Men’s basketball: St. Joe’s (Away) Preview

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio and Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies look to end a three-game skid on Saturday at 7 when they visit the St. Joseph’s Hawks. The game will be broadcast live on SportsNet New York.

This is the second contest between these two teams. In the first meeting, on Jan. 18, the Bonnies won 70-61 in a game they had control of throughout; the game featured just one lead change and only four ties.

Can the Bonnies win for the first time since Jaylen Adams’s injury, or will the Hawks protect home court, where they are 9-2 this season? Here’s the full breakdown:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 119-121 as Bonnies coach, 5-7 against St. Joe’s.

St. Joseph’s- Phil Martelli. 373-261 as Hawks coach, 27-8 against St. Bonaventure.

Key players for St. Joe’s:

DeAndre’ Bembry- 6-6 sophomore forward. Bembry, who leads his team with 18 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game, has made a strong case for himself to be named Atlantic 10 player of the year as the season winds down. His size and athleticism make it easy for him to drive the lane and punish the defenders in his way. And, while he’s not a great outside shooter you still have to respect him out there at about 35 percent. Bembry hasn’t only impressed the fans of the Hawks or any team that he goes to play, but also NBA scouts that go to all his games.

Isaiah Miles- 6-7 junior forward. Miles is the second best player on a team that relies on Bembry to do pretty much everything. Also a forward, Miles is second in scoring for the Hawks at 10.9 points per game and rebounds at 5.0 per game.

Keys to victory for St. Joe’s: If I’m Phil Martelli I do what I’ve been doing all year long and get the ball to DeAndre Bembry and let him score. At 45 percent from the field he puts it in the basket with ease. Also, I’m taking advantage of Jay Adams being out and forcing Marcus Posley to be better from the outside than he has been lately. Posley was 1-8 in his last game from three, and the Bonnies will have to hit three’s to beat the Hawks.

Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: Bona may have controlled the last game against the Hawks, but they need to correct some things they did poorly in that contest. First off, DeAndre’ Bembry had a great offensive showing, scoring 27 points including six threes. Stopping Bembry gives the shorthanded Bonnies a strong chance at sweeping the season series. Secondly, SBU was outrebounded 38-30, with four of the five Hawks grabbing five or more boards. Winning the battle on the glass would have made that game a blowout, and it remains important on Saturday. On the flip side, the Bonnies only committed seven turnovers in that Jan. 18 matchup and Joe’s does not force many turnovers. Maybe it’s the perfect game for point guard Iakeem Alston to learn ball control.

Predictions:

Chuckie- DeAndre Bembry may get 50 points in this game, but his supporting cast does not have enough talent to complement him against Bonaventure, with or without Jay Adams. The Bonnies won’t lose four in a row, right? Right? 75-68 Bonnies

Jeff- DeAndre Bembry will continue his dominance in the Atlantic 10 conference and the Bonnies will struggle without Jay Adams. 73-59 Hawks.

Bonnies best Hawks in rivalry game

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

In a typically-intense St. Bonaventure-St. Joseph’s battle, the Bonnies came out on top with a 70-61 victory on Sunday afternoon.

Marcus Posley had a tremendous game, leading SBU with 23 points on 8-18 shooting from the floor, including a 5-10 day from three. His big performance launched him back into the Atlantic 10 scoring lead and gave the Bonnies the lift they needed in the second half, where they outscored the Hawks by ten after trailing by one at the half.

“I think everybody just rallied together. We finally hit that point in the game where everybody was clicking with each other,” said Posley. “(Down) the stretch, execution is a must. Guys dialed in and we got the job done.”

Posley’s last three gave the Bonnies a 60-54 lead with 2:45 left. The execution on that play was some of Bona’s finest this season.

“You try to use the clock and get a shot at the end,” said Bona head coach Schmidt. “I thought our guys really executed the play to get Marcus the three.”

Youssou Ndoye chipped in 15 points for the Bonnies. He made one of the biggest plays in the game five minutes into the second half when he stepped into the passing lane to steal a St. Joe’s pass, then slammed home a two-handed dunk on the fast break to give the Bonnies their first lead of the ballgame. The Bonnies never trailed again after that huge shift in momentum.

“I was just trying to get our guys going because they always follow me and in the first half I came out flat, turning the ball over in the first minute and missing some defensive assignments, said Ndoye. “In the second half I promised them that I would play better and just get the energy going. I was just trying to make a play.

“I think every time you come off two bad losses and (win) two in a row you have the momentum going on the road to Duquesne. We’re just trying to get good momentum and steal another one on the road.”

Dion Wright, who was in foul trouble for most of the George Mason win, added 14, while Andell Cumberbatch scored nine. After Cumberbatch picked up his fourth foul, Denzel Gregg hit a big jumper with 3:51 to play to extend the Bonnies’ lead to three.

It was a big team win, and Schmidt took note of that.

“I thought we got off to a sluggish start in the first seven minutes similar to (the game against) George Mason, but I thought we found ourselves and finished the half. Going into halftime, I thought we felt good about ourselves; we didn’t play well in the first half but were only down by one.

“(In the) second half we came out with a lot more energy. We talk about the trifecta all the time (defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball) and I thought we really defended.”

Everyone knew DeAndre’ Bembry was going to get his points, 27 on this day, but Chris Wilson and Isaiah Miles are two other big contributors to the Hawks attack, and Bona was able to successfully neutralize them. Wilson was held scoreless, while Miles went just 3-10 for the field, scoring 10 points overall.

