Men’s basketball: Bonnies use second-half surge to top Fordham

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The start of Saturday afternoon’s game had fans reverting back to the finale of the 2012-13 season, when Fordham came in and shocked St. Bonaventure.

In the final 20 minutes, however, the Bonnies showed that things would be different this time around.

After trailing 28-23 at halftime, SBU outscored the Rams 43-24 in the second half to secure a 66-52 victory in front of 3555 fans at the Reilly Center. With the win, the Bonnies finish the regular season at 17-12, with a 10-8 record in the Atlantic 10.

The Rams had the halftime lead thanks to 42.3 percent shooting from the floor and a defense that held Bona to a 36.7 percent mark from the field. Mandell Thomas and Chris Sengfelder led all scorers with seven points each, while Ryan Rhoomes had six rebounds to help Fordham outrebound Bonaventure 20-17 in that period. The Rams shot 4-of-11 from three-point range, while the Bonnies failed to make any of their seven attempts from long range.

After the sluggish start, the brown and white came out of the break with much more energy and toughness than they displayed in the first 20 minutes. Bona started the second session on an 16-8 run, giving them a lead they never relinquished.

“No one played well in the first half, we were just lethargic,” said Bona coach Mark Schmidt. “But in the second half we couldn’t have played better… that’s what you have to do in this league.

“Today was typical of our season. Didn’t go well at times, especially in the first half, but the kids responded.”

“We were down (in) the first half; we were playing terrible, I was playing terrible,” said center Youssou Ndoye. “I just wanted to tell them that I would pick it up and (that) I’ve got their back. Everything’s going to start with me, and we’ve got to start on the defensive end.”

Bonaventure guard Marcus Posley scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half to pace the offensive explosion, while Ndoye, playing what was likely his final game in the Reilly Center, had 11 second-half points out of 15 overall. Posley and Ndoye were two of four Bonnies in double figures, with Dion Wright registering 12 points and Andell Cumberbatch adding 10.

Wright and Posley did not get the start, an unusual event for Schmidt’s team. Schmidt went with Iakeem Alston at point, Cumberbatch at the two-guard, Denzel Gregg at small forward, Chris Dees at power forward and Ndoye at center.

Gregg had a productive afternoon, with nine points, four rebounds, two steals, an assist and a block in 33 minutes. Alston played 12 minutes, with two points, two assists and two steals. Dees had a rebound in 10 minutes of play.

The victory gave the Bonnies 10 A-10 wins, tied for the second-most in program history. That fact was not lost on Schmidt, who had nothing but praise for his team reaching the milestone.

“Couldn’t be prouder of our guys to be able to win 10 games in this league… (it) speaks volumes about the talent of our players (and) the character of our guys,” Schmidt said.

“If someone were to tell me that we’d win 10 games in this league at the beginning of the year I would have told them they were crazy, but the kids really fought. We had some adversity during the year… but we found a way.”

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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: UMass (Home) Preview

(DailyCollegian.com photo)

By Chuckie Maggio and Jeff Fasoldt

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies and UMass Minutemen meet for the second time this season on Wednesday at 7 at the Reilly Center.

The teams met in the opening game of conference play on Jan. 3rd at the Mullins Center, a game the visiting Bonnies won in convincing fashion, 69-55. Marcus Posley played the entire game and led Bonaventure with 16 points, while Youssou Ndoye had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Cady Lalanne and Trey Davis had 12 points each for the Minutemen, but their efforts were not enough.

Both teams are coming into this game with some momentum. Everyone knows what Posley and the Bonnies have done the past two games, but UMass is on a four-game winning streak in their own right with wins over Dayton, Saint Louis, Fordham and La Salle, launching them to fifth in the Atlantic 10.

Can the Bonnies sweep the season series against their bitter rivals, or will UMass get the split? Here’s the breakdown:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 119-117 as Bonnies coach, 5-5 against UMass.

UMass- Derek Kellogg. 123-95 as Minutemen coach, 4-5 against St. Bonaventure.

Key players for UMass:

Maxie Esho, 6-8 senior forward. Esho was one of my key players the first time these two teams battled. He had one nice reverse alley-oop but was held in check for the rest of the game. Esho leads the team in scoring at 12 points per game but what he really brings to the table is the ability to turn games around with his momentum and some of his highlight-reel dunks.

Cady Lalanne, 6-10 senior center. Lalanne got his “you know what” handed to him the first time he battled in the post this year with Bonaventure’s Youssou Ndoye. While these two are similar size, Ndoye had a field day in the post going for 14. Lalanne did have 12 but most of those were meaningless points at the end of the game.

