Listen/ See: Pepsi Commercial, Brown and Bubbly (video link, opens in new window. One of the worst commercials I have ever seen during a Super Bowl)
Tip Off: 7:00 PM, Eastern
Vs: St. Bonaventure Bonnies
Location: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
Opposition blog/ message board: Bona Podcast (blog/ podcast) | Bonnies Bandwagon (message board)
St. Bonaventure is coming off of a close win over their local Division I competition, the University at Buffalo Bulls. Beating a SUNY - or maybe winning - is a big enough deal that the Bonnies fans rushed the court after the game ended.
Buffalo was 4-2, the Bonnies were favored by about 4 (but gave up a big lead), and the Bulls are a middle-pack Mid-American Conference team, the kind of school that hopes for a winning record every year.
Rush the Court would look down on this one. UNWORTHY, Bonnie fans. UNWORTHY of a court rushing. Even if it's a regional rivalry
As for the team and the game, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies come down from Olean with a confidence about how last year, they played St. John's to within a point. In fact, the Bonnies led in the last 30 seconds, only to be undone by a coast-to-coast drive from Malik Boothe, who was fouled. He hit a pair of foul shots, and that was the difference in that nail-biter. It was the second game of the season, and I, personally, started to worry (in the next pregame post, against Brown). I want to see Andrew Nicholson frustrated and held down; he shot 11-15 from the field for 26 points.
St. Bonaventure has played decent field goal defense and rebounding the defensive end. Nicholson is a talent, and point guard Ogo Adegboye isn't bad - he played with the Great Britain men's national team this summer, along with Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu. The Bonnies have some good shooters... and some flaws. More on that later.
Or the Invasion of the Brown Storm. Except that's a reference to bodily fluid/ function problems one gets in Mexico, Morocco, or many other places. With a tagline on the schools' website that says "Believe in Brown," it's hard not to make jokes.
St. Bonaventure Pluses
Defensive Rebounding: St. Bonaventure does a great job rebounding as a unit. With some serious size - Nicholson is 6'9, Demetrius Conger is 6'6, Da'Quon Cook is 6'8, and Michael Davenport is 6'4 - the Bonnies rebound as a gang, clearing their opponents' misses very well (72.1% defensive rebounding, 25th in the nation).
Andrew Nicholson: Nicholson has some NBA interest, and he is a force. He scores, he rebounds, he blocks shots, all for a team that doesn't put consistent help around him; the Bonnies play 7 players on a regular basis. The Bonnies are a shallow pool.
St. Bonaventure Minuses
Wrong Guys Are Shooting: Andrew Nicholson gets 29.2% of the shots. That's smart - he's a good player, and should carry the team, shooting an effective field goal percentage of over 58% (despite his 2-9 shooting from beyond the arc). The second shooter on the team is Michael Davenport, who shoots 29.1% of the shots when he's on the floor...but with a lot less success (43.3% eFg). Ogo Adegboye, Da'Quan Cook, and Demetrius Conger all shoot an eFg of over 58%, but take between 16% and 17% of the shots. Not every player can get his shot off, but the team needs to get shots to guys who actually make them.
Turnovers: St. Bonaventure turns the ball over on 23.4% of their possessions and force turnovers on 18.7% of possessions. That kind of difference doesn't bode well for their ability to hang tough in games; the Bonnies need to defend incredibly well and shoot like a video game to overcome that deficiency.
Read more player notes on Johnny Jungle.
Keys to the Game
Force Them Into Turnovers. The Bonnies have a number of players who have struggled to hold on to the ball against weak competition - Adegboye, Conger, and bench players Matthew Wright and Brett Roseboro all turn the ball over on more than 25% of their possessions. St. John’s should press, trap, and harass them into a number of miscues and run all over them.
Obstruct Nicholson. Andrew Nicholson looked like an NBA player against St. John’s last year. So did a number of other forwards. This game is a chance to see what changes in the defense will do to the kind of agile forward that ate up St. John’s last year in non-conference play; the zone will help in restricting Nicholson’s touches.
Score Efficiently. St. John’s struggled to put the last game against Wagner away. The team missed free throws, outside shots, 12-foot jumpers. The Johnnies have to put up a better performance or any team could beat them.
Build On Success. The Red Storm have been great at holding on to the ball and getting their shots up. Now it's time to parlay that into a complete offensive performance from the whole team. Certainly, St. John’s can’t afford a sloppy, turnover-filled game; that could let the Bonnies back in the game.
Defensive Awareness. St. John's needs to cover the Bonnies’ very good three-point shooters, even the bad ones; those guys are likely taking shots they think they can make. And St. John’s doesn’t want to be surprised by a sudden fit of straight-shooting by St. Bonaventure.
St. John's will win if: They take advantage of St. Bonaventure's ballhandling problems, while stifling their inside scoring.
Pregame News (UPDATED):
Note: Justin Brownlee will be coming off of the bench.
One thing that Lavin and his staff are trying to tackle is the senior-laden group's knack for going into offensive droughts. It's been going on for years, though this season the squad has shown the tenacity to fight back.
....At practice they run until they are close to exhaustion and then play a period against each other. The team that doesn't push through the fatigue gets to run some more.
"It's as much mental as physical," he said. "They have to do some mind-over-matter stuff to address the offensive droughts."
Olean Times-Herald: Bonnies get another shot at St. John's