Ask an opposing beat writer: St. Bonaventure at VCU

photo courtesy of Alessandro Latour/The Commonwealth Times

By Jeff Uveino

After four-straight wins to begin Atlantic 10 play, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team travels to VCU on Saturday to play a Rams team that is 2-2 in the A-10 following losses at Rhode Island and Dayton.

Ahead of Bona’s biggest test in league play so far, Noah Fleischman took the time to answer some questions that will allow Bonnies fans to become more familiar with VCU.

Fleischman, a sophomore at VCU, is the sports editor of The Commonwealth Times, for whom he covers the Rams.

The Bonnies and Rams will tip off at the Seigel Center at 2 p.m.

1) VCU scheduled plenty of quality opponents in non-conference play, including then-ranked LSU and Tennessee, Purdue and more. Would you say that the consensus at VCU is that the 10-3 non-conference finish was a success or a failure?

The non-conference finish was pretty successful, despite dropping those three games. The Rams lost both of their games at the Emerald Coast Classic by a total of six points against Tennessee and Purdue.

LSU was the Rams’ “resume” building win early in the season when the Tigers visited the Siegel Center. The atmosphere alone in the arena was similar to that of an NCAA tournament game and VCU played like it.

The only disappointment of the non-conference slate was the Wichita State 73-63 loss. VCU trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half on the road. Last season, the Rams handled Wichita State at the Siegel Center 70-54.

Other than the loss to Wichita State, the non-conference slate wasn’t a failure because of the ranked win against LSU.

2) Last year at the Atlantic 10 tournament, it was obvious that Marcus Santos-Silva was a rising star. This year, despite his statistics only slightly improving from last season, he leads VCU in scoring and rebounding. How much has he improved this year?

Marcus Santos-Silva has been more consistent this season for VCU than he was last season. He’s posted six double-double performances so far this season, something he did twice through the team’s first 16 games. Everytime the ball hits off the rim, Santos-Silva is the first to put a hand on the ball for VCU.

Not only does he rebound the ball at a high level, but he’s the centerpiece of the VCU offense. The Rams run an inside/outside approach, working the ball into the paint before looking for the open three-pointer. VCU is 4-2 this season when he records a double-double, the losses being Tennessee and Rhode Island. Santos-Silva is also shooting 60% from the field, second-best in the A-10 behind Dayton’s Obi Toppin.

Santos-Silva worked on his ball handling and footwork over the summer, allowing him to be more mobile than in past years. One thing I like about Santos-Silva is that he’s unselfish. Even though he’s leading the team in points and rebounds, he doesn’t care about the numbers unless it’s a win.

I wrote this story earlier this season on Santos-Silva and having fun while playing.

3) Other than Santos-Silva and Marcus Evans, which VCU players should St. Bonaventure fans expect to make an impact on Saturday against the Bonnies?

De’Riante Jenkins. He’s averaging 11.1 points a game for VCU and is shooting 40% from the field. The senior hasn’t been shooting the ball too well from three this season, but has been slashing in the paint. Coach Mike Rhoades wants his guards to slash towards the basket and Jenkins is effective at it. He also logged his 1,000th career point at Wichita State this season.

A younger player that St. Bonaventure fans should keep their eye on is Nah’Shon ‘Bones’ Hyland. Hyland, a four-star recruit, replaced P.J. Byrd as the backup point guard behind Marcus Evans this season. He is a confident shooter and isn’t afraid to shoot threes. Rhoades has also used Hyland and Evans on the floor together at times this season, moving Evans to the two guard and Hyland at point. With that lineup on the floor, VCU has two high level ball handlers on the floor, taking the pressure off Evans.

4) Before the season, VCU was regarded by many as a top-two team in the Atlantic 10. Do you think that’s still true? What surprises (on the Rams or other teams) have happened this season that impact your answer?

I think VCU is still a top-two team in the A-10. Yes, they lost to Rhode Island, but that’s nothing new for the Rams. They are 1-7 against Rhode Island in their last eight meetings. If you look at the loss at Dayton, one run defined the game. The Flyers used a 22-0 second-half run to build a 22 point lead. The Rams were able to pull within nine at one point, but couldn’t pull ahead.

