St. Bonaventure Men's Basketball Game Preview: Bucknell Bison
Game Date: Wednesday, Nov. 7
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Bob Lanier Court, Reilly Center
St. Bonaventure 26-8 | Bucknell 25-10
Radio: WPIG 95.7 FM with Gary Nease and Don Scholla
Full Media Game Notes (PDF)
Wednesday night, St. Bonaventure begins its 99th season of men's basketball with a home game against Bucknell. Both programs reached the NCAA Tournament last year and have high expectations again this season. The Bonnies are led by seniors Courtney Stockard, LaDarien Griffin and Nelson Kaputo and will welcome a heralded group of six newcomers, including four freshmen.
Prior to the game, a banner commemorating the 2018 NCAA Tournament team will be unveiled in its permanent location, the RC rafters.
• Home openers have been kind to the Bonnies, as they have won 13 of their last 14 home openers - a streak of 13 straight wins was snapped last year by Niagara. Since the Reilly Center opened in 1966, St. Bonaventure is 48-3 in home openers. Under head coach Mark Schmidt, St. Bonaventure is 10-1 in home openers.
• St. Bonaventure returns two starters from last year's NCAA Tournament team, senior forwards Stockard and Griffin. Fellow senior Kaputo, junior center Amadi Ikpeze and sophomore forward Tshiefu Ngalakulondi also return from last season's club.
• In stark contrast to last year's very experienced team, this year's team has six players who are making their St. Bonaventure debuts. Junior guard Jalen Poyser played two seasons at UNLV and will be counted upon to contribute.
• The Bonnies won 20 games each of the last three seasons, compiling a record of 68-29 overall (.707) including 39-15 in the Atlantic 10 (.722).
This will be the seventh meeting between the teams and their first since 2008. St. Bonaventure leads the series 5-1 and is 2-0 against the Bison under Mark Schmidt. The last meeting was in 2008, a double-OT Bona win at Bucknell.
Stockard Makes Preseason All-Conference
Jack-of-all-trades and preseason All-Conference second team pick Courtney Stockard will be a leader for the Bonnies this season. It's tough to assign him a position because he can play just about any role needed. Last March, the nation watched as Stockard scored 26 points to lead St. Bonaventure's win over UCLA in the NCAA Tournament. The sixth-year senior is also a testament to perseverance, as he suffered through two entire seasons (2015-16 and 2016-17) on the sidelines due to foot injuries.
The Bonnies have six new players on the roster this season including four freshmen, guards Kyle Lofton, Alpha Okoli and Dominick Welch and center Osun Osunniyi. It's a heralded group, with all five players in the hunt for immediate playing time. Lofton and Osunniyi were teammates on Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy's 2017-18 national prep champion team.
Bonnies To Look To Transfer Poyser For Immediate Contributions
The Bonnies' graduation losses are well-documented, meaning there is a clear opportunity, and likely a need, for new players to contribute right away. Junior guard Jalen Poyser, who sat out last season after transferring from UNLV, could be one of the most ready to do just that. A top-100 recruit coming out of high school at Orangeville Prep in Toronto, Poyser averaged 10.4 points per game as a sophomore at UNLV. He made 21 starts at UNLV, playing in 64 games over his two seasons. He also has the advantage of a year in the Bonnies' system.
Stockard Hopes To Pick Up Where He Left Off 2017-18
While Courtney Stockard had already enjoyed a very productive season, his last six games of the 2017-18 campaign were unforgettable. He set career highs in scoring twice and was instrumental in four wins, most notably with his 26 points against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament. Over the six-game span, Stockard averaged 22 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
• The Bison did not play an exhibition game. They did embark on a European tour in August. Last season, Bucknell won the Patriot League championship and reached the NCAA Tournament, where the Bison lost a closely-contested game to Michigan State, 82-78.
• Like St. Bonaventure, the Bison lost three outstanding players to graduation last May who were the team's top three scorers: Patriot League Player of the Year Zach Thomas, who averaged 20 points per game, 6-10 center Nana Foulland and guard Stephen Brown.
• Regardless of the losses, Bucknell was chosen to finish second in the Patriot League this year. The Bison won the past three league titles.
• Senior center Nate Sestina is a preseason All-Patriot League selection. The 6-9, 245-lb. product of nearby Cameron County High (Emporium, Pa.) averaged 6.5 points per game in a reserve role last season. Guard Makenzie Kimball averaged 8.3 points per game last season and is a three-year starter.
The Bonnies will host Jackson State this Saturday, Nov. 10, at 2:00.
Season tickets for St. Bonaventure men's basketball games are remain on sale. To order, call the SBU Ticket Office at (716) 375-2500 or visit GoBonnies.com/Tickets. For the latest news on St. Bonaventure athletics, stay connected on social media. Follow the Bonnies on Twitter @GoBonnies and get men's basketball updates @BonniesMBB. Keep up with the Bonnies on Facebook /GoBonnies and on Instagram @GoBonnies.