(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies men’s basketball team has given its fans the gift of a 7-2 record heading into Tuesday night’s matchup at Siena. Now, one material present stands in the way of a seven-day break: the Franciscan Cup.
After defeating the Saints three years in a row from 2010-2012, Bonaventure has dropped the last two matchups to its sister school by a combined five points. Tonight, they try to end that skid at the Times Union Center in Albany, where the Saints are 4-0 this season.
To bring that cup back to Sister Margaret Carney and Bona’s Franciscan Friars, the brown and white will have to play a complete 40 minutes against a Saints team that has five double-figure scorers, none of which are seniors. The full breakdown:
St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 131-125 as Bonnies coach.
Siena- Jimmy Patsos. 38-42 as Saints coach.
Key players for Siena:
Marquis Wright- 6-foot junior guard. SBU fans may be surprised that Wright is only a junior considering his impact in this rivalry already. In the 2013 victory over Bona, the Waldorf, Md. native hit the game-winning shot as time was about to expire. In 2014, he led the team with 15 points and eight assists in 39 minutes of play. This season, Wright leads the Saints with 17.1 points, 4.1 assists and two steals a contest. The team captain is once again the focal point offensively, and cannot be taken lightly on the defensive end, either.
Brett Bisping- 6-foot-8 redshirt junior forward. The second scoring option on this talented Siena team is averaging 13.4 points along with leading the team in rebounds with 9.2 a contest. Bisping is also third on the team in three-point attempts with 34, making 11 of those three-balls. He has made a strong comeback from a foot injury last December that sidelined him for the rest of his junior season.
Javion Ogunyemi- 6-foot-8 junior forward. This summer, it looked like Patsos was going to lose one of his best players when Ogunyemi decided to transfer to Boston University. Ogunyemi decided to go back to Siena after six weeks, however, after a family emergency made him realize he needed to stay close to his family. The Troy, N.Y. native is likely grateful that he made the decision to stay with the Saints. He’s playing the best ball of his career, with 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and just under two blocks a game.
Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: One major factor for the Bonnies will be two-point defense on both midrange jumpers and in the paint. The Saints attempt just 15.4 three-pointers a game, the 16-fewest in Division I basketball. Their two-point field goal percentage is 67th in the country at 52.2 percent, so they clearly know the offensive gameplan that fits their personnel best.
Because of this, Bona’s forwards become a very important key to victory. Denzel Gregg, Dion Wright, Derrick Woods and Jordan Tyson have to keep the Siena bigs out of the paint and force them to shoot low-percentage shots. Siena also commits 23.3 fouls a game, 19th-worst in the NCAA. If the SBU forwards can get the Saints in foul trouble and limit their aggressiveness, that provides a significant edge in a road environment.
Keys to victory for Siena: The Saints must stick to the gameplan that already has them four wins off of last year’s total. They cannot allow the Bonaventure post players to dissuade them from working inside the arc offensively, as the Bonnies are allowing opponents to shoot just 31.5 percent from deep this year. To win this game, Siena is going to have to dominate inside and score at least 30 points in the paint.
Final note: If St. Bonaventure wins tonight, Mark Schmidt will notch his 132nd victory, tying him with Jim Baron for fifth on the school’s all-time coaching wins list.