Upon Further Review: Bonnies missing Gathers

FurtherReviewSiena threw the first jab in the Franciscan Cup battle when the college officially named a St. Bonaventure man as its president early Wednesday. The Saints landed the knockout punch hours later, marching into the Reilly Center and smashing the Bonnies, 73-70.

St. Bonaventure not only lost the game, it also lost one of its own to Siena – 1970 graduate Brother Edward Coughlin, who was also the former Vice President for Franciscan Mission at the university.

Who knows who Br. Ed was rooting for on Wednesday? All that matters is that the God – ahem, the basketball gods – were on Siena’s side.

Though a sin, losing to Siena doesn’t condemn the Bonnies to a season of hell. It may put a damper on this season’s expectations but, let’s remember, the Bonnies have been known for non-conference clunkers under Mark Schmidt.

It’s not probably even fair to qualify this one as a clunker. Siena is a good team. It may be the best team in the MAAC. The Saints return all of the key pieces from a 20-win team that also beat the Bonnies last year in Albany.

So, relax, the sky isn’t falling just yet.

Of course, it would help if the Bonnies had their two senior leaders. Youssou Ndoye made his season debut last night, but he may as well have sat out another game. The Bonnies may have been better off with Lounceny Kaba on the floor.

Jordan Gathers, meanwhile, is still recovering from hip surgery.

The Bonnies guards didn’t make a concerted effort to feed Ndoye the ball. Ndoye didn’t do enough to find openings and assert himself. The Bonnies didn’t have a game plan for attacking Siena’s zone. The result was an outcome that wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate.

Given their guard depth, I didn’t think the Bonnies would miss Gathers much. Now I’m starting to believe that he may be the most important piece to the Bonnies puzzle.

Gathers is by no means a superstar in the Atlantic 10. But he is a leader, and he is steady and he is experienced and he plays with ferocity, especially on the defensive end. He can also play both guard positions.

Marcus Posley, Andell Cumberbatch and Jaylen Adams fired up a lot of ill-advised shots last night. The Bonnies could have used a steadying force in the backcourt. They could have used a veteran like Gathers to settle the team.

SBU has been mum about when Gathers might return. It might be next week. It might be at the start of conference play.

The sooner he returns the better. The Adamses are stars in the making, but they’re not ready for the big-time just yet. They’re not ready to make the plays to beat good teams. We saw that last night.

The Bonnies face another former Bonaventure man on Saturday when Jim Baron and rival Canisius visits the Reilly Center.

No, the sky isn’t falling yet, but it will be if the Golden Griffins fly out of Olean with a victory.

Video: Siena Loss Lowlights/Schmidt Presser

Here is the gobonnies.com video highlights from the loss last night as well as Mark’s presser. He basically said everything I said in my post game blog which were:

-We rebounded well (were plus 20)

-Team didn’t execute, took bad shots in halfcourt (going to happen with so many young players)

-Did not defend, had bad breakdowns that allowed easy buckets

-Growing pains are going to happen but we didn’t execute

-Didn’t attack 2-3 at all (to say the least)

Post Game: Siena (L 73-70)

"We lost to Siena at home after they just played two days ago and we had all weekend to prep!!!!?"

“We lost to Siena at home after they just played two days ago and we had all weekend to prep!!!!?”

The Result: The Bonnies lost to Siena tonight by a score of 73- 70 and fell to 1-1. The game was not nearly as close as the final score would lead you to believe. Unless you’re a really big optimist, then go ahead and feel good about it.

 The Rundown: There are some games in a season that are “throw away” games. This was one of them.

Honestly, the Bonnies played F basketball tonight. They didn’t defend. They didn’t shoot it. They didn’t take care of the ball. They didn’t work the ball inside to Ndoye or Wright and when they did it wasn’t effective. They showed some fight and grit inside the last five minutes or so and finally made so shots but honestly the game was out of reach by that point and you could tell Siena had kind of put this on cruise control.

There honestly,  were almost no positives to be taken from this game at all in terms of a team concept…The complete opposite of Saturday night. This SBU team is young and so games like this are going to happen but when they do…it’s a train wreck. Don’t go off the deep end, this won’t be the last non-competitive game this team plays this year because they are young and green…it doesn’t make it less annoying when it happens.

