Rhode Island

Shevon Thompson, George Mason

Youssou Ndoye, St. Bonaventure