(Jaylen Adams Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
This season, it seems as if the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team faces a new challenge with every game.
On Sunday against Saint Louis, the challenge is clear: don’t get trapped.
The Billikens may be 3-6 in the Atlantic 10, three games behind the 6-3 Bonnies, but their three conference wins are nothing to sneeze at: George Washington, Davidson and a road win at UMass.
SLU has been able to defeat tough teams because of its guards, who are capable scorers. 6-foot-4 senior Ash Yacoubou leads the team in scoring at 12.2 points a game, while 6-foot-4 junior Mike Crawford averages 10.9. 6-foot-1 freshman Jermaine Bishop only averages 6.8 points, but had a four-game stretch last month when he averaged 18.3, including a 23-point outing against Davidson.
Six Billikens are shooting at least 40 percent from the field, but the team ranks 13th in the A-10 in field goal percentage. Yacoubou and his group will attempt to test Bona’s sixth-best field goal percentage defense.
“We’ve just got to focus in defensively,” guard Jaylen Adams said on Saturday. “(We need to) stay true to our principles, rotate and just take this game seriously, take every game seriously from here on out. One game at a time.”
“In order for us to win, home or away, we have to play our A-game,” said coach Mark Schmidt. “And that’s the message to our guys. We have good leadership; I think our guys understand.”
The Bonnies are in as good of a spot as they have ever been at this point in the season under Schmidt. The 6-3 conference record is the best through nine games of the league schedule- in the 2012 Atlantic 10 championship year, Andrew Nicholson and co. were 5-4 after nine.
To keep the stellar record and stay in the top 50 in Relative Percentage Index (RPI), Bona must win games like this one. Contests they are heavily favored to win must go their way, and they are certainly expected to beat the Billikens, entering the day as 14-point favorites.
“We’re not good enough to take anybody lightly,” Schmidt said.
Adams, who is third in the conference in scoring in A-10 games with 21 points a contest, agreed with his coach’s sentiment.
“We feel like we’re back on track, and this is how we want to feel going into the end of the season and the postseason,” Adams said. “So we’re trying to stay on a run and keep it going in the league.”
To keep that run going, SBU must get a victory on Sunday.