For as excited as folks were for the Adams Brothers games last weekend they likely feel that disappointed now. They shouldn’t be…just be somewhere in the middle…They weren’t that good…they aren’t this bad. Freshman are freshman and are going to experience growing pains. They’ll take one step forward and thee back…As Schmidt says, “the best thing about freshman is they become sophomores”. We’re going to watch this class have more bad games than good ones, it’s just how it is.

What’s more concerning to me is this team’s consistent inability to score vs. a zone defense. The turnovers inside are mind blowing. Their inability to work the ball inside to Ndoye was puzzling. The 7 foot center didn’t get a post touch in the first ten minutes of the game. This was a team he should have feasted on and he was basically neutered by their zone. And as much as it wasn’t his fault for not getting the rock; when he did get the ball he stunk tonight. I can’t be any more blunt about it. We said going in SBU was more prepared and rested, well throw it out the window. It didn’t matter. Siena kicked our ass tonight, give them credit. Like I said, they are a solid team, but not a really good team..this is a team we should beat and didn’t. This was a game where the final score was no indication of how not close this game was. There was honestly never a moment in the entire second half I thought we were winning this thing…if you want to say you got all giddy when we hit back to back threes to cut it down to five with a few minutes you can. You want to get happy we made some meaningless threes with seconds left? Go ahead. Siena was in control of this game for almost the entire duration.

What the result means for the Bonnies: It means they need to spent a lot of time working on playing against a zone defense…again. I could put this on loop honestly. It means they need to watch the film for about 6 hours tomorrow (which they honestly may) and tear it all apart and figure it out…if this happens again this weekend I’ll really be alarmed. If I’m Jim Baron SBU is getting nothing but zone looks this weekend until they shoot me out of it. It means we are not as good as you thought we were Sunday morning and we’re also not this bad…but right now it certainly feels like it.

Player of the Game: Posley though he scored his points more to being a volume shooter. He did have a spurt in the first half that gave us a the lead and shows flashes.  He looks like he could be an Eric Mosley type scorer if he can gain a more consistent shooting touch…let’s hope he finds it sooner or later because this team needs his shooting in the worst way and cannot afford to have him shooting it 35% this year.

Good Stats: Bonnies did a nice job on the glass tonight but that was in large part due to grabbing boards off misses, so take it with a grain of salt. The Bonnies were +20, yes plus TWENTY on the glass and still lost. Damm, that ain’t easy to do.

Bad Stats: 16 turnovers. 38% shooting overall. Forced only five turnovers. Trailed by 10 at the half, felt like 20. Ndoye had four points. Gave up 32 foul shots.

What we Liked: Honestly I don’t know….Posley shows signs of being a scorer but also needs to improve his shot selection a bit. We need outside shooting in a big way but not at the expense of good offensive movement. Cumberbatch had a decent game for sure…..plain and simple there was basically nothing to take from this game..burn the tape.

What we Didn’t: Holy hell, where do I even start with this tonight? Let’s see…we have no idea how to beat a zone defense. We seem to never get the ball into the seem and we have poor passing inside and turn it over a ton in the paint vs. help in that zone. We didn’t defend (they shot 40% but were at 48% at the half)…We missed a ton of free throws (14 of 24). We didn’t value the ball at all (turned it over 16 times)…which has been a staple for this team in losses the last seven years or so. I hate to be this simple but we didn’t shoot the ball well whatsoever (38%, 34% from three and 58% from the line). When we lost Wright this spring we knew SBU would need to find a shooter for this fall…we’re still looking through two games. Posley has shown flashes, yes. But as a team we need to knock down shots. It’s really, really hard to beat anyone when you’re shooting it in the 30 percent range. If guys like the Adams Bros and Posley/Alston cannot knock down shots it’s going to make Youssou’s job that harder inside…we’ve seen it already. Let’s also note that those stats are inflated by four three pointers in the last two minutes.

