By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
Take away the kicking controversies, questionable social media decisions and daily interview soundbites, and the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team is playing a collegiate version of Draymond Green on Thursday night in the Reilly Center.
Jermaine Crumpton, Canisius College’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, is listed at 6-foot-6. 245 pounds, an inch shorter and 15 pounds heavier than the Golden State Warriors’ All-Star. The tenacity and emotion the two forwards exhibit on the court, however, is visibly comparable.
Crumpton, like Green, isn’t afraid on the court (and isn’t likely to be frightened of much off it, either). He’s not afraid to crash the offensive glass, not afraid to shoot the open three, and not afraid to get a technical foul. His emotions are worn freely on his sleeve for the 28 minutes of game action he averages.
The Big 4 Classic matchup against Buffalo was a perfect example of the impact the junior can have on a game. Crumpton scored a career-high 31 points and corralled six rebounds in the 7-5 Golden Griffins’ overtime victory. The Niagara Falls, N.Y. native stole the show and reveled in that fact, clapping his hands and letting out a “Woo!” or two as he ran back on defense.
In a high-energy environment, one of the high-energy players in hoops created all sorts of problems for the Bulls- and put future opponents on notice.
“Knowing that his teammates feed off him, knowing that he’s one of the big parts of the team, we want to stop him,” said Bonnies junior guard Idris Taqqee. “It’s one of those things where you know he could have a good night, he could have a bad night. All we can do is prepare.”
“Crumpton’s a really good player,” added Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt, who has never lost to Canisius in the Reilly Center. “To me he’s the most improved player on their team. He can play both inside and outside, he shoots the ball really well, gives them confidence. He’s a hard guard because he can both post up and can stretch you in shooting threes, so it’s a difficult matchup and one of the keys of the game somehow finding a way to control him.”
Crumpton is shooting 56 percent (23-of-41) from three-point land this season, an improvement from his 36 percent clip from deep last year. That improvement is part of the Griffs’ prowess from behind the arc, as they are currently 13th in the nation in three-point percentage at 41 percent. In their last four games, they made 48 percent and won all four to get over .500.
The best perimeter shooting opponent Bona has faced thus far could spell trouble, at least on paper. SBU is tied for 53rd-worst in Division I in three-point defense, allowing teams to make 39.3 percent of their treys. In the last three contests, the mark was 42 percent as UNC-Wilmington and Army drained double-digit threes and Niagara helped out by only going 5-of-17 from that area.
“That’s a big part of the gameplan is trying to figure out how we can keep the ball in front of us so they don’t get those open threes,” Schmidt said.
Other than the triples, Bonaventure is the better team, with a better rebounding outfit (38 to 35 per game) and more takeaways (11 blocks and steals a game to 9.1), as well as having the best player on the court for the 37 minutes Jaylen Adams averages and Matt Mobley or Denzel Gregg in the other three.
However, it’s a Big 4, Little Three rivalry game, which makes it likely to be a close matchup for the majority of the night. Players like Crumpton and fellow forward Phil Valenti will try to see to that.
“We know every game is gonna be a good game, and Canisius is playing well,” Schmidt said. “Even if they weren’t playing well, it’s still gonna be a good game.”
“Momentum is really gonna have to carry over in conference play,” Taqqee said. “We just want to keep it up.”