By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The only thing in doubt in St. Bonaventure’s 60-point drubbing of the Mansfield Mountaineers on Saturday afternoon was who would be the Bonnies’ leading scorer.
That title ended up going to junior forward Denzel Gregg, who scored 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 21 minutes of play to power the Bona offense. Two of those seven baskets were threes, which would have been the first two triples of his career had the game been official.
Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt noted the Syracuse, N.Y. native’s offensive display as a positive sign for a team that needs offensive consistency to win ballgames this year.
“Hopefully this will give him more confidence,” Schmidt said. “I’ve said it since day one that he’s our x-factor; he’s the guy who needs to step up and play much more consistent than he did last year.
“Denzel’s not going to have 23 and eight every night, Idris (Taqqee) isn’t going to have 12 or 13 every night, but they’ve got to do their part and be consistent and productive. It needs to continue for us to be successful.”
“It’ll help us a lot and it’s something I need to do this year, but it’ll all come in the flow of the offense,” said Gregg.
Gregg and Taqqee were two of seven Bonnies in double figures; the only scholarship player who didn’t have at least 10 points was LaDarien Griffin, who only played 14 minutes due to foul trouble. In addition to Gregg’s 21, Jaylen Adams scored 19, Taqqee, Marcus Posley and Derrick Woods each scored 12 and Dion Wright and Nelson Kaputo had 11 each.
“Our effort was really good,” Schmidt said. “If you have selfish guys, guys who are just looking out for themselves, it could get ugly (with) guys just going one-on-one.”
Shooting 52 percent from the field was a major plus, despite the fact that SBU only made nine of its 28 three-point attempts. Adams made seven of his 15 tries from the floor, while Gregg was seven of 11.
“We’re not the biggest team, especially with a couple of the injuries we have, so we have to be a good shooting team,” Schmidt said. “We’ve got to space it out and shoot the ball from the perimeter. Our goal is to make double digit (threes) every night.”
The brown and white may have put on an overpowering performance, but Schmidt gave the showing a grade of a C-plus or B-minus, with a laundry list of things the group must improve. The list included, but was not limited to, defending dribble penetration, defensive rebounding, switching on defense and not always pushing the ball at as hard a tempo the man entering his ninth year as Bonaventure’s head coach wanted. In his words, “it’s not like we were playing against the (Los Angeles) Lakers.”
“As a coach, it’s good to win when you can make a lot of corrections, and there’s a lot of things that we didn’t do properly,” Schmidt said. “There’s not one guy that played an ‘A’ game.”
Adams, who didn’t turn the ball over at all in his first public game action since undergoing finger surgery in February, echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“I think we still have some things to work on, but so far it’s gone well and we’re getting better every day,” Adams said.
The contest’s starting lineup of Adams, Posley, Taqqee, Wright and Woods may be one that Bona rolls out all year, barring injury. Schmidt was pleased with the rotation while acknowledging that Wright and Posley will obviously play more than 23 and 17 minutes, respectively.
“The rotation’s going to be based a lot on foul trouble, too, but Dion and Marcus are going to play more than 23 and 17 minutes,” Schmidt said. “We only have eight guys, so they’re going to play a lot of minutes.
“And we’ll have a rotation, we did it today, with Nelson and Denzel coming off the bench. It gives us two offensive guys coming off the bench, a little more punch than bringing Idris off the bench. Having two guys that can score the ball coming off the bench is a positive.”
The glorified scrimmage may have been a laugher, but Gregg knows where the team’s focus needs to be: on Friday night’s season opener against Binghamton at the Reilly Center.
“It felt good to come out and have a good day, but the real test is Friday.”