Ivan Kovacevic Unsung Hero Award: Cumberbatch played well tonight and has played well for two games this season which has been a nice lift. The senior went for 24 and 11 tonight and was aggressive hitting the glass. If he keeps playing at this level Gathers may get less time whenever he returns.

Anthony Solomon Head Scratching Moment: I’m sure it wasn’t by design but SBU’s inability to get the ball inside early was really shocking. When you play a team from the MAAC with a 6-8 center you need to go at him with your 7 foot senior. Ndoye was nowhere to be found tonight and that makes me scratch my head. I mean I said days ago the kid should go for 20-11 and he went for….4-8 on 1-4 shooting….Jay Adams ill advised three pointer with 1:37 left in the game was a typical freshman shot…not a good decision for the situation. As soon as he brought it up I said, “don’t just take a quick three” and that’s exactly what he did. You can’t kill the kid for having the stones to take a big shot down the stretch as a freshman but it’s something he will learn in times…there’s a difference between showing some stones and making a good basketball play.

Prediction Records:  Vinny and Shane fall to 1-1…Silver Lining? I had Siena winning this game a month ago. Sucks to be right sometimes.

What’s Next: Canisius this weekend at 4 PM. Bonnies are at home and need to get back on track vs. a poor team.

Noteworthy: Bonnies lost the Franciscan Cup for the second straight season. Gathers was a DNP once again and I’m starting to wonder at what point he returns. The Bonnies failed to cover the spread. Vinny made it back to Olean from Buffalo this afternoon after spending a day/night with workers in an Apple Juice Factory. I’m going to Mexico on Sunday morning so I’ll keep telling myself about that to make me feel better about this game.

Game Day: Siena (0-2)

The Opponent: Siena (0-2) SienaSaints

Probable Starting Lineup:
PG-Jaylen Adams, Fr.
G- Andell Cumberbatch, Sr.
G- Marcus Posley, Jr.
F- Dion Wright, Jr.
C- Youssou Ndoye, Sr.

Jordan Gathers (hip)- Doubtful. Denzel Gregg (Game 2 of 6 game suspension)

 7 PM, @ Reilly Center, Video via http://www.Gobonnies.com stream.
Series History: Bonnies lead the series 28-8 and have one 4 of the last 5 meetings. Siena won last year’s game.
Vegas Says: Bonnies -6.5…I’ve seen as low as Bonnies -4.5 as well.
Stat Fact: Siena has committed a mind-blowing 63 fouls in two games, allowing their opponents to take 90 free throws. Talk about giving games away!  Also, Siena’s .200 winning percentage against SBU is their lowest mark against any team they’ve played at least ten times. If the Bonnies get to the line 45 times I think they’ll be okay tomorrow night….
 Siena’s Game Notes: http://gobonnies.sbu.edu/sports/m-baskbl/2014-15/files/Siena_Notes_11_19.pdf

The Rundown: 

“Because it’s the Cup”
Throughout the history of sport, there have been certain rivalries that transcended the game, match-ups that define generations, withstand the test of time and will live on for eternity.  Red Sox – Yankees, Duke – North Carolina, Auburn – Alabama, Palmer – Nicklaus, Maple Leafs – Canadians, Ali – Frazier.  Four years ago, a new pair was added to this list, as an age old rivalry dating back to 1939 was brought to the forefront of the sports world – St. Bonaventure vs. Siena… “The Franciscan Cup.”cup   Although Wednesday night’s game will mark only the 5th time the Bonnies and Saints have squared off with the “Cup” up for grabs, make no mistake, the rivalry between these small Catholic Universities has been oozing with passion as far back the Great Depression.

The foothills of Allegany and the outskirts of Albany respectively, are where these two teams call home.  There are no football programs, no glitz and glamorous downtown hotspots.  Rather, the students of each school show their spirit for the teams on the court from November – March.

