Extra Points from this week’s Big 4 basketball action:
DR. PHIL: St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli, the dean of Atlantic 10 men’s basketball coaches, took time after his team’s 67-63 loss to St. Bonaventure Tuesday night to object to a few students shouting during the national anthem.
Martelli was asked about the crowd, which was loud. “The support from the crowd was terrific,” he said. “I’ve always thought this was a terrific place because you never know if they’re 6-12 or 12-6.”
Then Martelli paused and said: “I’m just going to go out on a limb here, I’ll chance it. But that yelling during the nation anthem, that's a disgrace. That’s really a disgrace. That kid, or whoever it is, that’s embarrassing. That poor girl’s working her tail off to sing the national anthem, and some dude’s going to scream? What, to be noticed? I’ll deal with ‘you’re a sore loser.’ No I’m not. I’m just telling it straight. Just like I did last spring about Bonnies, I tell it straight. I don’t need to win fans and friends. That’s wrong. The crowd support? Fabulous. Always has been here.”
With about 30 seconds to go in the anthem a Bona fan started hollering. Several other fans joined in over the final 15 seconds. It happens at every game at the Reilly Center. The Bona student section was good Tuesday, even though it had little to cheer about the first 30 minutes. But I agree with Martelli. The anthem shouts are disrespectful.
THREE D?: Bona entered Tuesday’s game 320th in the nation in defending three-pointers, allowing 38.9 percent shooting. St. Joe’s, the worst three-point shooting team in the A-10, made 6 of 11 treys in the first half. Bona is not good enough on defense to play without defensive intensity. To their credit, the Bonnies did a better job on close-outs in the second half. And St. Joe’s reverted to form, hitting 1 of 11 threes in the second half. But Bona better be ready for Saturday, when it visits Rhode Island. Rhode Island ranks No. 1 in the A-10 in three-point shooting (in conference games).
ANDOH STRUGGLES: The Bonnies are a small team. That’s one defensive issue they face that isn’t really going to be solved this year. But it would help if 6-7 senior forward David Andoh could give them 20 good minutes. Andoh had a stretch of nine non-conference games in which he averaged 11.7 ppg. But since A-10 play started, he has averaged just 5.8 a game and has hit only 2 of 16 three-pointers. Andoh had just two points on 1 of 6 shooting vs. St. Joe’s. Mark Schmidt doesn’t go deep to his bench. He needs Andoh to pick it up.
A-10 STANDING: The top of the conference: Dayton (6-1), VCU (5-2), LaSalle (5-2), Richmond (5-2), Bona (5-2), Rhode Island (4-2).
KEY GRIFF BACKUP: Like Bona, Canisius has defensive issues with its small lineup. The Griffs were without 6-11 junior center Selvedin Planincic in their 91-84 loss to Niagara Monday. He had a stomach bug.
Planincic is averaging only 10 minutes and 3.4 points for the Griffs. The fact he didn’t play didn’t even get mentioned in my game story. https://buffalonews.com/2017/01/23/niagara-draft-2/
But it’s an issue because Canisius is small with 6-6 Jermaine Crumpton and 6-7 Phil Valenti at the 4 and 5 spots, respectively. Credit Niagara sophomore Dominic Robb with playing physical against those two down low. Planincic has shown flashes of being effective. It would help the Griffs a lot if he could become a 15-minute-a-game asset.
GET CRUMP INSIDE: Canisius is a fantastic outside shooting team. But the Griffs need more the 247-pound Crumpton to assert himself inside more. It’s the same with UB’s Nick Perkins. Crumpton can’t fall in love with hanging on the perimeter looking for his three-point shot.
UB’S SHOOTING WOES: The Bulls suffered a “bad” loss at Miami Ohio Tuesday night, going without a field goal for seven minutes in blowing a second-half lead.
The UB offense is one shooter “shy of a load.” They have to work incredibly hard every night because the points just don’t come easy enough on the perimeter. Maybe the Bulls should consider force-feeding freshman James Jones more minutes. Obviously, Jones isn’t quite ready, or the UB coaches would be playing him more. But maybe if he works into the rotation he could provide some outside shooting by tournament time.
The MAC is a free-for-all. We'll see if the Bulls have the internal leadership to simply hunker down and "play 'em one at a time."
SCHMIDT QUOTES: “I told the guys, if we can bottle that last five minutes and play 40 minutes like that we can be a pretty good team. We were dead, but we found a way.”
“The bottom line was we played harder. We had more passion. We had a sense of urgency, that we didn’t have at least the first 30 minutes of this game. In this league, if you don’t play with that urgency, if you don’t play with that passion, if you just think you’re going to show up and play you’re not going to win.”
“They shoot 27 percent in the second half, 9 percent from three and they made one three the second half. We changed defenses a little bit, played a little bit of zone. I thought the kids were really active in it.”
NIAGARA’S SECRET WEAPON: Niagara red-shirt sophomore Kevin Larkin stunned Canisius Monday with 16 points in 13 minutes.
If Larkin can become a factor off the bench, it would be huge for the Purple Eagles. Here’s Niagara coach Chris Casey explaining why he put Larkin in the game so early”
“He’s been practicing really well, so that’s part of it. Also we play tonight then play in a couple days against Manhattan, and a day after that we play Rider. And we have some guys playing a lot of minutes. We need guys on the bench to be able to spell those guys. My thought was let’s get him out there. I felt that he’s been practicing in such a way and his approach has been good so I had a feeling he was going to perform tonight.”
UPCOMING GAMES: Niagara plays host to Manhattan at 7 p.m. Thursday. Canisius plays host to Manhattan at 2 p.m. Saturday. Bona visits Rhode Island at 2 p.m. Saturday (NBC Sports Network). UB has a rough assignment at the Mid-American Conference’s best team, Akron, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Akron has the nation's third-longest home win streak.