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Behind Enemy Lines: Jackson State

Jackson_State_Block_WordmarkThe Opponent: Jackson State (1-3) plays in the SWAC, a conference made of up of historically black colleges and universities. The conference has also been historically bad, often rated among the worst in the country. Jackson State was picked to finish eighth in the league. So you could say that the Tigers are one or the worst of the worse.

The Rundown: Jackson finished 11-20 last season and is seemingly on its way to a similar showing this season. The Tigers are 1-3, coming off a 58-50 loss at UAB on Sunday. UAB scored the last 11 points of the game to prevail. Having one day of rest and one day to prepare for the Bonnies will be quite a challenge for the Tigers. Jackson’s other losses were to N.C. State (93-58) and South Florida (73-64). Its win came over Jacksonville (66-57), which must not have the second coming of Artis Gilmore on the roster this year. It should be noted that the Tigers were routed 88-67 by Tougaloo in an exhibition. I’ve never heard of Tougaloo, but if Tougaloo can beat Jackson State, we can only hope the Bonnies can too.

Last time we met: Never. Get your popcorn ready for the first St. Bonaventure-Jackson State matchup. Our nation’s attention will be focused on the Reilly Center Tuesday night.

History lesson: Jackson State has a storied tradition on the gridiron. Pro Football Hall of Famers Walter Payton, Lem Barney and Jackie Slater played at the school. On the hoops side, 16-year NBA veteran Lindsey Hunter played at Jackson. Hunter spent the majority of his pro career with the Detroit Pistons.

Starters returning from last season: 3 – guards Dontavean Robinson and Jeveres Brent and forward Treshawn Bolden. All three are sophomores. Brent came off the bench the first three games of this season.

Their best player(s): Brent and reserve forward Kaven Bernard are the only Tigers scoring in double figures. Bernard also leads the team in rebounding. Brent leads the club in minutes while Bernard isn’t far behind.

Their glaring weaknesses: The Tigers don’t have a lot of size. Bolden is the only starter taller than 6-foot-6. Plus, Bolden hasn’t been very good and fellow big men Pierre Crawford and Janarius Middleton haven’t added much off the bench. In other words, Youssou Ndoye should have a field day inside.

Their bad stats: Like most teams out of the SWAC, Jackson is undisciplined and not very good. They don’t shoot very well – especially from the perimeter – and have nearly twice as many turnovers as assists.

Their good stats: Though undisciplined, Jackson has been stout defensively outside of the N.C. State game. The Tigers average eight steals a game and have blocked 15 shots in four games, led by Bernard’s seven swats.

How Jackson State can win: The Tigers will have to do a much better job hitting perimeter shots. If they struggle on 3-pointers, they have no chance. Jackson had solid defensive efforts against Jacksonville and UAB. If the Tigers can slow down the game, take care of the ball and make the Bonnies work for their points, they have a chance. The only way Jackson wins is if the game is played in the 50s.

How the Bonnies can win: SBU had chances to put Siena and Canisius away early. It will likely have the same opportunity against Jackson. The Bonnies can’t give the Tigers hope. The Bonnies also must force turnovers against a sloppy Jackson team and score on the other end. When in halfcourt sets, they must look consistently to Ndoye and take advantage of his size on the post.

Three keys to victory:

  1. Force turnovers and convert in transition.
  2. Feed Ndoye plenty.
  3. Jump on the Tigers early and don’t allow them to gain offensive confidence from the perimeter.

Staff predictions: Bonnies, Bonnies, Bonnies … all three of us have the Bonnies.

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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.


  1. Skip Pass

    I don’t know what a Tougaloo is, but it may be my new favorite word.