The first thing you notice about St. Bonaventure's Matthew Wright is his poise. Even before his jump shots started falling, the freshman guard from Toronto displayed a knack for performing well under pressure.
That unflappable attitude has served him well of late as Wright has picked up his play. He followed up a 10-point performance against Xavier with a career-high 18 points in a road win last week over George Washington and has seen his playing time increase since the beginning of the New Year.
"He's getting better and better," St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said. "He's gained a lot more confidence. He's a typical freshman. As the season has gone along you gain more experience, you get more comfortable being in that environment. He's playing with a lot more confidence and that's what you need."
Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg said this week that he was impressed with Wright on tape and that was before he scored eight first-half points in a loss to the Minutemen.
"He's playing some really good basketball," Kellogg said. "He's going to be a very nice player for them as long as he keeps working hard and doing what he's been doing. He's given them a boost in their last couple of games."
It starts with his demeanor on the court.
"The poise is something I've always had," said the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Wright said. "Growing up, I've always been laid back and very calm. I've been playing basketball since I was 10 and I've played a lot of games under my belt so I guess that's where the poise comes in."
The timely shooting has come in handy for the Bonnies. There was a six-game stretch this season where Wright made only three field goals but in the last three games alone he's made 12. Bona needs an additional shooter to stretch the defense so opponents can't sit in the lap of Andrew Nicholson.
"I've been working on my game a lot," Wright said. "Coach has a lot more confidence in me. I can go into the game and make a couple of mistakes and I know that I'll be able to play through. I've been making shots and that's what my job is: To make shots."
Wright had offers from Duquesne, Tulane and Maine but the NCAA questioned whether he accepted money to play for the Philippines Junior National Team which was later proven untrue. While Wright waited for the NCAA to clear him, the offers dried up. Wright thought he might not be able to play Division I basketball and contemplated playing for the University of Toronto.
"That was a long process and it took a while to get everything sorted out," said Wright, whose mother is a native of the Philippines. "During that time, a number of schools lost interest and they gave away their last scholarships and luckily Bonaventure still had a slot for me."
But Wright made an unofficial visit to the campus and credits Bona assistant coach Jeff Massey for helping push the paperwork through to the NCAA Clearinghouse for him to become eligible.
"He got the process to speed up a little bit," Wright said. "Everything just clicked on my trip."
Now Wright is providing much-needed scoring off the bench for the Bonnies.
"The game speed is completely different [from] my high school, it's Division I basketball," Wright said. "I've had to play at a different speed to the point where I'm getting used to it and I don't even notice it anymore."
It seems MAAC foes have figured out how to guard Iona's Mike Glover. Glover is the league's second-leading scorer behind Siena's Ryan Rossiter at 19 points a game but in the Gaels' last four games Glover is averaging just 8.2 points.
Subsequently, Iona is 2-2 in those games and is now tied for second place in the MAAC.
"Everyone knows about him now," Iona coach Tim Cluess said. "After your first 10 games you watch a million films and teams make adjustments. We knew going in Mike wasn't going to be scoring 20-30 points every game and we kind of rode his games early in the year and we hoped to get better so we wouldn't need as much production from him."
In its win over Iona last Sunday, Canisius decided to play Glover one-one-one with athletic senior Elton Frazier who never left him.
"Elton was never in help [defense], he stayed connected to him," Parrotta said. "That cuts down on his aggressiveness on alley-oops, drop-off passes and offensive rebounds"
It will be interesting to see if Glover can now make adjustments to the way he's defended.
"He's got those herky-jerky moves down there," Parrotta said. "He throws it up to the backboard, he gets it himself and he's quick off his feet. He's a handful."
Duquesne is vying to become the top team in the Atlantic 10, but the Dukes may already be the top team in Pennsylvania. Duquesne beat Temple, Saint Joseph's and La Salle in the same season for the first time.