Sunday Synopsis (S17, V11): Bonnies Back to Winning Ways
Opening Statement: After losing four of five the Bonnies found themselves reeling heading into a two game homestand with games against middling St. Joseph’s and George Washington.
As it turns out, some home cooking and an easing of the schedule were just what the doctor ordered for Mark Schmidt’s club.
The Bonnies won an ugly one on Wednesday against the Hawks, 70-67, in a game that was much closer than it should have been. Bona got two big three pointers late from junior reserve Nelson Kaputo and SBU benefitted from an offensive foul call on SJU’s Taylor Funk, taking away any shot the visitors had at tying the game on the last possession. SBU had four players score in double figures led by Jay Adams’ 16, six of which came from the line after shooting just 4-12 from the field.
On Sunday afternoon the team had yet another uninspired first half and found themselves leading just 26-21 at the break against a poor GW team that didn’t have a road victory to their name. Jay Adams had taken one shot in the half, Bona missed a number of inside shots and all things considered it was just a really ugly half of basketball from an offensive standpoint.
But, Mark Schmidt must have pulled the right levers in the locker room because the team came out in the second half and punished GW on their way to an easy, and convincing, 70-52 win. The win improved SBU to 9-1 at home and was their largest margin of victory since beating UMass on December 30th.
We preached patience in terms of evaluating this team’s chances to finish in the league’s top four after the ugly 2-4 start. Bonas’ schedule was brutality hard in the early going and things were due to ease up. SBU did what they had to do this week in earning a pair of home victories to get themselves back to .500 at 4-4 in the conference.
Now, they must go on the road this week against George Mason and an upstart Duquesne team to keep the ball rolling. Even at just 4-4 the Bonnies stand in 6th place; not a bad place to be considering in year’s past such a start would have made it nearly impossible for a team to finish in the top four…so it goes this year in the poor Atlantic 10 where everyone is beating each other up aside from Rhode Island who just pounds everyone.
Where they Stand:
|RPI||KenPom||SOS||Vs. Top 100||Winning Streak|
|13-6 (4-4)||#51 (48 last week)||#78 (68 last week)||
85 (66 Last week)
Defense Returns- After giving up 80 plus points in four of their last five games the Bonnies actually put together back to back defensively strong games on their home floor. SBU had played so well defensively up until the A10 opener and from there it all seemed to go to hell. Maybe it was simply getting back in the RC in front of the crowd and students that did the trick, but it’s nice to see the team defend again. Bonas held Joe’s to 67 and GW to 52. They held the two to 40% shooting on 2PT shoots and just 26% from behind the arc. Bonas also forced 28 turnovers in the two games, getting back to some old winning ways. The Hawks and Colonials aren’t exactly high powered offenses, but it hardly matters. The Bonnies needed to get some confidence back on that end of the floor and they did it this week. On the season Bona has the 5th best scoring defense (68.9) but the 9th best in conference play only (74.4). They should be able to keep it going on the defensive end at Mason who struggles to score it.
Ayeni Continues to Struggle- After being suspended for the Davidson game for a violation of team rules, sophmore forward Josh Ayeni got his chance to get back on the floor and turn the page on what has been a disaster of a season. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way this week. Ayeni played four minutes in each game, scored two points and commited an impossible six fouls. Ayeni fouled out of the St. Joe’s game in those four minutes, thanks in part to a technical foul. He hasn’t made more than one shot in any game since the first St. Joe’s game on January the 6th and commits 8.1 fouls per 40 minutes. Ayeni has been exposed as a one trick poney, and right now, he’s not even shooting the ball well. Ayeni’s true shooting percentage is down to 47.9% (54.7% last year) and given those shooting woes, foul issues and lack of really any other contribution, I have to believe his days of playing big minutes are over. For the season the big man has committed 61 fouls and made 48 shots. We’d love to see him turn things around but all signs are pointing to that being a very long shot.
