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Four Mile Brewery Pre Game: @Florida (2-0)

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Four Mile Brewing is a proud sponsor of the Bona Blog. Check them out either before or after each home game!

The Skinny on Florida: Fresh off their “not-really-impressive ten point win” against St. Francis PA, on Saturday the Bonnies make a trip down to Lakeland, Florida to take on the Gators out of the SEC. This is a rare contest against a Southeastern Conf. foe, and for Mark Schmidt’s club it represents their best chance at a signature win prior to league play. Many fans recall, in hindsight, the importance of the Syracuse game a year ago as we sat on the bubble and the Orange walked through the backdoor and into the Final Four.

That one loss likely did not keep SBU out of the Tournament, but we’re simply stating the importance of road games vs. Power 5 schools given our non-conference schedule. You have to seize these chances when they come. Here’s SBU’s one and only such chance in 2016. 

So what’s the skinny on Florida? Besides knowing that Billy Donovan is long gone, you, like us, probably don’t know a ton about Florida Hoops.

The Gators were projected by Blue Ribbon Preview to finish 2nd in the SEC behind only almighty Kentucky and coach Cal. Under new head coach Mike White, Florida loves to run, press and shoot the three point shot, winning 21 games a year ago, but were only 9-9 in conference play; reaching the NIT quarterfinals. There, they suffered a five point loss to GW who went on to win the tournament before their program fell from grace big time when everyone on Earth discovered that apparently, Mike Lonergan isn’t such a nice guy.

Gone is productive forward Dorian Finney-Smith (14.7 ppg) , their top scorer and second rebounder a year ago, but the team still has plenty of talent and depth; as you’d expect from a squad somewhat-recruited by Donovan. 

Senior point guard Kasey Hill (9.1 ppg, 3.3 apg) makes the Gators go and is a former McDonald’s All-American; SBU doesn’t face off against many of them these days.

KeVaughn Allen (11.6 ppg) is the shooting guard, he scored 32 points against Florida State a year ago as a freshman and is their best free throw shooter at 84% last year. U of F added Canyon Barry, a 6-6 graduate transfer from the College of Charleston as well. Barry led the Colonial Conference in scoring with 19.3 points a night as a junior before he went down in January  needing labrum surgery. He’s an immediate impact player. 

Their front court features John Egbunu (11.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) who is a load at 6-11 and 255. Egbunu dealt with a thumb injury a year ago and underwent surgery in the off-season. He is Florida’s focal point under the rim. 6-8 junior Devin Robinson (9.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is another post player, but at just about 200 pounds is not a banger by any stretch of the imagination and can be pushed around inside. Senior Justin Leon (5.3 ppg) and Kavarrius Hayes (2.8 ppg) round out the key players in the paint for the Gators.

The strength of this team is their back court and with a physical, tough big man in Egbunu they have the inside-outside recipe to really be a dangerous team. The Gators are 2-0 after pounding on Florida Gulf Coast and Mercer. Florida sported the 14th best defense in the nation a year ago, so points will likely be hard to come by in this one. 

Through 80 minutes of basketball in 2016-17, U of F has the 6th ranked defense in America according to KenPom and the 31st ranked offense. This is a great early season test for SBU and it will be interesting to see the newcomers, specifically, against a big time Power Five team, away from home.  

Three Things to Watch:

  1. SBUs Defense vs. Florida’s Offense. Bonas’ defense looked poor vs. both Alfred and St. Francis and now faces a tougher test on the road vs. these SEC ballers. Last year, SBU really got hurt on the offensive glass and and was only 250th in 2PT defense (50.5%). Florida has a chance to exploit the Bonnies in both of these areas Thursday night. However, Schmidt’s teams have a history of playing better in big games and so I’ll expect them to show up and improve in this one on the defensive end. Remember SBU holding Pitt to 58 points on the road in Dec. of 2015? (Granted that was only a 19 win Pitt team but you get the point). SBU must defend the three point line better (53%, 9-17 vs. SFPA) if they have a chance to win this one.
  2. Jay Adams on a big stage. Adams received plenty of attention this off-season from Adidas Nations’ to publications naming him to all sorts of honors, and Thursday will be his first big act as a junior. Adams was rumored to have considered leaving for a “bigger school and conference” and gets a chance to make his mark on a BCS opponent in Florida. I expect him to rise to the occasion (more below on this).
  3. Production down low. In the opener, SBU got a nice lift from freshman Josh Ayeni (10 points, 3 rebounds) but not a whole lot else from the bigs: Obokoh (2 points, 2 rebounds, 4 fouls), Andoh (5 points, 3 rebounds) didn’t exactly make you forget about Dion Wright. Eyes will be on the big men in this one to step-up and battle vs. Florida’s front line. SBU cannot afford to rebound like they did last weekend vs. Florida.

Three Things That Will Happen:

  1. Jay Adams leads the club in scoring. Mobley had a big opening night, but Jay has been here before in terms of level of play and experience. Expect the junior to be the Bonnies best player Thursday night.
  2. SBU holds Florida to under 73 points.
  3. Chinoso Obokoh doesn’t break out. The big man will have his game eventually, but I’m thinking it’s not Thursday night against Florida’s front line. 

Statistically Speaking: (Via KenPom, chart taken from last year)

fl

Florida Wins last five years: 26-29-36-16-21 

Florida RPI last five years: 19-8-1-69-45  

Video:

Twitter-Length Closing Take: SBU improves defensively in FL but they don’t have enough inside and on the glass to top the Gators. Adams plays well but we’re onto TX with a 1-1 record.

Prediction: Florida 72, SBU 64

Check out the latest Bonas gear over at the Sports Locker including these two Tees priced at $16 bucks a piece!

 

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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.