By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio and Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt
The seventh-seeded St. Bonaventure Bonnies start Atlantic 10 Tournament play on Thursday at 6:30 in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where they will take on the tenth-seeded St. Joseph’s Hawks.
These teams are quite familiar with one another, as this will be their third meeting this season. The Bonnies defeated the Hawks in the first two contests, the first a 70-61 victory at the Reilly Center and the second a 70-60 overtime victory in Philadelphia.
This will also be the third time in four years that the Bonnies face the Hawks in the conference tournament. St. Joe’s ended Bona’s tourney run in last year’s semifinals, using a second-half surge to win 67-48 en route to winning the title the next day. In the matchup in the 2012 tournament quarterfinals, Andrew Nicholson led the Bonnies with 25 points and 10 boards as they defeated the Hawks 71-68 and won the title two days later.
As we look ahead to tomorrow’s game, most of the questions surround Bona guard Jaylen Adams. The freshman has missed the last seven games due to surgery for a fractured right ring finger, but was evaluated by his surgeon on Tuesday. Bonaventure has not announced if Adams is cleared to play yet, but there’s a strong possibility that he will be out there.
Who will advance to Friday’s quarterfinal matchup against the Dayton Flyers? Here’s the full breakdown:
St Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 123-122 as Bonnies coach, 6-7 against St. Joe’s.
St. Joe’s- Phil Martelli. 375-264 as Hawks coach, 27-9 against St. Bonaventure.
Key players for St. Joseph’s:
DeAndry Bembry- 6-6 sophomore forward. After losing to the Bonnies twice so far this season, Bembry—the talented forward that has drawn more than a few NBA scouts to the Hawks games, will be looking for blood. His stats are impressive: 17.9 points per game at 44 percent from the field, and 7.8 rebounds per game.
Isaiah Miles- 6-7 junior forward. Miles finds himself with the ball in games sometimes even more than Bembry because of Bembry’s ability to draw two or more defenders. He’s at double figures in average points this season at 10.5 and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Keys to victory for St. Joseph’s: One of the hardest things to do in sports is beat a team three times in the same season. The Hawks are well on the way to being the Bonnies victim once again unless they manage to execute a few vital things. First, they have to use Bembry as a distraction. last game the Bonnies knew he was going to be putting up a lot of shots so Coach Schmidt double teamed him heavily. If I’m St. Joe’s, I am posting him up like he’s a power forward and drawing the defense to him and letting him pass it out to open shooters. Also, I am being aggressive on defense and taking fouls if I have too. Don’t let the Bonnies get into transition or into rhythm.
Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: One of the biggest keys for Bonaventure is to take care of the basketball. The Bonnies committed 10 turnovers a game in their three-game win streak to close out the regular season compared to 16 a game in their last four losses of the regular season. Jay Adams was leading the A-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio when he went down, so his return would certainly help in the ball control department, especially against a team that doesn’t turn teams over all that much (tied for 194th in the nation in opponent turnovers per game).
Chuckie- Having Jay Adams back would do so much for this team’s confidence; everyone seems to play better with him in the lineup. I think he will play, but even if he doesn’t, SBU will win against a team they have matched up extremely well against. Bembry will get his points like he usually does, but the Bonnies are a better team. 77-70 Bonnies
Jeff- It’s extremely hard to beat a team three times on the year, and even though the Bonnies are much more talented, St. Joe’s may be overlooked by Schmidt and the boys in this one. 70-60 Hawks