Painful loss might leave SBU asking “What if?”

what_if_a_franchise_fails_resizeYesterday’s loss at Pitt still stings. It very well might be one of those games that we look back upon in March and utter “What if?”

It stings because this was a win St. Bonaventure could have added to its resume. It stings because a victory would have almost guaranteed 10 non-conference wins. It stings because the Bonnies had every chance to win and probably should have.

A college basketball game has so many possessions and so many twists and turns that it almost feels like a fruitless endeavor to zero in one or two plays that determine the outcome. But, we as fans – especially after a tough loss – tend to zero in on a miscue or two that cost our team.

Remember the missed dunk by Charlon Kloof in the NCAA tournament game against Florida State, when the Bonnies had all the momentum and were ready to pull away?

A similar sequence played out yesterday for the Bonnies yesterday with five minutes remaining, when Dion Wright finished a twisting layup after a Jaylen Adams steal. The bucket capped a 10-0 run and gave the Bonnies a 47-44 lead.

Pitt turned it over again eight seconds later and the Bonnies had a chance to build on their lead. Youssou Ndoye received a pass on the block and had a small path to the basket in front of him. But instead of attacking, the big man settled for a jump shot that missed badly.

Pitt converted a 3-pointer on the other end after an offensive rebound to tie the game. Thirty seconds later, Adams attacked the paint and dropped a pass off to Ndoye for what should have been a dunk. The ball slipped through Ndoye’s hands and out of bounds. The Bonnies never led again.

Adams was credited with the turnover, but it easily could have been given to Ndoye. As Ndoye sauntered to the bench at the under-4 timeout, coach Mark Schmidt gazed at him with a face of disgust.

The game ended right there for the Bonnies.

Senioritis

Ndoye had a rough game against Pitt. So too did classmate Andell Cumberbatch. Both players shot 2-8 from the field. Both players have had their ups and downs this year.

As Ian wrote yesterday, Ndoye cannot be counted on for consistent offensive output. Neither can Cumberbatch.

I’ve been looking forward to the return of Jordan Gathers. I would like to see a three-guard lineup of Gathers, Adams and Marcus Posley, with Cumberbatch coming off the bench.

We all know, the Bonnies could use a spark off the bench. Cumberbatch would be the perfect candidate to heat up fast.

Picking Splinters

The Bonnies short bench was obvious again yesterday. Sixth man Denzel Gregg played 19 minutes, but three other reserves combined for just 16 minutes and virtually no production.

We better get used to this kind of rotation. It is clear Schmidt has little faith in his reserves, especially in tightly-contested games. And, the coach has proven time again over the years that he isn’t afraid to play his starters major minutes.

If Gathers ever returns, I would expect to see almost exclusively a 7-man rotation with Chris Dees and Iakeem Alston playing a few minutes every now and then to spell Ndoye and Adams.

Will history repeat itself?

Watching Adams miss a chance to tie the game in the final seconds from the free throw line reminded me of another Bona freshman point guard who encountered the same fate 14 years ago.

It was Marques Green on the line with a chance to tie the score a late November game on the road against a very good Kent State team during the 2000-01 season. Green failed and the miss ate at him and drove him to be an even better player.

Let’s hope Adams’ painful miss has the same impact on him.

In the Pitts

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Pitt isn’t a very good team. The Panthers will almost certainly finish in the middle of the pack in the ACC. It will be a minor miracle of they earn a trip to the NCAA tournament.

If the Bonnies and Panthers were to play 10 times on a neutral floor, I’d take the Bonnies to win more times than not. SBU struggled mightily yesterday and still almost prevailed. Its seniors were off. It shot 36 percent from the floor and turned it over 15 times. It got almost nothing from its bench.

Basically, the near ACC road win doesn’t leave me feeling any more optimistic about the Bonnies this season than I felt prior to the game.

Post Game: Pittsburgh

Bonnies lose, time to keep it moving at 6-2.

Bonnies lose, time to keep it moving at 6-2.

The Result: The Bonnies lost 58-54 to Pittsburgh on Saturday snapping their five game winning streak. SBU tried to become only the 4th non-conference team to ever beat the Panthers at the Pearson Evens but fell short due to some late game miscues and Pitt doing a good job closing out the game at the line. Jay Adams had a chance to tie the game at the line with five seconds left but missed  a free throw and that was all she wrote.

