Just four days before the start of Atlantic 10 play, St. Bonaventure is thrilled to have a 9-3 record, its best through 12 games in 18 years.
But the Bonnies enter Saturday's Reilly Center showdown with No. 13 Xavier worried about the health of sophomore point guard Tim Winn, who took quite a beating during Tuesday's otherwise uneventful 82-57 waltz past Siena before 5,013 at the Reilly Center.
Winn suffered a minor sprain of his left ankle in a collision with several players under the basket 43 seconds into the second half. He sat for four minutes, then returned for just 12 seconds before getting rocked in the face by Siena's Marcus Faison while diving for a loose ball. For good measure, Winn even had a minor back spasm on that play, too.
With all those troubles -- and Bona already owning a 48-22 lead -- coach Jim Baron kept Winn on the bench the rest of the night.
"We're just going to wait and see how bad it is," Baron said of the ankle. "We'll be patient and get him ready for Saturday."
Baron had no qualms about putting Winn back in the game prior to his star guard's last knockout.
"The trainers said he was good enough to go and I felt we wanted to get the ballhandling," Baron said. "He said to me, 'Coach, I'm ready,' so we went with him."
Bona needs Winn, the former LaSalle High star, at peak effectiveness for A-10 play. Senior James Singleton moved to the point when Winn left and had fits dealing with Siena's press, finishing the game with seven turnovers. Depth at point guard is thin, especially since freshman Etienne Norris has remained home in Ohio attending to personal matters since Christmas and has not sent word if or when he'll return.
Bona finished with 20 turnovers, its most since making 22 in its season-opening win over Bowling Green.
"You lose a quarterback in football, you're going to have things happen," Baron said. "What you work on is to get the guys to understand better decision-making. . . . As we get into conference play, the pressure will be a lot more intense and we'll have to do a better job."
This one was over almost as soon as it started. The Bonnies built an 18-0 lead in the first seven minutes and it was 25-3 after 11 minutes. The rest of the night was largely a parade of fouls and free throws; the teams combined for 64 attempts from the stripe, 52 coming in an endless second-half garbage time.
Rashaan Palmer led Bona with 18 points and a career-high seven assists, while center Caswell Cyrus had a season-high 17 points, a school-record eight blocks and seven rebounds. Terrence Durham had 12 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Peter Van Paassen came off the bench for a career-high 10 boards.
Winn did it all in the first half by collecting nine points, four steals, three assists and three rebounds. It was 38-15 at the break, the fewest points against Bona in the opening 20 minutes since Baron came here in 1992.
"We did so many positive things in the first half," Baron said. "You didn't know how fresh we'd be for this game (after a week layoff and the Christmas break). We just continued our aggressiveness."
The no-show at the start was a surprise to Siena (4-4), one of the most improved teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Saints won earlier this year at Northwestern and Niagara, and entered the night averaging 86.3 points.
"Their defense, which is very impressive, forced us into some misses," Siena coach Paul Hewitt said. "And then we forgot about the things we wanted to work on against this team."