By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
Davidson’s destruction of Duquesne sealed it- the St. Bonaventure Bonnies will be the seventh seed in next week’s Atlantic 10 Tournament in Brooklyn. Their first game at the Barclays Center will be on Thursday at 6:30 against the St. Joseph’s Hawks. Bonaventure defeated Joe’s in both meetings during the regular season.
The Bonnies will enter tournament play winners of four of their last five games, much different than last year, when they entered Brooklyn on a four-game losing streak.
Bona coach Mark Schmidt acknowledged that his team has some positive momentum, but was cautious in his optimism.
“It gives us confidence; I’d rather be winning four out of five than losing four out of five,” said Schmidt. “But it’s not going to have any bearing when the ball goes up. We feel good about ourselves now, but (if) the ball goes up and we get down 10-0, this game is way, way back.
“We feel good about ourselves, we’re playing with confidence, but it’s fickle. Every game is a game in itself. We’ve got to play well, and hopefully we will.”
Six scholarship players (Youssou Ndoye, Dion Wright, Andell Cumberbatch, Chris Dees, Denzel Gregg and Xavier Smith) were on the roster during last year’s run to the conference semifinals, and that experience should suit them well next week.
“The positive thing is that we’ve got a number of guys who have had success in that environment, and hopefully they can play well and carry the other guys,” said Schmidt.
Cumberbatch will be a key player at the Barclays, and this year that’s a good thing thanks to his improved production. He averaged just 6.2 points a game against Atlantic 10 opponents last season but has averaged 9.7 a contest in-conference this year, including six straight double-digit games to close out the regular season.
To the senior from Jersey, it’s a mental thing.
“The thing with me is just my confidence,” said Cumberbatch. “Once my confidence is good I play better, so I’ve just got to keep seeing the ball going in and my teammates have got to just keep giving me faith.”
Five days separate Bona from a date with the Hawks, and preparation will be a plenty. As for right now, the Bonnies are happy where they’re at.