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Bonnies win, but lack ‘pit bull mentality’

By Vinny Pezzimenti

The Bonnies earned what many would consider an insufficient 82-68 victory over a poor Niagara team at the Reilly Center on Wednesday night.

Dion Wright led the Bonnies with a career-high 28 points.

Dion Wright and Nelson Kaputo netted career bests with 28 and 14 points, respectively, while Jay Adams chipped in 16 points and 12 assists to propel the Bonnies.

The Bonnies (8-3) fell behind 10-2 against the lowly Purple Eagles (3-10).

They recovered for an 11-point lead late in the first half, but allowed Niagara to chip it to two after halftime.

A similar occurrence played out later in the half after the Bonnies built a 22-point advantage and Niagara whittled it down to 10 with four minutes left.

Mark Schmidt, in his post-game radio interview, intimated that the team’s 8-day layoff between games, might have resulted in SBU’s slow start.

“But no excuses,” he said. “They took it to us.”

Schmidt was especially disappointed in how the Bonnies finished. Niagara shot 50% in the second half and outrebounded the Bonnies by six for the game.

Schmidt rightfully pointed out that such an effort will not be rewarded against Atlantic 10 competition.

“I told the team that we don’t have that pit bull mentality,” he said. “Once you have somebody down, you keep them down.”

St. Bonaventure kept them down enough in bouncing back from a pre-Christmas loss at Siena. The Atlantic 10 schedule begins Saturday.

Let’s hope the Bonnies are ready.

The stats

No shows

If the Bonnies have any designs on being invited to a real postseason tournament, they must get consistent contributions from Marcus Posley and Denzel Gregg. Neither player made an impact on Wednesday’s game.

Gregg’s performance – 3 points, 0 FGs, 0 rebounds – is particularly concerning. That makes four games out of 11 that the junior has essentially been a no-show.

At one point late the game, radio analyst Don Scholla remarked: “He didn’t come to play tonight. He didn’t have the focus that you need.”

Posley, meanwhile, went scoreless in the first half, and finished 2-10 from the field, 0-5 on 3-pointers. The performance was reminiscent of his first two this season.

Interestingly, Schmidt singled out his veteran players in explaining the team’s inability to put the game away.

“We need that alpha guy that is going to take them (younger players) by the throat and show them how to do it,” he said.

You have to think he was talking about Posley mostly and Gregg secondarily.

Trey bien

The Bonnies’ uneven perimeter shooting continued on Wednesday. Against Niagara, they were the good Bonnies.

The team drained 12-25 3-pointers. Adams was 5-8, Kaputo 4-6, Wright 2-4 and Idris Taqqee 1-2.

The only player to take but not make a 3-pointer was Posley.

It was encouraging to see Wright bury a couple from deep. After his 3-point foray against Dayton to end last season, we figured the senior would continue to his expand his game. But until Wednesday he was 2-13 from beyond the arc.

A sign of things to come?

Purple haze

Chris Casey is building an Anthony Solomon-esque record at Niagara. Congruently, the Bonnies have dominated the Purple Eagles in recent years.

In a way it is a reminder of when Joe Mihalich’s teams bullied the Bonnies for so many years – even with Andrew Nicholson. Solomon may still have nightmares of Juan Mendez and Alvin Cruz burying shot after shot.

Regardless, it is good for the Bonnies when their regional rivals are healthy. For Niagara to have success they may well have to abort the Casey experiment sooner than later.

Milestone men

Mark Schmidt moved into a tie for fifth with Jim Baron for most wins in program history. Schmidt, in his ninth season, has won 132 games. Baron coached the Bonnies for nine seasons.

With his next win, Schmidt will tie Mike Reilly for fourth most victories. Next in line is Eddie Donovan with 139 wins.

Wright, meanwhile, inched within five rebounds of 500 for his career. He had six against Niagara.

‘Purp’ walk

I had to laugh when Time Warner play-by-play man Ben Wagner often referred to the Purple Eagles as the ‘Purps’. It reminded me of when the school suspended six players multiple games as punishment for assaulting a Niagara baseball player in fall 2006.

Despite being short-handed early that season, the Purple Eagles still managed to beat the Bonnies.

Going with the crowd

Without students, attendance at the Reilly Center was 3,728 on Wednesday night. Schmidt, following the game, campaigned for more support on Saturday when Davidson comes to town.

“Hopefully we can have a great crowd here,” he said. “It’s something we need to push through.”

You make the call!

Four of us at the Blog – including myself – correctly picked the Bonnies to finish 8-3 in non-conference games. Each of us has the team finishing between 15 and 19 regular season wins.

What do you think? Comment below.

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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.

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Dion, with 39 min. and 28 points was the player of the game. As for Posely and Denzel to have off games, it gives the other players a chance to step-up and contribute. This is what the OCC games are for - to help the team gel and come together, I just wouldn’t want to be in the locker room at half time. Ya gotta like the way Woods and Taqqee are playing. Tyson is getting more time on the floor. With the A-10 play starting , the question is what team will show up? The first half team vs… Read more »
Homer, I agree with most of your points. This team is solid as a whole and can overcome when its upperclassmen have off nights. As for A-10 play, I look at this way: besides Andrew Nichoson’s senior year, the Bonnies have been a .500 team in the A-10 under Schmidt. Based on what we’ve seen through 11 games this season, it is likely that trend continues. They’re just not consistent enough to win more of those “toss up” games they’ll encounter in the A-10. Before the season, I had the team going 8-10 in A-10 play. I stand by that… Read more »