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Get To Know A Marquette Basketball Opponent: #22 St. Bonaventure

The Golden Eagles wrap up the Charleston Classic with an appearance in the title game against the Bonnies

NCAA Basketball Tournament - St. Bonaventure v Florida State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Name: St. Bonaventure University

Location: Allegany, New York

Allegany as in the national forest in Pennsylvania? Yes! That’s named for the Allegany River, which was one of the waterways that was the inspiration of the name of Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. The river stretches up into New York, all the way to where SBU is located.

Founded: They say 1858, but also that their first class graduated in 1858? Seems confusing, but that’s the 1850s for you, I guess.

Evolution: It was St. Bonaventure College for nearly 100 years. In 1950, the state conferred university status on the school.

Enrollment: You’re not going to believe it.

C’mon, try me: Okay. 1,839 undergraduate students, 701 graduate students.

Wait, are you telling me.... that St. Bonaventure’s entire enrollment is about the size of Marquette’s average freshman class every year? Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Also their campus is five times larger than Marquette’s.

WHAT? Y’know that Converse ad that got turned into the Pray video? “In this stretch of 90 acres lies a nation.” SBU’s campus is 500 acres.

Nickname: Bonnies

Why “Bonnies”? The obvious answer is “It’s St. Bonaventure, so students there are nicknamed Bonnies.” Apparently, they were originally the Alleganies (for the river) and the Brownies (presumably because of their Franciscan founders). Eventually they decided to codify a legitimate nickname and, for whatever reason, SBU went with “Brown Indians” in the early 1900s.

Yeah.

That lasted til 1992 when they realized exactly how terrible that is, shifted it to the completely inoffensive Bonnies, and kept it moving.

So, why the wolf mascot? Okay, so that’s kind of fun. That came along in 1999, and it’s actually a tribute to St. Francis of Assisi. As legend goes, St. Francis tamed a wolf that was terrorizing the town of Gubbio in Italy through nothing but the power of prayer and a calm manner. I’m not sure why a “tamed by God” wolf makes a good college mascot, but there you go. The mascot is just named “The Bona Wolf.”

Who is St. Bonaventure, anyway? Bonaventure was a 13th century Franciscan and Cardinal who earned that name after recovering from a childhood illness after receiving prayers and blessings from St. Francis of Assisi, and it was apparently Francis himself who exclaimed “Buona ventura” or Good Fortune in Italian. He was raised to the head of the Franciscan Order, so that’s a pretty good reason right there. Bonaventure was granted sainthood by Pope Sixtus IV in 1482.

We need more popes named things like “Sixtus” in my opinion.

Is he the patron saint of anything? You have to promise not to laugh.

Okay.... St. Bonaventure is the patron saint of bowl disorders.

So you’re saying that the official colors of a school named for the patron saint of bowl disorders are..... Yes, I am. I didn’t make these decisions. Moving on.

Notable Alumni: Oooo, I can do one of these without looking it up! ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski! Okay, who else? Ed Bastian, current CEO of Delta Airlines; Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Lanier; Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto; legendary baseball manager John McGraw; six Pulitzer Prize winners, including Bill Briggs, who won for breaking news coverage of the Columbine High School massacre; legendary basketball coach Chuck Daly; and finally, Mychal Fallon Judge, a Franciscan Friar and New York City Fire Department chaplain who is recognized as the first fatality of the September 11th attacks.

Last Season: 16-5, 11-4 in the Atlantic 10, won the conference tournament, lost to LSU in the first round of the NCAA tournament as a #9 seed.

Final 2020-21 KenPom.com Ranking: #32

Final 2020-21 T-Rank Ranking: #35

This Season: 4-0 with wins over Siena and Canisius before beating Boise State and Clemson in the first two rounds of the Charleston Classic.

