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Bonnies Take on Minutemen in Massive A10 Matchup

Mark Schmidt takes his Bonnies to Amherst, Massachusetts to take on Frank Martin’s Minutemen. These two teams met just 17 days ago inside the Reilly Center where Bonas took home a 79-73 victory. UMass and St. Bonaventure are separated by only one game in the Atlantic 10 standings as this afternoon’s matchup will go a long way in deciding seeding for the conference tournament.

The Bonnies

St. Bonaventure comes into today’s game 16-10 overall and 7-7 in Atlantic 10 play. That includes a 4-5 overall road record which drops to 2-5 in conference games. Following a loss this season, the Bonnies are 7-2 on the season. Schmidt’s offense will look to bounce back after laying in egg at La Salle in the midweek.

Chad Venning continues to lead Bonas in scoring. The 6-foot-10 center averages 14.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. The redshirt junior also chips in a team-high 49 block to go along with a 73/103 (70.9%) free throw conversion rate. Venning has recorded a block in 28 straight games dating back to last season.

Mika Adams-Woods and Charles Pride have been Schmidt’s best guards this season. Adams-Woods scores 13.3 points per game while grabbing 24 steals and an 83.6% clip from the free throw line. The Cincinnati transfer leads the team in assists with 92 and made threes with 43. Pride scored 11.6 points and a team-best 6.3 rebounds per game. The Bryant transfer also adds 42 assists, 29 steals, 34 triples and 85.1% free throw shooting.

Moses Flowers and Daryl Banks III continue their platoon role as well. The pair are averaging 9.2 and 8.4 points per game respectively. Flowers chips in 42 made threes and 16 steals while Banks adds 66 assists and 39 threes on the year. Assa Essamvous joins Venning has the only Bonnie to start all 26 games. The sophomore from Gabon averages 7.5 points and 5.3 boards per contest while being the team’s hottest shooter over the last three games. Assa adds 26 steals and 26 assists to his stat line.

Noel Brown and Barry Evans also play important minutes off the bench. Brown averages 5.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in relief of Venning. Evans may only average 3.3 points per game but is all over the stat page in other categories. The sophomore hauls in 5.0 rebounds per contest along with 32 assists, 29 steals and 10 blocks. Kyrell Luc also chips in with 2.5 points per game and 18 assists.

The Bonnies currently sit 77th in the NET Rankings and 95th in the KenPom Ratings. Bonaventure presents UMass an opportunity to grab a quadrant two victory.

Projected Starting Five: Assa, Adams-Woods, Flowers, Pride, Venning

The Opponent

The Minutemen enter this afternoon’s game with a 17-9 overall and 8-6 conference record. That includes an impressive 12-2 mark on their home court. UMass is only 9-8 following a win this season which is exactly what they did against VCU in impressive fashion earlier this week.

Frank Martin’s team has four players averaging double figures this season. Josh Cohen and Matt Cross are the scoring leaders for the Minutemen. Cohen averages 16.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-10 senior adds 45 assists, 25 steals and 14 blocks to his stat line. Cohen also gets to the line extremely often as he is 126/183 (68.9%) from the charity stripe. Cross scores 15.5 points and hauls in a team-high 8.4 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-7 senior chips in 74 assists and a team-best 39 steals to go along with a UMass high 79.3% (88/111) from the free throw line.

Rahsool Diggins and Keon Thompson are the other horses for Martin. Diggins averages 12.4 points per game, 60 assists and 34 steals. The 6-foot-2 guard is the best three-point shooter on the squad as he has made 58 of the 164 triples he has attempted. Thompson scores 10.1 points and grabs 3.9 rebounds per contest. The 6-foot sophomore adds 25 steals, 12 blocks, a 58/78 mark from the line and a team-high 77 assists.

The Minutemen will work five other players into their rotation this afternoon. Jaylen Curry leads the pack scoring 7.8 points per game. The 6-foot freshman has assisted on 55 baskets and registered 23 steals. Daniel Hankins-Sanford will also be heard from as he averages 6.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest. The 6-foot-8 sophomore has recorded 23 steals and 16 blocks this season as well.

Jayden Ndjigue, Robert Davis Jr. and Marqui Worthy will also have a role in this game. Ndjigue averages 5.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest. The 6-foot-4 freshman guard fills out his stat line with 57 assists, 31 steals and 11 blocks. Davis Jr. scores 4.3 points per game while Worthy averages 2.0 points per contest.

UMass enters today’s game below Bonas at 83rd in the NET Rankings but above Bonas at 86th in the KenPom Ratings. The Minutemen give the Bonnies a chance to pick up a solid quadrant two win this afternoon.

Projected Starting Five: Diggins, Thompson, Ndjigue, Cohen, Cross

Players to Watch

Charles Pride – Pride is arguably Bonaventure’s best player, yet he only attempted four shots in Wednesday’s loss at La Salle. A player of Pride’s caliber does not stay quiet, nor does his usage stay low on a consistent basis. The fifth-year senior also feasted against UMass in the meeting earlier this month as we was 8/11 from the field and registered 19 points.

Matt Cross – Cross is also arguably UMass’ best player. The offense seems to run through the 6-foot-7, do-it-all senior. He will give both Assa and Evans a handful again, just as he did a few weeks ago. Cross also totaled 19 points in that game on 8/11 shooting. Watch out for this dynamic player this afternoon.

Previous Meeting

As mentioned above, these teams played just 17 days ago where the Bonnies took down the Minutemen 79-73. Pride and Cross both scored 19 points in the game while six other players scored in double figures. St. Bonaventure shot 50.9% from the field, 35.3% from deep and 19/28 from the free throw line in the game while UMass went 48.3% from the floor, 33.3% from three and 11/16 from the stripe. The Minutemen outrebounded the Bonnies 34-32 while each team committed 12 total turnovers.

Prediction and Keys to the Game

The major key for the Bonnies to win today’s game will be to re-find consistency in their offense. While running through Venning works to an extent, Schmidt needs to get his top-end guards (Adams-Woods and Pride) more involved. The duo combining to go 2/10 from the floor in a 40-minute game is simply unacceptable. While one can solely blame the player for not making their shots, the coaching must be put on blast for the under-usage of these players. The offense must change and adapt this afternoon, especially since this is the second meeting between these teams this month.

Defensively, St. Bonaventure will have to again limit one of UMass’ forwards. In the first meeting between these teams, Schmidt did a great job game planning to stop Josh Cohen. The Minutemen’s leading scorer was limited to only 2/8 from the field, four points and three rebounds. The Bonnies will win this game if one of Cross or Cohen are held in single digits while the offense does just enough.

However, I just do not see both of those things happening. UMass comes away with a massive win and takes another step towards securing the all-important double bye in the A10 Tournament while the Bonnies slide back into the middle of the conference. The Minutemen take home a 5-8 point victory today.


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