Team: St. Bonaventure
Affiliation: Atlantic 10 Conference
Coach: Mark Schmidt, 10th year (146-132)
Last year: 22-9, 14-4 (tie for first)
It’s a sign of the respect Mark Schmidt and his coaching staff have earned in the Atlantic 10 Conference that St. Bonaventure was picked for fifth out of 14 in the league’s preseason poll.
The Bonnies lost 53 percent of their scoring and 49 percent of their rebounding from last year’s fantastic team, which shared the regular-season A10 championship for the first time in Bona history. Most of that production left with stars Marcus Posley and Dion Wright.
Yet Bonnie fans have come to expect that players get better every year in the Schmidt system. Starters leave. Backups step up and do more the next year. That cycle will be put to another test this season.
Bona returns sensational junior point guard Jaylen Adams, who averaged 17.9 points last year and became the first Bonnie to earn first-team all-A10 honors since Andrew Nicholson in 2012.
Adams was the catalyst of a wonderful offense. Bona ranked first in the A10 in scoring (79.3 ppg), first in three-point shooting and 39th in the nation in offensive efficiency.
The numbers might not be as great this year, but Schmidt is not too worried about scoring.
“We’re going to play fast,” Schmidt said. “We want to score in the first 12 seconds of the shot clock. We’re going to play just like we did last year. Same thing. Try to push the ball, shoot threes, get to the basket, get to the foul line. That’s our style, that’s our personality, and it’s fun to watch.”
Schmidt is counting heavily on key returnees Denzel Gregg and Idris Taqqee to do more. Gregg, a 6-7 senior, was the A10 sixth man of the year, averaging 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. Taqqee, a 6-4 junior, averaged 5.1 points and 4.0 rebounds as the starting small forward. If those two can combine to increase their output 25 percent, that’s one piece of the puzzle.
Another big one is the addition of 6-3 junior off-guard Matt Mobley, a transfer from Central Connecticut. Mobley averaged 17.2 ppg two years ago and made 74 threes.
“As I told him,” Schmidt said, “he doesn’t need to be Marcus Posley. He needs to be Matt Mobley. . . . He’s really athletic. Other than Denzel, he’s probably the best athlete we’ve got. He can really shoot it, he’s quick. He’s much stronger than he appears.”
“I think we have a really good backcourt in Jay and him,” Schmidt said.
Strengths: Adams ranked 55th in the nation in three-point shooting last year (.438) and was fifth in the A10 in threes made. He’s a workhorse. He averaged 37.5 minutes a game, 39th most in the nation by percentage. He also made the third-most free throws in the conference and shot .874 from the line, 30th best in the nation. With Adams running the attack, Bona has a chance most every night. Taqqee is a good defender and dirty-work guy. Gregg is a bouncy forward who can run and jump. They fit the up-tempo game. Mobley is making a big step up from the Northeast Conference. But he has had a year to learn Schmidt’s system and seems ready to be an asset.
Issues: It will be impossible for one person to replace the 6-7 Wright, who was able to rebound against bigger foes and defend four positions.
“Dion to me was underappreciated,” Schmidt said. “People had no idea the stuff that we did with Dion. Switching ball screens, playing the 5, screening and popping. He was such a mismatch. That’s the thing that we’re going to miss. To me that’s the concern. Marcus, believe me, he scored a ton of points. But Dion was the problem. People couldn’t switch screens. He brought so much. Then from a defensive standpoint he could switch screens and keep guards in front of him.”
Bona has more size. Syracuse transfer Chino Obokoh, a 6-9, 225-pounder, can be a better rim protector than Bona had last year. He saw only spot duty for the Orange. Bona needs him to rebound and defend and average about 20 minutes a game. Filling in at the low post will be 6-7 David Andoh, a transfer from Liberty, and maybe 6-8 freshman Josh Ayeni. Bona lost 6-6 wing Courtney Stockard (foot) for the season. That means less subbing for Mobley and more minutes off the bench for 6-5 freshman Tareq Coburn and 6-6 sophomore wing LaDarien Griffin. The tandem of Gregg and Taqqee will be a little small against some teams. When that happens, or when Gregg gets in foul trouble, the bench will have to rise up.