Current 2021-22 KenPom.com Ranking: #30

Current 2021-22 T-Rank Ranking: #29

Returning Stats Leaders

Points: Kyle Lofton, 14.4 ppg
Rebounds: Osun Osunniyi, 9.4 rpg
Assists: Kyle Lofton, 5.5 apg

Current Stats Leaders

Points: Kyle Lofton, 18.3 ppg
Rebounds: Jaren Holmes and Osun Osunniyi, 7.0 rpg
Assists: Kyle Lofton, 5.3 apg

Bigs? Osun Osunniyi comes in at 6’10” tall, but he’s only 220 pounds officially. Still, when you’re #7 in block rate, you still get to be Big Man, no matter how wide you actually are. Oluwasegun Durosinmi is 6’9” and 235 pounds, but he’s played just four minutes all season and none at all in South Carolina. Karim Coulibaly is #3 on the Big Guy depth chart at 6’8” and 215 pounds, and that will do it for anything resembling real size on the roster as Coulibaly has only played eight total minutes in SBU’s last two games.

Shooters? Jaren Holmes will be priority #1 to stop on the outside as the 6’4” senior is converting 42% of his 4.8 attempts per game this season. That’s largely because he went 5-for-8 against Clemson after opening up the year 3-for-11. MU will also have to pay attention to Kyle Lofton and Dominick Welch. They averaged 4.0 and 6.5 attempts from behind the arc per game this season respectively, and with that kind of green light, they have to be accounted for. However, Lofton is hitting just 31% and Welch is just barely under that mark. Lofton is a career 30.8% shooter for the Bonnies across these four games and his previous three seasons, while Welch has never finished a year hitting less than 36% of his threes and that was his freshman season back in 2018-19.

Head Coach: Mark Schmidt, in his 21st season as a Division 1 head coach and 15th year at St. Bonaventure. He has a record of 331-275 overall and 249-185 with the Bonnies.

What To Watch For: Well, for starters, this is going to be one of those tempo battle games you hear about from time to time. Marquette has, so far, been the 61st fastest team in the country according to KenPom.com, with an adjusted tempo of just over 72 possessions a game. MU’s slowest game this season was 69 possessions against Ole Miss. Over on the St. Bonaventure side of things, they’re rating out to 66.5 possessions per game and that ranks #333 in the country. They’ve had three games at either 61 or 62 possessions, including both of their Charleston Classic contests, and the other game they played this year was 72 possessions.

St. Bonaventure isn’t going to shoot a lot of threes, as has mostly been the case for Mark Schmidt’s teams while he’s been in Allegany, and definitely for each of the last six seasons. That’s generally a good plan for them, because they’ve only shot over 35% in one of the last six seasons, and that includes this year. They’re also not going to turn the ball over all that much, or at least they’ve been really good about it so far this year after being pretty good at it last year. That should make for an interesting clash with Shaka Smart’s goal of 32+ deflections a game, as it might be hard to shake the Bonnies out of their tree.

If MU can tilt that in their favor, that’s good news across the board, because St. Bonaventure isn’t going to try and return the favor. They’re a good defensive team, ranking #20 per KenPom last season and hovering in the same general amount of points per 100 possessions again this season. But they do it by defending the hell out of you, especially on two-pointers, and especially especially by blocking the hell out of your shots. Osun Osunniyi currently ranks #7 in the country in block rate, while 6’5” wing Dominick Welch is coming in at #318 in the country there and that is insanely great for a 6’5” guy. What they don’t do is generate turnovers, specifically steals. 17.2% of defensive possessions for SBU end in a turnover, and only 5.8% — #332 in the country! — end in a steal.

The Bonnies are going to let you shoot a lot of threes, which is weird for a team that gets so many blocks. Then again, maybe it’s the blocks that encourage opponents to stay outside with the rock. Anyway, the point of the story is that you have to go back to 2016-17 to find a St. Bonaventure squad that let an opponent fire off less than 43% of their shots from behind the arc. As is expected in the DUNKS OR THREES OR GTFO offense, Marquette loves shooting threes so far this season even if they’re only making 34% of them through five games. WITH THAT SAID, the Golden Eagles are shooting a whopping 43% on the rims and shooting backgrounds at TD Arena in the last two games, so leaning into that trend is 1) good for MU and 2) something that St. Bonaventure seems more than happy to let happen.

All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 4-3. The first meeting between the two teams came back in February 1960 with the #14 ranked Bonnies taking the win, just like they would in the first three meetings, all in the 1960s. Since then, Marquette has been to Allegany just once, in 1981 in what appears to be the front end of a home-and-home. That was the first of MU’s four straight wins in the series, with the most recent one coming in December 1997 by a score of 68-61.