Thirteen league games left, thirteen landmines to traverse. There’s not a whole lot of intrigue left on the schedule at this point: perhaps the away games at Richmond and Duquesne (we will know a lot more about the Dukes after their game tonight against Rhode Island)? Of course, there is the visit to the Cafenasium on February 18th, which should be circled on all of your calendars. The one question that remains open at this point is if the Flyers can run the conference table. While the odds say no, I say why not?
The last teams to go undefeated in league play was, of course, the 2003-04 St. Joe’s squad led by Jameer Nelson and Delonte West (whatever happened to him?) and the 2005-06 GW team. That SJU team, in particular, is still referenced and remembered as the pinnacle of A10 hoops. This Flyer team has the unique opportunity to surpass that Hawk team, who, as you’ll remember, lost a classic Elite Eight game to Oklahoma State in the NCAA Tournament. UD has a chance to go down in ATLANTIC TEN LORE, and really, isn’t that what this is all about?
Couple of quick notes related to Dayton’s offense, the season drags on and the Flyers attack remains as sharp as ever:
- UD currently ranks second in the nation in offensive efficiency, racking up 116.9 points per 100 possessions. Gonzaga is the lone team ahead of Dayton (117.8)
- Dayton is still the country’s leader in effective field-goal percentage, and impressive 59.3%.
- The Flyers are converting 61.6% of their two-point field goals, an insane mark that leads the nation by a comfortable margin.
While the level of competition certainly has aided Dayton’s continual hold on offensive accolades, it’s encouraging to note that the Flyers have remain as consistent an offensive attack as any team in the nation.
This, certainly, is a concern for tonight’s opponent, the Fightin’ Yetis of St. Bonaventure.
There’s some similarities between this Bonnie team and UMass in the sense that, like the Minuteboys, most the Bonnies can’t legally drink yet. Coach Mark Schmidt’s club is growing up quickly this week, currently in the middle of a three-game swing which will see SBU visit VCU (a 28 point loss, ouch), Dayton and end this Saturday at home against Rhode Island. After starting the conference slate a perfect 4-0, the Bonnies could potentially see itself at the business end of a 4-3 record.
Before we dive into the Bonnies, some injury news out of Olean:
I heard Osun didn’t travel with the team to Dayton. Let’s hope he’s back for a big game against Rhode Island Saturday.
— SBUnfurled (@SBUnfurled) January 21, 2020
Without Osunniyi, it could be a long night for St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies big man was one of the A10’s best rebounders and shot-blockers, a force in the middle that could have stifled UD’s interior offense. With his absence, the lane will part like the Red Sea and UD’s Basketball Moses will satiate his believers with dunks aplenty. Sophomore guard Kyle Lofton then becomes SBU’s first, second and third option offensively. Lofton is averaging 17.5 points per game in conference play, tossing in six and half assists a contest just for shits and gigs. He’s joined in the backcourt by fellow second-year guards, Dominick Welch and Jaren English.
Welch, inexplicably not a white Irish guy, is enjoying a breakout year for the Bonnies. He’s the Bonnies best perimeter shooter and will be on the floor until the wheels come off. English is a transfer in from Ranger Community College, which I assume is an institution that offers welding degrees. English is described by Schmidt as a guard who “brings toughness” to the floor, he’s Olean’s Trey Landers. Justin Winston and Bobby Planutis will be the two Bonnie bigs responsible for trying to slow down Dayton’s interior offense, we wish them well.
While the Olean Yeti might be something you never forget the 2019-20 St. Bonaventure Bonnies aren’t quite as memorable as the mythical creature they share their section of Upstate New York with. The Bonnies have decent numbers that will see them finish in the top half of the Atlantic 10 and maybe even sneak into a double bye, but this team seems to be a year or two away from being any more than that. Mark Schmidt’s team is lacking in experience, only averaging 1.02 years of experience according to KenPom, which puts them 330th of 353 Division 1 teams.
The young Bonnies have a slightly above average offense and defense, with a 103 KenPom offensive efficiency rating and 98.1 defensive efficiency rating. On defense, the Bonnies have been able to protect the paint well this season, with teams only scoring on 46.2% of 2-point field goal attempts—good enough for 81st best in the country. Opponents are only scoring 1.12 points per shot on attempts at the rim against Bonaventure and as a team the Bonnies have blocked 7.4% of attempts, which ranks them 54th among all teams. Locking down the paint has led to St. Bonaventure’s opponents netting an effective field goal % of 46.7% this season.
While any attempts to score in the paint against the Bonnies can often lead to the ball being sent back in the shooter’s direction, there is also a good chance it could lead to a trip to the foul line for the team on offense. This season the Bonnies’ opponents have a 36.4% free throw to field goal attempt ratio; with only 89 teams having a higher percentage in the country. Another effect of the Bonnies ability to block shots is their opposition focusing on shots from the perimeter. Teams against Bonaventure have taken 43.4% of their field goal attempts from the 3-point line, but have only hit 31.7% of those attempts. We know there is a lot of variance in 3-point variation game to game, hell we saw that variance in play in the two halves of Dayton’s win over Saint Louis. Another cold shooting performance like that first half in Saint Louis and UD could struggle to score with the Bonnies ability to protect the rim. If the Flyers shoot closer to their season long 3-point average of 37.2%, the shot blocking abilities of St. Bonaventure can be cancelled out.