“We didn’t do a very good job on Bembry, but we thought that Wilson and Miles were the two other guys,” said Schmidt. “Miles was a role guy last year and really played off the seniors but this year he’s much more aggressive, had a good game against Fordham. Holding (Wilson) to zero points was a heck of a job.

“Bembry got his 27, but I thought we defended those other guys decently. I thought we did a great job of taking care of the ball with 18 assists and seven turnovers. We didn’t rebound the way we were capable of rebounding, which is something that we need to improve on, but I thought we found a way.”

SBU had a reputation last season of being a team that folded in the last three minutes of the game, losing some heartbreakers in the process. They thrived in the final moments against the Hawks.

“In the Atlantic 10, I tell the guys all the time that it’s gonna come down to the last two or three minutes, the last two or three possessions. The team that can make the plays, both offensively and defensively, is gonna win the game,” said Schmidt. “We found a way to make those plays and Marcus hit a couple big shots. And we finished the game making our foul shots which is critical.”

Next, Bona will try to do just what Ndoye said: steal a game on the road against Duquesne. The Dukes will come into Thursday night’s matchup at 6-10, with a 1-3 record in the A-10.

Men’s basketball: St. Joseph’s (Home) Preview

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Sunday will be a basketball-filled day at the Reilly Center when the Bonaventure men’s and women’s teams play a nationally-televised doubleheader. The men will play the St. Joseph’s Hawks at 2:30 in the first half of the twin bill.

The Bonnies (9-6 overall, 2-2 in the Atlantic 10) and Hawks (7-8, 1-3) look very different from their meetings last season. The Hawks, usually contenders for the A-10 title, won both games against the Bonnies last year. Both contests saw St. Joe’s pull away in the second half. The most recent matchup was the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinal in Brooklyn, when Hawks guard Halil Kanacevic, who graduated in May, shot lights-out and Bona appeared to have a lid on their rim as they shot 25 percent from the floor in a 67-48 loss. The Hawks went on to beat VCU in the final to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to eventual champion UConn in overtime.

This year, Phil Martelli’s young squad is far from being a tourney team, currently ninth in the early conference standings with a losing record. The old saying goes that “you are what your record says you are.” A 7-8 record indicates a below-average team right now, but they have three losses to ranked on the road: number 10 Villanova, number 13 Gonzaga and number 20 VCU.

The Bonnies come into this one with the better record and momentum after a 20-point win over George Mason at the Reilly Center. By now, however, they know not to overlook opponents, especially a Joe’s team that has had their number in the past.

Will SBU defend home court with NBC Sports Network in the house, or will the Hawk’s wings be victoriously flapping when the final buzzer sounds? Here’s the full breakdown:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure- Mark Schmidt. 116-115 as Bonnies coach, 4-7 against St. Joe’s.

St. Joe’s- Phil Martelli. 369-255 as Hawks coach, 27-7 against St. Bonaventure.

Key players for St. Joe’s:

DeAndre Bembry- 6-6 sophomore forward. If the Hawks are going to pull off a marginal upset in the Reilly Center they are going to need a big game from Bembry. The afroed swingman is leading the team in the big three statistical categories, with 15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game. The coaching staff is probably not pleased with his turnovers (2.7 a game), but he is forced to do so much for this team that he is naturally going to turn the ball over a couple times a night. The matchup with Andell Cumberbatch and Denzel Gregg should be a good one, as both have improved defensively this season.

Isaiah Miles- 6-7 junior forward. Miles will attempt to take some of the pressure off Bembry’s shoulders. The junior from Baltimore has seen his minutes increase significantly this year, from just nine a game last year to 30 a game this season. He’s done well with his time, averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. In games against Marist and Denver he scored 23 and 24 respectively, but he’s hoping to bounce back from an ineffective five-point showing against Fordham last time out.

Aaron Brown- 6-5 junior guard. Brown, a transfer from West Virginia, is the third of three Hawks averaging double-digit points this season, with 10.1 points a game on 46.8 percent shooting. He is also grabbing four rebounds a game, with an eight-board game against Fordham last time out. The Philly kid uses his size and strength to power his way to the basket.

Keys to victory for St. Joe’s: Bembry is obviously key, which makes staying out of foul trouble extremely important. He has been whistled for three or more fouls six times this year, and the Hawks are 3-3 in those games. Limiting turnovers is also key. They only turned the ball over a combined 15 times in the losses to George Washington and Duquesne, but they turned it over 36 times in the Fordham and VCU games, so it’ll be interesting to see how they do against a Bona defense that has scored 69 points off turnovers in conference play.

Keys to victory for St. Bonaventure: If the Bonnies can limit Bembry, that will obviously go a long way. If they can play strong defense on him and force him to have a bad shooting day, his supporting cast is not good enough to overcome that. Also, the Hawks are not a good three-point shooting team, which is good news for a Bona that has faced some red-hot shooters this season. Bona’s defensive strategy has been to clog it up inside and force the perimeter shooters to make threes, which could certainly work against a Joe’s team that only shoots 27.2 percent from deep. Continue to dominate the paint off the strength of Youssou Ndoye, Dion Wright and Chris Dees.

Prediction: The students are back, Ndoye seems to have figured it out offensively and SBU will pull off a win against the hated Hawks. 79-70 Bonnies