Men’s basketball: Bonnies swept by Richmond

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

There’s no way to tell if the Bonnies would have gotten revenge on Richmond with sidelined point guard Jaylen Adams on the court on Wednesday night, but one thing’s for sure: he couldn’t have hurt the cause.

Bonaventure turned the ball over 19 times and allowed the Spiders to shoot 50 percent from the floor in a 71-56 loss that ended up being more lopsided than the score suggested. The Bonnies fell to 13-11, 6-7 in the Atlantic 10 with the loss, while the Spiders improved to 14-12, 7-6 in the conference with the win.

The Spiders had a tight grip on this game for most of the contest, leading for 27 of the 40 minutes. After Bonaventure started the second half on a 19-4 run, Richmond outscored them 33-14 the rest of the way.

“We didn’t play great in the first half, but I thought we came out in the second half and for the first eight minutes played terrific,” said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt. “We defended, we rebounded, we took care of the basketball. We outscored them by thirteen and we were up by four. Mooney called a timeout and after the timeout we weren’t moving the ball and we turned it over five straight times. We made one pass, trying to throw it inside, and that’s where we lost the game.”

Point guard Iakeem Alston was unable to match the Adams’s efficiency, turning the ball over four times with only one assist. Denzel Gregg also had four turnovers, while Marcus Posley and Youssou Ndoye committed three turnovers each.

“I felt as though I turned the ball over way too much, this game and last game,” Alston said. “I try to play hard but I realize I’m failing too much.”

Posley’s shooting struggles continued, as he has now made just two of his last 25 three-pointers. Because of the lack of perimeter scoring, the Bonnies tried desperately to get the ball to Ndoye in the post, which resulted in many of the 19 wasted possessions.

“The reason we turned it over a lot was because we were so focused on trying to get the ball into Youssou while other defenders were reading it and keying in on him,” Alston said. “We just try to force it and they want us to throw it in, knowing everyone is going to collapse down on him.”

“We had some success, but you can’t throw the ball in on one pass,” Schmidt said. “You have to move the ball and move the defense. They load up if you throw it on one pass… We lost our poise, and you can’t do that.”

Ndoye tried to comfort his slumping shooting guard throughout the contest, hoping for some renewed confidence.

“(Posley’s) one of our primary scorers and he had a tough shooting night; I didn’t want him to get down on himself,” Ndoye said. “I just wanted to tell him that we have (his back) and to keep shooting (because) he’s going to find his rhythm.”

The Spiders were able to enjoy balanced scoring, with five players in double-digits. Sixth man ShawnDre’ Jones led all scorers with 17, while Terry Allen had 15, T.J. Cline had 14, Deion Taylor had 11 and Kendall Anthony had 10. While the Bonnies were struggling from three, the Spiders were thriving from behind the arc, making eight of their 18 attempts.

The only edge Bona had was in the rebounding category, outrebounding the Spiders 39-29. They were not able to take advantage, however, because of all the empty trips the other way. They grabbed 18 offensive rebounds yet had only 10 second-chance points, and Schmidt noted the failure to cash in as a key to the game.

“You have a chance to get 51 points and we get 10,” he said. “There were so many easy baskets and layups. When you’re not scoring from the three-point line you need to make those gimmes and we didn’t do that. We lost the game in that three or four-minute span when we took the lead by four and then turned it over too many times. You can’t do that against a good team like Richmond.”

Ndoye was upset with the loss, but said the Bonnies need to forget about it as soon as they can.

“We need to forget about this game, because right now you have to play your best games; it’s championship time now,” he said. “There are only a couple of games left until we go to Barclays Center. Every time you have a bad game you just have to erase it, have a short-term memory and go on to the next one.”

The “next one” is on Saturday, when Bona will try to snap its three-game losing streak at St. Joseph’s.

Men’s basketball: For Bonnies, it’s next man up

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

When freshman point guard Jaylen Adams took to his Twitter account last Friday to confirm that he had undergone surgery on his fractured right ring finger the day before, he used a hashtag that encapsulated the team’s new theme going forward: #NextManUp.

When injury strikes, that becomes a rallying cry. In the Atlantic 10, there’s no time to dwell in self-pity; the conference is too competitive for complaining, especially since everyone else is banged up too. Instead, healthy players have to step into new roles and perform well with little preparation time.