The Rundown: If you would have told me going into the game that the Bonnies were going to turn the ball over 15 times, shoot only 36% I would have assumed they wouldn’t have been in the game down the stretch, but they were. Jay Adams had a chance to tie the game and likely send it into OT when he was fouled on a three pointer with five seconds left but he made just 2/3 shots, the Bonnies fouled, Pitt made some FTs and then Dion Wright threw away the inbound pass with a chance to tie the game. It was a cruel ending in a game where you hoped the Bonnies would have a shot at the end to tie it. Turned out, Jay’s free throws were that chance.

Honestly, this is a game where we played would I would call a C+ game and still almost beat Pitt.

That gives me a lot of hope. We did defend and rebound (and I thought we would) but we faltered offensively and our turnovers simply killed us. 15 turnovers is a potential 45 missed points. Combine that with our 13-19 free throws and one could say the Bonnies gave Pitt 51 points on the tip. It’s almost impossible to beat ACC teams on the road with those numbers on the stat sheet at the end of the day. We got another nice effort out of Posley (17 points, 6-13) but really didn’t get a whole lot from anyone else on the offensive side of the ball. Ndoye scored just eight points on 2-8 shooting and his four turnovers really hurt the team. He looked like a freshman at times today and that does worry me a bit. For as good as he can look, he looks equally raw in other games and for a senior, that’s not good. We’re going to have to get used to the good/bad Ndoye I think going forward. Pitt really did a nice job defending us inside (they had seven blocks) and made Dion and Youssou’s day rough more often than not. Their interior defense to me, was the difference in the game. We said going into the game to win this game SBU would likely need to complete the trifecta as Schmidt says (Defend, rebound, limit turnovers) and even then, we could lose. Today we did 2/3 and lost a close one.

What it means for the Bonnies: It means that this is a good team; really. Like I said, we played C+ hoops in my opinion and almost beat Pitt. We defended well. We rebounded well. We showed grit and fight. If we play that way every night and get a more efficient offensive effort we will compete with any team in the league. Executing down the stretch of games will have to improve as well. It also means that we should now expect a nine win non-conference record. The next three games must be wins.

The good news: We can compete with a really good team on the road. Posley looks more for real each game. Our defense holds everyone and their mother to 40% shooting. We rebounded well too. Team defense will likely be this team’s calling card as it’s there night after night. If we can just get the offense to click a bit more in terms of turnovers and making some more shots inside, this team could play for a post-season berth of some kind of another.

Ndoye turned back the clock to 2011 with his effort at times today in big spots.

Ndoye turned back the clock to 2011 with his effort at times today in big spots.

The bad news: Ndoye doesn’t look like a player who can be depended on every single night out from an offensive standpoint. His passing and turnovers really hurt today. Jay Adams needs to cut down on the turnovers in a major way as well; he’s our point guard and he too had four tonight. Our bench continues to give this team close to nothing on a daily basis. Argue that you feel comfortable when these guys come in all you want, this team is not really deep. Go look at the box score of tonight’s game or almost any game of the year. Our bench players need to be better.

Player of the game: Posley. Kept his team in the game at times, made big shots and continues to get better and better at getting to the rim. He’s not just a shooter anymore. This is a good development. He’s done a great job replacing Matt Wright thus far.

Good stats: +4 on the glass, 40% shooting defense, 30% 3PT defense, Ndyoe and Dion each had at least ten rebounds.

Bad stats: 15 turnovers, had seven shots blocked, shot just 36% from the field, Ndoye was only 2-8 as was Cumberbatch. The bench produced five points, six fouls, eight rebounds and two steals.

Ivan Kovacevic Unsung Hero of the game: I’m not going to give this to any one player but instead give it to the team for showing a lot of fight and grit in this game. There were moments in the 2nd half they could have folded up but they didn’t. They dug deep and had a chance to tie the game under 10 seconds left. That’s something to feel good about; especially for a young team.

What’s Up Next: The Bonnies have off all week and travel to play hapless Binghamton next Saturday. Let’s hope this is the first of at least three straight wins for SBU leading into A10 play. You’d feel great about a nine win NC slate.

Behind Enemy Lines: Pittsburgh

This is it. Don't get scared now.

This is it. Don’t get scared now.

