Setting Up Bona vs Cuse Saturday Night

Posted on December 19, 2009 by Bona Press Report

Two of the top shooting teams in the nation square off on Saturday night when St. Bonaventure travels east to take on unbeaten and nationally-ranked Syracuse. The Bonnies enter the game on a two-game win streak and rank fifth in the country with a 51.5 percent shooting clip. On the flipside, the Orange lead the country in three statistical categories, including field goal percentage (.552), and are a perfect 10-0. Syracuse moved up to #5 in both national polls on Monday and received a pair of first place votes from the Associated Press. St. Bonaventure will look to snap a 13-game losing streak against nationally-ranked opponents and a 12-game losing streak vs. Syracuse.

all-time series

Syracuse has won the last 12 meetings and owns a commanding 22-3 edge in the all-time series. The Orange have been ranked in 14 of those 23 meetings with St. Bonaventure coming away victorious in 1977 and 1978. The Bonnies are 0-9 all-time at the Carrier Dome, but are just one of six non-BIG EAST teams that have beaten legendary head coach Jim Boeheim three or more times. Two of St. Bonaventure’s three wins against the Orange came during the first two seasons of Boeheim’s head coaching career at Syracuse.

This Day In Bona Basketball

St. Bonaventure is 3-0 all-time when playing on December 19, dating back to the 1975-76 season in the Bona record books - the final season that has actual dates recorded. The Bonnies defeated host Hawaii in the consolation game of the Hawaii-Nike Festival in 1998.

Scouting the orange

Led by legendary head coach Jim Boeheim, Syracuse enters as one of 11 unbeaten teams in the nation at 10-0. The Orange moved up to #5 in both the Associated Press (AP) Top 25 Poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Syracuse garnered two first place votes in the AP Poll. Arguably the hottest team in the country, Syracuse has three victories over ranked teams (#13 California, #6 North Carolina and #10 Florida) and has won every game by 12 or more points for a commanding +26.6 scoring margin. The Orange have put up some gaudy stats in the early going and lead the country in field goal percentage (.552), assists per game (23.1) and steals per game (14.0). Syracuse also ranks third in scoring margin, fourth in offense (88.3) and fifth in blocked shots (8.0). Aiding all of those categories has been the play of Iowa State transfer Wes Johnson, who boasts team-bests of 16.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 22 blocks. A total of eight players average 7.9 points or better.

against the big east

Saturday’s game against Syracuse is St. Bonaventure’s second against a BIG EAST opponent this season. The Bonnies dropped a 69-68 heartbreaker to a much-improved St. John’s club earlier this year. St. Bonaventure’s win at Rutgers last season in the Garden State Challenge snapped a 10-game losing streak against BIG EAST foes. Prior to that win, the Bonnies last victory over a BIG EAST opponent came at Connecticut in 2001. Since the formation of the BIG EAST Conference in 1979, the Brown and White are 8-25 all-time against the BIG EAST. The Bonnies are 3-2 at the Reilly Center, 5-12 on the road and 0-11 at neutral sites against the BIG EAST.

lights, camera, action!

St. Bonaventure’s next two road games at Syracuse and Niagara will be televised by Time Warner SportsNet. Saturday’s game against the nationally-ranked Orange will be shown live in the Rochester, Buffalo and Olean regions, while Brown and White’s contest at Niagara on Tuesday, Dec. 22, will only air on tape delay. The game will be shown on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Buffalo and Olean region.


After failing to hold an opponent to less than 50 points over the previous 275 games, St. Bonaventure held back-to-back opponents to 41 and 44 points, respectively, in the month of November (Binghamton & Southeast Missouri State). It marked the first time since 1982, that the Brown and White have held two consecutive opponents under 50 points. This past Saturday against Savannah State, St. Bonaventure held its third opponent of the season in the 40s during a 79-47 victory. The defensive effort marked the first time in 50 years, the 1958-59 season, that the Brown and White have held three opponents in the 40s during the same season.

easy does it

Thanks to solid interior play, easy buckets in transition and some hot shooting from beyond the arc, St. Bonaventure’s impressive 51 percent field goal percentage leads the A-10 and ranks fifth in the nation. The Bonnies have shot over 50 percent in seven of nine games and 11 of 18 periods. The Brown and White’s best shooting performance of the season came against Norfolk State when it finished 37-of-55 from the field for a 67 percent clip. The team’s top percentage in a half came over the opening 20 minutes of the season against Cleveland State when it sank 77 percent (17-22) of its shots. Sophomore Andrew Nicholson (.618) and senior Jonathan Hall (.615) rank first and second in the A-10, respectively, and in the top 25 nationally in field goal percentage, while a total of six players are above the 50 percent clip.

