It’s probably my favorite game of the year, and it’s finally here. Later today the Buffalo Bulls men’s basketball team will head to Olean to take on the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. This game, which is expected to come in front of a sold out Reilly Center. This game is always a blast because it pins the two best teams in WNY against each other in a rivalry game that always draws passionate fans. While Bonaventure has seen more success in recent years, this years match up feels like it will be a battle on every possession.
The Bonnies are led by two explosive junior guards in Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams. Expect to see both of these two on the court the entire game as Mobley comes in playing the highest percent of minutes per game in the nation where Adams sits at 22 in the same category. This means that you should also prepare for much more Willie Conner and Dontay Caruthers, as both have proven to be very strong defenders.
Size wise, the Bonnies are not the biggest team we will play. They most commonly feature 6’8 Josh Ayeni at the five. Meaning Nate Oats will have the opportunity to play Nick Perkins at center and keep Davonta Jordan and Dontay Caruthers on the floor at the same time. I look for a Jordan, Caruthers, Conner, Hamilton, and Perkins lineup to be used often in this game. When we turn to a big man I expect Ikenna Smart to get the first nod followed by Raheem Johnson. I think this will be a chess game for the coaches and it will be fun to see who makes the first move.
So what should we expect out of this game? I’m expecting a tough, grind it out type of game. It’ll be a battle, and it’ll be fun. Here’s a few more story lines to keep your eyes out for.
What To Watch For
Turnovers and Fouls
Can Buffalo play a relatively clean game. Bona will be looking to create turnovers and the Bulls have been careless at points. Will the team utilize a pump fake on the first pass and look to catch the Bonnies leaning? Will the big men put the ball down when needed but not as a first move? These are the things to watch for and see if they can cut down on turnovers.
As for fouls, UB and Bona are very similar in that category. Which team will play more straight up and move their feet better? The winner of this game may be the team that fouls the least.
Dovonta Jordan in a hostile environment
Two things are certain. This game will be a hostile crowd and Jordan seemed a little nervous against Creighton. It’s to be expected from a freshman, especially one who controls the offense. I’m hoping to see Jordan calm and collected, ready to attack the rim, and under control. If he does these three things, he will be dangerous in this game.
Nick Perkins rebound game
Not as in physically rebounding, but how he bounces back from being held scoreless in the last outing. I expect him to come out firing on all cylinders. He should use his size down low to attack the rim in this one as he will most likely face a smaller defender. I think this is the game to get his shot going from beyond the arc. He’s going to be a threat and is my key player of the game.
This game feels like a must win just for morale sake. We have three tough road games in a row and this is number 2. Winning the middle game in a tough stretch is important to keep positive thoughts for this team. Even if we drop the next two, there is still no need to panic. The Bulls will return home and play a much easier non conference schedule to close out. Lastly, have fun with this game. This is for WNY pride, and it’s time for the Bulls to show why we’re the best.