The Opponent:  The 5-3 Pittsburgh Panthers of the ACC. Pittsburgh has alternated wins and losses during each of their last five games after starting the season 2-0, beating Niagara and Samford. Most recently Pitt beat city rival Duquesne 76-62. They have been off since the 6th and thus have had ample time to prepare for this contest on Saturday.  This game starts a five game home stand.

The Rundown:  Well, here we are. After winning five straight games and just steamrolling through a murder’s row of competition, the Bonnies are now faced with their biggest challenge of the season. Pitt is a real basketball team, in a major conference and has a chance to be…really good. Pittsburgh is considered a middle of the table/upper half team in the ACC. Blue Ribbon previews picked them to finish 6th in the league behind such teams as: UNC, Duke, UVA, Louisville and Syracuse….yeah. The Panthers won 26 games last year and lost in the third round of the NCAA tournament. This year, the Panthers appear to be a deep and balanced team with nine players averaging 12 minutes a game or more. Pittsburgh shoots 45% from the field, 70% from the line and 36% from three. In the scoring department they are led by Michael Young, former Texas Ranger 2nd basemen at 12.8 points on 54% shooting. Second, James Robinson scores at 12.6 points but just shoots 38% from the floor. Robinson, the PG, sets the tone for the Panthers and is dishing out a very impressive 5.6 helpers a game. Pitt is playing without would-have-been best player Durand Johnson who is suspended for the entire season. Pitt has a top 25 rated offense in terms of efficiency, and they are best at hitting the offensive glass where they grab boards on 41.5% of their possessions. They play slow and deliberate, taking almost 21 seconds per possession which is 326th slowest in hoops…They’ll want to take the air out of the ball and slow this thing down whenever they can. There is no doubt this is a massive test for SBU and I cannot wait to see how we come out and compete. Jamie Dixon and Pitt are a perennial power and have won the following amount of games over the last five seasons: 25-28-22-24-26. Big time. If the Bonnies are going to win this game they are going to have to play “A” basketball. Not “B” hoops, A basketball. We can do it, but it won’t be easy. This is a great game to watch, the Bonnies are playing with nothing but house money in this one. We lose, and no one freaks out. We win, and people start talking all sorts of crazy about winning 24 games and who the hell knows what else. You can’t get too up or down after these games but I will say this much: if we do win Saturday I will start to believe this team could finish in the top five of the A10 (I know I’m slow to come around, I graduated in 2008 so I saw a lot of bad basketball that jaded me).

Starters returning from last season: 3 back, 2 lost. 6th man suspended for the whole season.

Their best player(s): Cameron Wright, a 6-5 senior wing is making his second appearance of the season this weekend after being out for all of the Panthers’ games.  Wright is the team’s returning scorer (10.5 points, 3.3 rebounds) and was out two months with a broken foot. While he may not be the best player on the floor this weekend, his return is important and gives Pitt a big shot in the arm. Michael Young, a 6-0, 235 pound sophomore has been really good this season for Pitt raising his scoring from four a game to 12.8 to go with 7.8 boards. He’s been their best player.

Their glaring weaknesses: Pitt really isn’t bad at any one thing. They’re balanced across the board. I’m honestly not listing anything in this space because if their “biggest weakness” is their inability to turn people over (315th in the country) then they’re doing just fine. Their desire to play slow could be a weakness if the Bonnies run and exploit it as best they can. Really it’s just a different style but I’m trying to be optimistic here.

Their bad stats: Stated above, they don’t turn people over, instead, they just play good defense, get misses and grab rebounds.

Their good stats: Pitt has a top 25 offense, and a borderline top 100 defense. They rank 12th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage (41.5%). Pitt is top 130 in shooting from 3PT, 2PT and FT. Not really a good stat, but Pitt also throws a lot of size at you. Their starting lineup goes 6-3, 6-6, 6-7, 6-9 and 6-9…they are not MAAC team. They’re deep and come at you in waves with “guys” who give them something off the bench…something we need to gain eventually.