Offense Still Not Firing on All Cylinders- While the defense was much better, the offense still doesn’t look right (2nd half of the GW game aside). Bonaventure isn’t getting enough shot attempts for Jay Adams who is by far the best shooter on the team, and taking far too many mid range jump shots vs. three pointers. It was nice to see the club attacking the rim more on Sunday however, as the team attempted 45 two pointers, most right at the rim. For a team that shoots it significantly better from deep than inside (67th in the nation in 3PT shooting vs. 275th in 2PT shooting) the club takes entirely too many two mid range jumpers. SBU scores only 26.7% of their points from three, 285th nationally. This team needs to realize that unless they’re taking shots right at the rim, their best offense is usually an Adams, Mobley, Brockington or Kaputo three pointer. This isn’t to say that no one else should ever shoot the ball, but Adams needs more shot attempts. On Wednesday, Taqqee had nine attempts to Adams’ 12 and and Mobley’s 11. Adams got 12 attempts up on Saturday to Stockard’s 13. Jay is shooting it over 47% from deep…so when we say the team is best off with him shooting 28 footers, they really are right now.
Adams held in Check, Mobley goes Off- Bonas’ star back court worked great together on Sunday showing that while you can contain one of them, it’s tough to really hold down both at home.
Adams had an “eh” game by his standards (13 points, 8 assists, 3 steals, 4-12 from the field) but Mobley woke up big time in the second half and finished GW himself (24 points, 16 of those in the second half including 4-5 from deep). Teams sticking much longer defenders on Adams has certainly worked (6-9 Yuta Wantanabe guarded him Sunday) and made it really tough for him to finish at the rim (Adams was 3-11 on 2PT this week) but, credit him for distributing like true point guard and setting others up.
Adams continues to shoot it well from deep but really, really struggles at the rim. Jay is now shooting just 40% at the rim. Last year Adams finished 58% of shots at the rim and 58% as a sophomore. The disappearance of his inside finishing could be related to the ankle injury, but I’m having a hard time thinking a rolled ankle three months ago is the reason he’s missing some contested shots today.
See below for Adams’ advanced career stats. For those who’ve said, “The sophomore Jay was the “best” Jay you’re not off by much, but last year was actually Adams’ best year in terms of box plus/minus as you can see. His sophomore season was his best shooting season, however.
Kaputo Getting his Time- We, and many others, called for the junior to get more time running the offense in the last week or two. Well, Schmidt had similar thoughts because after playing about eight minutes a game Kaputo played 13 minutes per this week and it paid off. His two three pointers, including two in the last four minutes of the St. Joe’s game were clutch. Kaputo only had 1 assist to show for his work, but also had just two turnovers in the 25 minutes and provided his usual solid defense. Let’s see if he continues to get a few more minutes per half going forward this week on the road. Kaputo is shooting 29% from deep on the season after shooting 43% last year.
Ikpeze Provides a Spark- With Josh Ayeni in the dog house, Amadi Ikpeze got a chance to contribute on Sunday and took advantage. While he didn’t make a field goal, the big man grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots in 15 minutes. Ikpeze showed fight inside and brought a ton of energy to the first half. I am hoping beyond hope that Schmidt gives Ikpeze more minutes going forward as he can at least provide some resistance inside on the defensive end and a bit of a back to the basket game (in flashes) on the other side.
Moving on Up- A 4-4 start isn’t what most fans were hoping for, but when you consider the Bonnies are only in 6th place and just a 2-0 week from likely finding themselves in the top five or even four of the league; right where they want to be. Bona’s schedule is quite favorable from here out and the team will have every chance to finish inside the top three of the league despite stumbling out of the gates.
Updated Advanced Player Statistics:
What’s Ahead: The Bonnies take to the road, at George Mason on Wednesday and to Duquesne on Saturday. Mason is ranked 247th on KenPom and are 3-5 in the conference with their best win coming against Saint Louis. Mason has dropped three in a row and has seven home wins against four losses. Mason ranks 305th in 3PT shooting, 209th in offense and worse, 273rd in defense. Duquesne is one of the surprise teams in the league this year, off to a 5-4 start under first year coach Keith Dambrot. Duquesne has lost three of four, but nearly beat Rhode Island this weekend on the road, only to fall after a buzzer beater. The Dukes have the third best three point defense in the country and 32nd best effective FG% defense as well. We should be in for another battle in Burg with these two.
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(Photos used with permission from Steve Harrison. You can visit his website and check out his fantastic work here)