Both teams are undoubtedly the highlight of their athletic programs and both have had their share of success.  For Bonaventure, the Golden era of course (60s and 70s) and more recently, a conference championship and NCAA Tournament birth in 2012.  For Siena, Coach Fran McCaffery guided the Saints to wonderful success, highlighted by a four year stretch from 2007-2010 where the Saints won 97 games and captured three straight conference titles (’08-’10).  While Siena has been experiencing a lull in their program over the past few seasons, new head coach Jimmy Patsos has revitalized the Saints leading them to a 20 win season and a CBI title a year ago. Despite his team entering Olean tired, bruised and battered from an 0-2 start and a trek into Western New York, you can bet the Saints will come ready to play in this one. On the home front, Mark Schmidt and his club will try to take back the cup for the first time, having relinquished the hardware for the first time last year after winning the first three installments of the Cup.  The Bonnies have the advantage on paper in terms of talent, rest and preparation….but will they show up for 40 minutes to take back the cup?

Pick to Click: Got to go with the big fella’ down low UUUUU. Ndoye who will be making his season debut after his bullshit one game NCAA suspension for…playing basketball in the summer! Who knew that was illegal. Youssou could, and should have his way inside against Siena’s 6-6, 6-8′ish front court as long as he stays out of foul trouble. This is the type of team the senior should eat alive if he gets his position and quality touches near the tin. Go out there, get 20 and 12, block 4 shots and then go hit the OP, show of your dance moves that we have grown to love so much and let every “suck-up” underclassmen trying to spark a friendship buy you rum and cokes; you would have earned it big man.

Bona Nation Fan Pulse Says: Bona Nation seems to be riding high after our 20 point win over the Big Green and there appears to be some legitimate excitement over guys like the Adams brothers, Posley and other newcomers. I think most fans are more optimistic today than they were on Saturday morning. I’m one of them. That said, a lot can change in the course of one week or even one game. Let’s hope the Bonnies take care of business against a team that is not as physically or strategically as prepared for this game as we are. The Bonnies are rested and Siena should be well scouted since we’ve had since Sunday to prep for them.

Game Notes Link: http://gobonnies.sbu.edu/sports/m-baskbl/2014-15/releases/20141118ynynwn

Recruiting: Bonnies Land 2015 F Derrick Woods

Woods is the second new Bonnie this week. That is not a typo.

Woods is the second new Bonnie this week. That is not a typo.

The Bonnies landed their second recruit of the fall period tonight when Derrick Woods, a string bean/athletic freak forward from outside of Philly (kinda) agreed to wear the Brown and White next year. No this is not a typo. The staff signed TWO players in the fall period. I think they mostly did it to shut up people who bitched about them never landing anyone in the early period. Are you happy now?

Now, I would think Schmidt will next turn his attention to landing an immediate impact JUCO center. They need someone who can step in and play down low next year. While Woods and Griffin look like high upside guys, I’m not sure either are ready to play down low 28 minutes a night in a top six conference in basketball next season. Think D’lancy Carter…just better. No offense to Big D, he was a former room mate of mine and a great kid. But this is 2014 and not 2008, times have changed and when the Bonnies go food shopping now they’re in the poultry/meats isle not the frozen foods section. Which says a lot because under Solomon we were shopping at Aldi with an access card…

Anyway, early indications point to Woods being a bit of a project, a kid whose just starting to figure out how to play at a high level. He’s obviously long as hell, needs to put on muscle and improve in just about everything if he wants to become a credible A10 big man. But this is the type of kid Schmidt loves to sign: one a with a super high ceiling. If he pans out (and hopefully he will under SBU  since we’ve developed bigs with some success under Mark) he could be a really good player…the kind we need to gamble on because if he’s far more polished now he’s signing with Villanova or Saint John’s and not Bonaventure. Between Woods and Griffin the Bonnies landed some potentially freak athlete wings with major upside…maybe like a Raphiel Putney of UMass? From my mouth to God’s ears…

Here are some reactions/links from the great world of twitter on Woods’ decision to come to the Enchanted Mountains.

Siena Blog Q an A

The guys over at 4guysinblazers.com were kind enough to do a quick Q and A with me this morning about their club. Siena dropped their home opener last night to Vermont and fell to 0-2 in the process. They’ll have a rough turnaround this morning as they likely practice for a few hours (their only real prep of the Bonnies) before getting on a bus and driving to Olean before dinner. Given that Siena will only have one practice and a walkthrough to ready themselves for SBU it would seem Schmidt and company have a big advantage going in but we’ve seen these situations before not pan out (URI traveling on game day last year and hammering SBU at home). Either way, it seems the Siena fan still think they’re going to win Wednesday night….

