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Sunday Synopsis (S17, V10): Now Let’s Get To It (Winning)

Opening Statement: With their NCAA at-large hopes on life support, the Bonnies headed down to North Carolina for a huge game with 4-1 Davidson. A win at Belk Arena against a quality foe would give SBU another top 100 road win and put them at 3-3 after six league games; not ideal, but not horrible either. SBU would avoid playing catch up for a .500 record for the next week or so, and that would be a small win.

However, after their 83-73 loss on Friday Night on ESPN2, the Bonnies are staring at a 2-4 record in league play and currently stand in 10th place after six games. While the early schedule was certainly tough for Bona (including four road games in their first five which almost seems unfair), SBU should have come away with a win at either Dayton or St. Joseph’s and been 3-3 this morning. Remember, Bona was underdogs against Dayton, URI, and last night….it’s not as if they have lost a bunch of games they “should have easily won.” How they lost those games, is a bit of a different story. 

Last night’s loss was not in the least suprising as the Bonnies were five and a half point dogs; Dayton is a good team that is getting better each week (Seemingly anyway). They’re tough to defend and they have a tremendous coach.

So, there’s no reason that last night’s L should make you feel any worse about this team; they didn’t lose to George Mason at home.

Having said that: Now it’s time to start winning some damn games. SBU will likely be favored in their next seven games. Four of those are at home. Three of their last five games at at home. There’s ground to be made up, but there is a path for this team to climb the standings and fast, they just cannot wait another game to start moving. As the team’s motto this season states: Let’s Get To It. 

Suggested Reading:

To read J.P. Buter’s recap of the Bonnies’ L on Friday night click here

To read A10talk.com’s latest conference mailbag click here

Where they Stand:

Record

RPI KenPom SOS Vs. Top 100 Winning Streak
12-6 (2-4) #48 (44 last week) #68 (64 last week)

66 (79 Last week)

5-3

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Weekly Observations…

Davidson Gashes Bona Defense- After giving up an average of 82 points in their first five conference games the Bonnies hoped to turn things around on the defensive end of the floor vs. Davidson. Unfortunately, that is a tough assignment. Davidson isn’t the team you want to get healthy against on that end of the court. The Wildcats’ ability to spaces the floor, move the basketball and shoot it from anywhere is a tough task for any coach. Davidson gashed the Bonnies on Friday night, knocking in 14 three pointers (42%), and even scored it inside the arc at an extreme level (14-20, 70%). Davidson excelled in transition where they got open look after open look against a Bona defense that was slow to get back and find shooters. In the half court Davidson worked open looks through their patient offense and took advantage of missed assignments. The Bona defense was poor all night. Schmidt’s decision to play a good deal of zone vs. this team was a bit odd to say the least. Five Wildcats knocked in three pointers, led by Kellan Gray’s four. Bonaventure’s defense that was once so impressive has completely vanished since the the tip off the UMass Game. How about this stat: In their seven straight wins leading up to UMass Bona gave up 64.2 points per game. In conference play? 79.33. And that number is only under 80 because of the 61 Bona held Fordham to. 

Expectations Got Too High: Listen, it may feel like it, but if we take a step back the sky isn’t falling. SBU earned some nice non conference wins (Maryland, Syracuse) but they weren’t great wins. They won three games on virtually the last play of the game (MD, Cuse, Vermont) and each of those contests could have went either way. Had Mobley not made that shot vs. Vermont or Stockard’s charge been called a block I bet your expectations for A10 play change a bit. The fanbase (Blog staff included) got sky high after that eight game winning streak. Maybe we weren’t seeing the full picture of where this team was. We saw WWWWWWWW and didn’t look deeper into those games and some flaws the team may have. As we noted above, Bona was road dogs in three games of which they lost all three. The only real mark against them is the loss at St. Joseph’s. If SBU is 3-3 right now this start looks totally different. Thinking they’d be 4-2 or 5-1 after six games would have been a reaction to an eight game winning streak that wasn’t as impressive as it looked while we were in the middle of it. Just something to consider. 

Offense Isn’t Clicking Either- For as bad as the defense has been, the Bona offense hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders either. Bona continues to struggle shooting the ball, specifically from inside the arc, where they make only 47% of their shots, ranking 265th nationally. Opposing teams are locking up Adams and Mobley more and more, and making other Bonnies beat them by making jump shots because SBU doesn’t have any reliable finishers at the rim. Between Stockard, Ayeni, Ikpeze, Taqqee and Griffin the Bonnies have some nice players; but none of them are reliable shooters or scorers. This lack of a consistent scoring option (Remember when Bona had Adams, Posley and Wright?) has hurt Adams and Mobley who have become easier to defend. Many fans came at us on Twitter last night asking why Schmidt can’t be more like Bob McKillop and his team. The answer is rather simple: Davidson has a more balanced roster that forces defenders to guard everyone on the floor. It’s easy to shift the responsibility to Adams and Mobley because they’ve become the face of this team…but they aren’t the reason. To think that Mark Schmidt has forgotten how to coach is silly. This team is going through a tough two week stretch, give them time to come out of it before we say Schmidt, who will go down as maybe the best coach in the history of school, cannot run a half court offense.  

Ayeni Suspended- Josh Ayeni was suspended before the game and did not make the trip, as first reported by the OTH’s J.P. Butler. Ayeni’s disappointing sophomore season continued as he violated team rules. Ayeni’s absence gave Courtney Stockard a chance to start last night, and while he worked his ass off, he didn’t have a great game eitherr (8 points, 4 rebounds, five fouls). We reported last night that sources told the Bona Blog that Ayeni could be back for Wednesday’s game vs. St. Joseph’s. 

Time for Kaputo? It’s probably a bit of a wild idea at this point, but doesn’t the offense look pretty good with Nelson Kaputo on the floor? Consider a back court of Kaputo, Adams and Mobley. Kaputo runs the offense so well when he’s on the floor and given that Adams and Mobley are essentially forced to create their own shots so often, his presence and moving Adams off the point may free up some space. Further, it’s fair to say that Adams and Mobley do not play good defense. This is not sercret. Kaputo, however, does. Maybe he could provide a boost on both ends of the floor. Will this happen? I highly doubt it…but I like the idea of it. 

Reasons for Optimism? The toughest part of the schedule is now past us. SBU is favored, via KenPom, in each of their next seven games, and of their final 12 games, is favored in EVERY one but the home game vs.URI. Bona has seven home games left including four of their next six. Given the jumbled mess that is the middle (hell, the entire conference save URI) SBU will have every chance to rebound from here and earn a top four spot…they just have to start winning right now. Wednesday night represents a clean slate for the Bonnies. Forget this six game stretch and start clean. Beat the Hawks and move onto GW and go from there; one game at a time. If Bona plays to their potential they will finish this season a lot closer to the top of the standings than the bottom.

Updated Advanced Player Statistics:

What’s Ahead:  The winning must start on Wednesday night at home against St. Joe’s who downed the Bonnies a few weeks ago at Hawk Hill. SJU is 8-9 and 3-3 in the league. They recently smacked Dayton at home, a pretty impressive showing, after losing back to back games to GW and UMass (less impressive). Their wins over Bona, VCU and Dayton show you that the Hawks have a higher ceiling than their record indicates. SJU is 1st nationally in taking care of the basketball and held SBU to 46% shooting on two point shots and Matt Mobley to just 2 points in their win back on January 6th. Also, beating teams like SJU will also be critical at the end of the season when tie-breakers come into play for seeding. 

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(Photos used with permission from Steve Harrison. You can visit his website and check out his fantastic work here)

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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.