ST. BONAVENTURE – St. Bonaventure did not have to worry about Jay Adams feeling satisfied with the strong freshman season he produced as the team’s point guard last year.
Adams is known for his work ethic in the gym. His dad is a personal trainer. And he has a cousin back home in Baltimore to train with who’s a star college basketball player for the University of Cincinnati.
It looks like Adams’ offseason work is paying off. The 6-foot-2 sophomore scored a career-high 28 points Tuesday night to lead the Bonnies to an 80-68 victory over Vermont.
“Once the first one goes in, it kind of makes it for the next one to go,” Adams said. “When the first two go in, it could be a good day.”
Adams made a career-best 7 of 10 three-point shots in helping Bona improve to 6-2.
Adams averaged 10 points a game as a freshman. He was Bona’s third best three-point shooter, hitting 34 treys on the season. He shot a middling 32.4 percent from behind the arc and 38.6 percent overall.
Improving his perimeter shot was a top priority in the offseason.
Through eight games, Adams has boosted his scoring average to 16 ppg. He’s shooting 44.2 percent overall and 42 percent from three-point range.
“We’ve got to get that kid who has a high ceiling that loves to play and that’s going to work on his game,” said Bona coach Mark Schmidt. “Jay is like that. He’s a gym rat. He’s always in the gym, and that’s how you get better.”
Adams spent the first month of the offseason taking classes at Bona and working on his game in the Reilly Center. Then he went back to the Baltimore area and played against his cousin, Troy Caupain, the starting junior point guard for Cincinnati. Three of Adams’ former high school teammates also play Division I basketball.
“I worked with him all summer,” Adams said of Caupain. “It was me, him and a bunch of other big-time guys. We worked every day, five, six hours, maybe more, every day.”
Adams’ father, Darryl Adams, played college football at the University of Maryland. Jay Adams showed up at Bona last year with a solid physique, not like a lot of string-bean freshmen. He said his work with his father helped him adjust quickly to Atlantic 10-caliber play.
“That was a priority coming into college, that I can’t be too small,” he said. “Even last summer we made it a priority, all the hours we put in to maintaining the body, working out, trying to eat right, all of it, to make sure I’d be able to handle bigger guards.”
Adams is hard to knock off the ball. Last year he had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.3-to-1, which would have ranked third among A10 players had he played enough games to qualify for the final rankings. His season was cut short after 22 games with a broken finger. So far this year he has 39 assists and 21 turnovers. He had seven assists and one turnover Tuesday.
“We had him as a tight close-out guy and didn’t want him to shoot threes,” Vermont coach John Becker said. “He made a bunch and just kept letting him shoot. . . . We’re a really dumb basketball team right now.”
Bona used its athleticism to outplay Vermont (4-6) on the offensive end. The Bonnies shot 51.8 percent overall.
Senior forward Dion Wright scored 16 points, and junior forward Denzel Gregg scored 10.
Bona never trailed after the first four minutes. Vermont forged a 45-45 tie early in the second half, but the Bonnies went on a 26-10 run to take command.
“We didn’t play our best,” Schmidt said. “We got up in the first half by 12 and didn’t do a good job of closing out possessions. We kept them in the game, and a team like that if you keep them in the game long enough they’re going to stick. . . . We found a way to win.”