1. What does Siena HAVE to do to win at Bonaveture on Wednesday?

Simply stated they have to go back to what made them successful down the stretch last season. In order to do that, they first and foremost they have to tighten up defensively. Against Vermont they allowed the ball to get inside too easily and gave up too many easy shots. It will be a tough turnaround playing Monday night and then heading on the road to face the Bonnies. They have to shake off the tough loss and move on.

2. What happened in the 2nd half vs. UMass? How did they get to the  line 52 times?

Siena was foul prone for most of last season. They play an aggressive, pressing and trapping style which naturally leads to foul calls. In today’s climate in the NCAA, players and teams have to adjust with the increased emphasis we’ve seen from the officials. Against UMass, even some of the Minutemen fans thought the refs went overboard with the whistle against the Saints but that was not why they lost the game. It was a solid hard-fought effort against a good UMass team, on the road, that went down to the final minute and a couple missed shots by Siena at the end was the difference.

3. What facet of the game on Wednesday concerns you most as a Siena fan?

Leadership. There was high expectations on this team going into the season. A team picked to finish 10th in the MAAC last season that ended up 5th, was picked 2nd this season. Managing those expectations this year is a concern. Siena is a deep team with a lot of guys who can play but they need guys who want to step up to lead and play with the passion and emotion that Coach Patsos is looking for in order to be successful. They will need that to win on Wednesday.

4. How has the culture of the program changed since Patsos took over?

The transformation in just one season has been remarkable. The Saints went from the greatest stretch in program history where they won 3 straight MAAC titles to a very deflating 3 years. Jimmy took the same returning players with some good young talent and in the matter of months turned things around. The renewed excitement and energy around the program is impressive. With that comes expectations and the challenge of continuing to “climb the mountain” as Patsos would say.

5. What your prediction for the outcome Wednesday?

This is a tough one. On one hand I would expect the Saints to bounce back from a tough loss as they did very well last season. I believe Monday’s home loss to Vermont truly was a wake up call based on the players reaction in the locker room. The turnaround will be tough facing a good team in front of a charged up Bonnies crowd. I expect a close game that goes down to the wire with the Franciscan Cup coming back on the bus to Loudonville.

Behind Enemy Lines: Siena Saints

SienaSaintsThe Opponent: Siena (0-2) of the MAAC. They finished 20-18 last year and won the CBI. They’ve dropped games to UMass and Vermont thus far.

The Brief Rundown:  Siena is a dangerous team that enters the season with a ton of confidence. The Saints won 20 games last year and the CBI. Their 12 win increase over the year before was the second highest win increase in the nation last season. Head Coach Jimmy Patsos is a proven winner and it’s likely only a matter of time before Siena has a return to excellence like that of which they experienced under former head coach Fran McCafferty. Siena brings back all five starters and boasts solid play  both inside and out. Senior guard Rob Poole (14.6 points) pinned down 71 three pointers last season and must be accounted for. Brett Bisping is a solid 6-8 forward wing, and Patsos may have struck recruiting gold in the MAAC last year with sophomores Lavon Long (9.4 points, 4.9 rebounds) and point guard Marquis Wright (8.7 points, 5.2 assists, 199 assists last year). Siena is generally projected as a top 4 team in the MAAC this season. They won last season’s Franciscan Cup for the first time in Albany in a game that saw the Bonnies fall 72-70. In that game the Bonnies trailed at the half by ten and could never make up the margin. Long had 15 points to lead the Saints and Bisping scored 13 off the bench in 28 minutes. While this is a dangerous team without question, they are still a team the Bonnies should beat at home. They lost three times last season to Canisius. They dropped games to teams like Monmouth, Marist and Albany last year. Yes, they’re a different team 12 months later,  but what are they at the end of the day? They are a top four, solid MAAC team. That’s a team you beat at home if you fancy yourself a “decent” A10 club.

