5 takeaways from the Loyola victory
By Vinny Pezzimenti
St. Bonaventure’s 94-82 victory over Loyola (Md.) on Saturday night at the Reilly Center is the type of fast-paced game we expected of the Bonnies this season.
We figured they would push the pace often to make up for their lack of height. Try to outscore opponents instead of engaging in a defensive slug fest.
Well, not exactly if you ask the coach. Mark Schmidt was pleased that the Bonnies won, but he wasn’t happy with how they moved to 2-1 on the young season.
- Schmidt D-pressed
Remember Schmidt’s introductory press conference in 2007 when he said the Bonnies wouldn’t be a team that walked the ball up the court slowly?
Contrary to Schmidt’s promise, his teams have mirrored the walking pace much more than the stalking pace. His clear unhappiness with last night’s performance further illustrates his evolution as a coach.
“We didn’t play much defense, did we?” Schmidt asked rhetorically in his post-game radio interview. “As coach you want to defend. We didn’t do that.”He continued: “Our defense was terrible. All five guys out there did a horrible job. On the ball, off the ball, in the post.”
It’s great that defensive is major priority for Schmidt. My concern is that it becomes so much of a priority that Schmidt curtails game pace and blunts the productivity of his talented and athletic offensive weapons.
Schmidt has shown a penchant over the years to over-coach. He has a quick leash, especially with young players. At times he doesn’t trust his players when the game is close late.
Let’s hope he continues to let them play freely.
- Put ’em away
Letting inferior opponents hang around at the Reilly Center has become a frustrating theme for the Bonnies the last few seasons.
Last night was yet another occurrence.It was encouraging to watch the Bonnies build a 16-point halftime lead and up it to 19 shortly after. It was discouraging that they didn’t build on the advantage – or at least maintain it.
Loyola came roaring back to cut it to 67-61, and if not for missed free throws would have trimmed the lead further.At one point, Eric Laster banked in a 3-pointer for Loyola to keep the game close.
“There’s a reason why that went in,” Schmidt said. “It’s because you allowed them to stay in the game. You can’t allow a team to hang around. The way you stop a team from hanging around is by defending. We didn’t do that.”
He continued: “We’ve got to play harder and more gritty. Thank goodness they missed some foul shots. The effort defensively has to get better if we’re going to go anywhere.”
- MP finds 3
In addition to stronger defense, the Bonnies will need Marcus Posley to play like he did against Loyola much more often if they have any hopes of finishing more than a few games above .500.
Much like we witnessed for a long stretch during A-10 play last year, MP was missing his 3 to start this season. Luckily, he regained his touch last night.
They key? He was aggressive in attacking the basket and didn’t settle for outside shots.Posley has the quickness and upper body strength to penetrate to the rim and score while enduring contact. Getting to the free throw line and scoring in close will boost his confidence shooting from the perimeter.
- No Stockard? No Tyson? No problem
The Bonnies will be fine without Courtney Stockard and Jordan Tyson – at least until conference games begin.
Derrick Woods was unspectacular but solid again inside. The Bonnies merely need the freshman to defend, rebound and not make any mistakes. Woods is capable of that.
Meanwhile, classmate Nelson Kaputo’s strong start has lessened the blow of Stockard’s absence. Stockard was penciled in to start on the wing, but Schmidt has found success using combinations of guards Kaputo, Posley, Jay Adams and Idris Taqqee together.As an aside, it should be fun and rewarding to watch Swaggy J and Nelly McFly together in the backcourt the next three years. They have the potential to go down as one of the better backcourt combos in program history.
- Quick turnaround for Denzel’s ankle
Keep on an eye on Denzel Gregg’s ankle.
Gregg, who was impressive against Binghamton and Syracuse, was ordinary against Loyola. You can’t help but think his sore ankle had something to do with the lackluster performance.
Gregg limped around quite a bit last night. It will be interesting to see how much he can play – and with what type of effectiveness – after a quick turnaround between games. The Bonnies are at Canisius on Tuesday.