Men’s basketball: Bonnies host Vermont for first time

(Derrick Woods photo credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

If the St. Bonaventure Bonnies want to go into the 10-day break for final exams on a high note, they’ll have to beat new foe Vermont on Tuesday night at the Reilly Center. The Catamounts come into Olean with a 4-5 record, while the 5-2 Bonnies are looking for their fifth win in the last six games.

The Catamounts are coming off an 18-point loss to the Yale Bulldogs and have two notable, “good” losses, a 107-79 loss to Purdue on Nov. 15 and an 86-62 defeat to Florida on Nov. 25. They were picked to finish third in the America East Conference preseason poll.

Can the Bonnies put on another strong performance before they hit the books for a while? Here’s the full breakdown:

The Coaches: 

St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 129-125 as Bonnies coach.

Vermont- John Becker. 91-54 as Catamounts head coach.

Key players for Vermont:

Trae Bell-Haynes: 6-foot-2 sophomore guard. Bell-Haynes, who hails from Toronto just like Bona freshmen guard Nelson Kaputo, is leading Vermont in scoring with 13 points a game and also has the most assists with 28 on the season. He shoots at a 43.8 percent clip and can rebound a little too, with 3.1 boards a contest. He can do a little bit of everything, which makes him a key player to watch for.

Ethan O’Day: 6-foot-9 senior forward. O’Day is Vermont’s tallest player, and he’s an effective big man. With averages of 12.4 points, 5.9 boards and 1.6 blocks a game, he presents a possible matchup problem for Bona freshman forward Derrick Woods down low.

Cam Ward: 6-foot-2 sophomore guard. Ernie Duncan, the team’s third-leading scorer, has missed the last two games with a concussion, so Ward must step up. He will likely need to up his average of nine points for the Catamounts to get the win, which means he has to shoot better than 36.5 percent from the field and 27.5 percent from three-point range.

Keys to victory for Vermont: Don’t foul. The Catamounts are committing just under 20 fouls a game, while Bonaventure is making 17 a game while continuing to rank first in the nation in free-throw percentage at 84.5 percent. If you send this Bonnies team to the line, they will make you pay, and you’ll find yourself trailing in a hurry. With the aggressiveness and physicality Bona plays with, it’s tough to stay out of serious foul trouble, but it’s one of the key ways to grab a win.

Keys to victory for Bonaventure: The Bonnies need a strong showing from Woods. At times this year, he has looked very comfortable, and his offense has been an added bonus. In the last two games, however, he has put up just six points compared to 15 over the two previous contests. A good offensive game would be a major plus. However, his main responsibility is to lock down on defense and match up well with the big man he’s going up against. Against a Vermont team that is small like Bonaventure’s, this could be the perfect chance for a breakout game from the Trenton, N.J. native.

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