the cn tower

Standing 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, sophomore Andrew Nicholson is the center of attention for opposing teams. That hasn’t stopped the reigning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year from getting off to a great start to his second season, as the Canadian big man leads the team in both scoring (15.3) and rebounding (7.4). Nicholson leads the A-10 with a 62 percent (55-89) field goal percentage and is one of two players to rank in top 10 in the conference in both scoring (9th) and rebounding (7th). Nicholson poured in a game-high 26 points on 11-of-15 from the field against St. John’s and then equaled a career-high with 29 points and a career-best 14 boards against Norfolk State. He has led the team in scoring and rebounding five times this season, including both in the same game on four occasions.

Category                  Stat            A-10 Overall        NCAA

Scoring                         15.3               9th                             207th

FG Percentage            .618               1st                              20th

FT Percentage             .824               3rd                             137th

Rebounding                 7.4                 7th                             154th

Blocks                           1.7                 7th                             104th


Who says big men can’t shoot? According to the most recent NCAA statistics, sophomore Andrew Nicholson is one of two players in the nation shooting 60 percent or better from the field and at least 80 percent from the free throw line. To be eligible for the rankings, the player has to make five field goals per game and an average of 2.5 free throws per contest. The 6-foot-9 second-year forward connected on all eight of his attempts from the charity stripe against Savannah St. and ranks second in the A-10 in free throw percentage. He also leads the conference in field goal percentage (.618) after finishing second in 2008-09. Nicholson is joined by Lafayette’s Jared Mintz on the exclusive list.

a give, but mostly take relationship

Through nine games, the Bonnies have scored 184 points (20.4 per game) off opponents’ turnovers and have held five opponents to 40 percent or less from the field. Over the last two games, St. Bonaventure has forced 43 turnovers that have led to 61 points.

get ready, get set, go!

Simultaneous with its solid 6-3 start to the season has been St. Bonaventure’s ability to get off to great starts in the first half. The Bonnies have taken the lead into the locker room in seven of nine games, including five leads of 13 points or more. St. Bonaventure out-scored those seven opponents 266-178, good for a 12.6 margin. The Bonnies are shooting 52 percent (125-240) in the first stanza this season. Sophomore Andrew Nicholson is averaging team bests of 10.0 points and 4.9 rebounds over the opening 20 minutes.


After going through the worst three-game scoring stretch of his career at St. Bonaventure to open the season, senior Chris Matthews has found the shooting stroke that helped him sink 81 three-pointers a year ago. Matthews enjoyed a breakout tournament at the BTI Classic, averaging 21 points and six trifectas per game over three games. Matthews equaled the school record of eight three-pointers in the final game against Illinois State, while also tying his own career-best of 28 points. The Washington, D.C. product’s 3.3 three-pointers per game currently lead the A-10 and rank 16th in the country. Matthews has made three or more treys in a game five times already this season helping him rank third on the team in scoring at 11.9 per game. In just 39 games as a Bonnie, Matthews has moved into 11th place on the all-time three-pointers list with 111. Below is a look at Matthews’ dramatic improvement over the last six games compared to the first three.

pts              3FG-FGA               3FG%

fIRST 3 GAMES               5.7                6-19                                         .316

LAST 6 GAMES                15.0              25-45                                       .556

home cooking

With its pair of home victories last week, St. Bonaventure extended its home Reilly Center win streak to eight games. The Bonnies closed last season on a four-game A-10 home win streak. Over the eight-game win streak, the Bonnies have out-scored their opponents by 14.4 points per game and have shot over 50 percent in six of the eight games for a cumulative 51 percent clip (217-423). Senior JONATHAN HALL is averaging 15.0 points during the home win streak. Hall has a 30-point and 20-point effort during the run. Sophomore Andrew Nicholson (12.9) and senior Chris Matthews (12.0) are also averaging double figure points during the win streak.

painting the town brown

St. Bonaventure has been extremely efficient on offense this season. The Bonnies have shot 50 percent or better in seven of the nine games and are shooting at an impressive 51 percent clip (247-480) for the year - the fifth-best percentage in the nation. The easy buckets around the rim have led to a 324-262 edge in points in the paint. The 324 points in the paint account for 49 percent of the team’s offense this season and 36 points per game. St. Bonaventure finished with a 50 percent shooting percentage or better just eight times over two previous seasons.

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