How Pittsburgh can win: The Bonnies have been doing a really good job defending people this season but Schmidt’s club has been vulnerable to the three point shot (36% against). Pittsburgh would be wise to make some deep jump shoots early and force the Bonnies to think about extended their zone a bit. Pitt has an experienced back court and will likely pressure our young guards and try to force turnovers. Jay Adams has been great, but has hasn’t shown that he could handle big-time pressure just yet. Pitt may test him in that area. SBU has shot only 45.8% from 2PT, so Pitt will try to force us to beat them inside, hoping we force the ball into Ndoye and Wright and pressure them.  After watching the Ohio game, I’d expect the close-outs on Jay Adams to be much longer and Pitt to really pressure us in the half-court.

How the Bonnies can win:  The recipe for the Bonnies success this weekend should come from nowhere else other than last weekend. What did we do well? Shot 22-28 from the line. Held Ohio to 41% shooting and 26% from three. Took only 13 three pointers…and made six of them. Played even on the glass and had a respectable nine turnovers. Give me that game again this weekend and I’d be SHOCKED, shocked if we aren’t in this game with four minutes left. Yes, we’re going to need a slightly better game from Ndoye and Wright (18 points) and some more bench production (I think…) also, if Jay and Posley went off for another 46 points we’re going to be in this thing…that’s only asking for borderline back to back career games from our 1 and 2 guards…no big deal. As Schmidt says, “defend, rebound, take care of the ball”….in some games we do one or two of those things and we win…in this game we may need to do all three to win, and even that may not be  enough…such is life on the road against an ACC team, and a good one at that.

Gregg could be a vital piece for the Bonnies this weekend off the bench.

Gregg could be a vital piece for the Bonnies this weekend off the bench.

X-Factor: I’m really hoping Denzel Gregg can gives SBU some big minutes and production off the bench this weekend. Gregg got 21 minutes off the wood last weekend and had a few nice buckets and displayed his athleticism. This is the type of game where his athletic body/frame is needed. Gregg could be a nice defensive piece against this Pitt team and could give us some baskets in the lane if he’s aggressive. Schmidt clearly knows Gregg is the Bonnies’ best bench piece right now because of the 31 bench minutes on Saturday, Gregg had 21 of them. Odds are, Jay, Posley, Batch and Dion aren’t all going to score in the double digits…this bench has got to come in and get some buckets and Gregg seems the most likely guy.

Three keys to victory:

  1. Hold Pitt to under 43% shooting.
  2. Play even on the glass.
  3. No more than ten turnovers.

Staff predictions: Don’t ask. Not good. Let’s all be wrong.

Bonnies have taken on identity of past Schmidt teams

Mark+Schmidt+Atlantic+10+Basketball+Tournament+TarUXKLfqByl

St. Bonaventure will carry a 6-1 record and a five-game winning streak into its game at Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon. Yet for all the success and victories the Bonnies have achieved in the early going of this season, it feels like they have endured a roller coaster of a month.

Home victories over lowly Canisius and Jackson State were way too close for comfort. The loss to Siena was painful. Taking those three consecutive games into account, I wrote that the Bonnies would be lucky to win 15 games.

But, since then, SBU has routed local rivals Niagara and Buffalo and scored an impressive win at Ohio, though the Bobcats are down this season.

Next up is a tough road game at Pitt. I don’t expect the Bonnies to prevail, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

That’s this season in a nutshell so far: after barely surviving Jackson State a few weeks ago, the Bonnies have bounced back to a point where a victory at Pitt is very much conceivable.

How did it come to this?

It doesn’t take a genius like Chris Lumsdon to produce an answer.

It’s just the Bonnies being the Bonnies. They are who they are. It is what it is.

Mark Schmidt, over his 14 seasons as program CEO, has proven to be a .500 coach. His Bona years have been a series of 14-16 win teams – save his first year and Andrew Nicholson’s senior year. His teams win big games and then falter in others that they have no business losing.

I hate to say it, but this season’s squad is just another typical Schmidt team – an enigma that will lift your spirits one day and wrench them down hard the next. These guys are good, just not good enough to compete at the top of the Atlantic 10 and vie for an NIT or NCAA berth. Not this year anyway.

That isn’t to say Schmidt isn’t a good coach. He puts the Bonnies in position to win almost every game, especially in the A-10. Considering the condition of the program when he was hired in 2007 and lack of resources relative to conference competition, Schmidt has worked wonders with the Bonnies.

A friend of mine who is a Pitt fan said the Panthers are an ordinary team, this season. A victory on Saturday would put the Bonnies in great position to finish their non-conference slate 10-1.

