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Recap:St. Bonaventure 73, St. Francis PA 66

Bonnies play uninspired game, still down Red Flash

Blackburn comes off bench to spark team, once again

Game Summary: St. Bonaventure may have played lackluster defense and lazy offense, but somehow, by the time they clock hit zeros in the second half, they were 7 points to the good vs. St. Francis PA. This game was a classic example of a home game over Christmas break without the students in the building. The Bonnies played uninspired basketball, at times seemingly walking through defensive possessions and jacking up the first halfway decent look they had on the other end. Bonaventure turned the ball over 17 times, and gave up 10 offensive rebounds to a team that simply should not have achieved those numbers.

However, it was their backup point guard who once again, did his best to breath some energy and passion into his teamates. Ray Blackburn came off the bench to score have 22 points, 4 steals, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Blackburn went a perfect 9-9 from the line, and really used his speed to get to the rim on the secondary breaks. Ray is easily the quickest member of the team, and in recent weeks it is starting to show. Blackburn has been to the line 66 times this year, and almost all of those have been from the fast break. Blackburn knocked down a trio of three pointers tonight as well.

Offensively speaking, the team really looked like they didn’t want to work to hard for baskets. I saw far too many deep threes early in the shot clock, and far too little of the guards getting the ball into the forwards where we clearly had an advent age. Matthews reverted right back to his shooting slump tonight, connecting on just 1-7 from three, and scoring just 7 points, all of which were scored early in the first half. Matthews needs to recognize the different between shooting yourself out of a slump, and taking good shots during the course of an offensive possession that will eventually get you going again.

Defensively, the team was asleep at the wheel. No offense to SFPA, but they should not be able to come into your building and shoot 45% from the field. St. Francis shot 7-21 from three, but the saw many more open looks they could not knock down. This area of Bonas game continues to concern me. They just have not done a great job of closing out on the perimeter, leading to open shots that in league play, will go down more often then not. Luckily, SFPA settled for a ton of jumpers, only getting to the line 8 times during the game, which proved to be the difference.

As Coach Schmidt always said, you can always tell who was the more agressive team by looking at the free throw numbers. Although I would have hardly said the team played agressive tonight, they did take the ball to the rim in breaks and that lead to their chances at the stripe…which leads me to the biggest story of the game, the free throws.

Bonaventure hit on 23-27 from the line, good for 85%. This was a long time coming, and maybe it makes up for the Canisius game. Blackburn was 9-9, Eleby was 7-9, and Nicholson was 3-4 to lead the way. In these close games the freebies always prove large and tonight, the Bonnies finally knocked down the free throws and it probably saved their bacon.

  1. Jonathan Hall scored in double figures again, scoring 11 points. He also pulled down 5 rebounds and dished out 7 assists.
  2. Thomas came to play tonight, scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 boards, he was 5-8 from the field in 31 minutes.
  3. Eleby was very well tonight as well. Malcolm had 13 points in 21 minutes and hit a big back door lay-up in the final minutes.
  4. D’Lancy Carter slowly continues his disappearing act. He played just 6 minutes and scored 4 points.

Bonnies Player of the Night:  Easily Blackburn tonight. Thomas had a great effort on the glass and Hall quietly did his thing filling up the stat sheet once again, but Blackburn brought more then that; he brought energy. Blackburn did much more then score the career high tying 22 points, he keyed the defense and brought the ball up the floor with energy and smarts. He limited his turnovers tonight, just 2, while getting to the line as usual. Blackburn does not need to be made the team’s starter, because he is a great change of pace off the bench; a great role from him and the team.

Unsung Hero of the Game:  Has to be Thomas who has been a bit of a whipping boy this year because of his limited minutes and production.  Thomas gave us 11 and 11 tonight and was really the only force on the glass all night long. He also threw in two blocks. In a night where Andrew Nicholson and Carter combined to give you just 9 points, Thomas stepped up to the plate and played well.

Individual Stat Line of the Game: Hall once again stuffed the stat sheet with his 11, 7 and 5 but tonight the honor has to go to Blackburn for his 22, 5, 4 and 4.

Impressive Bonnies Team Stats:

  •  23-27 from the line, incredible. Great to see, now lets see if we can carry that over to Eastern Michigan.
  •  34-30. Out-rebounded another opponent. Winning the glass usually helps you win the game.
  •  Point men- Blackburn and Eleby combined to score 35 points. That’s 47% of the teams scoring.
  •  24 points off turnovers is a nice number as well. When Blackburn is in the game we can really get up the floor quickly.

Negative Bonnies Team Stats:

  •  Again, the 45% shooting from SFPA was highly then you’d like to see vs. a NEC team at home.
  •  28 points in the paint scored by the Red Flash. Who is the bigger more physical team? I thought us…
  •  Matthews 1-7 shooting from three. He has to become more consistent. This team needs more then a shooter, we need a scorer. 

Parting Thoughts: I have been repeating myself in this section of each of the last few games but I will have to do it again tonight. This was a game that I expected the Bonnies to win when I looked over the schedule in the summer, and in the end, they took care of business. This was not the cleanest game I’ve seen and obviously I was not impressed with the play of the team as a whole, but, the bottom line is we won the game, and now were are sitting at 6-3; exactly where I thought we would be through 9 games.

The thing about being 6-3 is that it really gets me thinking how close we are to being 7-2 or even 8-1. Had we made our FT’s vs. Delaware and not totally melted down against Canisius, we would be sitting at 8-1 right now, and 90% of Bona nation would be literally freaking out. So, maybe it is a good thing we are not 8-1 because honestly, we have not played like an 8-1 team, we have played more like a 6-3 team or a 5-4 team.  

Looking Ahead:  The Bonnies will leave the RC Saturday, as they travel to Eastern Michigan to take on the Eagles. EMU has really hit the skids of late, getting blasted by 31 at Michigan last time out, and dropping 6 of their last 7 games. Their two wins however, have both come at home, so they should feel good about at least that much. The Bonnies are technically 2-0 on the road, so I’ll use the term, something has to give here, albeit very loosely. Tip off is set for 4:00 PM. Check back on Friday for a full game preview.

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A member of the class of 2008, Nolan spent four years as a student assistant with the program. He has written professionally for such outlets as espn.com/insider, Athlon Sports Magazines, Cox Sports Online and Blue Ribbon Previews. Ian was named one of the “140 Personalities to Follow in College Basketball” on twitter by The Sporting News.