(Jaylen Adams Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies men’s basketball team is a work in progress in many areas at this point in the young season (playing team defense and finishing games comes to mind), but as of right now it is the best in the country in one facet: the free throw line.
Through yesterday’s games, the Bonnies rank first in Division I men’s basketball in free-throw percentage, with an 84.4 percent mark. They are three percentage points better than New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), which is shooting 81.3 percent, and four percent better than Little Rock and Monmouth, who are shooting 80.7 percent and 80.3 percent, respectively. Virginia Military Academy (VMI) rounds out the top five, at 79.5 percent.
Bona has been consistently good at the stripe in the Mark Schmidt era, making 72 percent of its foul shots since he took over as head coach in the 2007-08 season. One of Schmidt’s former players, Matthew Wright, is third in school history in career free-throw percentage at 83.9. The two current seniors, Marcus Posley and Dion Wright, have a chance to be in the top 15 at the end of the season. Posley needs 45 more attempts at the line for 200, the minimum number to qualify for the all-time list, but his current 81.3 percent clip would rank him seventh all-time. Wright needs 19 more freebies to qualify and a slightly better success rate to make the list, as his 74.6 percent is just short of the 75.2 percent success rate that Jeff Quackenbush, Tim Winn and J.R. Bremer registered to tie for 15th.
If SBU hopes to stay at the top of the free throw charts, its forwards need to continue to knock them down at a high rate. Wright is 18-of-23 on the season, while Denzel Gregg is 16-of-20 and Derrick Woods is 8-of-10. Guards are expected to be near-perfect at the line, but forwards sometimes struggle- not Bona’s group of big men.
Schmidt discussed the importance of making foul shots on Tuesday.
“They’re free, and when they’re free you’ve got to take advantage,” he said. “A quarter of the points are scored from the foul line, so the better we shoot it, the more points we’ll score.
“It makes the defense pay for fouling us, it stops runs, so it’s very important.”