Even so, the Bonnies will be judged not by how they fare in December but by how they play in the Atlantic 10, when there will be no nights off and when performances like the ones they had against Jackson State and Canisius will result in losses.

I had the Bonnies winning nine non-league games and nine more in the A-10. I admit my predictions were more optimistic than realistic.

Still, I still hold out hope that the Bonnies can reach 18 wins or more, even if past history demonstrates that they’re more likely to top out at 15 or 16.

Flashback: Recruiting Dave Fox

SLO wasn't a bad guy by any stretch. He was just a really, really bad head basketball coach.

SLO wasn’t a bad guy by any stretch. He was just a really, really bad head basketball coach.

I brought up the name Dave Fox in a thread on the wagon the other day and mentioned I had a good story about his recruiting. Since then, another thread using his name has been started and people are reminiscing about the good old days of the Anthony Solomon recruiting era.

As such, I felt compelled to tell the short story of recruiting one Dave Fox.

Fox signed on Nov. 10th 2004, during my freshman season with the team. I recall two events prior to that signing involving Dave.

 

1. Midnight Madness, or whatever you want to call in 2004. I think this was the one that was Legends Night or something? We brought back all the old timers to get some extra fans in the door but no one came anyway. Before the game Coach Solomon had the team meet in the locker room to inform them that Fox was on campus for the recruiting visit. I remember him talking to the team of the importance of landing Fox and recall this exact quote from Solomon: “Dave Fox is about to blow up. We have to get this kid signed. He is a program changer.” I hadn’t seen the kid play a second, but I was sure this quote was anything but the truth…

2. Next, Solomon asked the entire team to head over to watch Fox’s JUCO team play the J.C.C. Team at the Olean YMCA some days or weeks later. You can imagine the type of responses the players had when they were told that our potentially big splash of a big man was playing at an Olean YMCA. There was a lot of confusion about his ability given that Solomon had recently told the team he was a program changer of a player. On the ride over (in a player’s car) the guys were basically just ripping the idea of signing a kid from Mercyhurst-North East Community College. Essentially, “how good could a player be in this league?”. Honestly, we didn’t have a lot of room to bash talent since we were about to embark on a 2-26 season that is the worst in the history of the school.

Well, we showed up at the Y to watch this game that was attended only by the players on our team. The starters for the teams rolled onto the floor for tip and our man Foxy isn’t even starting. What a red flag that was. The player’s obviously were asking the all important question, “How could this kid play for us if he can’t even crack the lineup on this joke of a JUCO team.” Well not only did Dave not start, he barely got off the bench as I recall. These teams sucked and Fox was just another player in the game. It was like watching two average high school teams with slightly bigger players. Simply put this game of his only created a wider gap between the player’s and Solomon in terms of their ability to trust him as a recruiter (some of them were just as lucky to be signed as Fox though to be honest).

No, this story isn’t winning any awards for drama or story telling. This post isn’t about Dave Fox not being a good basketball player, because it wasn’t his fault he got signed to play in the A10 and he couldn’t. Anyone would have signed that dotted line. To be honest, some of my best moments pre-game were feeding Fox rebounds so he could do nothing but jack 26 footers and act like Dirk. Good times….This post is a glimpse into the mind of Anthony Solomon who was delusional enough to tell his players that Dave Fox was a program altering talent. It was comments like these, made time and time again, that tore down the player’s trust in him. These moments were reasons the players endlessly trashed coach in the locker room day after day.

Player Grades: 7 Games In

Shane's grades are In. How did the Bonnies fare?

Shane’s grades are In. How did the Bonnies fare?

It’s been one month since the lights were turned on in the Reilly Center and our beloved Bonnies first took to Bob Lanier court vs Mansfield.  Following this opening exhibition, expectations were on the rise for this squad.  There was warranted excitement for the mix of players: a solid core of returners in N’doye, Wright, Gathers, Cumberbatch and Gregg, and the infusion of new faces Posley, Adams and Adams.

The Bonnies went on and won the opener in impressive fashion before falling to rival Siena in the Franciscan Cup.  Since coming up short on that Wednesday night this team has rattled off 5 straight wins.  Albeit a few ugly wins, but wins nonetheless.  You often hear that “good teams find ways to win.”  In the past it seems our Bonnies have failed to close out games or perhaps lacked the talent to win when they weren’t on their ‘A’ game.  Has Schmidt and company finally found the recipe for success?  With a talented scoring backcourt and upper-classman leadership up front, are the Bonnies poised to continue this early season success?  The sum of any team’s talent is the accumulation of its pieces.  With this mind, let’s take a quick look at some “player grades.”