Starters Returning from Last Year: 5

Poole is the known for Siena. SBU needs to guard him on the wing.

Poole is the known for Siena. SBU needs to guard him on the wing.

Their Best Player, AKA “The Known”: Rob Poole. Poole is a quality shooter from behind the arc and has already put 19 points on UMass in their opener. Defending the three point line has not always been the Bonnies strength under Mark Schmidt though they have improved. SBU should look to to put someone with more athleticism and length on Poole’s side of the floor whenever possible to make deep shot attempts more difficult. This is a guy who Gregg likely would have been perfect in defending. While Poole is Siena’s “best player” this is a balance team with a bunch of guys who can hurt you. It will take a team effort to defend them.

Their Glaring Weakness: Shooting. As you’ll see below in the stats department, while Siena has a number of players who can score and they display a balanced offense, their offense just isn’t very good. They play slow, go through possessions with a sense of deliberateness, and prefer to go inside to score. If the Bonnies defend them well (and they don’t have a fluky night where they all the sudden shoot the heck of the ball) this should be a game they can win with a solid offensive effort.

Their Bad Stat (s): We’ll use stats from last year for now and since Siena brings everyone back they apply perfectly. Siena is not a good shooting team.They ranked 319th in the nation in effective FG% last year, connecting on just 44.8% of two pointers and 32.8% of three pointers. They were one of the worst teams in the country shooting the ball inside the arc.  Additionally, they gave a up a ton of offensive rebounds (34.9% of possessions). Siena gave up 52, 52, yes 52 free throws against UMass…Damm, that has to be a case of some bad officiating and some silly fouls. The Bonnies need to take note….go to the rim, draw contact, maybe this team is a little slap happy right now. 52 free throws is always the sign of some horrible defense, which last year wasn’t an issue for Siena….see below…

Their Good Stat (s): Siena is a decent defensive team, well at least they were last season. The Saints had a top 80 defense according to KenPom and that was fueled by these stats: holding teams to 33% from three (99th nationally), 43.5% from two (55th nationally) and blocking shots on 12.6% of possessions (52nd nationally). The stats would tell you it’s tough to score inside on Siena but the Bonnies should be able to given the talents of Ndoye and Wright who would be first team all league players in the MAAC. I’d be surprised to see Wright/Ndoye and Dees having their shots sent back in their faces.

How Siena Can Win: If they defend the Bonnies like they did UMass (for 20 minutes) last weekend they could win. If the Bonnies shoot it and generally play like they did vs. Dartmouth the opening 20 minutes…Siena can win. On Friday Siena was up 41-36 at the half….Then UMass dropped a cool 59 on them shooting the hell out of the ball in the second half. Still, Siena managed to out-rebound the Minutemen which is nothing to ignore (18 offensive boards also a by product of poor shooting). This is a more experienced and tested club than the Bonnies on a whole, so the longer this game hangs in the balance the more the needle will sway towards Siena’s favor. While SBU is clearly going to have the better athletes, Siena has that ability to say “we’ve been here before” as a collective team. That’s important.

How the Bonnies Can Win: If they play for 40 minutes like they did in the second half against Dartmouth they will win this game. Having Ndoye back inside is an enormous lift for the Bonnies who will run a skilled 7-footer at a MAAC club who’s not used to seeing a center of his ilk. I know it could be said every game, but the Brown and White should go inside early and often and look to exploit their size advantage. This is a game where Ndoye could dominate in the paint as Siena goes 6-6 and 6-8 inside. I’d like to see a better shoot selecting from Posley and Cumberbatch in this game and for the team to take their three pointers within the flow of the offense. Limiting turnovers as they did in the second half on Saturday will obviously also help the Bonnies’ chances. A few timely three pointers from the Adams Brothers and Marcus Posley coupled with our forwards and good foul shooting should be enough to win this game.

Three Keys to Victory: 

1. Hold Siena to under 42% shooting

2. Score 36 or more points in the paint.

3. Win the battle of the boards/limit Siena to under 13 offensive boards.

The Almighty KenPom Predicts: 76-69 Bonnies win with a 25% chance for a loss.

Siena Fan Blog: http://4guysinblazers.com/