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Game Preview: St. Bonaventure vs. Princeton

The Game: St. Bonaventure faces their first loosing streak of the year, having dropped their last two games after winning their biggest game in years at Rutgers . The Bonnies played their last two games right down to the last possession; having the chance to win both games, but ultimately were unable to come away with a win.  In the Mississippi State game it was a late game surge that fell short when the Bonnies missed one last shot to tie the game with under ten ticks left, against Canisius it was a 31 second meltdown that let what seemed to be a sure win slip away.

But Saturday is another chance for the team to move over .500 and pick up their fourth win of the season. The Princeton Tigers enter the game with a 2-3 record, and are no stranger to close games themselves. Princeton has lost to Central Michigan by 2 and Maine by 3 in overtime. Princeton has defeated Fordham (who still doesn’t have a win) and most recently got a 26 point drubbing by South Carolina . The Ivy League school is 2-0 on the road; the Bonnies are 1-1 at the RC.

 As one would assume, Princeton only scores 59 points a game, but is stingy on the defensive end of the floor, giving up just 60 points a game. Numbers that look very similar to what Canisius displayed prior to last weekend. Princeton is led by a 5-11, 155 pound freshman in Doug Davis (PG), who is currently averaging 16.4 points a game and shooting 52% from three. The Tigers have four players averaging over 7 points a game.

 Last game of the semester before Christmas break, so we hope the students come out for the game and get their team one last “W” before heading home for the vacation.

How to Catch It: No television for this non-conference tilt, but as always you can listen to Gary Nease call the action on WPIG/WHDL 95.7 FM, and streaming live on gobonnies.com. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM. Those who have paid for All-Access through SBU, will get the TV feed over the internet.

Marquee Matchup: Blackburn/Eleby against Doug Davis. The Bonnies point guard by committee duo will have to really lock up this pint size point guard who clearly plays with a chip on his shoulder and with a ton of confidence as a freshman. When Blackburn is in the game, it will be interesting to see how the two match up in terms of lateral quickness and the ability to get up and down the floor with each other. Conversely, when Eleby is in the game, the Bonnies should allow Malcolm to use his size advantage to drive to the basket. Either way, the point guard combination for the Bonnies should give Princeton and their guard’s two very different looks, and Schmidt can simply go with whatever point man has the better match up against the Tigers best offensive player.

 Inside the Numbers:

  • Princeton is averaging 4.8 blocks per game.
  • The Tigers shoot 38% from three.
  • Princeton comes into the game averaging 7.6 steals per game.
  • Opposites attract- Princeton is shooting 76% from the free throw line; Bonnies 57%.

Trying to Stay Hot: Tough one because no one really played well against Canisius save Thomas. I’ll shake it up here though and go with Nicholson because he has now won back to back Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors. Nicholson leads all league freshmen in scoring with 10.8 points per game and is third overall (A10) in blocks with 2.5 per game. Andrew will only have one game to prove he is worthy of a third straight Rookie of the Week honor, so he must have a big game against the Tigers to keep the streak alive. Andrew has been doing a great job on the offensive glass, pulling down 16 offensive boards this year (2nd on team to Hall’s 17). Andrew could stand to improve his FT shooting (50%) but who on this team couldn’t? He should be the most athletic man on the floor Saturday, so let’s see how that plays out. If he stays out of foul trouble he should have a big night.


Trying to Heat Up: Let’s go with Malcolm Eleby for this one. Malcolm has enjoyed great success taking care of the ball this year with 24 assists to go along with just 11 turnovers. He has played with a much greater sense of confidence, but while his shooting has improved, it still needs some more fine tuning. Malcolm is shooting just 28% from the field, and even worse, just 33% from the free throw line (3-9). As the team’s point guard, Malcolm needs to keep defenses more honest, and while Blackburn has shown he can score in bunches and spurts, Malcolm is not there yet offensively.

Bona doesn’t need 20 points from Eleby, but if he could knock down a pair of threes a game and wind up averaging 8 points a game, it would be huge. His ability to recognize a good three pointer from a bad one is going to critical this year. When he sets his feet, catches and shoots he can knock down the shot. But when he comes off the dribble and tries to pull up for a long shot he struggles. Malcolm should only be shooting three balls if he is wide open, or if it is an end of the shot clock situation. When you have Chris Matthews on your wing, you have to defer to him nearly every time.

