photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Sean Casey
ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The Bonnies’ long-awaited return to the Reilly Center will finally be here on Saturday, as Mark Schmidt and the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team square off against Hofstra.
The Pride will be led by associate coach and acting head coach Mike Farrelly, due to head coach Joe Mihalich being on temporary medical leave. Coming off of a win at Rocket Mortage Fieldhouse vs Akron, the Bonnies look to stay perfect in their second game of the season.
SBU and Hofstra last faced off on Dec. 7 of last year, when the Pride traveled north to St. Bonaventure in what was Bona’s 50th anniversary celebration of its 1970 Final Four team. Members of the historic team returned to a packed Reilly Center to watch the Bonnies team soar to a 28-point victory, led by Dominick Welch and Jaren Holmes each scoring 17 points.
Despite the score gap, it was a talented Hofstra team that went on to win the Colonial Athletic Association and is favored to defend that title this season.
Hofstra has played four more games than the Bonnies, compiling a 3-2 record. The Pride have been led by senior guard Tareq Coburn, who has averaged 20 points per game while shooting 15-plus free throws in two games, something the Bonnies will need to keep an eye on.
Another player to watch is senior guard Jalen Ray, who is the Pride’s minutes leader, averaging 35 per game while scoring 16 points per game and handing out four assists per game.
Hofstra is a fast team that has been playing a 2-3 zone defense often this season, and Schmidt realizes the importance of countering what they are doing.
“We need to be able to attack their 2-3 zone effectively, getting good shots,” said Schmidt, Bona’s head coach. “It’s hard to run when the ball is going through the net, and if you’re missing shots and turning the ball over, that’s when they’re at their best.”
In Bona’s win over Akron, the team scored 81 points despite only hitting one three-pointer, so the Bonnies will look to improve on their jump shooting against Hofstra.
Osun Osunniyi was dominant on both ends of the floor, scoring 25 points to go with eight rebounds.
SBU relied on its starting unit heavily against Akron, with all five starters playing 27 minutes or more, while the bench played a combined 34 minutes. It will be interesting to see if the Bonnies look to their bench more in this game with Schmidt expressing concern over the team’s fitness following a late-November quarantine.
“Usually in the preseason and once the season starts, you’re in game shape, but we’re not,” Schmidt said. “At least we’re playing.”
Saturday’s tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m., and can be seen on ESPN+ and heard on 95.7 WPIG.
“They’re a talented team,” Schmidt said of Hofstra. “There’s a reason why they’re picked to win (their conference) again. The game is not going to be like it was last year.”