Extra points from St. Bonaventure’s 69-64 victory over Rhode Island Wednesday at the Reilly Center:
x-Bona stays tied with VCU at 4-0 in the Atlantic 10. Here are the Pomeroy rankings for the top half of the A-10 as of this morning: 34-VCU, 47-Dayton, 60-St. Joe’s, 62-Rhode Island, 65-George Washington, 73-Richmond, 78-St. Bonaventure. (The computer knocks Bona down behind Rhody because of non-conference strength of schedule.)
x-Mark Schmidt opening comments: “That game was a game for men. The intensity level was way up. It wasn’t an X and O game. It was a mental and physical toughness battle. Denzel played the best game of his career. It was a really good game. Great crowd. Just proud of how we finished it.”
x-Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley clearly had admiration for the Bonnies’ “self-made” players.
When the Rams showed up for a 9 a.m. shoot-around Wednesday, the RC floor wasn’t empty. Who was working out with a Bona assistant coach? Dion Wright, Bona’s poster boy for skill development. Hurley, it seems, was impressed.
Said Hurley: “Our highly touted guys didn’t give us enough against their hard-working, self-made guys, like Denzel Gregg. Who was obviously the difference in the game. We’ve got some top-50s. I don’t know that Denzel was top 50 coming out of high school, but he sure looks like one right now. He played great because I thought we guarded their guards incredibly well tonight.”
x-Schmidt on attacking Rhode Island’s tough defense, aimed at pushing the Bonnies out on the perimeter.
“We tried to do some ball screens, tried to space them out, tried to attack them. You can’t worry about their shot blockers. You just gotta play. We pushed the ball, we attacked the basket. Getting to the foul line was a big key for the game. In this league you’re not going to score 80 points a game. The staple of a good team is defense and if we didn’t defend them we would be sitting here with a victory.”
x-The pivotal sequence: Denzel Gregg hits a 24-foot three-pointer from the right wing with 1:35 to go to put Bona up, 65-64, with 1:35 left. URI spent most of the possession harassing Jay Adams and preventing easy passes. . . . URI guard Jarvis Garrett lost possession along the baseline for a turnover after Bona defended his drive to the basket. . . . Gregg was fouled on a drive and hit two free throws. . . . Gregg blocked a Garrett shot on a drive. . . . Marcus Posley missed a three but Idrees Taqqee got the offensive rebound and Adams hit two free throws. . . . Garrett was stopped again on a drive.
Schmidt, deadpanning on the Gregg 3-ball: “That’s how we diagrammed it in the time out. . . . The game was like that. It was broken plays. It was people making plays out of nothing. Denzel played the best game of his career. That shot and Idrees rebound were the two biggest plays of the game.”
Hurley: “They had nothing going in a dead possession.”
x-Hurley on his team’s defense of Posley (17), Dion Wright (12) and Adams (10): “They’ve got a big three here and one of our goals going into the game was to keep those three guys combined under 40. If we did that we felt like we were going to win the game. To hold those guys to 3 for 9, 3 for 7, 4 for 9 was really a great defensive performance against three really outstanding players. We did exactly what we wanted to do for the most part with our ball-screen coverage, being very aggressive with them, and forcing guys like Denzel Gregg to beat us.”
x-Schmidt, like a typical coach, already in the post-game was working on getting his team’s focus on the road ahead. Just look at the A-10 Pomeroy ranking. There’s a long way to go. After Saturday’s game at Duquesne, the Bonnies face four rugged tests: Dayton, at VCU, Richmond, at St. Joe’s.
“It’s still early. We’ve got 14 more games. It’s great to be 4-0. But as I told the team, we’ve got to continue to stay hunger, stay humble and continue to work. We’re not a finished product by any means as you can tell on the court. We’re playing hard. That’s good. We’ve got to continue to play hard but we’ve got to get better. We got outrebounded tonight. We had seven assists and 10 turnovers. We didn’t play a perfect game and we won, and that’s a good sign. We’ve got to continue to get better. I think we have good leadership. I think we have guys that understand that we have a long way to go. The only thing that’s guaranteed is four victories in the Atlantic 10 right now. We got a lot more games to go and difficult games. You look at the schedule going forward. We’re not playing any pansies. We’re playing big-time teams, and we’ve got to be ready to go. No team stays the same. We’ve got to get better.”
x-Hurley wasn’t thrilled with the disparity in free throws. Bona was 26 of 31 from the line. Rhody was 10 of 15. However, when you’re extending the defense and playing so up-close on the perimeter, you’re inviting guys to attack the rim and get fouled. That’s a good play for the Rams, because they have the best shot-blocker in the league in Hassan Martin, and another good one in Kuran Iverson. But you’re more likely to make fouls against a guy like Posley . . . and on this night, Gregg.
“It’s going to be very, very hard to win when you’re minus 16 at the free-throw line,” Hurley lamented.
x-Posley on the win: “It says we have a really good team. We’re not going to lay down and roll over for anybody. Everybody’s buying into the system Schmidt has. I think that’s very important. It tells a lot about our team getting a win like this at home. I think it’s very important.”