Bonus: Free Throws. Last season the Bonnies ranked 21st in the country in free throw% and were the best FT shooting team in the A10. This year they are shooting just 57% from the line. I tried to find out where that ranks the Bonnies in the country, but most sites do not track down that far; not a good sign. Seeing that the Bonnies have already dropped a 4 point game, a 5 point game and a 2 point game, the FT’s having kept this team at .500. Bonaventure needs to start knocking down the freebies, or else they’ll wind up on the short end of the stick in most close games.

Outlook: Last week I all but guaranteed a win against Canisius and today I am tempted to do the same. As all of my fellow Bona fans have warned me, this team is not a lock to beat anyone, and I couldn’t agree with them more. However, this weekend, they will beat the Princeton Tigers. Put it in the books. Don’t let me down boys, I am putting my credibility on the line here, and I don’t have a ton of it to begin with…

Honestly speaking though, this is the type of game that is a 100% trap game for the Bonnies. They are playing at home, they are playing an Ivy League team who is coming off a very bad loss, and they (Bona) should be hungry for a win having dropped two in a row. Princeton plays a very disciplined offensive game, much like Richmond , and those teams have recently given the Bonnies trouble. While the talent level between the two teams will be night and day, the execution on the offensive end of the floor could be the same going the other way.

Princeton will play within themselves, be patient with the ball, and not turn it over a ton. Bonaventure must really execute offensively and make each possession count because Princeton has the ability to cut up a bad defensive team. Bonaventure needs to pound the ball inside to Thomas, Carter and Nicholson, establish the post and work from the inside out. If they can get the bigs going against the Tigers, they can free up the guards who then can get some good looks at the basket. I would love to see Thomas and Nicholson rolling at the same time on the floor, but we’ll have to wait and see what Thomas shows up.

In summation, this is the type of game that once again the Bonnies should win, but it would not shock me if they lost. Bonaventure needs to limit turnovers, pound the ball inside and get easy buckets early, and knock down their free throws. If they do those three things they should find themselves on the winning end Saturday night.

 Beat the Tigers and as always, Go Bonnies!

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  1. NY Dem

    A win is a win. Wasn’t pretty, but we made some great adjustments at halftime and finally concentrated on getting the ball inside and it was no contest. They had nobody inside that could handle Nicholson or Hall. Points in the paint were 10-8 Princeton in the first half - 18-6 Bonas in the 2nd half. That was the difference. Great adjustment by the coaching staff.

    As for ALL the fouls, these games are becoming a joke. 43 fouls and 53 free throw attempts in the game. 2:15 to finish the game, where games used to be under 2 hours. Same all over the country (mostly). New rules where every little touch is called are ruining the college game. No flow; no continuity; just an endless parade to the foul line.

    I looked at some random box scores from yesterday, and the trend is 40-50 fouls per game called - with 50 -65 free throw attempts in a lot of games.

    Duke-Michigan was a major exception - only 26 free throw attempts for BOTH teams combined.

    Basketball is a CONTACT SPORT - NCAA has to take a look at stopping all the petty fouls they are making the refs call, and let the players play.

    Finally, there is a debate going on over at the Bandwagon about the RC seating capacity (I’d post this there but am having a problem registering for some reason, maybe my firewall). I had some students from my 6th grade class do an assignment last year, and they counted the seats. They took a copy of the seating diagram (available on Page 12 of the Southern Tier phone book and Page 6 of the Verizon phone book); and a calculator, and this is what they came up with —-

    3,149 Red seats
    486 Blue seats
    1,122 Bleacher seats

    Total = 4,757 actual seats that have a Section, Row and Number assigned to them.

    Of course, they pack a lot more than capacity into Sections L, M and N (student sections); plus standing room in the corners; plus handicapped seating at the 2 endzone tables; so there are a few variables.

    Generally though, some 1,200 seats were lost when they took out the old wooden bleachers, which didn’t have the wasted space these new plastic bleachers have (several wide aisles); and the endzone bleachers now are not nearly as wide (side to side) as the old wooden bleahcers.

    The old 6,000 capacity figure was always just an estimate, but probably pretty close to reality, given the way people crammed into the bleachers back in the 70’s.

    I see Rutgers lost again at home, by 10 to Binghamton, so that win is losing it’s luster a little for us. Still, we are a few ticks and a couple of bounces away from being 7-0 right now - off to a good start. Let’s keep it up.

    I’m off to the RC to catch the girls game at Noon against Michigan State and their 6’9″ CENTER !