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Two transfer from St. Bonaventure

By Rodney McKissic

Add two more names to the ever expanding transfer list: St. Bonaventure's Matthias Runs and Jean Yves Toupane who the school announced will not return to the program.

These aren’t huge losses. Runs, a 7-foot sophomore center from Hilversum, Netherlands, played in just two games while Toupane, a 6-foot-7 forward from Dakar, Senegal, played in six and scored four points.

The only other Big 4 player who has elected to transfer thus far is Niagara's Tajere McCall.

Report: Schmidt no longer an option at Boston College

By Rodney McKissic

St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt is no longer an option at Boston College, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Goodman is also reporting that Syracuse University assistant Mike Hopkins is no longer under consideration as well.

Schmidt reportedly interviewed at Boston College last week; nevertheless according to Mark Blaudschun of www.ajerseyguy.com, Schmidt spoke with Eddie Fogler, whose search firm is working on behalf of the school last week. Schmidt played at BC from 1981-85.

Hopkins interviewed on campus on Saturday and on Monday Ohio University coach Jim Christian emerged as a viable candidate which stands to reason because he’s one of Fogler’s clients. Christian’s head coaching stops include Kent State and TCU.  It is unknown if Christian has scheduled an interview.

Schmidt, who was unavailable for comment, recently completed his seventh season at St. Bonaventure where he has a 106-109 record. In 2012, Schmidt led the Bonnies to their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2000.

Licata played with a torn hip labrum

By Rodney McKissic

UB junior Joe Licata played all of last season with a torn hip labrum and a bone impingement the quarterback confirmed on Wednesday.

The Williamsville South product who started all 13 games in 2013, said he suffered the injury during training camp last summer in early August. Licata will be limited for spring practice which started today at the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse and will miss the annual Blue/White Game on April 19.

Licata had surgery on Jan. 7.

“I went into the training room and thought it was a groin injury maybe or a hip flexor,” said Licata, who is nearly month three of the 4-6 month recovery process. “It didn’t get any better and it kept getting worse. I took a couple of helmet hits to the hip.”

A month after the injury, UB’s trainers realized it wasn’t a hip flexor but a hip labrum injury. Doctors confirmed the diagnoses after the Bulls bowl game loss to San Diego State and Licata underwent surgery.

“It hurt but I took a couple of Advil before the game,” he said. “I iced it down afterwards and I had it wrapped during games. It was wrapped for practices. I was smart about it. It’s the price you pay for touchdowns.”

UB coach Jeff Quinn said he isn’t worried about Licata missing spring workouts.

“He certainly has a sharp mind and has a handle on the offense,” Quinn said. “Joe is still going to be the guy that we develop into being an even better quarterback than he was a year ago.”

Licata was limited to sideline work as were fullback Boomer Brock and right guard Dillon Guy, a pair of seniors, sophomore offensive lineman Dan Collura and defensive linemen Zach Smekal and tailback Joe Schillace, who are redshirt freshmen.

Also, junior linebacker Nick Gilbo left practice with an apparent injury to his left knee which was wrapped heavily in ice.

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Junior Tony Daniel took snaps with the first unit while sophomore Collin Michael was with the second team.

“We were a little bit off with our timing but that’s part of this,” Quinn said. “Spring ball is about repetition and repetition is the mother of learning and I think our kids are only going to get better.”

Licata liked what he saw from the sidelines.

“They looked good, it’s a great opportunity for them to get more reps during the spring,” he said. “It’s weird to watch the backside of it, but I get to help coach those guys up and I think Tony did a great job today as did Collin.”

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Early enrollees Juwan Jackson and offense lineman Matt Murphy participated in practice on Wednesday. Jackson is a 6-foot4, 215-pound linebacker from Newark N.J., while the 6-7, 295-pound Murphy hails from London, England. Both players enrolled in January.  … The Bulls are off tomorrow but will resume practice on Friday at UB Stadium.

Licata will be limited in spring drills

By Rodney McKissic

UB junior quarterback Joe Licata will be limited during spring practice as he recovers from offseason hip surgery, coach Jeff Quinn said today. Spring practice begins Wednesday.

Licata, who started all 13 games last season, had hip surgery in January and was expected to be out until June. It is unclear whether Licata will play in the annual Blue/White game April 19.

Licata, who starred at Williamsville South, threw for 2,824 yards and 24 touchdowns while completing 58 percent of his passes as a sophomore.

“He’s not going to be out there full bore,” Quinn said. “He’s fine, it’s just a matter of time but he’s done very well.”

