By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio and Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies look to start Atlantic 10 play 2-0 for the first time since 2000 when they host the Dayton Flyers on Thursday night at 7.
The Flyers come into this one at 11-2 after trouncing Duquesne 81-55 on Saturday. UD played a tough non-conference schedule, with wins over Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech and close losses to Arkansas and Connecticut.
Dayton’s four-game winning streak has been impressive considering the Dec. 17 dismissal of starting center Devon Scott and backup forward Jalen Robinson following a dorm room theft incident. The Flyers have combated their deficiencies in rebounding by shooting lights-out from the floor, with a 50 percent clip during the streak.
Bonaventure is trying to start a winning streak of their own after defeating UMass on the road in its A-10 opener. The brutal two-game stretch against Maryland-Eastern Shore and Delaware looks to be in the past, but a win over one of the conference’s elite teams would make the Bonnies look like serious contenders.
Who will come out on top Thursday night? Here’s the full breakdown:
St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 115-113 as Bonnies coach, 1-6 against Dayton.
Dayton- Archie Miller. 74-40 as Flyers coach, 2-1 against St. Bonaventure.
Key players for Dayton:
Jordan Sibert-6-4 senior guard. Sibert is a dangerous guard that can sink it from three point land with ease. He is one of the best offensive guards in the A-10 and is leading the flyers in scoring at 15.7 points per game for the second year in a row.
Dyshawn Pierre-6-6 junior forward. Pierre has seen his responsibility take a giant leap for this Dayton team after Scott and Robinson were kicked off the team for violating team rules, leaving Pierre as the tallest player on the Dayton team. He’s averaging 12.2 points per game and almost 6.5 rebounds.
Keys to victory for Dayton: Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Dayton is one of the worst rebounding teams at 227th in the nation and they won’t get many second chances with Bonaventure’s Youssou Ndoye, who is fourth in nation in rebounding, down low. So, the key to a Dayton victory won’t be just to shoot, but to make shots, which they are average at. (108th in the nation for FG percentage)
Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: To beat Dayton, coach Schmidt’s “trifecta” of defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball has to be carried out the way it was against UMass. The Bonnies held the Minutemen to just 35 percent shooting (more importantly, 18 percent shooting from three), out-rebounded them by seven, and committed two fewer turnovers. They won all three areas on Saturday, and they will need to win all three areas again on Thursday. Ndoye’s streak of ten games with ten or more rebounds, the longest such streak in the NCAA, is going to have to continue, and Marcus Posley’s defense against Jordan Sibert is going to have to be strong all contest.
Predictions: Chuckie– Dayton won three their last four games against guard-heavy teams; the leading scorers for Duquesne, Ole Miss and Boston U were all guards. The other team, Georgia Tech launched 20 threes themselves, going 20 percent. Scott and Robinson weren’t missed as much in those games because the Flyers didn’t have to control the paint to win. Against Ndoye and Dion Wright, it’s not going to be that easy, and that spells trouble for Dayton. The size disadvantage is going to hurt offensively and defensively, and you can never count on a good shooting night, especially on the road. For example, in last year’s 72-69 Dayton win, Sibert and Pierre were held to a combined 15 points on 6-19 shooting, a below-average performance. Archie Miller can’t count on them to have a great showing tonight, while Mark Schmidt knows that his bigs can be counted on, at least defensively, based on their consistency this season. Advantage: Bonaventure. 76-68 Bonnies.
Jeff- After doubting the Bonnies on Saturday and watching such a dominating win over a decent UMass team I have to believe that the losses to Maryland-Eastern Shore and Delaware was simply a young team playing down to its opponent. There is no reason to believe they will lose to a team with no one taller than 6-6. Youssou Ndoye could score 100 points in this game, watch out. 80-60 Bonnies.