Youssou N’doye – B+

Ndoye has been as good as expected after a slow start to the season including a suspension.

Ndoye has been as good as expected after a slow start to the season including a suspension.

After a slow start offensively, the Big Man has started to come into his own.  He’s been a menace inside, pulling down 11 rpg and swatting away 3.3 per game.  Couple the 11 boards with 11.2 ppg and N’doye is averaging a double-double which is no easy task.  I expect his offensive production to continue to rise as our backcourt finds more ways to get him the ball inside.  Bottom line, Youssou is a legit center and I’m looking forward to watching him finish out his senior year. The senior leads the A10 in blocks per game at 3.3, a wide margin over the second best rate in the conference at 2.6 swats per contest.  

Dion Wright – B+ We all expected big things out of Dion this year following his breakout sophomore campaign.  Thus far he hasn’t disappointed.  He ranks second on the team in scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounds (8.0 rpg) which rank sixth best in the A10.  His 37 minutes played per game lead the Bonnies.  I’m still holding out hope that he can develop a consistent 15 foot jumper.  Adding some range to his game would be a huge weapon and could push his ppg up over 15 and his player grade to an ‘A‘.  

Andell Cumberbatch – B The 6’5 senior is having himself a solid year.  He’s evolved into a consistent stat sheet filler averaging 13.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 3.0 apg.  He’s shooting 42% from the field and 82% from the line.  I expect the Batch to continue on this pace.  Bonnie fans should be pleased with his production. The NJ native ranks in the top 12 in the league in assists (3.0) as well as FT percentage (82%).  

Marcus Posley – A- The newcomer has been the Bonnies most consistent scorer.  At 15.7 ppg he leads the Bonnies and ranks in the top 10 in the league.  He has successfully replaced the void created with the departure of Matt Wright.  Posley ranks fifth in the A10 at 2.6 makes per game from behind the arc.  

Jaylen Adams – A- You could argue the Freshman pg has been the Bonnies most pleasant surprise.  I’m not sure anyone thought he would be playing this well so early on.  12.6 ppg on a ridiculous 55% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc is outstanding.  Jay can earn himself an ‘A’ if he takes better care of the basketball and brings up his assist numbers, oh and…. shoots more! (Fact: Jay ranks in the top 10 nationally in effective FG% by KenPom…Wow.)  

Dees has done what's been asked of him by the coaching staff in his senior season.

Dees has done what’s been asked of him by the coaching staff in his senior season.

Chris Dees – C It would be nice if Dees could get a better touch around the rim and develop some more offensive moves on the block.  However, I don’t think anyone expected much production on the offensive end, so the backup big man has been serviceable.  He plays hard and is a load inside defensively.

Jalen Adams – C The “other” Adams hasn’t done much.  No one is doubting his athleticism but the RS-Freshman is unpolished.  His jumper is awkward and he plays a little loose for my liking.  Don’t panic just yet, after all, he’s still a freshman.  I have faith in this staff’s ability to develop our 4 year guys.  

Iamkeem Alston – B- He’s been a spark plug off the bench at times.  Quick on both ends of the court.  His defensive play has helped shift momentum the Bonnies way on numerous occasions. His ability to get into games defensively more so than Jay is a nice change of pace and he’s scored a few big baskets on Euro step moves already. While he’s not going to shoot this team to any wins, he is a capable back-up with great quickness on the defensive side of the ball.  

Idris Taqqee – C- Not a large sample size here.  Taqqee is avering 8.9 minuter per game on the year, he’s 0-5 from the field and 4-9 from the line. I think Schmidt likes Taqqee’s size and athleticism and he seems to be “around the ball” when he’s on the floor. I think he could play a larger role as the season goes on and if he finds an offensive game because his defense already looks minutes-worthy if you will.  

Xavier Smith – C Smith looks better than he did last year.  Having said that, the Texas native still seems far off from any real production this year.  With Gregg back from suspension I don’t know where Xavier fits in. At the very least, it looks as if Smith will be able to give the team a few minutes a night off the bench and block some shots and grab some rebounds; thing’s that we couldn’t say this time, or at any point last year- he is developing.  

