Thursday, February 11, 2016

Schmidt, Bonnies gaining traction heading into March

At 16-6 and 8-3 in Atlantic 10, Mark Schmidt has St. Bonaventure in strong position for first postseason since their improbable run to NCAA Tournament in 2012. (Photo courtesy of the Buffalo News)

By Patrick McCormack (@Pmac1594)

St. Bonaventure recorded four consecutive wins to start their Atlantic 10 season, then ran into a  tough stretch in their schedule against Duquesne, Dayton, and VCU. The Bonnies lost all three games by eight points or less, but were able to take away opportunities to learn from the defeats and build on their game.

“We knew going in they were going to be really difficult games,” head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We didn’t play bad in those games,” Schmidt said.  “I thought our guys didn’t hang their heads. They understood that they were a good team, that we had to keep on chopping wood, and that’s  what we did. We’re going to keep on working.”

Following their loss to VCU, St. Bonaventure defeated Richmond 84-68 at home. They followed that win with an 83-73 road victory against Saint Joseph’s, and then won a 65-62 thriller against Saint Louis back home at the Reilly Center on a Jaylen Adams three-pointer at the buzzer. The jumper set up an opportunity for the team's second four-game winning streak of the season Wednesday evening at Rose Hill Gym. It wasn’t easy, but the Bonnies used the combination of their young players and veterans to defeat Fordham in overtime, 76-72.

St. Bonaventure trailed 66-62 with 3:09 remaining in the second half. The Bonnies were able to tie the game at 66, with a pair of free throws from both Adams and Dion Wright. In overtime, Fordham took a 72-69 lead. But St. Bonaventure came back. Following a pair of free throws by Denzel Gregg, senior Marcus Posley hit two from the foul line to make it 73-72 Bonnies. Sophomore Idris Taqqee then hit a jumper with 18 seconds remaining to increase the lead to 75-72. Despite blowing a 10-point second half lead and trailing late in the game and the overtime, the Bonnies found a way to get a victory.

“We’re finding ways to win,” Schmidt said. “We’re finding ways to make plays when we need to make plays, and that’s a credit to our players.

The key to the team’s winning ways is through the leadership of the seniors, Posley and Wright, who each scored 21 points.

“You’re only as good as your seniors,” Schmidt said. “They’re our two seniors and they’re our two go-to guys. When you need plays, they make them. I am lucky to have the opportunity to coach them. They have been making plays all season.”

St. Bonaventure now sits in fourth place in the Atlantic 10 (16-6 overall, 8-3 A-10) with a matchup against fifth-place George Washington in Olean on Saturday. With March right around the corner, the Bonnies are showing they are in a good position to make a run at the upcoming A-10 Tournament at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. But with all the success this season and throughout his career, Schmidt, who moved into third place on the team’s all-time wins list, with 140 after the victory against Fordham, gives all the credit to his players.

“It means we have good players,” the coach said. “I haven’t won a game since my playing days, and I’m not sure if I won a game back then. Players win games. The record is the record, because we have really good players. I've got a great staff. I always say, when a coach’s record comes up, there are a lot of people that are involved in that. You’ve never seen a good team with bad players.”

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