By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team had yet to watch film of the Army Black Knights when senior forward David Andoh met with the media on Sunday afternoon, so the Montreal native was forgiven for taking a rather obvious route in what to expect from Monday’s opponent.
“I’m assuming they’re gonna be very disciplined. I know for sure Coach (Schmidt) mentioned that,” Andoh said.
Discipline is a pillar of the United States Military Academy, so it’s a natural expectation that the West Point players will display good control and order on the Reilly Center court at 7 p.m. Indeed, the 5-5 Black Knights rank second among Patriot League teams in assist-to-turnover ratio, and while they commit 19 fouls a game, that’s still two fewer personals a game than Bona.
The Bonnies haven’t played Army since a 1970 meeting at Madison Square Garden, when the Knights were coached by Bobby Knight. SBU, No. 19 in the AP Poll at the time, won that game 58-51.
The current Bonaventure and West Point squads could each have a few more notches in their win columns through the season’s first 10 games. Bona’s three losses have come by a combined 11 points, while Army has lost just one game by more than 10, a 14-point defeat to a ranked Oregon team.
If the Knights have any major advantage over the brown and white, it’s depth. With 18 players who have appeared in a game this year, nine of which have averaged 10 or more minutes a contest, coach Jimmy Allen has had over 8,000 lineup combinations he could plug in already.
A balanced rotation means balanced scoring (eight players average at least 6.5 points). Leading the way is 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Jordan Fox, who averages 12.4 points on 48 percent shooting, while freshman forward Matt Wilson chips in 10.2 points and makes 70 percent of his shots.
Army also likes shooting the three-ball, attempting about 26 a game (tied for 33rd in the nation) and making about 10 (tied for 24th).
The Bonnies allow just under eight makes a game from behind the arc, 236th in the country. Preventing a bonanza from the perimeter, like the one in the UNC-Wilmington game, could be the difference between taking care of business and letting another non-league matchup slip.
“It’s an emphasis,” Schmidt said about defending the trey. “That’s what they’re good at. They shoot 27 a game and they hit 10, so that’s a big emphasis of getting to the three-point shooters and hopefully limiting them to less than 10.”
With finals over, most SBU students are home for the holidays. The absence of one of the best student sections in the country always forces Bonaventure players to adjust and create much of the energy in the building on their own, rather than rallying off the momentum of their boisterous classmates.
“As a team, we feed off that,” Andoh said. “We’re expecting some people to still be here, but we’re just going to have to talk more and be more active, be more energetic when we’re out there.”
Army hasn’t played since Dec. 10, while SBU just beat Niagara in Buffalo on Saturday. Rest is a possible factor on Monday night, but Bona’s assistant coaches have been doing advance scouting on the Black Knights, so the team should be prepared.
“Coach Schmidt loves to prepare,” Andoh said. “We’re gonna go through all their stuff, our scouting report’s gonna be very thorough.
“It’s good that we get to rest our bodies for a day at least, but it’ll be a quick turnaround and we’re prepared for it.”