Junior Tony Daniel will take the majority of the snaps in spring drills and will be backed up by sophomore Collin Michael and redshirt freshman Craig Slowik.

The only other player who will be limited in the spring will be senior fullback Boomer Brock (knee). Also, Quinn confirmed tailback James Potts is no longer enrolled in school and will not return to the team. Quinn wouldn’t go in specifics, but a source told The News Potts was academically ineligible.

While the Bulls have good depth at tailback, they have suffered numerous injures over the years at the position and Potts provided insurance. He appeared in nine games as a backup to Bo Oliver and Anthone Taylor last season and rushed for 222 yards on 58 carries.

Villanova gets shot down as its shots won't go down

By John Vogl

Villanova had a fantastic second half in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament, pouring in 46 points to run away from Milwaukee. When the Wildcats opened 5 of 8 with two three-pointers against Connecticut, it looked like more of the same.

Instead, the offense disappeared -- and so did a 19-9 lead. Villanova missed 10 straight shots and had 15 scoreless possessions in a row as the Huskies climbed back and earned a 77-65 victory in First Niagara Center.

"Our main focus is defense," Wildcats guard James Bell said. "Did we even know we missed 15 straight or went 15 straight possessions? No. I mean, probably could have taken a little better shots."

Villanova shot just 35.3 percent from the field and was just 7 for 20 on two-point shots.

"I really thought we were going to shoot the ball well," coach Jay Wright said. "I don't think they came out really agressive, but once we went on that little run, they stepped up the defense big-time. They really stepped it up."

UConn 77, Villanova 65: How the game was won

By John Vogl

How Connecticut won: The Huskies won the same way they usually do, with a huge helping of Shabazz Napier. The American Athletic Conference Player of the Year poured in a game-high 25 points, including 21 in the second half. The senior refused to end his career short of the Sweet 16.

Turning point: Villanova pulled within three points, 42-39, on a three-pointer by James Bell. UConn showed it wouldn’t fold as Lasan Kromah hit a three and Napier followed with back-to-back bombs for a 9-1 run. It gave the Huskies breathing room at 51-40 with 8:59 to go.

Player of the game: If you can’t tell by now … of course it was Napier. The senior hobbled to the bench with a leg injury with 4:01 to go. Villanova became emboldened while looking at Napier with a towel on his face, but he wasn’t gone long enough for the Wildcats to take advantage. He returned 40 seconds later, and so did UConn’s swagger.

Stat of the game: Villanova had a decent night from three-point land in going 11 for 31. From inside the arc, however, Villanova was just 7 for 20. Shooting 35.3 percent overall simply won’t cut it.

He Said It: “They showed resiliency. They showed toughness. Everybody was strong, and we’re going to the Garden.” – UConn coach Kevin Ollie, whose team trailed by 10 points early.

Up next: UConn plays in the Sweet 16 in New York City against the winner of today’s matchup between No. 3 seed Iowa State and sixth-seeded North Carolina.

Napier refuses to let college career end, leads UConn over Villanova and into Sweet 16

By John Vogl

Shabazz Napier is a modern-day rarity, a college star who stuck around for four years. Because of his play, Connecticut is sticking around for the Sweet 16.

Napier refused to let his collegiate career come to an end in Buffalo, scoring 21 of his 25 points in the second half as seventh-seeded UConn upset No. 2 Villanova, 77-65, early this morning. The Player of the Year in the American Athletic Conference was 9 for 13 from the field, including 4 of 8 from three-point range.

The Huskies will head to New York City this week for the East Region portion of the Sweet 16. They will play the winner of today’s game between No. 3 seed Iowa State and sixth-seeded North Carolina.

The Wildcats showed the most energy it had all night when Napier hobbled to the bench with a leg injury with 4:01 to go. UConn held a 56-49 lead when he went out, with 20 of those points coming from Napier’s hot hand.

He wasn’t gone long enough for Villanova to take advantage, returning to the court less than a minute later to the relief of UConn fans and to the applause of the remaining fans in the crowd of 19,290. The next time Napier walked off the court, with 19.9 seconds left, it was with his team ready to celebrate a victory.

The Huskies (28-8) overcame 10-point deficits during both their games in Buffalo.

Connecticut came out for the second half with a one-point deficit, but a quick 9-2 run them a 33-27 lead with 2:24 off the clock.

Villanova responded with a 9-2 run of its own to go up, 36-35, its first lead since a 20-18 edge in the first half. Bell keyed the run with a pair of three-pointers.

