(Photo credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
After a thrilling road victory over Canisius, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies return home on Saturday when they take on the Hofstra Pride at 4 p.m.
Hofstra is likely Bonaventure’s toughest remaining non-conference opponent. The team from Hempstead, N.Y. on Long Island returned four starters from last season and was the preseason pick to win the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). The Pride defeated Canisius and Molloy College before competing in the Paradise Jam Tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands a week ago, where they beat Florida State and had close losses to South Carolina and Indiana State. It is averaging 85 points a game, shooting 47 percent from the field.
Can Bonaventure improve to 4-1 with an impressive win over a possible NCAA Tournament team, or will the Pride roll into the Reilly Center and hand the Bonnies their first home loss of the season? Here’s the full breakdown:
St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 127-124 as Bonaventure head coach, first time facing Hofstra.
Hostra- Joe Mihalich. 33-39 as Hofstra head coach, 8-6 career record against SBU (as Niagara coach).
Key players for Hofstra:
Juan’ya Green- 6-foot-2 senior guard. Green, who came to Hofstra from Niagara with Michalich, is the man to watch for the Pride. An All-CAA selection last season, he is picking up where he left off, averaging 19.2 points and 7.2 assists a game through the first five games this year. The Philadelphia native is 41.2 percent from the field, with a 12-of-30 mark from three. When Niagara played the Bonnies in 2011-12, he scored 32 points and recorded four steals to give the eventual Atlantic 10 champs a scare.
Ameen Tanskley- 6-foot-5 senior guard/forward. Tanksley transferred with Green and Michalich and is also a huge scoring threat for the Pride, averaging 14.8 points and five rebounds a contest. He has shot 43.5 percent, including a 40.7 percent clip from three, but is just 9-of-18 from the free throw line. An 18-point performance against South Carolina, which included four threes, showed how capable of an offensive player he is.
Brian Bernardi- 6-foot-2 junior guard. Bernardi’s 26 points against Canisius were a career high, as were his eight threes; a 24-point, six-three output against Florida State wasn’t too shabby, either. The Staten Island, N.Y. native was the leading scorer in both of those games, and his 18 threes on the season lead the team. After struggling mightily against Indiana State, when he made one shot and missed all five three-point attempts, Bernardi will be looking to get back into a groove on Saturday.
Keys to victory for Hofstra: Get the three-ball going. Hofstra averages 10 three-pointers a game, and they’ll need at least 10 to prevail over the Bonnies. The Pride may have been picked to win the CAA, but Bona is still more talented, especially down low. The three is the great equalizer, however, and the Bonnies had their struggles defending it against Loyola. If the Pride can get into a rhythm from behind the arc, it can grab the W.
Keys to victory for Bonaventure: As usual, Bona needs a big game out of its big three. Posley, Adams and Wright all had their moments against Canisius, contributing to a solid win in a tough environment. If Posley can go for 25-plus points again, Wright can stay out of foul trouble and Adams can have a better shooting night to go along with his six assists and four rebounds, the brown and white will be in business.
The X-actor: Freshman forward Derrick Woods looked comfortable for the first time against Canisius. The coaching staff probably hopes Woods doesn’t have to play 30 minutes again on Saturday; Wright’s foul trouble caused that increase in minutes. But if the Trenton, N.J. native can get some buckets and continue to play tough defense, it’ll go a long way towards a victory.