(Mariah Ruff Photo Credit: Cameron Hurst)
By Cameron Hurst @CameronNHurst
Coming off a lackluster 74-57 loss to Canisius at home on Wednesday evening, the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team now will look to find a way to bounce back, quickly, as a matchup with the Delaware Blue Hens looms on Saturday at 8 p.m.
“We’re not defending like we need to be defending,” said Bonnies head coach Jesse Fleming. “We’re not moving the ball the way we should be and it’s on me. I’ve got to figure out a way to get this. I’ve got to make some changes of some lineups and things like that and we’ve got to get this thing figured out really quick.”
Waiting for the Bonnies this evening will be a Blue Hens team that is undefeated so far this season. However, Delaware, under 21st year head coach Tina Martin, has already shown weakness against an Atlantic 10 team in George Mason. In the season opener, the Blue Hens defeated the Patriots after trailing a majority of the game thanks to a fourth quarter domination that led to a 67-51 victory.
What will help the Bonnies even their record in Newark? Here are three keys to a St. Bonaventure victory.
Veteran Leadership: Gabby Richmond has been very impressive this season offensively. Entering the year with one double-double in her career, she has quickly expanded upon that by turning in two this season, the most recent occurring on Wednesday after a 20-point, 11-rebound performance against the Golden Griffins.
Richmond has shown great leadership on this team, and right now, during a time where youth is getting the best of the Bonnies, it is more important than ever. The only other thing that can be asked is a more consistent defensive effort. The fifth-year graduate student has turned over the ball three times in two of the Bonnies three games (Niagara and Canisius) so far this season. During the matchup against Colgate, she did not have a turnover at all. If Richmond can continue her fantastic work blocking (her 4 against Niagara are a career high), improve her defense on the inside against the Blue Hens, and continue to put up double digit scoring totals, combined with the play of Mariah Ruff, the Bonnies should be in good shape against Delaware.
Mckenna Maycock and Matea Britvar. Speaking of Mariah Ruff, it has become more than evident that she simply cannot do it all for the Bonnies and cannot be expected to. Her attempt to try to do it all has lead to foul trouble, which proved pivotal against Canisius, as her two fouls in the first quarter led to her seeing the bench for the rest of the half. The Golden Griffins capitalized on Ruff’s absence and, as such, dominated the first half of play.
Therefore, the Bonnies need to establish someone who can back Ruff up, offensively and defensively, so that she isn’t in foul trouble early. Many believed, after her performance against Colgate, that junior Matea Britvar was that offensive backup needed for Ruff. I still believe that Britvar can be that person.
However, I also believe that Bonnies have not seen the full potential of sophomore Mckenna Maycock, who very well may be the most athletic player on the team. I believe there is a hot streak brewing for the Randolph, N.Y. native and that once her shots do begin to fall, even from long range, she is the missing ingredient needed to help bring the Bonnies to the point of consistency.
If Ruff and Richmond continue scoring at the rate they are now (13.3 ppg and 13.7 ppg, respectively), added with some contributions here and there from freshmen Sarah Hart and Jalisha Terry, all that would be needed to help put the Bonnies over the top would be a combination of Britvar and Maycock on another 13 points. This matchup against Delaware could be a perfect opportunity for a confidence game for Britvar and Maycock.
Turnovers. The Bonnies have turned the ball over 37 times this season. Turnovers have very obviously been the greatest weakness of the Bonnies so far this season and have led to somewhat sloppy play. Canisius scored 19 points off of turnovers en route to their victory over the Bonnies on Wednesday.
Coach Jesse Fleming has noted on several occasions just how emphasized limiting turnovers has been in practice. After being plagued by such on two separate occasions now (Niagara and Canisius), there has to be hope that the “third time’s the charm.”
It’s very simple. If the Bonnies can limit turnovers, not only will they be competitive against the Blue Hens, a team who can seemingly give the ball to any of their starting five and expect a contribution, they should have no problem in this game.
The Bonnies are in need of a way to prove themselves. Even if they are not able to overcome the Blue Hens, a strong showing would certainly go a long way. A solid performance on both sides of the ball by Gabby Richmond, more reliance and performance by Matea Britvar and Mckenna Maycock, and a decrease in the turnovers, would certainly be categorized as a win for the Bonnies and head coach Jesse Fleming.