Napier countered with his own long-distance barrage, giving the Huskies a 50-41 lead with 8:59 left on back-to-back bombs. It was his night and his show.

Both teams held the lead in the first half, though it seemed neither team wanted it. They combined to shoot just 32.7 percent with 13 turnovers.

UConn, which proved during its last game that a 10-point deficit means nothing, showed it again during the first half. Villanova ran to a 19-9 lead through the opening 8:27. The Wildcats couldn’t handle the prosperity.

Villanova had just one free throw to show for a miserable 10-minute stretch as its lead evaporated. It missed 10 straight shots from the field.

While UConn hardly looked like a world beater, it nonetheless enjoyed a 16-1 run to take a 25-20 advantage during the final minute.

The Wildcats finally woke up with 30 seconds to go, picking up another free throw and a three-pointer by Arcidiacono to cut its halftime deficit to 25-24. The Huskies shot just 34.5 percent in the first half. Villanova fired at just 30.4 percent.

Syracuse's Grant laments slow start in what might be his college finale

By Mark Gaughan

Syracuse forward Jerami Grant got off to a slow start and never got on track in his team's 55-53 loss to the University of Dayton on Saturday night.

If it was the last game of his Syracuse career, the 6-foot-8 sophomore went out with a whimper. There is speculation he will declare for the NBA Draft. Grant managed just four points on 2 of 3 shooting in the third-round NCAA Tournament game at First Niagara Center. He had been averaging 12.3 points this season.

"We just didn't come to play," Grant said. "I can't explain it. We weren't ready. We had a rough start. We're a better team. We weren't prepared like we should have been."

Syracuse managed just four points in the first nine minutes of the game, and trailed, 11-4, at that point. The Orange had five turnovers and three airballs and was 2 of 10 from the field over the first nine minutes.

"We probably should have took the ball to the basket a lot more," Grant said. "It was a tough game. We had an opportunity to win the game and we messed it up. We typically win games like this."

UConn vs. Villanova: First-half analysis

By John Vogl

Connecticut proved during its last game that a 10-point deficit means nothing. The Huskies did it again during the first half tonight.

UConn spotted Villanova a 19-9 lead through 8:27 in First Niagara Center, but the Wildcats couldn’t handle the prosperity. UConn enjoyed a 16-1 run as Villanova’s shooters fired blanks.

The Wildcats finally got back on the board with a free throw and three-pointer in the final 30 seconds, and the teams went to halftime with UConn holding a 25-24 lead.

The seventh-seeded Huskies shot just 34.5 percent in the first half. No. 2 Villanova fired at just 30.4 percent.

Before bottoming out, Villanova, which struck for 46 points in the second half of its opener, picked up where it left off. The Wildcats scored the first seven points and built a 13-5 cushion through the opening 4:15.

There were more commercial breaks than quality plays through the opening 12:06, as the teams struggled to find the basket or each other. Villanova held a 20-13 edge with 7:54 left by virtue of its marginally better shooting percentage (35.3 percent to 26.3 percent).

The Huskies finally found some success through a balanced attack as four of their five starters have at least four points. Ryan Arcidiacono of Villanova leads all scorers with eight points, which includes a 2-for-2 showing from three-point range.

Jenkins' big win over the 'Freshman 15' has been a hit for Villanova

By John Vogl

The “Freshman 15” wouldn’t have worked for Kris Jenkins. The forward arrived at Villanova weighing about 295 pounds, so the fabled weight gain during the first year of college would have put him over 300. There’s no way a 6-foot-6 shooter can compete at the top NCAA level at that weight.

So while his fellow freshmen put on pounds, Jenkins lost them.

“Forty pounds,” Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. “He’s lost 40 pounds. He worked so hard.

“He hasn’t grown at all since he stepped on campus. He shrunk since he stepped on campus.”

It’s been noticed.

“He made great improvements from the summertime until now with dropping weight and getting his body to where it needs to be to compete at this level,” Villanova guard Darrun Hilliard said. “He’s just been all in and didn’t really complain about doing anything we asked him to, that coach has asked him to. It’s showing right now.”

Jenkins scored 11 points during Villanova’s victory over Milwaukee. He went 3 for 4 from three-point range for a team that shot only 4 for 22. He’ll need to keep it up and his teammates will need to catch up tonight against Connecticut in First Niagara Center.

“He’s going to keep improving,” Hilliard said, “and he’s going to be a great player in this program.”

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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare | bdicesare@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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