By Ryan Shannon
This one was close for the entire duration of the game. After a 6-0 start by St. John’s, St. Bonaventure weathered the storm and eventually took a 17-16 lead. But then trouble struck. Both Andrew and Jonathan got saddled with their second fouls, taking the two leading scorers for the Bonnies out of the game. To the Bonnies credit, they stuck in there and kept with the Johnnies. This was in part due to the inspired play of Da’Quan Cook, who had 7 first half points and clearly established himself as the Bonnies 4. The Bonnies were only down 2 at the half, after Ogo made a driving layup with 18 seconds left in the half. The Bonnies were in great position to defeat a Big East foe for the second straight year.
The Bonnies and Johnnies began the second half by trading baskets, with the score eventually becoming 44-44. It was at this point the game hit a snag. The Bonnies brought in Roseboro and Simmons to give Nicholson and Cook a rest. The second line was unable to produce on the offensive end, allowing St. John’s to go on a 7-0 run, making the game 51-44. St. John’s kept the Bonnies at a distance, as the lead stayed 7 with 3:27 left at 67-60. This is where the Bonnies made their run. The Bonnies went on an 8-0 run, sparked by a Chris Matthews three pointer and capped by two dumb Red Storm fouls. With 16 seconds left in the game, Eleby stole the ball from Dwight Hardy, taking the ball the length of the court. It was at this point he was intentionally fouled by Justin Burrell, giving the Bonnies two free throws and the ball. At this point, the score was 67-65. Eleby went to the line, nailing the first. The second, however, was long, and the Bonnies were down one.
St. John’s then committed the second of its stupid fouls, basically bearhugging Andrew down on the block. Andrew calmly and cooly stepped to the line, hitting both his free throws. Then, disaster struck. Malik Boothe drove the lane, getting the assistance of a well-set pick on Malcolm Eleby. Chris Matthews, deciding whether to give up an easy layup, taking the risk of having the big men stop Horne, or foul and put him to the line, chose to foul and send Boothe to the line. Boothe made both of his free throws, putting the Bonnies down 1 with 6 seconds left. The Bonnies then had to settle for a 23-footer from Michael Davenport, which was just long, and the Bonnies fell by one point. A great game, and a valiant effort by both teams.
What I Liked
1. Andrew Nicholson is Firmly Established. Andrew Nicholson is a monster. I don’t care what anybody says, he is definitely one of the top 5 players in the Atlantic 10. 26 points on 73% shooting against a Big East opponent, and a good one to boot. Starting to begin to worry about whether he’ll be at Bonas all 4 years. From what I have heard about the kid though, he will be. I don’t think there is another player I’d want on our basketball team over Andrew. Keep up the good work, it is truly a pleasure watching you play basketball night in and night out.
2. The Bonnies Peskiness. There were times when this team could have easily folded. There were times when it looked like there was just no stopping St. John’s. This team kept fighting and fighting, and put itself in a position to win. This peskiness will pay dividends in the future, and this team will win some games people think they shouldn’t. I look forward to when we do win those games.
3. Da’Quan Cook. Cook stepped up big in the first half, providing offense when we most needed it with Nicholson out. I loved his effort. While he was quieter in the second half, I was still very impressed. I hope this carries over and becomes the norm.
4. Playing Games in Rochester. If this is what it takes to get a Big East opponent to come play us, so be it. Yeah, we probably win if this game is in the Reilly Center. However, the reality is that at this moment, that game is not a possibility. Bonas has a great alumni base in Rochester (hopefully someday I can join that base when done with school), and it is a good idea to energize this base often with a game there. We need to keep our schedule tough, because some day in the near future, that will play an important role when the postseason comes around.
5. We Had More Assists Than Turnovers!!!! Will this happen often with this team? Hopefully, but not likely. I don’t care that we only had one more assist than turnover, I can’t remember the last time that was even the case. Ogo had 4 assists, and looked strong driving to the hole. He looked good at times.
6. The Play of Malcolm Eleby. This does not include free throws, which will be discussed later. He is becoming more assertive on the floor, and is becoming a better game manager. He is not perfect, but is a work in progress, who has shown glimpses. No turnovers, and an overall aggressiveness taking the ball to the hole. Keep it up Malcolm.
What I Did Not Like
1. Free Throw Shooting. 15-22. 68%. Ugh. Believe it or not, this was an improvement. This cost us down the stretch, as Malcolm was 1-4 from the line. That just is unacceptable. Malcolm is a guard, and should never shoot under 70% from the line. I do not want to watch Jonathan Hall shoot another free throw either. I am going to close my eyes next time he goes to the line. It’s that bad. Just put some arc on it and you will shoot a higher percentage. This will be one of the things that keeps us from being a truly upper echelon A-10 team.
2. Three Point Shooting. 1-8. 12.5%. Double Ugh. An old basketball saying goes, “the three point shot is the great equalizer.” Right now, our equation is way off. Chris Matthews, please make shots. 1-5 isn’t going to get it done. Ogo 0-2, Davenport 0-1. This HAS to get better, or else we will have problems come conference play.
3. Our End of Game Defense. I will admit, I have not seen this play. There is one thing I do know. There should be under no circumstance a situation where we need to foul like that up one with 6 seconds left. Where is the help defense? Can nobody take the charge? We should not have defensive breakdowns such as this at the end of such a close game.
4. Our Backup Bigs. I cannot judge Roseboro, did not see enough of him and this was his first game, so he’ll get a pass. Still, we do not have a backup that has produced yet. Simmons did nothing, and House did not play. We need to have a semi-productive option off the bench.
When I posted my prediction for the season on the Bandwagon, I counted this as a loss. I still feel like we are on pace for a 16-20 win season, as I thought originally we would finish 18-11. From what I see of this team this record can be much better. This start is really encouraging. We are a team to be reckoned with in the Atlantic 10, and will surprise teams in the non-conference. I do not expect the Bonnies to have a hangover from this game, as we have Binghamton next, which will be a get better quick game. This team will bounce back, and continue their great play.
Next up is Binghamton this Friday at 7. Expect big things from the Bonnies in this game. My early prediction, Bonnies 88, Bearcats 58. One of the backup bigs will step up as well. Go Bonas.