Keys to victory for UMass: 

Derrick Gordon has to do something. Last game he took plenty of shots but struggled to finish, scoring only two points. Last game UMass was 4-21 from three-point land with 15 turnovers. Limiting turnovers and sinking some shots will certainly help the Minutemen cut the edge that the Bonnies have coming into this game.

Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: The key to the Bonnies’ road victory over the Minutemen was defense. They held UMass to 35.2 percent shooting from the floor and 18.2 percent shooting from three while winning the rebounding battle 37-30. Davis, a 38 percent shooter, was held to a 4-for-14 performance and went a career-worst 1-for-9 from three. Bona needs to keep him in check once again and Youssou Ndoye and Dion Wright need to dominate Cady Lalanne inside again to win the game. The brown and white need to capitalize on those defensive stops to get on big runs and energize the rowdy Reilly crowd, which will not be as big as the VCU game but should still be fairly packed.

Predictions:

Chuckie- The Bonnies matched up so well against the Minutemen last time out that they are surely capable of completing the sweep of Kellogg’s crew at home. Wright is showing an incredible level of consistency with six straight double-digit scoring outputs and would have been the player of the game against VCU before the events of the last 30 seconds. Jay Adams is showing exceptional poise for a freshman point guard, limiting turnovers and making the right pass in nearly every situation. And Posley is in a “2011 Kemba Walker” kind of zone, hitting the clutch shots and doing whatever he needs to get his team the win. UMass is on a roll, but the Bonnies are the more potent team right now, and I’ll take them at home. 67-57 Bonnies

Jeff-  If the first matchup told us anything it was that UMass is not the same team they were last year. This is a team that looked lost, unorganized and completely out of rhythm. Since then, they have played much better and they’ve won their last four including a road win at Saint Louis and a win at home against the Dayton Flyers. The Bonnies are coming off a huge win against VCU, and they will win this one as well. But, don’t expect any court storming from the students after this one as this UMass team is much weaker than last years. 71-62 Bonnies 

 

Strong showing helps Ndoye’s draft stock

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

While the NBA Draft is probably one of the last things on Youssou Ndoye’s mind right now, Wednesday night’s performance should put him in the minds of NBA scouts.

While Ndoye is not as fundamentally sound as most pro centers, his domination of George Mason in Rochester was the latest case for a team to take a flyer pick on him in June. His 28-point, 13-rebound game was filled with dazzling dunks and lock-down defense as he outperformed Mason’s Shevon Thompson, who is having a spectacular first season of D-I ball.

The biggest knock on the Bona big man has been his inconsistency, mainly offensively. Sometimes he looks like a sure-fire second round pick; a raw talent who could be developed into a veteran backup center in the league. We saw that in the Niagara win when he scored 23 points, the Buffalo game when he had 17 and even the Maryland-Eastern Shore loss when he had 18. In those three games he went a combined 20-33 from the floor and 18-22 from the free-throw line, very solid numbers.

Other times the 7-footer looks like an average player, at least offensively. In fairness, he has only played competitive ball for six years, much less experience than most of his teammates and competitors. He was a soccer player in his native Senegal, so his hands are not the best, nor are his post moves. The deficiencies showed in losses to Siena, Pittsburgh and Dayton.

Which Ndoye will we see on any given night? No one really knows the answer until he hits the court, and the Jekyll and Hyde nature of his offensive game is what will shy some franchises away from considering him come draft time.

Another knock is his size. The average NBA center weighs about 254 pounds. Ndoye is listed at 245, which means that if he makes it to the league he is going to have to bulk up a bit. This is a common task for rookies entering their first summer league and preseason, however, so his smaller frame is not likely to be a deal-breaker for scouts.

What has been consistent about the senior’s game from the very beginning is his defense. He has grabbed double-digit rebounds 11 times this season and is averaging 11.1 boards per game. His ten-game run of ten or more rebounds from the Canisius game in November to the UMass game at the start of this month was tied for the longest streak in the NCAA. He’s also averaging 2.9 blocks a game this year, good for 20th in the country. Blocking shots has always been one of his strong suits, and it gives his team and the Reilly Center crowd a lot of energy. The offense may not show up on any given night, but the defense has always been there.

The basketball acumen has always been there as well. In his freshman year Ndoye got to learn from 2012 first round pick Andrew Nicholson, and the experience was invaluable for him. He was able to be a big contributor on an Atlantic 10 championship team, providing major minutes in the conference and NCAA tournaments. While the coaching staff deserves a large portion of the credit for his development, Nicholson’s intelligence and work ethic definitely rubbed off on his young protege. Now, Ndoye is the captain of this team, facilitating the communication on both ends of the floor and leading this team in the direction they need to go. The Bonnies go as he goes, which is credit to not only his size and strength but his smarts on the court as well.

