Previewing the St. Bonaventure Bonnies

Posted In News - By Alan Kelly On Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 With 0 Comments

Tomorrow night, the Patriots will look to get revenge for their 85-73 homecoming loss a season ago, as they face St. Bonaventure at 7pm in Rochester, New York and televised on MASN. The game represents an oddity for conference play, as it will be played at Blue Cross Arena, which is over 100 miles from the Bonnies’ campus in Olean, NY.

Sponsored by Fibertech Networks, the Fibertech Conference Classic will be St. Bonaventure’s fifth game at Blue Cross Arena in recent years, and the first A10 conference game played in Rochester. With their students still home on winter break and a large number of Bona alumni in the Rochester area, the math works out in favor of a higher expected attendance in Rochester, but I am surprised that any team would be willing to give up a home conference game.

To prepare for tomorrow’s game, earlier today I asked Ian Nolan of The Bona Blog to answer some questions about the Bonnies. The most interesting matchup tomorrow night will almost certainly be between St. Bonaventure senior center Youssou Ndoye and Mason’s Shevon Thompson. Both players are averaging a double-double for the season. What can you tell us about Ndoye?

Ian: Ndoye has been a point of major frustration for Bonnies fans this season and in a way I think he has been a microcosm of the team as a whole: really good one game, no where to be found the next. His rebounding and shot blocking efforts are almost always there but this team needs him to be a scorer and he is not a pure one.

He can be fronted and doubled as Dayton/Richmond took him out of the game completely. He doesn’t have great footwork and if he has to catch the ball outside of the paint he’s scoring maybe 15% of the time. He’s a high motor defensive minded center who from game to game has a big scoring output (think 17 points). The fact that the Bonnies work the ball into him so often and seem to run their offense through him has been an issue all year. They’re asking the senior who has limited basketball experience to do things he’s not capable of doing (much like Thompson, Ndoye didn’t pick up a ball until age 17 I believe). If Dion Wright was a stretch four it would really help Ndoye but Dion also cannot score outside of 12 feet. What should Mason fans know about the starting lineup?

PG Jay Adams — Freshman. Team’s best young player. Very good shooter when open, but doesn’t shoot enough most games. Has issues turning it over esp. when trying to feed post. Not really quick or athletic but a steady freshman point guard which we haven’t had in a long time.

G Marcus Posley — Junior. Junior college transfer leads the league in scoring. He will shoot us into and out of wins; but we need it. Almost impossible for us to win when he doesn’t score (Richmond game). Best pure scorer, has improved going to the rim. Will shoot it as many times as he wants.

G Andell Cumberbatch — Senior. Personally, I don’t think he should get the minutes he does but Schmidt likes his experience. Athletic, good rebounder, best in transition, poor shooter. Takes bad shots, in my opinion. He’s not a bad player but he’s frustrating to watch at times.

F Dion Wright — Junior. Best forward scorer. Great offensive rebounder, scores the ugliest baskets you’ll ever see. Horrible jump shot. Generally only shots in the pain using hook shots, up and unders. Not pretty but he generally plays well and with good motor.

C Youssou Ndoye — Senior. Real seven foot center. Great lane clogger and shot-blocker, rebounding is lightyears ahead of last season. Must be in position to score. His presence alone helps the team, even when he’s not scoring. If he is scoring, he’s a dominant player who could help us beat any team in the league save VCU. Who are the key bench players and what do they contribute to the team?

The bench has been horrible all year long. Schmidt doesn’t trust almost anyone but the first five and they play in the mid 30 minutes. Alston is a junior college point guard who is faster than Adams but cannot and does not shoot the ball outside of three feet. Denzell Gregg is a sophomore who hasn’t developed, he’s a wing. Chris Dees is a senior forward who gets minutes spelling the bigs — just a big body, not much else. This team is very thin. Losing Jordan Gathers (who never came back from injury) has really hurt us. The Bonnies went 7-4 in non-conference play with a non-conference RPI in the low 80s. How did they lose to bad teams like Siena and Maryland-Eastern Shore at home? What do they have to do to avoid future letdowns?

Ian: What happened was they let those two teams come in and shoot the lights out of the ball. The Maryland Eastern Shore game honest to God was just a game where they could have beaten a top 25 team that night…honestly…They just made every shot they put up. It happens once a season. The Siena game had a very similar feel- they came out shooting hot, SBU made a big run and got back in it but fell short at the end due to poor possessions down the stretch. Jay Adams’ the point guard is green and is learning how to navigate those situations. This is a team that can be their own worst enemy in terms of bad shots and decisions late and close and that’s got to improve for them to in A10 play. The turnovers, and silly ones, have already cost them a few games. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s St. Bonaventure team? What do they have to do to beat the Patriots?

Ian: This team was winning with very good defense early on. That stopped happening when their 3PT defense went from bad to awful. Their guards needs to improve on that end and they actually just need to get a bit lucky. They need to run into a few teams who just can’t throw it in the ocean. Conversely they need to shoot it better from three as well – mostly Posley and Adams. Teams are really taking Ndoye down low and until they make some shots that’s going to keep happening. To win this game they need their guards to score the ball, to hold Mason to their normal shooting figures and not shoot themselves in the foot down the stretch. I think if Bonaventure can get a combined say 42 points from Posley-Adams and Cumberbatch and Mason doesn’t have a rare hot shooting night SBU will have great chance to win. But if Mason can take away those two guards like Richmond did, Bonas will have major issues relying on other players to score. St. Bonaventure got rid of the “Brown Indians” nickname in 1992, out of concern for the way it could be perceived as a racist caricature, and are now known as the Bonnies and represented by the Bona Wolf mascot. How is the history of the old nickname viewed by fans, 20 years later?

Ian: As someone who went to Bonas from 2004-2008 I’m not really sure how most people feel about the old name. I do know people still buy some throw back gear with that logo on it but I’d imagine most people don’t lose sleep over it today given our PC climate. I personally think the Bonnie is a unique mascot since St. Francis (our priests are Franciscans) was said to have tamed wolves (big animal lover). So, at least the current mascot represents our school and its’ history.

About - Alan Kelly is a 2010 and 2013 graduate of George Mason University and a former member of the Patriot Platoon. He had the memorable experience of being in the middle of the college decision process as George Mason's Final Four run unfolded. He currently resides in Northern Virginia.

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