Saint Joseph’s is one of the hottest teams in America right now, riding a seven-game winning streak, and winners of 14 of their last 15. Due to their recent success, the Hawks currently sit at 29 in RPI per the NCAA. Additionally, and just as importantly, the Hawks are 7-1 in Atlantic 10 play, good for third in conference behind VCU (8-0) and Dayton (8-1).
The Hawks are riding high following Saturday night’s 64-55 win at Rhode Island. It wasn’t a pretty game by any stretch, with injuries, over-the-top coaching antics (Hurley), and lack of control by the officials. Nonetheless, St. Joe’s left Kingston with an always-important road win. It was Phil Martelli’s team’s seventh on the year, as the Hawks are 7-0 in true road games this season.
The competition Wednesday night at Hagan Arena is stiff. Saint Bonaventure has put together a strong year, with wins over Davidson, Rhode Island, and Richmond in league play. The Bonnies come in with an NCAA RPI of 60, so the game presents the Hawks an opportunity to notch their third top 100 win of the season.
For the Bonnies, it all starts with the guards, and they’re terrific ones. Junior Marcus Posley and sophomore Jaylen Adams will give the Hawks a test. Posley, a 6’1 native of Illinois, averages a team-best 19.5 points per game, while Adams, a 6’1 combo guard, is right behind him at 17.8 a night.
Adams is one of the better perimeter shooters the Hawks will face this year, and it’s there that St. Joe’s needs to be careful. He is a 44% shooter from three, and a volume shooter, at over six threes a game. Against Vermont, Jaylen went 7-10 from downtown. Against both Davidson and Niagara, he went 5-8 from three. Over his last four games, he’s cooled off, relatively speaking, going 7-22 (32%). Look for James Demery to be assigned to guarding Adams for long stretches on Wednesday.
On the inside, Saint Bonaventure throws 6’7 senior Dion Wright at you. The 220-pound California native is averaging just over 16 points and just over 9 rebounds per contest for the Bonnies. Wright can get himself to the free throw line (13-16 over the last two games), and is a very good free throw shooter, at 75%. Wednesday’s game features two of the best senior big men in the whole conference in Wright and Saint Joseph’s forward Isaiah Miles.
Wednesday’s game figures to be a high-scoring affair, or it will be if the Hawks want a shot at winning. The Bonnies average 78 points per game, compared to 75 per game for the Hawks. The Bonnies have put up 94 points on Loyola, 97 on Davidson, and 95 on Duquesne. They are averaging 82 points per gamer over their last four games, compared to the Hawks, who are averaging 72 over the same stretch.
For St. Joe’s to emerge Wednesday night with a win, they will need to contain Posley and Adams, at least within reason. The Hawks will also need to be sharper offensively than they’ve been. A 1-15 night from three, like the game at URI, simply won’t cut it. Shavar Newkirk, James Demery, DeAndre Bembry, and Aaron Brown will all be counted on defensively to contain the Bonnies guards, and on the flip side, seniors Isaiah Miles and Papa Ndao, plus Bembry, Brown, Newkirk, and Demery, will need to provide a scoring punch.
The line in Las Vegas for this game opened with the Hawks as 6.5 point favorites. My official prediction, worth nothing as you know, is St. Joe’s 79- Saint Bonaventure 73 in a nail-biter.
Saint Joseph's-Saint Bonaventure Preview
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