Inside the numbers: Bona ranked 313th in defensive rebounding last year, taking down 66.7 percent of those boards. It didn’t matter because Bona scored its way out of inside deficiencies. But the rebounding must be better.
Schedule: Aside from a Nov. 17 game vs. Florida, the non-conference slate is set up to build confidence. Greg Sanders’ jersey will be retired vs. UB on Dec. 3. The Big 4 matchup is vs. Niagara Dec. 17. The top four in the A10 poll were: Dayton, Rhode Island, Virginia Commonwealth and Davidson. Dayton visits the Reilly Center Jan. 3. The annual Rochester game is vs. Fordham Jan. 14.
Outlook: If there aren’t any more major injuries, 17 or 18 wins and a 10-8 A10 record is within reach.
DATE OPPONENT TIME
Nov. 5 Alfred, 99-72 (exh)
Nov. 12 St. Francis (Pa.) 4 p.m.
Nov. 17 Florida (at Lakeland, Fla.) 7 p.m.
Nov. 21 Arkansas-Little Rock ^ 5 p.m.
Nov 22 Central Michigan ^ 5 p.m.
Nov. 23 Pepperdine ^ 5 p.m.
Nov 30 Siena 8 p.m.
Dec. 3 Buffalo 4 p.m.
Dec. 6 at Hofstra 7 p.m.
Dec. 10 UNC Wilmington 6 p.m.
Dec. 17 Niagara % 1 p.m.
Dec. 19 Army 7 p.m.
Dec. 22 Canisius 7 p.m.
Dec. 30 at UMass * 4 p.m.
Jan. 3 Dayton * 8 p.m.
Jan. 7 George Mason * 5 p.m.
Jan. 11 at Richmond * 7 p.m.
Jan 14 Fordham * $ 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 at Saint Louis * 9 p.m.
Jan. 24 Saint Joseph’s * 7 p.m.
Jan. 28 at Rhode Island * 2 p.m.
Feb. 1 at Duquesne * 8 p.m.
Feb. 4 VCU * 4 p.m.
Feb. 8 Saint Louis * 7 p.m.
Feb. 11 at Geo. Washington * 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 La Salle * 7 p.m.
Feb. 18 at Dayton * 2 p.m.
Feb. 22 at Saint Joseph’s * 7 p.m.
Feb. 25 Duquesne * 4 p.m.
Feb. 28 at Davidson * 7 p.m.
Mar. 4 UMass * 4 p.m.
Mar. 8-12 Atlantic 10 Tournament
* Atlantic 10 games
^ Lone Star Showcase
% Big 4 Classic at KeyBank Center
$ Lightower Conference Classic at Blue Cross Arena
No. Name Pos. Cl. Ht. Wt. Hometown High School
0 David Andoh F Sr. 6-7 230 Montreal IMG Academy (Fla.)
1 Idris Taqqee G Jr. 6-4 200 Snellville, Ga. Cushing Academy (Mass.)
2 Matt Mobley G Jr. 6-3 185 Worcester, Mass. St. Peter Marian
3 Tareq Coburn G Fr. 6-5 200 Rosedale Cardozo
4 Nelson Kaputo G So. 6-0 175 Toronto St. Michael’s
5 Chinonso Obokoh F/C Sr. 6-9 225 Enugu, Nigeria Bishop Kearney (N.Y.)
10 Jaylen Adams G Jr. 6-2 185 Baltimore Mount St. Joseph
11 Courtney Stockard F/G Jr. 6-5 205 St. Louis Jennings
12 Denzel Gregg F Sr. 6-7 225 Syracuse St. Thomas More
15 LaDarien Griffin F So. 6-6 210 Jacksonville, Fla. Providence
21 Quinn Lee Yaw F Jr. 6-5 215 Jamestown Jamestown
24 Caleb McGuire G Sr. 6-4 190 Belmont. West Genesee
32 Amadi Ikpeze F/C Fr. 6-10 250 Buffalo Amherst
33 Josh Ayeni F Fr. 6-8 220 Zaria, Nigeria St. Frances Academy (Md.)