The six forwards/centers who heard their names called in the second combined for 15.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game in their senior seasons. Ndoye’s afore-mentioned 11.4 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per contest in the first half of his final collegiate year stack up very well to those numbers. While he has not been the first option offensively, he is still averaging a double-double and having a couple monster games that elevate his draft stock.

Ndoye’s chances to hear his name called by commissioner Adam Silver on draft night are still a bit of a reach, but before February of his senior season Nicholson wasn’t exactly a lock either. When he had a six-point outing in an unthinkable loss to Arkansas State at home in December, the draft was the last thing on many people’s minds. That game followed a loss to Virginia Tech where he only scored nine points and preceded seven and nine point games against Saint Francis (PA) and Niagara later that month. No one knew what Nicholson and the Bonnies, who were 9-6 through their first 15 games that season as well, were going to do in March. It’s all about getting hot at the right time, which is what this year’s Bona basketball team hopes to accomplish.

Will Youssou Ndoye be drafted at the conclusion of this season? There’s still a lot of basketball to play, and we’ll definitely revisit this when the time comes, but if he keeps putting on a show like he did Wednesday night he definitely has a shot. His big performances this season should be enough to have some pro scouts braving the Olean weather to watch the 7-footer battle.

Big-men lead Bonnies to victory over Bulls

By Jeff Fasoldt, @Jeff_Fasoldt

The St. Bonaventure University Bonnies defeated the University at Buffalo Bulls 72-63 to clean sweep the “Big 4” for the first time since the 2011-2012 season with wins over Canisius, Niagara and Buffalo.

Content with running the court and feeding the ball to their big men inside the Bonnies dominated the paint, outscoring the Bulls 42-28.

Youssou Ndoye led the Bonnies in rebounding with 13 and scored 17 inside while and Dion Wright led Bonaventure in scoring with 19 and grabbed eight boards for himself.

“Ndoye is definitely a big presence,” said Shannon Evans, Buffalo’s leading scorer (21). He made some big shots early and got them going tonight.”

In the first half an impressive defensive effort by the brown and white held the Bulls to just 22 percent shooting and just 18 points.

Justin Moss, who coming into this matchup was the only player in the MAC Conference that is top-five in rebounding (9.2 per game) and scoring (17.6) had a team-high 14 rebounds but was held to just eight points.

The Bulls, who trailed the entire game, made a run in the second half off some three-pointers from Shannon Evans and Will Regan to cut the Bonnies lead to seven, but ultimately fell short as the Bonnies defense was just too much for them to handle.

Continue reading “Big-men lead Bonnies to victory over Bulls”

Quick Hitters: Buffalo

By Chuckie Maggio, @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies defeated the University at Buffalo Bulls 72-63 on Wednesday night. The win improved their record to 5-1 and gave them the unofficial Big 4 championship after beating all three Buffalo-area D-I schools (UB, Canisius and Niagara).

Some Quick Hitters from the game:

Ndoye plays big once again: Youssou Ndoye has played dominant basketball the last two games. The Bonnies’ senior center followed up a 23-point, 11-rebound game against Niagara with 17 points, 13 boards and four blocks against the Bulls for his sixth career double-double. He has gone 14-for-25 from the field and 12-for-16 from the free throw line the past two games. There have been many rumblings about Ndoye being a potential second-round draft pick in the NBA, and he’s starting to show his full skill set.

Wright takes charge: Tonight was one of Dion Wright’s most assertive games as a Bonnie. The junior forward scored 19 points on 9-17 shooting and added eight rebounds as well. Wright’s length and presence on both ends continue to cause matchup nightmares for opposing teams, and he was able to take over in stretches against the Bulls.

Alston steps up off the bench: Backup point guard Iakeem Alston had an impressive stat line in 13 minutes of play. The junior registered five points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds to lead the reserve effort. For a bench that didn’t score any points Canisius, the spark Alston provided was a big key for the Bonnies.

Dominant defense: The Bonnies held Buffalo to just 18 first half points and achieved their goal of holding the opposing team under 40 percent shooting from the field once again. With key road tests against Ohio and Pittsburgh coming up, Ndoye and Wright will continue to spearhead one of the best defensive starts Bona has had in recent memory.

Ball security is key: In the games against Siena and Jackson State, the Bonnies turned the ball over a combined 38 times. Tonight, they only committed eight turnovers. With the inexperienced guards Bona has, protecting the basketball is of the utmost importance, and the results showed up on the scoreboard.

Ndoye leads Bonnies to Big Four Classic win

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

On a day designed to honor the old Buffalo Braves, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies turned back the clock on Saturday with a 1970s NBA staple- dominant big man play.

Youssou Ndoye played arguably the best game of his Bona career in the 74-59 win over the Niagara Purple Eagles at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, scoring 23 points on 9-16 shooting as well as grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking five shots.

