Subpar free throw shooting will likely bite Bonnies

455759On any given night, the Bonnies are an average to bad free-throw shooting team.

Against Buffalo, they were bad. Luckily, SBU built up a big enough lead so it didn’t cost a victory.

Against Siena, they were bad. The Bonnies’ 14 for 24 effort in that game cost them dearly in a 73-70 defeat – their only loss of the year.

The Bonnies were 13 of 26 from the charity stripe against UB, dropping them to 67.7 percent on the year. While that isn’t a horrendous percentage, giving up so many free points will likely come back to haunt them again.

Mark Schmidt’s teams at St. Bonaventure have generally shot free throws well. The Bonnies were better than 71 percent last year. Both years prior to that they topped 76 percent.

But there were also years under Schmidt when the Bonnies shot in the mid-60s from the line.

I’m not sure how much you can coach up players from the free throw line. Most times, they either have it or they don’t.

When the Bonnies had seasons when they shot better than 70 percent from the line, they had three to four good shooters that took a lot of free throws. Demitrius Conger and Andrew Nicholson, for example, took and made a lot of free throws.

On the other hand, they were bad during Jonathan Hall’s two years on the team. Hall, of course, was taking and missing a lot of free throws.

The only SBU player with more than 10 free throw attempts that is shooting better than 73 percent this season in Andell Cumberbatch, at 80 percent. Youssou Ndoye, who is second on the team with 32 free throw attempts, is shooting 65.6 perecent.

St. Bonaventure’s bench players have been especially putrid from the line, going 17 of 32.

Seldom do teams improve or digress much at the line over the course of a season. I don’t expect the Bonnies to shoot better than 70 percent or worse than 65 percent on free throws this year. They are what they are.

All we can hope is that they hit their free throws when it counts most, in closely contested games.

Thinking out loud: Are the Bonnies a “deep team”?

Are we deep? Or do we have an empty and pathetic bench like Minnesota?

Are we deep? Or do we have an empty and pathetic bench like this version of Arizona State (one kid looks like he’s dead). 

I’ve seen a lot of people on the good ole’ Bandwagon discussing the idea of how deep this year’s team is. And, right after the Dartmouth game I was one of those people. I thought Jalen Adams was easily a rotation player who would help right now, Dees was a solid if-not-spectacular back-up, Xavier Smith was coming along and once Gathers and Gregg came back we’d be even deeper (which is still true). We seemed to have a lot of guys who could come in and contribute.

But really, what defines a deep team and are we deep?

Is it the number of players Schmidt tosses off the bench and in front of the scorers’ table each night, or, is it the production you’re getting from your bench regardless of the number of players seeing the floor?

This is the question.

Our bench players are averaging the following:

8.6 minutes, 1.7 points, 1.4 rebounds and shooting 35% from the field.

Doesn’t sound like a deep bench to me.

While guys are playing minutes, they aren’t exactly producing when they’re in the game. Smith, Taqqee and Tyson are averaging under a point a game. Our leading scorer off the bench, Jalen Adams, is averaging 3.8 points. Honestly, right now, we have a bench full of guys who are playing hard and contributing, but are not talented offensive players. We may be “deep” if you consider their defense, but from a pure offensive standpoint, I actually don’t think we are very deep (at least at the present moment).  Jalen Adams struggles to score shooting the ball, I don’t think Alston can/really wants to shoot outside of a lay-up (which is ok), Dees takes one shot a game, Xavier Smith…I really have no idea and Tyson, probably should have been a RS. Taqqee I think could have some moments this year as an offensive player, but I’m not sure about him as a shooter (which we could use when Posley sits, I will say I like Taqqee’s game though).

So really, are we deep? Do we need to be deep?

Listen, right now we have all five starters averaging double figures. If that continues, bench scoring really won’t matter all that much. But, it probably won’t. Getting Gathers back (whenever that happens, I’m tired of speculating though a source told us he’s shooting for A10 play right now) and Gregg (Saturday) is certainly going to help a lot. But it is fun to debate how deep this team really is, and what defines depth.

This Bonnies team was DEEP.

This Bonnies team was DEEP.

Now the 2011-2012 team was a DEEP team. Consider the guys off the pine in our Championship season.

Davenport (injured eight games in), Simmons (injured opening night) Mosley, Ndoye, Chris Johnson, and others. In the A10 final our starters not named Andrew Nicholson combined to score 23 points. Our bench chipped in 18 points. Heck, even Gathers was seeing meaningful minutes in March…On many nights Mosley and Chris Johnson were among our best players. Think of the huge moments guys like Kloof, Ndoye, Johnson and Mosley all had in Atlantic City that weekend. Those guys made some massive plays in big time spots…that was a deep team.  That was one of the biggest reasons we all fell in love with that squad: it wasn’t just Nicholson (although some nights it was) it was a team of guys who could all make plays on a given night.

So, it will be interesting to see how this year’s team develops depth as the season goes in. One thing is for sure, playing the first X number of games without Gathers and Gregg will only help the team feel more comfortable in big games going forward.