The surprise of the season is how poorly the Rams have shot three-pointers. In the loss to Dayton, the Rams shot 3-for-20 from beyond the arc. On the season, VCU is shooting 33% from three, which is seventh in the A-10. If the Rams can shoot more consistently from deep, they’ll be one of the more dangerous teams in the A-10. They have the pieces to do it, it’s just a matter of time before the shots start to fall.

In the A-10, I’m surprised that VCU is the only team that has beat a ranked team. That might change if someone other than VCU can beat Dayton this season. Even Dayton hasn’t beaten a ranked team this season. That shouldn’t hurt the A-10’s chances for a multi-bid league if Dayton wins the A-10 tournament unless VCU doesn’t play well in A-10 play.

Fourth quarter surge pushes Rams past Bonnies

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Isaiah Blakely

A 20-6 fourth quarter advantage propelled the VCU Rams (17-6, 9-1 A-10) to a comeback victory over the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (7-15, 4-5 A-10) 59-50 Wednesday night in the Reilly Center. 

The Bonnies started out with a 9-2 lead including freshman Asianae Johnson’s eight points.  

The Bonnies stifling defense continued as they took an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. They held VCU to only 19% shooting.  

In the second quarter, the leaders in the A-10 woke up. The Rams went on a 19-6 run to take the lead after sophomore Sofya Pashigoreva’s layup. Pashigoreva was part of a dominant night on the glass for the Rams. The Bonnies were outrebounded 36-28. 

Despite the rebounding differential, Bonnies freshman Deja Francis helped stopped the run by the Rams by scoring two of her seven points to tie the game at 27 with three seconds left in the half. 

It was a back fourth affair throughout the third quarter. Sophomore Emily Calabrese was the first player in double figures by scoring eight of her 10 points in the third quarter. Calabrese capped off a strong quarter for the Bonnies with a buzzer beater to put the Bonnies up 44-39 going into the fourth quarter.  

The fourth quarter was a similar story to the second quarter. The Bonnies went almost seven minutes without scoring, leading to a 14-0 run for the Rams to start the quarter. Johnson scored a layup to end the run but VCU was up 54-47. Coming out of the timeout freshman Kseniya Malashka hit a rare three-pointer to put VCU up ten and down the Bonnies.  

Johnson led the game in scoring with 15 points, while the Rams were paced by sophomore Taya Robinson who had 13 points and junior Danielle Hammond 12 points.  

“The way we’ve played for two weeks now and the way we’ve shared the ball; we’ve got athleticism and a good rotation,” said coach Jesse Fleming.  “We were so locked in to start the game that I thought we were going to be able to finish.” 

Fleming is opportunistic about this team’s development. 

“We’re getting closer,” “We’re showing some really good flashes. But, there’s a lot of things that we’ve got to keep working on.” 

The Bonnies look to continue their improved play on the road Saturday against Davidson. 

Women’s basketball: SBU falls to VCU in A-10 quarterfinals

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Katie Faulkner

In a matchup where the idea of a neutral site did not apply, “Let’s go Rams” chants echoed through the Richmond Coliseum. After receiving a bye and moving straight to the quarterfinals, St. Bonaventure was unable to avenge last month’s loss to VCU, as the Rams stole the win, 59-50.

After a shaky first half plagued with turnovers, the Bonnies found themselves down 29-15. 14 first-half turnovers by SBU allowed the Rams more scoring opportunities, where they dominated under the hoop for 34 points in the paint. Though VCU had its share of turnovers as well, the Bonnies could not take advantage on the offensive end due to poor shooting.

“Their defensive pace was above our offensive pace,” said SBU coach Jim Crowley. “I think we were hurrying the shots we had and not shooting them with the rhythm we’re capable of.”

The Bonnies shot an uncharacteristic 29 percent (18-of-61) from the field, including going 5-for-29 from long range. Sophomore Miranda Drummond registered a game-high 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field. Graduate student Emily Michael chipped in with 12 points, while Mariah Ruff added 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Senior Katie Healy notched seven points in just 23 minutes of action due to foul trouble. Matea Britvar provided big minutes off the bench and totaled a team-high eight rebounds to go along with two blocks.

The Bonnies opened the third quarter on an 8-2 run, but Healy was forced to sit after picking up her third foul. SBU was able to cut the VCU lead to 46-43 in the fourth quarter, but the Bonnies could not capitalize on the offensive end.