On offense, we most likely will see the Bonnies try to grind the game out and slow things down against UD. Bona is ranked 316th in tempo this season, averaging 65 possessions a game. Their possessions on offense this year are a time melting 18.7 seconds on average, which ranks them 310th fastest in the country. In addition to slowing things down, the Bonnies excel on the offensive glass, rebounding 31.7% of their misses. This should certainly give Flyer fans pause after the success Saint Louis and most of UD’s opponents have had on the offensive glass.
To get a lot of offensive rebounding opportunities, you have to miss a lot and the Bonnies certainly have that covered. A below average effective field goal rate of 48.2% highlights the inefficiency that Bonnies fans have often seen from St. Bonaventure this season. This Bonnies team isn’t a bad perimeter shooting team, hitting an ever so slightly above average 33.7% of shots from the 3-point line. But, St. Bonaventure has only taking 24.8% of their attempts from three, which is ranked 328th in the country. Moving inside the line hasn’t brought much success for the Bonnies, only scoring on 47% of 2-point field goal attempts. They are also a below average team scoring at the rim, only scoring 1.08 points per shot on attempts at the rim. Only St. Joe’s and Fordham are worse at scoring at the rim in the Atlantic 10.
If the Bonnies struggle to score at the rim and do not take a ton of threes, you might have guessed our old friend bad shot selection rears its ugly head here. This season, the Bonnies have taken 28.2% of their shots from the mid-range, with only George Mason taking a higher percentage of those 2-point jumpers in the Atlantic 10. While the Bonnies aren’t an efficient scoring team at the rim and an average shooting team from the perimeter, given they are only scoring 0.77 points per shot on mid-range attempts, there still is little justification for the Bonnies to rely so heavily on them. Compare that average to the 1.08 points per shot at the rim and 1.03 for shots from the three-point line, those mid-range jumpers become even more baffling.
We emphasized the rebounding and shot blocking abilities of St. Bonaventure and most of that is brought by sophomore Osun Osunniyi. The Bonnies big-man is 11th in the country in defensive rebound rate at 29.4% and is also pulling down an impressive 10.3% of offensive rebounds. He is 5th in the nation in block rate, sending back 15.8% of all block opportunities. As you would expect for a 6’10” big man, Osunniyi is an efficient scorer in the paint. He has a 114.5 offensive rating this season and has excelled in the paint, scoring 1.24 points per shot at the rim. These are stats that any opponent must respect, but unfortunately for St. Bonaventure Osunniyi has already missed six games this season. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the big-man missed the 18 point beat down the Bonnies received from the Richmond Professional Institute with concussion like symptoms. If he can’t go on Wednesday, it’s tough to see how the Bonnies can keep up with the Flyers.
The other player worth highlighting for the Bonnies is sophomore guard Kyle Lofton. We will definitely see a ton of Lofton on Wednesday, with the guard playing in 96% of available minutes this season. Last season some Bona fans, bless their heart, thought Lofton should have been mentioned with Obi Toppin for freshman of the year. To be fair to those Bonnies fans, Lofton certainly was one of the most impressive freshmen in the conference last season not named Obi Toppin. Lofton’s playmaking abilities have improved this year, with his assist rate improving from 24.4% last season to 33.4% this campaign. The sophomore guard is still an important scorer for the Bonnies, as he has an offensive rating of 106.6 this year. However, this is a regression from last season where he earned a 109.5 offensive rating.
Friend, would you believe that I am about to inform you that the downturn in scoring efficiency has to do with Lofton’s shot selection? It may be a surprise to you, but yes I am. Mr. Lofton has loved a mid-range jump shot since arriving in the busting metropolis that is Olean, taking 36.6% of his field goal attempts from those analytical boondoggles last season and 38.9% this season. These weren’t exactly efficient shots for the sophomore last season, only averaging 0.875 points per shot on 2-point jumpers last year. Unfortunately for Bonnie’s fans, he has regressed further from those numbers this season, with a point per shot average of 0.70 this season. If there is no Osunniyi and Lofton is firing away from 15 feet, it doesn’t seem likely the Bonnies can keep up with UD.
I wasn’t convinced this would be that close of a contest with a somewhat healthy Osunniyi, with him out the rout could be on. You bring one of the youngest teams in D1 into the Sweater Centre on a weekday night? Better call in the Cattaraugus County Militia if you want to walk out alive. Flyers should get plenty of good looks from the perimeter and Obi will more than likely have his way around, and above, the basket. That’s a recipe for a big Flyer win, my dudes. Dayton rolls, 82-64.
We always try to play a video from a somewhat popular band from either the opponent’s city or the surrounding region. We had to go with Buffalo’s own, the Goo Goo Dolls, simply due to — OH MY GOD LOOK AT THE LEAD SINGER’S FUCKING FACE! HE LOOKS LIKE A ZOMBIE THAT PUT SILLY PUTTY OVER HIS SKULL TO LOOK MORE HUMAN!!!
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.