photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Jeff Uveino
ST. BONAVENTURE — Two seasons ago, in his hometown of Rochester, New York, Anthony Lamb did almost everything to beat St. Bonaventure.
At Blue Cross Arena, the then-sophomore scored 27 points for the Vermont men’s basketball team, and if it hadn’t been for a Matt Mobley buzzer beater, the Catamounts would have won.
Last December, Lamb went for 42 points in Vermont’s double-overtime win against the Bonnies at home.
Now, the teams will meet for the third year in a row, as they play Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Reilly Center.
Bona head coach Mark Schmidt knows that if his team is going to earn its first win of the season, it’s going to have to slow down Lamb.
“I’m not sure if we have an answer,” Schmidt said on Thursday. “He can shoot the ball from the perimeter, post up, and he presents a lot of problems. I guess we hope he misses.”
Schmidt pointed out the fact that Lamb has averaged nearly 35 points per game against the Bonnies the last two years.
“There’s a couple different ways we can go about (stopping Lamb),” Schmidt said. “We can let him go and try to stop the other guys, or try to stop him and put it on their other players to make baskets.
“He can’t score 42 again, so whatever we need to do, hopefully we can do a better job than last year.”
After playing two preseason exhibitions, this will be Vermont’s first regular season game of the year.
Lamb did not play in the first exhibition vs. Brown, and played just five minutes in the second, against Saint Michael’s College.
A season ago, the Catamounts went 27-7 and were America East conference champions, earning a trip to the NCAA tournament.
As a No. 13 seed, Vermont was edged by No. 4 Florida State in the first round of the tournament, 76-69.
“They’re a good team and a veteran team,” Schmidt said. “We knew when we set up the schedule that they have a great program. I’m glad we’re playing at home, but it’s going to be difficult and we need to play our best to have a chance.”
Another Vermont player to watch is junior guard Stef Smith, who averaged 12.4 points per game and scored 21 points against the Bonnies a year ago.
The Bonnies will be without sophomore forward Osun Osunniyi, a preseason all-conference selection.
Osunniyi suffered a bone bruise in his knee in SBU’s season-opening loss to Ohio, and it was reported that he could miss up to a month.
Schmidt said that while losing a player of Osunniyi’s caliber is never good, it gives another player a chance.
“We stress it all the time, that you never know when your name is going to get called,” Schmidt said. “Someone’s name is going to get called tomorrow, and hopefully they’re ready and can take advantage of the opportunity.”
SBU is searching for its first win of the season, after losing to Ohio, 65-53, on Tuesday night.
This is only the fourth-ever meeting between the two programs, as they first met in 2015.