"There's a lack of scoring in college basketball," the pundits have cried. "The game is losing fans," they wail.
Those pundits should find their way to St. Bonaventure this season.
Jaylen Adams and Denzel Gregg led the way with 23 points a piece, as St. Bonaventure won a 92-82 shooting on their opening night over a resilient St. Francis (PA) squad.
"The first game is always a concern," St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt said after the win. "From an offensive standpoint, I thought we played relatively well. We took care of the ball for the most part, we shot a high percentage. We're a work in progress, still."
So, what did we learn from the Bonnies season-opener? Here are my takeaways.
Denzel Gregg and Jaylen Adams are a dynamic inside-outside combo
There are a lot of good teams in the Atlantic 10 with two great scorers, but few compliment each other as well as Adams and Gregg. Gregg was dynamic in the first half, scoring 19 of his 23 points in the opening stanza of 9-11 shooting. He's not just up a post-up forward, either; he has strong enough ball handling skills to take the ball off the perimeter and drive, which is rare for a 6'7 mid-major player.
Adams is much better when he's attacking the basket than as a jump shooter, as his 1-7 performance from three-point range reminds us. In fact, if you take away the deep shooting, Adams was 6-8 from inside the three-point arc on the night. But what makes him such a good partner is his ability to share the ball; the 6'1 guard has great on-the-floor eyesight, and is able to get the ball to open players in tight spaces. There's a reason he was named the Big 4 preseason player of the year.
The defense is (a little) better than the 82 points they gave up show
"We're a bit further behind defensively...we weren't committed, we weren't fundamental on the defensive end."
The Bonnies defense tonight mostly feast-or-famine: St. Bonaventure forced 21 turnovers, but allowed the Red Flash to shoot 47% from the field, and 52% from three-point range. (I'm somewhat surprised St. Francis only took 17 three-point attempts) The more troubling number: the 12 offensive rebounds they gave up, a quite high 37.5% of all St. Francis' missed shots, leading to 15 second-chance points.
Oh, all the places you'll travel...
Since I didn't keep a tally during last night's UB / Niagara game, I rectified that tonight, and the result is...well...depressing.
Six traveling calls were made by the referees, including calls on back-to-back possessions in the second half. This new "emphasis" is already getting silly, and we're all of two days into the season. St. Francis was called for four of those traveling calls, nearly 20% of their turnover total on the evening.
Josh Ayeni is a name you'll be hearing a lot about over the next four years
The freshman played 23 minutes in his first career game, finishing with 10 points on 3-5 shooting, and three rebounds. Ayeni got into a bit of foul trouble, (but...who didn't in this game, where 51 total fouls were called) but had a solid performance.
All banners are not created equal
St. Bonaventure added not one, but two banners tonight. One, their NIT first-round banner, was added to the rafters with zero fanfare, or even an announcement. (Photographic proof exists above) But they did have their players help unveil their Atlantic 10 co-champions banner before the game.
The stats, in infographic form:
Click the graphic above to enlarge
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