By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies shouldn’t need any extra motivation to come out strong against Loyola Maryland tonight, but if they did, the coaching staff could easily use last year as a case study.
Last season’s non-conference slate was a tumultuous one for Bona. A little more than a week after a highly competitive contest against ACC power Pittsburgh in which the team displayed one of its best efforts of the season, the brown and white went into a brief holiday tailspin, losing by two at home to Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 22 and faltering by five at previously winless Delaware on Dec. 30. Those two games, among others, likely cost the Bonnies a postseason berth.
Tonight, Bonaventure plays in its first game since Tuesday’s game against Syracuse. Like the Pitt game last season, SBU led at the half on the road, only to lose in the final stages. Now, it faces a team it will be expected to beat and cannot afford an Eastern Shore-like disappointment in front of the home fans tonight.
Loyola was picked seventh in the Patriot League and has started the season 1-2, but this game won’t be a cakewalk. The Greyhounds have four players who average double-digit points per game, with senior forward Jarred Jones leading the way at 19.3. Jones has made 20 of his 38 shots from the field to start the season and has already been to the free throw line 23 times, making 18 of those. He’s also the leading rebounder at 10.7 a contest; luckily for Bona he is only 6-foot-7.
“They have a pretty good team, watching them on film,” said guard Marcus Posley. “They’ve got some guys that can shoot the ball (and) they have some pretty good scorers. (We just) need to stick to our keys that the coaches have been beating in our heads from day one on defense.”
“They share the ball,” said Bona head coach Mark Schmidt. “There’s not one guy you can concentrate on; you’ve got to play each guy.
“There’s not one guy you can double team. They share the ball and that’s why they’re good.”
For the Bonnies to win tonight, Posley will have to start getting back into the flow offensively. He’s only played two games, but the numbers are brutal: seven points per game, 5-of-26 from the floor, 4-of-18 from three.
For Posley, who scored 38 points in his first two games last season on 13-of-33 shooting, the start has been far from ideal, but the only remedy is to work through it.
“(I’ve got to) try not to think about it too much, try to not let the pressure get to me too much,” he said. “Having fun is the main thing. If you’re playing tight, you’re just bound to make mistakes.
“I feel like I’ve been a little tentative the last two games. I just need to attack, stop settling, the same stuff the coaches have been telling me…I’m looking forward to turning it around.”
Last time Posley was in a shooting funk like this, he snapped out of it with 29 points against Duquesne. The Rockford, Ill. native said this could be a “breakout game” for him.
“If we stick what we know, we should pull the game out.”