By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
After nearly winning the toughest game of its season so far, St. Bonaventure faces a much lighter road test on Saturday at 2 when they take on the Binghamton Bearcats in Vestal, New York.
The young Bearcats are having a brutal season thus far, at 1-11. Their only win came against Division III Hartwick College on November 19, and they lost 63-52 to Division II Caldwell College on December 8. Junior Jordan Reed, who was third in the America East Conference in scoring last year and first in rebounding his first two seasons, took an indefinite leave of absence for personal reasons on November 26, leaving the team in a search for a leader.
The big news on the Bonaventure side broke Thursday night, when J.P. Butler of the Olean Times Herald reported that senior guard Jordan Gathers, who graduated last weekend, would not be returning to the team or university. A press release confirmed the news today. It was a surprise for most considering the prevailing opinion was that Gathers would be back on the court once his hip was healthy.
This game looks lopsided from the outset, but will the 6-2 Bonnies put on an impressive showing Saturday? Here’s the full breakdown:
St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 113-111 as Bonnies coach.
Binghamton- Tommy Dempsey. 11-62 as Bearcats coach.
Key players for Binghamton:
Dusan Perovic- 6-9 freshman forward/center. Perovic, from Podgorica, Montenegro, is the only Bearcat averaging double-digit points, with 12.2 a game. He went for 34 against Boston University, with a 6-8 mark from three-point range, showing that he is a legitimate threat from outside. Against the Bonnies, who have had their struggles against three-point shooters this year (opponents are shooting 35.6 percent from behind the arc), Perovic will have to get in a groove from deep.
Willie Rodriguez- 6-6 freshman forward. Rodriguez is the team’s rebounding leader at 4.9 boards per game to go along with 9.1 points a contest. He had a double-double in the Penn game with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Romello Walker- 6-6 freshman guard. Walker, a tall shooting guard, has chipped in 7.1 points a game with 4.7 rebounds for the Bearcats. He shoots at 29 percent from the field, nothing to write home about. His rebounding abilities appear to be his major asset going into this one.
Keys to victory for Binghamton: Binghamton is not in an enviable position, but to put up a fight against the Bonnies, they are going to have to make threes, which they have not done this year at 29.7 percent. The Bearcats are going to be forced to make threes because they are going to have major problems inside the arc; they are 330th out of 351 D-I teams in two-point shooting percentage, while Bonaventure’s defense is 12th in the country in two-point percentage against. Perovic, Rodriguez and Walker are not going to be able to get good looks down in the post against Youssou Ndoye, Dion Wright and Denzel Gregg, so they have to be prepared to launch some triples.
Keys to victory for Bonaventure: I’m not even going to entertain the possibility of a Bona loss against this Binghamton squad, because to do so would be pointless. As long as they show up, dominate inside and play decent ball, this will not be close. After the Gathers news I also expect Schmidt to get Iakeem Alston and Jalen Adams plenty of minutes in the next few games to get them ready for Atlantic 10 play. Alston has played sparingly the past two games, while Adams has not played at all. Both will be important pieces if the Bonnies are going to contend for an A-10 title, especially since Gathers is no longer in the plan.
The Prediction: 84-58 Bonnies