By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies hope to continue being road warriors when they head to our nation’s capital to face the George Washington Colonials on Wednesday at 7.
Unbelievably enough, the Bonnies are 4-3 in Atlantic 10 away games and 2-4 in Atlantic 10 home games. The reason for that abnormality is anyone’s guess, but the surprising road performance has helped Bona stay in the thick of the conference race.
Bonaventure snapped a three-game losing streak last Saturday with an overtime win over St. Joe’s, but George Washington was not as lucky. The Colonials lost their fourth straight game when they fell 56-48 at Richmond. The other losses during the streak were double-digit defeats to VCU and Duquesne along with a two-point heartbreaker against Davidson. G.W. has actually lost six of its last seven contests, an overtime win against Dayton being the lone victory.
This game has major seeding implications for the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Bonnies and Colonials are currently tied for seventh with 7-7 conference records. The winner of this game will obviously grab the seventh spot and has a shot at entering Brooklyn with the fifth or six seed. For the loser, the seventh seed is likely the best-case scenario.
Who will win this crucial A-10 contest? Here’s the full breakdown:
St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 120-121 as Bonnies coach.
George Washington- Mike Lonergan. 64-57 as Colonials coach.
Key players for George Washington:
Patricio Garino- 6-6 junior guard/forward. Garino has had five games with 20-plus points this season, but he’s far from a one-way player. The Argentinian was named to the conference’s All-Defensive Team last year in addition to being a Third Team All-Conference selection. His rebounding numbers are up from last year (5.3 rebounds a game this year to 4.4 last season), as are his steals (a marginal increase from 1.6 a game to 1.9). He played FIBA ball for Argentina’s U-19 team, and that has significantly helped him against the stiff competition he has faced in the United States. The matchup against Dion Wright should be very entertaining; both players know how to work their way to the basket and put the finishing touches on when they get there.
Kethan Savage- 6-3 sophomore guard. Like Bonaventure shooting guard Marcus Posley, Savage is working his way out of a shooting slump. After a two-game stretch where he went just 5-of-19 from the field, he went 7-of-12 against Richmond, good enough for 18 points. The Colonials need him to have another 18-point outing rather than a four-point outing like he had against VCU.
Kevin Larsen- 6-10 junior forward. Larsen, George Washington’s rebounding leader with 7.2 per contest, can beat you in many ways. Defensively, he’s a board machine and uses his quickness to his advantage around the rim. Offensively, he’s a consistent shooter (50 percent from the field this season) and a strong passer as well (2.2 assists per game).
Keys to victory for George Washington: To beat the Bonnies you have to hit threes, which means the Colonials have to find a three-point option quickly. They are 270th in the country in three-point percentage at 31.5 percent, 0.1 percent better than Bona, which is 273rd at 31.4 percent. With Dion Wright and Youssou Ndoye clogging the perimeter, along with Denzel Gregg’s defensive improvements, G.W. will be looking for a playmaker to hit some big shots to make up for a disadvantage inside.
Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: In a very even matchup, Youssou Ndoye needs to be a bigger offensive factor. He made eight clutch free throws in overtime last game, but didn’t make a field goal the entire night. If Ndoye played big, the Bonnies may not have needed overtime. Against a team with George Washington’s caliber, the 7-footer is going to need to be a bigger part of the offense.
Prediction: Ndoye and the bigs will do their job as the Colonials fail to establish much of a threat outside the arc. George Washington is reeling right now and will continue to reel against a Bonaventure team which is not intimidated on the road. 63-57 Bonnies