Game Preview: Rhode Island (16-8,5-4)
Tonight, the Bonnies travel to the Ocean State to take the Baron family and their Rhode Island Rams(16-8, 5-4).
Rhody is coming off a Sunday loss on the road to Temple, where they trailed for nearly the entire game and wound up losing by a score of 68-62. Jimmy Baron Jr. injured his lower back early during the game and played just 26 minutes, scoring 13 points in the short outing. Guard Keith Cothran made his much anticipated return to the Rhody lineup, scoring 16 points in 19 minutes. Baron and Cothran lead the Rams in scoring at 16.4 and 14.4 points per game respectively.
Rhody loves to play fast, much like the Bonnies, but they do it more efficiently. Rhode Island is scoring over 80 points per game, with Bona scoring just a shade over 71. Their 80 plus points a game makes the Rams the highest scoring team in the league, so Bonaventure is going to have to do a number of things well to escape Kingston with a victory…
You could expect to see something like this in Bonaventure’s Marriott meeting room right now on the eve before the game….
- Limit Turnovers. 31 against Duquesne, over 20 more against La Salle. Numbers such as these will equate a loss tomorrow night against Rhode Island, that I can assure all of you. Rhode Island plays too fast and too furious to not value the basketball. Against a team that scores over a 80 a game you need as many possessions as you can get, that means getting the ball over halfcourt, and getting up good shots in your half court offense. Rhody has the best A/TO ratio in the league, so when we give it up, don’t expect to get it back often. Eleby has to make good entry passes and handle Rhody’s pressure, Nicholson and Thomas have to catch the ball in the post.
- Defend the Jump Shooters. That means JBJ and Keith Cothran and point Marquis Jones. All three shoot the ball over 35% from three, a quality clip. A 43%, JBJ obviously can shoot the ever loving crap out the ball and if he’s open within 30 feet he is going to pull it. Bonaventure is probably going to have to play zone to defend against URI’s quickness on the perimeter. If Blackburn can’t go, than you can really expect to see the zone to defend against Eleby’s lack of quickness. Bona showed some good extended 2-3 zone against Fordham and La Salle; expect to see it against URI…Don’t expect to see it for long if Rhody knocks down some deep balls though. Bona needs to contest shots, and realize Baron has endless range, if he’s in the gym, he is in range…long close outs, high hands, the whole nine.
- Right Guys, Right Shots. URI does have a weakness in terms of their ability to defend; they rank 13th in the league in FG % defense at 45%. The Bonnies are going to get some good looks, but they need to be patient within their offense and take high percentage shots. This means Eleby passing up the open 19 footer at the start of the possession, and instead having Nicholson or Thomas take a 7 foot jumper. Bonaventure ranks 12th in FG % three point shooting, so they could really use Blackburn back for the game to stretch the defense a bit.
- Hit the Glass. Bonaventure is 4th and Rhode Island is 5th in rebounding margin this season. Wining the battle on the glass will be critical in this game for two reasons. First, Bonaventure will need all the extra possessions and shots they can get if they turn the ball over like they have been. Scoring with the Rams will take getting offensive boards. Secondly, Bonaventure cannot afford to give the Rams second chance points. Rhody is a team that can kill you with second chance three pointers; those are heart breakers that Bona can’t afford.
This game is really going to be tough for the Bonnies. Rhody can really score the ball and our turnovers lately do not give me a lot of hope for this game. But, they do play to win the game, so I guess you never know…..
Photos are curtesy of the BonaVenture and Talbot Eckwiler.