photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Nic Gelyon
ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Whoever said the core of St. Bonaventure’s men’s basketball team was a “Big 3” must’ve forgotten about Jaren Holmes, who on Monday, was named the Atlantic 10’s ‘Player of the Week’.
The junior guard had a dominant performance in the Bonnies’ 83-57 win against Saint Joseph’s last Wednesday.
Holmes shot 14-for-22 from the field for 38 points, along with 10 rebounds and three assists, against the Hawks. Eight of his 22 makes were from beyond the arc. Holmes attempted 12 three-pointers on his own in the game, a statistic made significant when considering that SBU, as a team, has only attempted an average of 18 three-pointers per game this season.
Beyond the incredible shooting performance from Holmes on Wednesday, it was his ability to shift momentum that likely won him this honor. While the Bonnies started out slowly against the then 0-8 Hawks, only leading by four at halftime, Holmes took it upon himself to take over early in the second half.
Holmes, on his own, went on a 9-2 run in just over three minutes, single-handedly stretching St. Bonaventure’s eight-point lead to 15. Holmes was, in a word, unstoppable.
He’s second in the Atlantic 10 and tied for 34th in the country in three-point shooting percentage, hitting over 52% of his shots beyond the arc, and is ninth in the conference in overall shooting percentage.
“We’re not playing great, but we have some veteran guys,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said on Tuesday. “Guys that really care. It’s a blessing that we have guys that know the system, because we haven’t practiced a ton.”
The Bonnies’ momentum for the week would stop on Wednesday, however, as Friday night brought the postponement of their scheduled game against George Washington, which was supposed to be played Saturday at noon in the Reilly Center.
Per a statement from George Washington athletics, the Colonials had a positive test within their “Tier One” personnel, forcing the game to be rescheduled.
Tier One personnel includes all team members who have “frequent close contact” with players, including coaches, medical staff, managers, and student-athletes themselves. No further information has been made available as to when the game will be played, or if it will be played at all. It is also unknown, as of Tuesday, who at GW tested positive.
“We haven’t had a lot of practice time, especially going five on five, so we just try to get better in all our areas,” Schmidt said. “More chemistry; getting guys more reps. We had an extra day of practice and tried to improve because we aren’t near where we need to be.”
College basketball has had nationwide issues containing the COVID-19 pandemic this season, despite strict protocols put in place prior to the season. The A-10, however, has taken a beating at the hands of the virus. Ten of the league’s 14 schools have had to postpone and/or cancel men’s and/or women’s basketball games so far this season.
“I don’t want to look at it as we’re the only team that’s going through this,” Schmidt said of the cancelations. “The team that we’re playing tomorrow (Fordham), I think they were quarantined for 46 days. Some people have had it worse, but you’ve got to take it one day at a time and can’t feel sorry for yourself.”
The Week Ahead
While the virus prevents us from telling exactly what is ahead for this week, the Bonnies are scheduled to play at 1-3 Fordham on Wednesday at 2 p.m., before returning to the Reilly Center to play 3-3 Duquesne on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Bonnies’ game against the Dukes was moved from Saturday to Friday, to be the A-10’s national game that will be broadcasted on ESPN2.
Fordham’s schedule has looked similar to Bona’s this season, as a COVID-19 shutdown in late November derailed the Rams’ non-conference schedule to the point where they were left unable to play any games before A-10 play began. SBU played two conference games this season.
But for how little they’ve played this season, the Rams have been outscored by a collective 53 in the first half of their four games. In stark contrast, the Bonnies have outscored opponents by 30 points in the first half alone.
“They’re struggling offensively, but that hasn’t affected their defense and hasn’t affected how hard they play,” Schmidt said. “These kids really play. They’re very good defensively. They take a zillion charges. They’re just hard-nosed kids. Blue collar kids that love to compete. They understand who they are and they play awfully hard.”
Chris Austin has averaged over 11 points per game for the Rams this season, while Joel Soriano has averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. The Rams’ lone win of the season came on Jan. 5 at home against Dayton.
As for Duquesne, which is 2-2 in the conference right now, the Bonnies will have to contend against Marcus Weathers. The senior forward is shooting nearly 50% from the floor and averaging 13.2 points per game for the Dukes this season. He’ll face a St. Bonaventure defense that has held opponents to just 41% shooting.
Those numbers are in no small part due to being ninth in the nation defending against the three, allowing opponents just under 26% shooting from beyond the arc. The good news for the Bonnies is that the Dukes are only shooting just under 29% from there this season.
“In this league or in any league, on any given day, anybody can win games,” Schmidt said. “We’re going down to Fordham understanding that that’s going to be a very difficult game, and hopefully we can play well enough to win by one. This is not an overlooked game.”