“I thought when we had fought and gave ourselves a really good chance, we kept thinking we had to make it all up in one shot,” said Crowley. “I think we got in our own way a little bit with frustration on missing some open shots.”

Nine players put points on the board for VCU, a team that relies heavily on constant substitutions. The Rams credit their quick rotations as the key factor to maintaining a high level of intensity on the defensive end.

“[Defense] is our calling card,” said VCU coach Beth O’Boyle. “We really take pride in it and emphasize it and I’m lucky that our players have bought [into the idea] that defense wins championships.”

The hockey-style subbing not only helped fuel 22 bench points, but also took advantage of the Bonnies’ lack of depth.

“We thought our depth was really going to be a factor and that we were going to try and push the tempo,” said O’Boyle. “We had to get the ball over halfcourt as fast as we could to make them run and chase us on the offensive side, so that when they came back down on offense it was tiring them out.”

Junior Ashley Pegram was one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Adaeze Alaeze’s six points put her over the 1,000 career-point mark. The senior also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Juniors Keira Robinson and Isis Thorpe notched nine points apiece for the Rams.

The Bonnies will wait to hear about a potential postseason bid.

Women’s basketball: Bonnies open up A-10 Tournament play in quarterfinals against VCU

(Mariah Ruff Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Katie Faulkner @kfaulkner20

After tallying the second-most wins in a regular season in program history with 23, the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team is set to take on VCU in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals at the Richmond Coliseum at 2 p.m. on Friday.

The Bonnies (23-6, 12-4 in A-10) earned the fourth seed after recording 12 A-10 victories. The Rams (22-8, 11-6 A-10) are the fifth seed and secured a quarterfinal spot with a 62-42 win over Richmond on Thursday afternoon.

While SBU is the only team to beat all top three seeds in the tournament, VCU is one team in the A-10 it has yet to defeat. The Bonnies will look to avenge last month’s 52-47 road loss to the Rams, which came without second-leading scorer Miranda Drummond, who missed the game due to injury.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: Bonnies open up A-10 Tournament play in quarterfinals against VCU”

Women’s basketball: Bonnies head to VCU for potential rankings booster

By Katie Faulkner @kfaulkner20

The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team travels to the Siegel Center for a Wednesday night matchup with VCU at 7 p.m. The Bonnies will look to stay in a top position in the Atlantic 10 standings, where they currently sit at second place (8-1) behind George Washington (9-0).

Though VCU is tied for seventh place in the A-10 with Dayton, George Mason and St. Joseph’s at 4-5 in A-10 play, their defense is ranked second to only the Bonnies. SBU leads the league, allowing just 53.3 points per game, while the Rams surrender 55.6.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: Bonnies head to VCU for potential rankings booster”

Men’s basketball: Atlantic 10 Week in Review 1/18-1/24

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

After three weeks of Atlantic 10 play, we have a scenario that many envisioned at the season’s commencement: an absolute logjam in the middle of the standings. Seven teams have an in-conference winning percentage over .500, while VCU is the only perfect team left.

Here are the current standings:

Team Conference Overall
VCU 7-0 15-5
Dayton 6-1 16-3
St. Joe’s 5-1 16-3
George Washington 4-2 15-4
St. Bonaventure 4-3 12-6
Davidson 3-3 11-6
Rhode Island 3-3 11-8
Duquesne 3-4 13-7
Saint Louis 3-4 8-11
Richmond 2-3 10-7
Fordham 2-5 11-7
UMass 1-5 8-10
La Salle 1-5 5-12
George Mason 1-6 7-13

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Atlantic 10 Week in Review 1/18-1/24”

Men’s basketball: After delay, Bonnies to take on VCU on Sunday

(Jaylen Adams Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

After winter storm Jonas brought a prolific blizzard to many regions of the United States, including the state of Virginia, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies and Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) Rams rescheduled their Saturday matchup to Sunday. The first-place Rams and 12-5 Bonnies will tip off at 3 p.m. in the Siegel Center.

VCU’s nine game win streak is a realization of Atlantic 10 competitors’ biggest fear: even without coach Shaka Smart, who left for Texas after last season, the Rams are still one of the league’s most formidable teams.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: After delay, Bonnies to take on VCU on Sunday”

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