“Youssou played with some aggression and some passion and that’s what we needed,” said coach Mark Schmidt. “When Youssou plays the way he did today- the way he’s capable of playing- we’re that much better.”

Ndoye’s 16 shots were a season high by far, as he had only attempted 10 shots over his first three games. His teammates got him the ball, and he cashed in on his opportunities.

“These last couple days in practice we’ve worked on throwing the ball inside and playing off me,” Ndoye said. “We have a young team with a lot of new guys and today we got better at just playing together and knowing where to go with the ball. I think my teammates did a great job of finding me, and I executed on most (possessions).”

The Bonnies shot 46.4 percent from the field, a season high. Andell Cumberbatch and Dion Wright combined for 30 points on 12-23 shooting to complement Ndoye’s massive game.

The execution definitely improved today, and Schmidt took note of that.

“We pride ourselves on our execution and for a young team the execution hasn’t been where it needs to be,” he said. “As we get along in the season and play the A-10 schedule that we’re about to play, execution is everything. You need to execute in order to score offensively. We took a step in the right direction today.”

While the offensive play was much needed, Schmidt knows the team has to have a defensive mindset game in and game out. The Bonnies achieved their team goals of holding the team under 60 points and under 40 percent from the floor once again.

“(For) every team, the personality and emphasis has to be defense,” he said. “You can’t win at this level just playing offense; defense has to be the staple, rebounding has to be the staple. If you can do those two things, you have a chance to be in every game.”

“Offense is fickle but defense has to be there every night and that keeps you in the game.”

Ndoye, who missed the first game of the season for playing in an impermissible summer game, struggled in his first two games but hopes to have found his groove.

“The first two games when I came back I didn’t play the way I used to play; no emotion, no passion. I was just out there getting frustrated over little stuff,” he said. “I’m the senior and the captain of the team so the team’s gotta go as I go. I tried to play the way I used to play, with a lot of emotion and trying to make sure everybody’s in the right direction.”

One contributing factor in the increase of the big man’s touches was Niagara’s choice to play the majority of the game in a man-to-man defense.

“I was hoping that somebody would play man one of these games because all of the teams we play always play zone and I’m always in this box trying to make things happen. I was definitely glad that (Niagara) played man,” said Ndoye.

There was definitely a great atmosphere at the First Niagara Center on Saturday afternoon, with the attendance announced at 7,191. Both teams had large contingents supporting their teams, and the players fed off that emotion.

“I thought it was a good crowd,” said Schmidt. “The Bonaventure people really support us. I thought it was a good environment, and if we can (make some adjustments and) make the arena a little smaller to cut out the upper deck it’ll be that much better.”

“This was a good beginning. This could be an annual thing that could be good for Western New York.”

Men’s basketball: Quick hitters (Niagara)

By Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt

The St. Bonaventure University Bonnies defeated the Niagara Purple Eagles 74-59 in the Big 4 Classic at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo to improve their record to 4-1.

Block party: The Bonnies recorded eight blocks in total with five of those coming from Youssou Ndoye. The Purple Eagles were clearly outsized and outmatched leading to a dominating end on the defensive side and the offensive side as well, with a 40-20 win for points in the paint for the Bonnies.

Ndoye’s big game: Big is an understatement. Youssou Ndoye had the best game of his career this afternoon going 9-16 from the field for 23 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and a steal. Again, being 7-feet tall the Purple Eagles couldn’t match up with him.

Cumberbatch chipping in: Andell Cumberbatch is a senior and establishing himself as the leader, along with Ndoye, of this Bonnies team. He grabbed five boards and had four steals and also put in a solid effort offensively going 6-12 from the field for 16.

Wright is consistent: Dion Wright has shown thus far that he will always give you  solid numbers. He went 6-11 from the field for 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two assists. In the second-half most of Wright’s baskets came off of easy drives in the lane and layups off the glass.

Hitting the freebies: In Bonaventure’s first two games against Dartmouth and Siena, the Bonnies shot poorly (about 65-percent) as a team from the stripe and it hurt them especially in the Siena game. Something must’ve clicked because the Bonnies have shot upwards of 75-percent since then. Today they went 19-25 (76-percent) .

Key quotes: 

Mark Schmidt:

“We took a step in the right direction and got a lot better as a team today.”

“When Youssou plays the way he’s capable of playing we’re a lot better.”

“I thought it was a good crowd. The Bonaventure people really support us, and I thought the environment was good.”

Youssou Ndoye:

“We got a pretty young team and a bunch of new guys that are still trying to figure stuff out. I thought today we got a lot better.”

“I was hoping that someone would play man (to man) one of these games.”

 Up next for the Bonnies is the University of Buffalo at 7pm at the Reilly Center Wednesday night.