By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies close out the regular season on Saturday at 4 when they host the Fordham Rams at the Reilly Center.
Bona (16-12, 9-8 in the A-10) enters the last game before the Atlantic 10 Tournament with a shot at moving from eighth to seventh in the bracket. For that to happen, it needs to take care of business against the Rams (9-19, 4-13) and UMass has to beat George Washington in their 3:30 matchup in D.C. If the Bonnies win, George Washington wins, La Salle beats Dayton and Davidson beats Duquesne, the Bonnies are also seventh in that scenario.
The Bonnies’ first opponent in Brooklyn on Thursday will be either St. Joe’s or La Salle. If they get the seventh seed, they will play at 6:30. If they get the eighth seed, they will play at noon. The eighth seed may actually be more desirable for SBU since Davidson would be the quarterfinal opponent rather than Dayton, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
One notable for the Rams is that leading scorer Eric Paschall is doubtful for tomorrow’s game. Coach Tom Pecora said that unless he’s 100 percent, he’s not going, so don’t expect to see him in uniform.
Can the Bonnies dispatch Fordham and keep these scenarios alive, or will the Rams pull off a big upset in the Reilly Center a la 2013? Here’s the full breakdown:
St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 122-122 as Bonnies coach.
Fordham- Tom Pecora. 43-104 as Rams coach.
Key players for Fordham:
Mandell Thomas- 6-2 junior guard. With Paschall out, Thomas will assume most of the scoring burden. The Rochester native is averaging 13.1 points, four rebounds and a team-leading 3.7 assists this season. He’s a quick and athletic guard that also leads the conference in steals with 2.3 steals a contest. An upset win would rest largely on Thomas’s shoulders.
Christian Sengfelder- 6-7 freshman forward. My pick for A-10 Rookie of the Year is averaging 11.5 points on 49 percent shooting from the floor along with 7.3 rebounds. The individual matchup with Dion Wright should be something to watch, with rookie going against veteran.
Jon Severe- 6-2 sophomore guard. Severe, an All-Rookie selection last year after averaging just over 17 points a game, returned to the team in January after taking a month-long leave of absence for personal reasons. He has struggled to regain his form, averaging just 6.9 points and 2.8 rebounds a contest, but had 15 points against La Salle and cannot be overlooked on Saturday. If he gets hot and reverts to his 2013-14 self, he could have a major impact on this game.
Keys to victory for Fordham: Defense has been the pitfall for the Rams this season; they are 0-9 in Atlantic 10 games that they allow 70 points or more. The Bonnies’ offense has struggled at times this year, so for Fordham to have a chance, SBU needs to score less than the “unmagical number” of 70.
Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: Now more than ever, the Bonnies cannot look ahead or scoreboard watch. Everyone is excited for Brooklyn, and everyone will be keeping a close eye on the seeding scenarios, but the brown and white need to end the regular season strong by playing a solid game on both ends from start to finish. Fordham is not the most formidable opponent, but it’s not like Bona can breeze through this game without a care, and the players know that.
Prediction: The Bonnies will overpower the Rams and get 10 A-10 wins for the first time since Andrew Nicholson and the 2012 team. Look for Marcus Posley to have a great day shooting the basketball. 73-56 Bonnies