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St. Bonaventure men picked to finish second in Atlantic 10

The expectations have never been higher in recent years for the St. Bonaventure men's basketball team.

The Bonnies were picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 as the conference released its preseason poll Tuesday morning. Rhode Island, the defending conference champion, was picked to repeat.

Meanwhile guards Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley were named to the preseason All-Conference first team."

"We're used to being at the bottom, so it's a surprise for us," Adams said about being picked No. 2. "But we're ready to get to it."

"Usually we're the hunter and now we're the hunted," Mobley said. "So it's different."

The Adams-Mobley backcourt is the nation's top returning scoring duo. Combined, the pair averaged 39.1 points per game last season for a Bona team that led the A-10 in scoring at 76.8 points per game. And that makes the Bonnies dangerous.

"They have maybe one of the best guard tandems in all of college basketball in Mobley and Adams," Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley said during a Facebook Live interview with Andy Katz as the A-10 held its media day at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

"Mark (Schmidt) is one of the best coaches I think in college, especially on the offensive end," Hurley said. "They're so hard to guard. They have a grittiness and a toughness about them because of Mark's personality and the history of the program. Every year they seem to be at the top of the conference."

Adams has garnered plenty of preseason accolades, including being one of 20 players nominated for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. He was named the A-10 Preseason Player of the Year by NBC Sports and Blue Ribbon Yearbook while noted as one of the top nine point guards in the country by CBS Sports reporter Matt Norlander.

Adams tested the NBA waters this summer, placing his name into consideration for the draft. Since he did not retain an agent, he kept his NCAA eligibility and in May withdrew his name to return to St. Bonaventure for his senior season.

But Adams and Mobley aren't the only players of note. The team returns four starters from last year's team that went 20-12 but will need to find contributors in the low post.

"The question for us is can we get some stuff from our young guys inside," Schmidt said. "Amadi Ikpeze and Josh Ayeni played a number of minutes last year. Those are the two guys that in my opinion if they can play well and take that next step in their development, we could have a chance to be pretty good.

"Idris Taqqee is a senior and he doesn't get a lot of notoriety but he is one of those guys that a coach always appreciates," Schmidt said. "He's around the ball. He's a glue guy. He's unselfish. I think he's going to be a guy that hopefully can help us have some success."

Bona is looking to get over the A-10 Tournament hump. The last two seasons the Bonnies have won at least 20 games. And the last two seasons they have lost in the quarterfinals. In 2016, they finished 22-9, losing in overtime to Davidson in the conference tournament and to Wagner in the NIT opener.

Last year, the Bonnies lost to Rhode Island in the quarterfinals and did not make a postseason appearance.

St. Bonaventure opens on Nov. 10, when it hosts Niagara at 8 p.m. in the Reilly Center as part of a doubleheader with the women's teams, who kick off the season at 5:30 p.m.

 

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