Men’s basketball: Some uncertainty as Bonnies open conference play at UMass

(Denzel Gregg Photo Credit:

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

It’s been a while since St. Bonaventure Bonnies fans had some legitimate uncertainty about how good their team was.

You have to go back to a three-game losing skid in mid-January, with losses at Duquesne, against Dayton and at VCU, to find a time of collective trepidation among the Bona faithful. But after a 106-101 defeat to Canisius last Thursday exposed the brown and white’s defensive weaknesses, there has been a share of worry going into today’s Atlantic 10 opener against UMass- and not just from internet trolls.

Bonaventure, which finished non-conference play 8-4, allowed opponents to make just under nine threes a contest in the first 12 games, leading to the second-worst three-point percentage defense (39 percent) among A-10 teams. Only La Salle had a worse three-point percentage against and scoring defense than the Bonnies.

Since 1979, when the program joined the Eastern Athletic Association (later renamed the Atlantic 10), no team in its history has allowed 75 or more points a game and won more than eight conference games. The 1977-78 squad gave up an average of 79 and still made the NCAA Tournament, but that team put up 90 or more in 10 of its 29 games.

To win in the A-10, you need to play defense. In each of the last 10 years, each team with at least a share of the regular season league championship has held league opponents under 65 points at least four times. Dayton did it nine times last year.

In 12 non-league games, Bona held only Pepperdine under 65 points. It allowed Saint Francis, Siena, Buffalo, Army and Canisius to score more than their current season averages.

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