By Chuckie Maggio, @ChuckieMaggio
At 7 p.m. tonight, the 12-7 St. Bonaventure Bonnies and 8-9 Duquesne Dukes will face off at the Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh in the sixth Atlantic 10 game of the year for both teams. The Bonnies come in with a 2-3 conference record, while the Dukes come in at 1-4 in A-10 play. The game will be shown on the SNY network.
This is one of the most traditional rivalries in college basketball. Saturday night’s meeting is the 111th in a series that started in 1920. Duquesne hold the all-time lead, 57-53, but the Bonnies have won the last three meetings. Will the win streak against the Dukes continue? Let’s break it down!
St. Bonaventure: Mark Schmidt. 100-102 as St. Bonaventure coach, 7-6 vs Duquesne
Duquesne: Jim Ferry. 16-31 as Duquesne coach (second season).
Key players for Duquesne:
Ovie Soko- 6-8 senior forward. Leads team in scoring (17.2 points per game) and rebounding (7.8 rebounds per game). Athletic forward who can jump out of the gym and gets to the line with consistency, making most of his free throw opportunities (72%).
Tra’Vaughn White- 5-10 junior guard. JUCO transfer who was the top junior college scorer in the nation last year with 25.9 ppg.
Dominique McCoy- 6-8 junior forward. Transfer from Rhode Island who has found his place in the Dukes’ rotation. 10.5 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game show he’s a legitimate source of production on both sides of the court and a player to watch.
Keys to victory:
St. Bonaventure: The number one key for the Bonnies is to make their free throws. In a game like this against a team they are favored to beat, making their freebies is crucial. The situation from the line has improved over recent games, which is definitely a positive for SBU. A necessity to closing out a basketball game is to make your free throws, and they closed out LaSalle by doing just that. Watch Bonaventure from the line, because that may be where a nail-biter is won or lost.
Another key for the Bonnies, one they should certainly take care of in this game, is limiting turnovers. Last game was the most impressive display of ball control by Bonaventure in a while, and they need to keep it up in Pittsburgh tonight.
Youssou Ndoye and Marquise Simmons have done a much better job with their footwork in the post, and that has led to more full possessions. The travels haven’t been as prevalent, and that needs to continue to be the case.
The third key for Bonaventure, also very important, is for Charlon Kloof to dominate again. You cannot deny the Surinamese slasher’s impact on the game, and in the LaSalle game he proved once again why he’s one of the most underrated guards in the game. If he stays on the court and facilitates the offense like he did against the Explorers, there’s no doubt that the Bonnies have a chance to explode in this one.
The Prediction: It’s about time the Bonnies got a conference win on the road. Against Duquesne, a team that is already starting to see their chances slipping away, SBU will lead start to finish, play confidently and bring a W back to Western New York.
St. Bonaventure 68, Duquesne 56