(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball coaching staff has the same rule after each game, win or lose.
Mark Schmidt and his assistants give the team 24 hours to reflect on the last matchup, to revel in victory or lament in defeat. After that 24-hour window is up, the squad collects itself and focuses only on the next one.
Those 24 hours are the same no matter how the game ends, and they expired around the time of Super Bowl kickoff on Sunday. The last few days, the challenge has been levied: VCU, and the bizarre ending that turned Bona’s seventh conference win into a fourth loss, has to be forgotten.
SBU (14-8, 6-4) has to pay its undivided attention to hosting the Saint Louis Billikens (3-7, 8-15) on Wednesday at 7 at the Reilly Center.
“You just can’t let VCU beat us tomorrow,” senior forward Denzel Gregg said. “We’ve just gotta move on, trying to focus on Saint Louis and just gameplan and get ready.”
Saint Louis is the first team Bonaventure faces a second time this year. The first meeting was a blowout for the most part, with Bona holding a 46-15 lead at halftime and holding off a Billiken comeback attempt to win 71-52.
The Bonnies held the Billikens to 20 percent shooting in those first 20 minutes, making five more three-pointers (nine) than SLU made field goals (four). Bona only shot 6-of-23 in the second, while SLU shot 58 percent (14-of-24), but Bona came out too strong out of the gate to surrender the lead.
As Schmidt noted, that Jan. 17 game was “a long time ago.” His point guard, Jaylen Adams, made his return from a two-game absence in that contest; Adams has played four games since.
The Billikens have been playing better ball since that loss, as well, going 2-2 in A-10 play with wins over UMass and George Mason. Head coach Travis Ford’s team is sixth in conference games in scoring defense, allowing just one more point a game than Bonaventure despite being last in rebounding margin (-4.8).
After scoring just four points on Jan. 17, senior guard Mike Crawford has three double-figure point games, including a 24-point outing in that double-overtime win against Mason.
The Mason win was SLU’s only A-10 road victory to date, with a 1-4 mark away from Chaifetz Arena. The program is 3-4 all-time at the Reilly Center, with a near-upset last year before Adams’s buzzer-beating three.
Had Saturday’s win stayed a win, these teams would have reversed A-10 records, but Gregg said the team isn’t paying attention to the fact that it currently sits six slots ahead of tonight’s opponent in the standings.
“They remember what we did at their place, so there’s no last place, first place, doesn’t really matter,” he said. “Last year we lost to La Salle, so anything can happen. We’ve just gotta be ready for a good game.
“At least in the first half, it was one of our better defensive games, so I think that’s something we can try to do again. And just play hard, make it up to the fans. We haven’t been playing too well here this year.”
They may be moving forward from Saturday’s debacle, but Gregg knows it can be used as some extra motivation. If his squad, which looks to him as “the” leader, plays an angry, motivated game, it will reflect well on its ability to bounce back. Bona hasn’t lost back-to-back games since Florida and Little Rock in November.
“Definitely. This is the time you try to find a new little thing and that’s definitely something big we can use moving forward,” he said.
“But we should be self-motivated, so I think we’re in good shape and we’re getting ready to move forward.”