By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13
Last night marked win No. 18 for St. Bonaventure.
With two more victories, the Bonnies will have doubled their win total from last season.
A tremendous feat considering how far this program sunk last season — nine games below .500, and failing to make the Atlantic 10 tournament.
“It’s an incredible compliment to these guys, and the leadership of Chelsea (Bowker), Emily (Michael) and everybody and their commitment to work that we have gotten back so quickly,” said head coach Jim Crowley.
Crowley points to the work that his players did this past offseason as to why they have become so successful.
“You guys did not see what they had to go through in the spring, summer and fall,” said Crowley. “They didn’t question it; they didn’t hang their head about it—they just embraced it.”
The commitment that his players showed during those long, tiring months can now be seen each time Bona steps on the floor.
“I think every time we play it speaks to where we have gotten,” said Crowley.
It’s the players buying into Crowley’s system that makes this team so solid in both facets of the game.
The offense has been efficient because of its ability to score inside. Katie Healy, Hannah Little and Gabrielle Richmond have combined to average 35 points a game in conference play.
Nyla Rueter and Bowker take care of outside shooting. Rueter has hit nearly 47 percent of her three-point attempts. Rueter also serves as another ball handler who has a keen eye for finding open players.
And the offense does not run smoothly without the presence of Michael who serves as the game manager.
The defense has been stable with Michael leading the way.
Crowley spoke after last Saturday’s win against Fordham about how Michael will not be named to any All-Defensive team since she does not have the steal or block numbers.
Michael had another tremendous on-ball defensive game against another star player last night.
Erin Shields shot 2-15 as Michael blanketed her all night.
“This kid is defending her tail off. Those are two kids, (Fordham’s Erin) Rooney and Shields, who are not only really good but they go, they go nonstop—they have great motors,” said Crowley. “Em was just there. You are not going to out work her.”
Michael might be the anchor, but it is always a team defensive effort.
“Because we are doing well taking care of the ball and because we are doing well taking the right shots we have really good defensive balance,” said Crowley. “So, you know, we are not given up a lot of transition scores or easy scores that way and we are forcing people to play in the half court which is where we are comfortable.”
Last night marked six straight wins after beginning A-10 play 1-2.
The best thing about this team can be found in how well they work together.
No one is bigger than the team. It definitely gives the team a clear identity.
It’s a major reason why they have played such efficient, high level basketball.
With seven conference games remaining, who knows where this season will take the Bonnies.
But one thing is for sure — the Bonnies are back.