(Dion Wright Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team is set to put its three-game win streak on the line on Saturday at noon in Amherst, Mass. against the UMass Minutemen.
The 10-3 Bonnies are off to their best start since the 1999-2000 season, while the 8-6 Minutemen lost by 30 to the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday.
Even after the shellacking they took on Wednesday, UMass is a formidable opponent. The Minutemen have two players in the top 10 of the Atlantic 10 in scoring, just like Bonaventure. Both teams are in the top six of the league in scoring, top five in three-point defense, and bottom half in rebounding margin.
Last season’s meeting in Amherst, better remembered for Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt falling off the scooter he needed for his ruptured Achilles tendon in postgame handshakes, was a 69-55 Bona victory. 42 percent of the scoring from that game is now gone.
Can the Bonnies win their second straight road game against one of their hated rivals, or will the Minutemen bounce back for a major win? Here’s the full breakdown:
St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 134-126 as Bonnies coach.
Massachusetts- Derek Kellogg. 134-107 as Minutemen coach.
Key players for UMass:
Trey Davis- 6-foot senior guard. Davis, an East Dallas, Texas native, has averaged 23.6 points a game since he shot 4-of-16 from the field and missed five free throws in a loss to Florida Gulf Coast. After he scored 40 against New Orleans in the next contest, he told reporters his mom had motivated him to break out of his slump by turning off his phone.
“She said ‘Why are you missing free throws and all these jump shots?’” Davis said. “So she just turned my phone off and she told me ‘Get it together.'”
Davis got it together, and is now fourth in the conference in scoring, making 36 of his 41 free throws since his mother’s scolding. The Minutemen are 4-2 when he scores 20 points or more.
Donte Clark- 6-foot-4 sophomore guard. Clark is the team’s second scoring option, but also has six games with 20 or more points. He may be the team’s biggest three-point option; Davis has attempted seven more treys, but Clark has five games with four or more makes from behind the arc to Davis’s two.
Jabarie Hinds- 5-foot-11 senior guard. Hinds leads the team in assists, dishing out 3.4 a game, and is a potent scorer as well, with 14.4 points a contest. The Mount Vernon, N.Y. native has four games with at least 10 points and five assists; the team is undefeated in those games. A three-game stretch against Harvard, Central Arkansas and Clemson, in which he averaged 23 and 5.3 assists, was his best of the season to date.
Keys to victory for UMass: The Minutemen need to limit turnovers against a quick Bonaventure team. UMass turns the ball over an average of 12.6 times a game, and Bona opponents average 14.6 turnovers a contest. SBU is very active defensively, especially when they go to zone and the 6-foot-7 Dion Wright is at the top of it. The forced turnovers turn to major runs that key victories for the brown and white, so Kellogg’s team will look to take care of the ball.
Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: UMass is a guard-oriented team, meaning that Saturday is Dion Wright’s time to dominate inside. Wright has a chance to match or come close to his 30-point career high against a team that allows 42 points a game from two-point range. If Wright can grab at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, SBU has a great chance to improve to 3-0 in the A-10.