St. Bonaventure Men's Basketball Game Preview: UMass Minutemen
Date: Saturday, Dec. 30
Location: Bob Lanier Court at the Reilly Center
Records (RPI ratings)
St. Bonaventure 10-2 (28) | UMass 7-6 (174)
Bonnies Statistics | Minutemen Statistics
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: WPIG 95.7 FM with Gary Nease and Don Scholla
Game Promotions: Superhero Saturday (adults who wear superhero costume, shirt or hat receive a $12 ticket); free Bonnies Adidas T-shirt with purchase of ticket in student end-zone bleachers; $7 kids tickets with paying adult
Complete Game Notes (PDF)
The "second season" begins Saturday afternoon when St. Bonaventure opens Atlantic 10 Conference play at home against UMass. Off to their best start in 17 years, the Bonnies hope to carry over that momentum into A-10 action.
• St. Bonaventure's 10-2 start is the program's best since the 1999-00 season, when Jim Baron's club opened 12-2. The Bonnies' 10 wins are tied for fourth-most in D-1.
• The Bonnies' seven-game winning streak is the program's longest since 1982-83, when that team also won seven straight. A win over UMass would give St. Bonaventure its longest win streak since the 1970-71 team opened the year 8-0.
• A program which prides itself on toughness has a perfect 4-0 record in true road games, making St. Bonaventure one of only seven D-1 teams who have played at least three road games and are unbeaten in those contests.
• After playing the first six games this season without senior point guard Jaylen Adams, who sprained his left ankle in the exhibition game Nov. 4, the Bonnies got him back on Dec. 2 at Buffalo. He shook of the rust quickly and is averaging 18.2 points and 5.2 assists per game. He has already earned A-10 Player of the Week honors twice. Already one of the most accomplished players in the program's history, Adams was on the preseason watch list for three national player of the year awards: the Wooden Award, the Oscar Robertson Award and the Naismith Trophy.
• Adams backcourt partner Matt Mobley is averaging 17.5 points per game; combined, the duo average 35.7 points per game and are shooting .393 from three-point range.
• Defense and turnovers have been critical to early-season success. The Bonnies lead the A-10 in field goal percentage defense (.397) and three-point defense (.288) and rank second in scoring defense (65.2 ppg). In addition, their +4.9 turnover margin is 16th best nationally.
• While not grabbing any headlines, Idris Taqqee had a superb last two games as well, averaging 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, going 9-16 from the field and playing stellar defense in particular against Syracuse.
• Courtney Stockard's story is much more than just a game-winner against Maryland. The 22-year old redshirt junior missed all of the last two seasons due to foot injuries, leaving his career in serious doubt. He persevered, though, and is averaging 10.6 points per game off the bench.
This will be the 70th meeting between these long-time Atlantic 10 rivals. UMass holds a 41-28 series lead, but the Bonnies have won the past five meetings and nine of the last 11. Last season, the Bonnies were 3-0 against UMass including a second round win in the A-10 Tournament by a 73-60 final.
• Under new coach Matt McCall, the Minutemen have perhaps exceeded expectations with a 7-6 mark in non-conference play. All seven of their wins were at home, and UMass is 0-5 in games away from Amherst. UMass was picked 12th in the A-10.
• Sophomore guard Luwane Pipkins has enjoyed a breakthrough season, averaging 18 points and nearly four assists per game and connecting on 41 percent of his three-point shots.
• UMass shots 39 percent from long range as a team, tops in the A-10. Freshman guard Carl Pierre is an early-season surprise, averaging 10.5 points and making 50 percent of his three-point shots. Rashaan Holloway, Malik Hines and Chris Baldwin give UMass a formidable front line.
Bonnies Receiving Votes
For the first time this season, St. Bonaventure received votes in both the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches Top 25 polls this week (Dec. 25). The Bonnies received five points in the AP poll and two in the coaches poll.
By just about all measures, the Bonnies had a very successful non-conference season. A look at the highlights:
Win streak: 7
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 4-1 (wins over Syracuse, Maryland, Vermont and Buffalo with only loss to TCU)
Record in true road games: 4-0 (as of Dec. 30, one of two D-1 teams to win its first four road games)
Best Start: 10-2 is the program's best start since 1999-00
Historical: Win over Syracuse was first ever for Bonnies at Carrier Dome (had been 0-10) and first over Orange since 1981
Thrillers: Overtime win at Syracuse; buzzer-beating three-pointer by Matt Mobley to top Vermont; layup by Courtney Stockard with 3.2 seconds left to beat Maryland.
St. Bonaventure basketball tickets are available via GoBonnies.com/tickets; by calling (716) 375-2500 or in person at the St. Bonaventure ticket office in the Reilly Center between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. For the latest news on St. Bonaventure athletics, stay connected on social media. Follow the Bonnies on Twitter @Go_Bonnies and get men's basketball updates @BonniesMBB. Keep up with the Bonnies on Facebook /GoBonnies and on Instagram @GoBonnies.