By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
St. Bonaventure students eating lunch at the Hickey Dining Hall on Friday afternoon had a surprise visitor in between bites of their chicken fajitas- men’s basketball coach Mark Schmidt, with microphone in hand.
Schmidt asked the students to take a two-hour study break from final exams Saturday at 6 p.m. and cheer on the team.
“You guys make the RC great. It stinks when you’re not there,” Schmidt said. “If we win, you can go right back to the library.”
All signs point to a show for the students and fans who attend.
Bona dropped one spot to 29th in the country in scoring after its 81-75 victory over Hofstra on Tuesday, but still averages 83 a game. Wilmington 58th, not counting dropping 126 on Division II Pfeiffer in an exhibition last Saturday.
In the last three games, Bonaventure is 26th in the nation in possessions per game, with about 76. Wilmington is just four possessions behind at 72.
Neither team is Virginia or Wichita State on defense, either. The Seahawks have allowed 71 points a game, the Bonnies 74. Teams shoot 49.5 percent against Wilmington, 28th-worst in Division I.
It may have been an exhibition game, not counting in the record books, but that D-II Pfeiffer team scoring 113 on the Seahawks leaves plenty of areas to exploit.
“They scout like we scout,” Jaylen Adams said. “So they might come out and change some things up, give us different looks. But we’ll come out and I guess we’ll try to take advantage of the weaknesses in the defense. If we do that, I think we’ll come out with a W.”
“As a coaching staff, we try to do as good a job as we can in preparing our guys to take advantage of what we think is the opponent’s weakness,” Schmidt said. “What we’ve gotta do to stop them, what their strengths are, our job is to turn over every stone we can to give us the best chance of winning. We do that every game.”
One of Schmidt’s primary concerns was taking care of the basketball and eliminating fast break opportunities where Wilmington would have numbers and get easy baskets.
“One, you have to take care of the basketball; they force 17 turnovers (a game). When you turn the ball over, especially when you give it to them, that creates number break and that’s what they’re good at,” Schmidt said. “So that’s the first thing we’ve gotta do is take care of the basketball. Secondly, we’ve gotta run the offense and take good shots. If we take bad shots, quick shots, that leads to number break. And we’ve gotta rebound the ball. They do a great job on the backboard.
“Those areas are really important, just like every game. Whether a team is playing fast or slow, if you’re turning over the ball, everybody’s gonna run in those situations.”
Five Seahawks average double-digit points- Chris Flemmings, C.J. Bryce, Devontae Cacok, Jordon Talley and Denzel Ingram- which makes stops even more important.
“We know they’re good, we know they’re talented… we have our hands full,” Schmidt said. “We’ve gotta find a way to keep the ball out of the paint, we’ve gotta find a way to take care of the basketball and take good shots.”
The importance of a game against a 7-1 team fresh off an NCAA Tournament appearance last March that is rated 20th in Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) wasn’t lost on Schmidt. The importance of having the rowdy students in attendance wasn’t lost on the tenth-year coach either.
“The RC is the RC for a reason,” Schmidt said. “I expect the students to be here and the community to be here, just like they are every game.
“When the RC is loud and obnoxious, it’s better for us.”