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St. Bonaventure Welcomes Fordham to the Reilly Center

The Bonnies fell victim to a typical letdown spot against Richmond following a big win at VCU. Bonas will take the court for the first time since that loss a week ago. St. Bonaventure leads the series with Fordham 29-19 in 48 previous meetings. The Rams have found it especially tough to take down Mark Schmidt teams as the Bonnies have won 17 of the last 21 head-to-head meetings. These are the facts about this afternoon’s matchup.

The Bonnies

St. Bonaventure enters this afternoon’s contest with a 10-4 overall and 1-1 conference record. The Bonnies carry a 5-1 home record into today’s game as well. Coach Schmidt continues to get leadership from his veteran players throughout the deep rotation. Mika Adams-Woods continues to lead the team in scoring. The graduate transfer averages 14.1 points per game while also leading the team in three-point percentage (48.0%), free throws made (30) and assists (52).

Chad Venning is now nipping at Adams-Woods’ heels for the team-lead in scoring. The redshirt junior has raised his average to 13.6 points per game while additionally grabbing 4.6 rebound and blocking 1.6 shots per contest. Charles Pride and Moses Flowers remain the other players with double figure averages as the pair scores 11.7 and 10.5 points per game respectively. Pride also leads the team in rebounding (6.8 RPG) while Flowers has tallied the most made threes (28) for Bonaventure.

Daryl Banks III and Assa Essamvous have both started all 14 games this season for Schmidt. Banks averages 8.0 points per game and holds the Bona-lead in free throw percentage with a 93.1% make rate. Assa continues to be an invaluable piece to this team as he begins to heat up from the floor. The true sophomore averages 7.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this season. Noel Brown also continues to prove his worth to the group as his 6.1 scoring average and solid defense allows Venning to get the rest he requires throughout the game.

Kyrell Luc and Barry Evans have also been solid with Luc contributing in a backup point guard role and Evans playing pretty much everywhere while maintaining lockdown defense. Evans has also been key on the glass as he averages 5.8 boards per game.

The Bonnies come into today’s game sitting 65th in the NET Rankings and 74th in the KenPom Ratings. St. Bonaventure presents Fordham with an opportunity to pick up a quadrant one victory this afternoon.

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

The Opponent

Fordham enters today’s game with an overall record of 7-8 and a conference record of 1-1. The Rams toppled George Washington 119-113 in triple overtime on the road to open Atlantic 10 play before losing 81-76 to LaSalle in their conference home opener. Some other notable losses for Fordham have come to St. John’s, Tulane, Kent State and Cornell while the only notable win was over North Texas.

Head Coach Keith Urgo enters his second season without his two best players from year one. Darius Quisenberry (16.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.2 APG) and Khalid Morre (15.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG) both left the program following last season. However, Urgo brought in a pair of transfers who lead the team in scoring as the season nears the halfway point.

Japhet Medor came to Fordham via UTSA. The 6-foot guard leads the Rams in scoring as he averages 13.1 points per game. Medor also leads the team in threes with 29 while also taking the most attempts by far with 75. The senior also leads the team in free throw attempts and makes (58/75) and is tied for the Ram lead in assists with 46 helpers.

Fordham also welcomed forward Joshua Rivera from Lafayette. The 6-foot-6 sophomore attended Putnam Science Academy for high school, a name which should be familiar to all Bonnie fans. Rivera averages 11.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. The only other scorer in double figures is 6-foot-3 Will Richardson. The sophomore guard averages 10.4 points per game and has only started six of the team’s 14 contests.

Abdou Tsimbila and Elijah Gray will both have an impact on this afternoon’s game as well. Tsimbila stands at 6-foot-9, 245 pounds and hails from Cameroon. The senior is scoring 9.9 points while hauling in 7.8 rebounds per game. He leads the team in blocked shots with 38 (2.7 BPG). Gray also normally comes off the bench for Coach Urgo. 6-foot-8 forward averages 9.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Five other players also consistently crack the rotation, but only two commonly have major impacts on the scoresheet. Kyle Rose and Antrell Charlton have both started 14 of 15 games for the Rams this season. Rose is a 6-foot-4 senior guard who averages 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Charlton is a 6-foot-5 senior guard who averages 6.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Fordham enters this afternoon’s contest 212th in the Net Rankings and 206th in the KenPom Ratings. The Rams are a quadrant four opponent for the Bonnies as Bonaventure is on their home floor.

Projected Starting Five: Medor, Richardson, Rose, Charlton, Tsimbila

Players To Watch

Mika Adams-Woods – Admas-Woods feels due for a 20-point outburst against an inferior opponent. While he had 16 against VCU (it was a quiet 16), he only had six against Richmond and nine against Akron. He has not hit the 20-point plateau since December 9 against Siena which was his third consecutive game with at least 20 points. I expect a big day from the leading scorer.

Abdou Tsimbila – While it would be easy to highlight Medor, the impact a big man cannot go unnoticed at this level. Tsimbila averages 9.9 points and 7.8 rebounds. That does not happen by accident. On paper, Venning and Brown will have their hands full on both ends of the floor as the senior’s 38 blocks could cause some issues offensively as well. If the Bonnies can win the paint, they should win the game with ease.

Previous Meetings

Some are quick to forget how good of a season the Rams had in 2022-23. Fordham swept the Bonnies in a pair of meetings last season. In a 79-68 win in the Reilly Center, Moore and Quisenberry led the way with 19 and 17 points respectively while Richardson totaled 16. Banks led the Bonnies with 29 points while Luc was the only other players in double figures with 10.

Fordham took the reverse fixture in the Bronx 78-63 about a month later. The Rams were once again led by Quisenberry who had 15 points. He was the only Ram in double figures, btu nine other players had at least five points in a full team effort. Venning (15) and Luc (13) led the Bonnies and were the only players in double digits as the Bonnies only made two threes (Banks hit both).

Prediction and Keys to the Game

The Bonnies should make quick work of the 2023-24 version of the Rams, especially at home. At the end of the day the Bonnies simply have the better and more talented players. To ensure a smooth victory this afternoon, Bonas must continue to play suffocating defense while moving to create open lanes and shots on the offensive end. Create open shots, win the boards and keep playing suffocating defense. Adams-Woods and Assa have big games this afternoon and the Bonnies win the game by double digits.


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