Denzell Gregg – B

Gregg will likely see major minutes off the bench going forward following his six game team suspension.

Gregg will likely see major minutes off the bench going forward following his six game team suspension.

Probably should give Gregg a ‘D’ here due to his lack of judgment off the court cost him 6 games.  But we’ll keep the grades on the hardwood.  It was nice seeing him out there Saturday night.  His athleticism and motor should create some matchup problems and his high rising dunks will undoubtedly fire up the Bonnies throughout the year.  

Opeyemi Olomo – B+ The Bonnies are 6-1 and flying high on a 5 game winning streak.  Someone is running the opposition’s sets during practice. Hopefully the players aren’t making him carry too much gear on the road trips.  

Quentin Weinerman – B+ By all accounts Quentin continues to work hard, both on the court and in the classroom.  Safe to assume his grades should give the Bonnies team gpa a nice boost.  

Jordan Tyson – N/A  

Jordan Gathers – N/A

 

6-1 and What Lies Ahead

We are expecting wins in three of the next four games. And if the Bonnies play really well, they could win all four.

We are expecting wins in three of the next four games. And if the Bonnies play really well, they could win all four.

If you gave Bonnies fans the option to fast forward this season to today’s date and told them their Brown and White would be sitting at six wins against one loss I think about 95% of fans would have asked, “where do I sign?”

This was, and still is a young team with a lot of room for growth. SBU starts a true freshman point guard, had Ndoye suspended for a game, played six games without Gregg and still hasn’t suited up likely starter and senior Jordan Gathers.

The six wins give the Bonnies a real chance to get to nine non-conference wins which would mark one of the best non-conference portions of the schedule the program has ever seen (maybe the best ever). Last year the Bonnies won eight games before league play, and that was certainly a successful mark. At 6-1, the Bonnies have what I would call two “solid” victories against Buffalo and Ohio and a four other wins that they honestly had to have. Beating Niagara, Canisius, Jackson State and Dartmouth had to be expected, and assumed by even the most level headed and grounded Bonnies fans. Still, give the team credit for beating teams they should have. It doesn’t always happen…Ask Michigan who lost at home to NJIT this weekend.

The team’s win over Ohio this weekend however, gave the fan base an extra bit of juice heading into Pittsburgh this weekend. There’s nothing like riding a decade-best five game winning streak into the Panther’s area on Saturday where our team has a real shot to win and get to 7-1 if they play an “A” game. Ohio looks to be a sound team, one that competes each year for post-season play, so beating them on the road is a nice win. Especially when you consider it was our first road game and the inexperience of many of our players (Jay Adams didn’t show it).

So, with four games left to play before we do battle in the A10 it’s time for the Bonnies to finish 2014 strong and get to those nine wins. It’s time for the fan-base to demand and expect this team to win three of these next four games and to beat teams who we should beat, regardless of where the games are being played.

And that’s a good thing.

Being able to say, “We should in three of our next four, no excuses” is a mark that the program is in a good place. No longer should the fan base say, “Road games are tough, let’s hope to split Binghamton and Delaware”. That’s a comment for a program like Fordham, not us.

The Pittsburgh game is being played with house money. It’s a game we have a chance to win, no doubt, but if we lose, you won’t lose sleep over it (unless it ends in some heart-breaking fashion).

From there, it’s time for Schmidt’s boys to knock around teams they are better than, plain and simple. They’ll have a week to get ready for 1-8 Binghamton. Then, it’s home vs. a 3-6 UMES team. The Bonnies wrap it all up at 0-7 Delaware before the new year. Bottom line, right now the Bonnies will be facing a trio of teams who are a combined 4-21. They have to, have to win all three of those games. There is no excuse.

Bonnies fans should expect this team to have nine wins as they travel to UMass to open A10 play. We should be winners of eight of our last nine games riding to Amherst (and that’s assuming a loss to Pitt). Ten wins would be tremendous, but nine wins has to be the expectation given our start and quality of opponents on the horizon. It’s time for the Bonnies and their fans to get greedy and win some more games. When the season started I predicted a 16 win season. If the Bonnies can get to nine wins before A10 play the 16 win mark should be a very, very attainable goal.

Let’s roll.