If any game looked like a “trap” game, it could be St. Bonaventure’s encounter with Saint Joseph’s on Hawk Hill in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
For the Bonnies, the game lies between a key road victory over long-time rival Duquesne on Saturday and a three-game home stand starting with Friday night’s game with Davidson.
Like Bona, the basketball history at Saint Joseph’s is a proud one, but this year’s Hawks may be their worst team since World War II. Under first-year coach Billy Lange, the Hawks are 4-19 and 0-10 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Lange replaced Phil Martelli, who was forced out after going 14-18 last season.
The fewest wins for a Saint Joseph’s team since the 1945-46 season was seven in 1990. The Hawks have only nine games left, four at home, to try and improve things. They have lost five in a row since an 87-81 win over Penn at the Palestra on Jan. 18.
It’s never easy beating St. Joseph’s in the Michael J. Hagan Arena. Despite its record, the Bonnies (16-8, 8-3) could be walking into a hornet’s nest. Bona has won its last three and is alone in third place in the conference behind Dayton (10-0) and Rhode Island (10-1). Bona is 6-5 on the road. All six road wins have come with 6-foot-10 sophomore Osun Osunniyi in the lineup. Only one of the losses, at the University at Buffalo on Dec. 30, came when Osunniyi played.
Like Bona, Saint Joseph’s counts mostly on underclassmen. There’s only one senior in its playing rotation.
The Bonnies’ lone senior is Amadi Ikpeze. Ryan Daly, a 6-5 junior transfer from Delaware, is Saint Joseph’s leading scorer at 20.3 a game. He’s made 43 3-pointers this season.