Men’s basketball: Bonnies in “must-win” zone against Richmond

(Marcus Posley Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team has had a full week to diagnose what went wrong in its three-game losing streak. The Bonnies hope to get back on track on Sunday, when they host the Richmond Spiders at 3 p.m. in the second game of a doubleheader with the women’s team at the Reilly Center.

“It’s really big; it’s a must-win for us,” said senior guard Marcus Posley.

Richmond enters Olean just one game behind Bona in the Atlantic 10 standings. The Spiders lost their first two league games to St. Joe’s and Rhode Island before defeating Fordham and La Salle. They then lost two straight to VCU and Davidson before prevailing in double overtime at George Washington on Thursday night.

This is Richmond’s third game in seven days, while SBU has been able to rest after its lone bye of the conference schedule. However, the Spiders had nine days between the VCU and Davidson games, so coach Chris Mooney isn’t going to complain about the scheduling.

“I don’t think of it as too big of a deal,” Mooney told The Intrepid this week. “The kids are resilient and each week changes in conference play… you play the schedule you have and try to be consistent in your approach.”

Richmond has been consistently efficient offensively this season, ranking second in the league in scoring at 80.2 points a game while shooting a league-best 49.8 percent from the floor. The Spiders also share the ball well, with a league-leading 17.1 assists a game.

The Spiders may have one of the A-10’s top offenses, but the defense has allowed 75.1 points a contest, third-most in the A-10. Opposing teams are shooting 45.8 percent from field goal range, giving them the worst field-goal defense in the conference. According to Richmond forward T.J. Cline, they have to work harder on defense.

“We need to just to continue work harder on the defensive end,” Cline said. “We certainly focus on it in practice and work hard at it in games, but we need to keep getting better at getting stops.”

The 6-foot-9 Cline, a Plano, Texas native, makes up a third of the Spiders’ Big Three. He, senior forward Terry Allen and junior guard ShawnDre’ Jones account for 65.3 percent of the team’s scoring and 47.3 percent of the team’s rebounding efforts.

The 6-foot-8 Allen is third in the A-10 in scoring and sixth in rebounding, averaging 19.9 points and 8.1 boards. Jones, who stands at 5-foot-11 but is lightning quick with the basketball, averages 16.6 points and 3.6 assists. Cline chips in 15.7 points and five rebounds along with 4.1 assists.

The Spiders, like the Bonnies, have a semblance of a Big Four this year, with 6-foot-8 junior forward Marshall Wood becoming an impact transfer. Wood, a Virginia Tech transfer who had to sit last season, is fourth on the team in scoring with 10.5 points a game while collecting 4.2 rebounds a contest. He is an added weapon to an already powerful group.

“Richmond’s a good team,” said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt. “They’re going to challenge us defensively (and) they’re going to challenge us in transition. We’ve just got to continue to work and get some stops and hold teams to one shot.”

The Spiders have had Bona’s number in the past few years, winners of four of the last five matchups. Despite this, they know that any game at the Reilly Center is tough and are throwing past success out the window.

“We have had some tough and close games with St. Bonaventure and know that it’s always tough to get a win,” said Jones. “But each year and each team is different and this game will be different than other ones we’ve played.”
“They definitely have the upperhand on us,” Posley acknowledged. “But at the same time, I’m confident in our ability.”
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