Coach Mark Schmidt delivered the news after the VCU game, when the team learned that Adams would need surgery. The freshman said the injury happened right before the Duquesne game, but the medical staff did not think it was serious and he continued to play.

“We always knew something was a little messed up, but we didn’t know it was that severe,” Adams said.

He played through the pain for six games, a stretch where he averaged 8.8 points and 7.1 assists a game, before x-rays after the VCU contest showed the fracture. If rehab goes well he could play in the Atlantic 10 Tournament in about three and a half weeks, but he’s definitely out for the rest of the regular season.

The man thrown into the fire for Bonaventure was junior Iakeem Alston. It was Baltimore native taking over for Baltimore native (Alston and Adams went to high school about 15 minutes apart), and Alston had to make the jump from playing eight minutes a game to playing 30 in Dayton on Saturday afternoon.

“I was just thinking that I had to step up and not miss a beat,” he said.

The Bonnies lost 75-61 to the first-place Flyers, but Alston performed well in his first start of the season. After three first-half turnovers (two in the first minute of play), he didn’t turn the ball over at all in the second half. In total, he scored 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting from the field, with three assists, three rebounds and a steal.

“I think I played okay,” he said. “I played hard, but I could’ve cut my turnovers down.

“Usually when I come off the bench I’m stiff, but (going from) warming up to starting a game, I was pretty loose. I was nervous, but I was just ready.”

As a slasher, Alston can get to the cup any time he wants. He’s a legitimate offensive threat who utilizes a nasty euro-step and cat-like quickness, giving him the potential to be a double-digit scorer every night.

“That’s what I do; I’m a slashing point guard,” he said. “I can get to the rack and create for myself and my teammates. I’m athletic so that opens up a lot for me.”

One of the biggest concerns from the Bona faithful has been the junior college transfer’s free throw shooting. He came into the Dayton game at 47 percent from the stripe and made three of six against the Flyers.

A point guard needs to knock down his freebies, and Alston understood that.

“It’s all about reps,” he said. “I wasn’t playing a lot so I wasn’t really getting in-game situations shooting free throws. I just have to keep getting my reps up and when I get to the line I need to concentrate more and knock them down.”

The Bonnies’ next opponent is the Richmond Spiders. The Spiders have a dynamic point guard in Kendall Anthony, who has plenty of speed and has a strong chance at being named to the All-Conference First Team despite his five-foot-eight stature. Alston revealed that Andell Cumberbatch will be matched up against Anthony to begin the game, but recognized that stopping the star guard will be a team effort.

“He’s a good player,” Alston said. “As a team we have to just find him in transition, slow him down and not let him get into a rhythm early on.”

While the Bonnies hope Anthony doesn’t get into a rhythm Wednesday night, Alston knows he needs to find his groove if SBU is going to grab a crucial win.

“I just have to continue to get that rhythm and feel for starting the game, and having a good start,” he said. “Last game I had two turnovers early on so I just have to keep getting a feel for it in practice and continue to learn how to play with the guys.

“Right now we’re facing a little bit of adversity (after) losing two straight, but it’s about how you respond after the two losses. (Monday) we had a great practice and today (Tuesday) we’re going to have a good practice. It starts in practice so if we have a good practice today the chances of winning (Wednesday) are going to be higher.”

He may have only averaged eight minutes a game going into Dayton, but Alston’s work ethic was consistent all season up to this point.

“It’s a long season so I only worry about what I can control,” he said. “I can’t control how the coaches feel. I’m focused on getting my reps, staying in the gym and keeping my confidence up.

“Ultimately my time was probably going to come. If it didn’t come now, it was probably going to come at some point. I had to make sure I stayed on top of my game and never lost that confidence, whether I played two seconds or 40 minutes.”

The new starting point guard knew stepping in for the A-10’s assist leader was going to be an arduous task, but he showed no diffidence when it came to his own ability.

“I feel like I can do a lot,” he said. “I’m no Jaylen Adams, but I feel as though I can definitely help and try to be the vocal leader out there and bring energy. I’m going to do what I can.”

Adams holds his fellow Marylander in high regard.

