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Bonnies, Zips Collide in Legends of Basketball Showcase

St. Bonaventure travels to Cleveland, Ohio to play Akron in the Legends of Basketball Showcase. The Bonnies and Zips will be the middle game of the event that also features Ohio State, West Virginia, Davidson and Ohio University. These programs will faceoff for the fourth time ever with Akron leading the series 2-1. The Bonnies won the most recent meeting with the Zips by a score of 81-74 on 12/15/2020 which was also played at Rocket Mortgage Field House. Here’s what you need to know for this afternoon’s game.

The Bonnies

Head coach Mark Schmidt’s team continues to impress with its dangerous and balanced scoring attack. The Bonnies enter today with an 8-3 record and are winners of five of the last six games. Mika Adams-Woods continues to lead the team in scoring as he averages 15.2 points per game while having also dished out a team-high 48 assists (4.4 APG). The graduate transfer also ranks first on the team in three-point percentage (50%) while having knocked down the second-most triples (21) on the roster.

Chad Venning and Charles Pride continue to build on their solid seasons. Venning averages 13.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while Pride scores 12.0 points and grabs a team-high 6.3 boards per contest. Moses Flowers has also burst into a double-digit average following yet another big performance against Binghamton. The redshirt senior has played his way to a 10.9-point average and has pulled into the team lead in three pointers with 22.

Daryl Banks III and Assa Essanvous have both started all 11 games for Coach Schmidt. Banks has scored 8.8 points per game along with holding a 92.6 free throw percentage while Assa has been invaluable on the boards hauling in 5.6 rebounds per game along with adding some timely shooting to the lineup. Noel Brown and Barry Evans also continue to be solid bench pieces. Evans sits second on the team with 5.8 rebounds per contest while Brown is averaging 6.7 points per game.

The Bonnies enter this afternoon’s game ranked 66th in the Net Rankings while slotting in at 75th in the Kenpom Ratings. St. Bonaventure presents Akron with an opportunity to pick up a quadrant two victory on the neutral court.

Projected Starting Five: Assa, Adams-Woods, Banks III, Pride, Venning

The Opponent

 Akron also enters this contest with an 8-3 record and are winners of four straight games. Some notable results for the Zips this season are wins at South Dakota State (81-75) and vs Bradley (67-52) along with losses to Utah State (65-62), Drake (79-59) and UNLV (72-70).

Akron head coach John Groce is in his sixth season with the program and relies on a trio of forwards to lead his team in terms of production. Enrique Freeman leads the Zips in scoring and rebounding. The 6-foot7, 206-pound senior averages 18.0 points and 13.5 rebounds per game over all 11 contests this season. No other player on the Zips averages more than 3.5 boards per game.

Butler transfer Ali Ali and his 17.3 points per game had a late start to the season but has been solid in his first three games with Akron. The 6-foot-8 senior averages 17.3 points per game over those three contests. 6-foot-9 senior Sammy Hunter also averages double figures. The Nassau native scores 11.6 points each time he appears in a game. It is no secret that Akron loves to play through their forwards.

With the big men doing the dirty work down low, the guards take more of a supporting role in this system. Nate Johnson and Greg Tribble have been mainstays in Groce’s lineup this season. Both players stand at 6-foot-3 with Johnson averaging 9.3 points and Tribble scoring 8.7 points per game. Mikal Dawson and Scott Shammah will also be seen in this afternoon’s contest. Dawson stands at 6-foot-5 and averages 8.0 points per contest while Shammah is listed at 6-foot-2 and scores 5.9 points each time out.

Akron currently sits 123rd in the Net Rankings while being ranked 108th in the Kenpom Ratings. The Zips give the Bonnies an opportunity to pick up a high quadrant three victory on the neutral court.

Projected Starting Five: Tribble, Hunter, Ali, Freeman, Johnson

Players to Watch

Mika Adams-Woods – It’s hard to pick against Adams-Woods at this point. He has ben St. Bonaventure’s best player this season. The main reason the grad transfer is this afternoon’s player to watch is due to the possible mismatch he and other Bona guards could cause today. The Zips will start three bigs while not having the best guard play as a team. Adams-Woods, Pride, Flowers and Banks should be able to take advantage on the offensive end of the floor.

Enrique Freeman – There was no way to not pick the guy averaging an 18-point, 13.5-rebound double-double. Freeman has been a monster this season and will provide Chad Venning and the other Bonaventure forwards a tall task. If Freeman gets Venning into foul trouble early, it could be a long day for Marki Schmidt’s team.

Prediction and Keys to the Game

Do not underestimate the Zips. Coach Groce has his team playing good basketball right now. This will be a very intriguing matchup as the Bonnies remain guard-heavy while Akron starts three players at 6-foot-7 or taller. Rebounding will be a major component of today’s game. Akron is outrebounding their opponents by an impressive 74 while the Bonnies have only grabbed 39 more rebounds than their opponents this season.

Akron’s three best players being forwards could also prove to be an issue to Chad Venning and his reoccurring issue of finding himself in foul trouble. If the redshirt junior can stay clean, the Bonnies should be in good shape. A final matchup to keep an eye on will be how the Bonnies will attack the taller lineup offensively. I expect a lot of ball movement, motion and cutting from the guards as they look for open shots or lanes to the hoop.

The Bonnies are three-point favorites at the time I am writing this preview. This game is going to be tight from the opening tip to the final buzzer. I expect a good number of ties and lead changes in a tightly contested affair. If Venning stays out of foul trouble and the guards once again step up offensively, St. Bonaventure will come out victorious. That being said, my concern level for the foul-trouble issue is very high. I’ll make the homer pick giving the Bonnies a one-possession win but I would not be shocked if the Zips came away victorious.


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