The Bonnies are scorching hot on their home floor, with a 9-1 record in the Reilly Center. On the other hand, Bona's has yet to find a true road win this season. Their only win away from the RC came against Notre Dame in the Gotham Classic at UBS Arena.
Overall, it's been an up and down season for the new look team, which has zero returning minutes from last season. Maybe the only sure thing about this year's squad was that it would take time to gel. We've seen flashes of brilliance on some nights, mainly in the RC. While on other nights, not so much. SBU holds a +84 point differential at home (or winning by an average of 9.3 PPG), and a difference of -61 on the road (or losing by an average 10.2 PPG).
A true road victory should be the next milestone that the team has their eyes set on. That won't be easy in A10 play, however the Bonnies have a strong opportunity on their hands this weekend.
Bona is travelling to Chicago to play the conference's newest member, Loyola. The Ramblers have yet to find their first ever A10 win, with an 0-6 conference record heading into their bout with the Bonnies.
Of Loyola's six A10 games, the Ramblers have played three on the road and three at home, yet to find a victory in any venue. They've had some tough draws, already playing VCU and Saint Louis on their home floor.
LUC's smallest margin of defeat in A10 play was 10 points during their conference opener against George Washington at home. The Ramblers were also blown out by Saint Joseph's on the road, where they lost by 31 points.
I don't think the Bonnies will have a walk in the park during their journey to Chicago, however they should be the favorite on the road. This gives the Bonnies maybe the best chance they will have to get a victory in foreign territory during the conference schedule.
Here are three keys to victory for the Bonnies in Chicago:
1. Let Yann Cook
Freshman forward Yann Farell has been arguably the most efficient offensive generator for the Bonnies this season.
Farell was automatic when he got a clean look during the most recent game against Duquesne, going 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from 3-point territory. He also added six rebounds and a steal.
On the season, Farell is shooting 37 percent from deep on 4.7 attempts per game. He's also shooting close to 60 percent inside the arc.
I'd like to see the Bonnies create more offense specifically for Farell, allowing him to get it going early and often against the Ramblers.
2. Control the game from the jump
Bona's best performances to date have come in wire-to-wire wins, against Notre Dame and more recently in the home wins against the Dukes and UMass.
At times, SBU has struggled to hold leads, feeling a sense that their opponent would somehow find a way to come back. However, when jumping out to an early lead, they've often been able to hold on for the victory.
This has been done by limiting opposing offenses early. Some of this may be thanks to going up against poor shooting, but Bona's limited easy buckets in those contests as well.
If LUC is able to get out on an early run, the Bona offense better be able to keep up on the other end. The Bonnies scorers need to find a way to get it going early and play their own game to be able to get an in-conference victory on the road.
3. Hold Loyola under their scoring average
The Ramblers are putting up 67 points per game, in line with Bona's 67.7 scoring average on the season.
Loyola has popped in a handful of contests for 70 or more points, including three games where they scored 80 or more, one of those being against George Washington in their A10 opener.
Bona is also allowing over 66 points per game to opponents. If they can lock down Loyola early, and not allow easy scoring opportunities, the Bonnies should be able to pull that number down. Schmidt and co. don't want to get into a high scoring affair early, resulting in momentum on the Ramblers' home floor which could be difficult to overcome, and tip the entire flow of the game in Loyola's favor.
This is a winnable game for Bona. The young group should be in a favorable position to get their first win on the road this season.
Featured image courtesy of Craig Melvin/gobonnies.com