“’Keem is great,” he said. “He handled it well, and that’s what he’s going to do; it’s next man up. He’s a great guard so he should be able to do just fine.”

You could form a 20-win squad out of the A-10’s injured or recently-injured players. VCU guard Briante Weber, who is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL, would start at the point. Davidson guard Jack Gibbs, who suffered a slight meniscus tear on Jan. 17, could start at the two-guard position. VCU forward Treveon Graham, who just returned from a sprained ankle, would be the small forward. Richmond forward Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, who suffered a concussion and fractured bone around his right eye on Feb. 8. Davidson center Jake Belford, who is out for the season after December foot surgery, would round out the starting lineup. Adams would be the sixth man, making this hypothetical team a very formidable one.

Injuries are a part of the game, and when they happen it truly is “next man up.” That man is Iakeem Alston, and the Bonnies’ response will determine the course of the remainder of their season.

Men’s basketball: Richmond (Home) Preview

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio and Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies and Richmond Spiders will face off for the second time this season on Wednesday night at 7 at the Reilly Center.

The first meeting between these teams was on Jan. 11, when the Spiders ran away in the second half, outscoring the visiting Bonnies 35-18 in the second half to grab a 60-41 win. Bona’s 41-point output was its lowest of the season.

Can Bonaventure salvage a home-and-home split against Richmond? Here’s the full breakdown:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 119-119 as Bonnies coach, 3-8 against Richmond.

Richmond- Chris Mooney. 179-144 as Spiders coach, 10-5 against St. Bonaventure.

Key players for Richmond:

Kendall Anthony- 5-8 senior guard. Anthony is not only the Spiders point guard, but also their leading scorer and one of the top slashing/ scoring guards in the Atlantic-10. He averages 16.2 points per game and is mediocre from the field at 45 percent. There’s no doubt that Anthony will be shooting the ball more than anybody on his team tomorrow night. Anthony averages 13.0 field goal attempts per game—four more than any other player on the team.

Terry Allen- 6-8 junior forward. The perfect sidekick down low to the hot-hand, heavy-shooting guard, Anthony. Terry Allen comes into this game only behind Anthony in scoring at 12.3 points per game and leads the Spiders in rebounding at 5.7 per game. And, while not a dominant threat from beyond the arc, this big man will step behind the line to shoot a three if it’s open.

Keys to victory for Richmond: If I’m the Richmond coach I know the scouting report that Jay Adams, the Bonnies starting PG, is out after having finger surgery. This means that Iakeem Alston takes over those duties. And, while Alston is good off the dribble finding his teammates for open baskets, he is not a scorer and especially not a threat on the jump shot from outside. This basically leaves Marcus Posley as the true threat from three, with Cumberbatch as an accessory. So, I would swarm Posley with two defenders when he gets the ball, and I would sink my other four guys into a zone forcing the Bonnies to shoot it from outside, and for someone other than Posley to do it.

Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: Offense was the issue last time against the Rams. For the Bonnies to have a better offensive performance than they did on Jan. 11, there is one major key: Marcus Posley getting out of his slump. After his historic week with the two game-winners he has gone cold, only making one of his last 17 three-pointers and nine of his last 34 shots overall. That stretch is not particularly encouraging, but Posley has been through this before. After the Duquesne game, where he led the incredible comeback and sent the game into overtime with a three-point barrage, he missed his next nine threes in losses to Rhode Island and La Salle, scoring six points and four points respectively. How did he bounce back from the drought? He hit the two game-winners and became national news. The man the team calls “MP3” is the one to watch once again on Wednesday.

Predictions:

Chuckie- Now that this team has had some more time to practice a mesh with Iakeem Alston starting at the point, they will make the clutch plays late in the game on Wednesday night. Posley will hit at least four threes in a bounceback game, Youssou Ndoye will get his revenge without Spider center Alonzo Nelson-Ododa in the lineup, Alston will play like he did in the second half against Dayton and Bona will get a crucial win to stay in the hunt in the standings. 67-63 Bonnies

Jeff- This game doesn’t look promising without Jay Adams at point guard. This is a good Richmond team, well coached and they can score inside and out. Defensively, they will have a good game plan to stop Iakeem Alston and this Bonnies offense. I’m going with the Spiders in this one: 76-65 Spiders.