St. Bonaventure (2-2) faces off against the Bucknell Bison (2-4) tonight at 7:00 at the Reilly Center. The Bonnies are coming off a 1-1 trip to Brooklyn where they beat Oklahoma State and lost to Auburn. Two notable results for the Bison this season are a 69-57 loss to La Salle and 73-64 win against Niagara. Here is everything you need to know about tonight’s game.
There is a new point per game leader for the Bonnies. Mika Adams-Woods rode a very strong Legends Classic to a team-high 12.3 points per game average. Charles Pride and Chad Venning follow close behind with 12.0 and 11.5 points per game each through the first four games. Adams-Woods, Pride and Venning are the only three Bonnies averaging double figures this season. Assa Essamvous (9.3 PPG) and Daryl Banks III (8.5 PPG) have also been key contributors so far. Pride leads the team in rebounding, averaging 6.8 boards per game while Venning is grabbing 4.8 on average.
Barry Evans has begun to establish himself as a solid rotational piece for head coach Mark Schmidt. The sophomore made his presence felt in both games last week on both ends of the floor. Noel Brown has also been solid in his role when Venning has either needed a break or has found himself in foul trouble.
Kyrell Luc and Moses Flowers have proven invaluable to Schmidt’s rotation. The Bonnies have struggled both without the pair and when the duo does not play well. Both players provide a veteran presence to the floor along with a year of experience in Schmidt’s system. Luc has missed the last two games while Flowers has not looked himself since opening night. Both players were dealing with ankle injuries last week.
Projected Starting Five: Assa, Adams-Woods, Banks III, Pride, Venning
Bucknell enters tonight at 2-4 with its wins coming over Niagara and Southern Indiana. The Bison are led by first-year head coach John Griffin III. Griffin was previously the associate head coach at Saint Joe’s University. Bucknell suffered heavy losses from a year ago when the team finished 12-20. Xander Rice led the team with 14.1 points per game while also notching 2.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest. Alex Timmerman (11.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.8 APG) and Andre Screen (11.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.3 BPG) were also valuable members to the 2022-23 Bison. All three players left the program this summer.
Bucknell only has one player that averaged double figures remaining on its roster entering this season. That would be senior guard Jack Forrest, who averaged 10.1 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in 2022-23. Griffin and his staff brought in a pair of impact transfers and a pair of freshmen to the program this season. Pip Ajayi comes to Bucknell from Mercyhurst while Quin Berger enters from Saint Joe’s.
The 2023-24 version of the Bison have been led by Forrest. The 6-foot-5 senior averages a team-high 16.3 points per game while also grabbing 6.2 rebounds per game. Forrest is a pure shooter who has made a team-high 19 threes in 42 attempts (45.2%). Noah Williamson and Elvin Edmonds IV are the other players averaging double figures. Williamson is scoring 11.3 points per game while coming down with a team-high 7.0 rebounds per game. He also is listed as a true seven-footer. Edmonds IV averages an even 10.0 points per game and is built at 6-foot-2, 201 pounds, but an injury has sidelined him the last two games. If he's still sidelined, expect Josh Bascoe to run point for the Bison.
Projected Starting Five: Motta, Williamson, Bascoe, Bijek, Forrest
Players to Watch
Chad Venning – Venning needs to get his fouling issue under control. When the center is in the game, the Bonnies are a much better team. St. Bonaventure is going to need Venning tonight as he will be tasked with keeping the seven-footer in check. The redshirt junior will also be needed on the offensive end. Venning has the skillset to get around taller opponents, as was seen against Longwood, and remains a very effective piece to Schmidt’s game plan.
Jack Forrest – Forrest is Bucknell’s best player. He will run and gun all game if given the chance. The senior has attempted 42 three pointers this season, which is 14 more than any other player. Forrest’s 19 made threes are 12 more than anyone else on the roster as well. The 6-foot-5 guard rebounds the ball, too. Forrest is averaging 6.2 rebounds per game which is second best on the Bison.
Prediction and Keys to the Game
At the end of the day, the Bonnies are simply better than Bucknell. Tonight’s result should show that, but this team has been streaky in the early going. Bonaventure will need to get the three ball to fall while keeping Venning out of foul trouble. The Bonnies will also need to contain Forrest, which will likely fall on the shoulders of the team’s best defender: Charles Pride. If the Bonnies can play solid, fundamental defense, this game should not be close. St. Bonaventure wins tonight by double digits.