Bona Defense Leads To Victory Over Siena

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies cruised to a 58-43 win over Siena, forcing them into 17 turnovers – [Photo by Daulton Sherwin]
By Ryan Lazo

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure may have the talent to score at will prompting cheers from the fans in the Reilly Center but in last night’s game against Siena, all they heard was the clank of the rim.

The ball clanked, banged and hit the rim a total of 37 times as the Bonnies only shot 35.1 percent from the field, yet they defeated Siena 58-43 to retain The Franciscan Cup for the third consecutive year.

How is that possible?

Because this team knows how to play defense. In fact, over the final 8:09 of the second half, the Bonnies (5-2) held Siena (2-7) to just three points the rest of the way.

“This is the prime example of stressing to your team that defense has to be the staple,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said following the lowest amount of points his team surrendered since Nov. 20, 2009. “Offense is fickle. Jump-shooting is fickle. If you defend and take care of the basketball, you have a chance to win.”

An offense being fickle would be an understatement for this night.

It seemed for much of the game, Bona was so inept offensively that they couldn’t hit net if it fell on top of them. And knowing full well it was one of those nights that threatened to put basketball back into the 1920s, Charlon Kloof took control of the defense.

In his second season with St. Bonaventure, Kloof has shown the shut-down ability he has on defense. Much like Darelle Revis does in the NFL, Kloof does on the basketball court.

With his long arms, quick feet and determination, Kloof routinely shuts down the opposing team’s best guard.

“He has a gift,” Schmidt said after Kloof held Siena’s Evan Hymes to 5 points on just 2-for-10 shooting. “He has that mentality. He wants to be a stopper. When we play good defense, it starts at the point guard position.”image

And it’s the willingness to take on the challenge of guarding the opposing team’s best player that fueled Kloof’s desire to play basketball in the states.

“The first reason I came to America was because of all the great guards,” Kloof said after his 8-point, two assists and two steal effort. “I enjoy it. I enjoy slowing them down.”

But Kloof had help on the defensive side of the ball. Seven different Bona players recorded a steal on the night — Bona had eight in total — with Jordan Gathers being a spark plug off the bench.

Even though the sophomore guard played just 13 minutes, he was able to record a steal and force Siena into a turnover off of an inbounds trap play.

“They’re a great defensive team,” Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro said after his team’s 17 turnover effort. “They played us well, forced us into mistakes. We knew going in they were a good defensive team.”

But you can’t win without scoring and Bona’s senior captain took care of that with a stat-sheet stuffing of a night.

Demitrius Conger shot just 4-for-11 from the field, but he was able to rack up 14 points, grab eight rebounds, dish out four assists, block two shots and topped it all off with one steal.

Conger put his importance to the team on display in the nationally televised game, showcasing how he can affect the game in many different ways as he played the full 40 minutes.

While the team has confidence in their senior leader, having a defense that can win games also helps.

“I told the guys in the locker room that we shot 2-for-20 from 3-point range and still won by 15,” Schmidt said. “Each year you are going to have nights where you don’t shoot the ball well and the good teams win those games because they defend.”

On their two poorest shooting nights of the season, at Cornell where they shot just 41 percent and against Siena, Bona earned victories.

Luckily for the Bonnies, there is no BCS system in college basketball. They don’t have to be pretty, you just have to get the win. And with a defense that never relents, Bona can have the confidence to know they can overcome the most tragic of offensive performances.

Ryan Lazo can be reached on Twitter @RMLazo13

8 Responses to "Bona Defense Leads To Victory Over Siena"

  1. Casey   December 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    If defense was a person, it could file for defamation of character. I watched the game last night and followed the social media. The prevailing opinion was that it was an ugly game. It was only ugly if you were looking for a wide open game. Saturday night’s game vs. UB was ugly from a defensive standpoint. Many missed assignments.

    Alas, that is the way of the world when West Virginia football can somehow become a thing of beauty.

  2. Casey   December 5, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    I love how Schmidt refers to offense as being fickle. That is absolutely the case. You never know from night to night if a player is going to have a hot hand or not, especially in college basketball.

  3. Ryan Lazo   December 5, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    I could not agree more. The game against UB featured matador defense throughout. Each team was allowed easy entry into the paint, and uncontested 3-point attempts whenever they wanted.

    But last night, the Bonnies played great defense. They forced Siena into many mental mistakes and 17 turnovers while just turning the ball over five times themselves. That’s the mark of a team getting it done.

  4. Casey   December 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    So maybe we need to re-evaluate Bona’s win over UB. The Bulls went on the road and hung a 20-spot on Milwaukee. I realize the Panthers probably are not favored to go to the NCAA Tournament, but a 72-52 win on the road is impressive. The head-scratcher is that UB shot 4-of-17 from behind the arc. McCrea had 30. UB is better than their 3-7 record. I hope to be in attendance when the Bulls host NU on Saturday. Should be an interesting gauge for both teams. The Purple Eagles are coming off a win at Loyola.

    On the other hand, Ohio got WHACKED by Memphis. I watched the last 10-15 minutes. Memphis did whatever they wanted.

    Overall, a good night for the A-10: Temple wins at Villanova – Scootie Randall could be first team all A-10 by the end of the season. La Salle beats Penn State. UD goes to Tuscaloosa and comes away with a W. Butler wins. AND the Charlotte 49ers are still undefeated after beating Davidson.

  5. Smitty   December 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Stop it, stop it, just stop it!! Defense wins games, maybe a championship??? Stop it, you are killing me!!

    All sarcasm aside, your best offense is a good defense. Rebound, create turnovers and offense will be generated. Case in point at the end of the Bona/UB game and Wright’s pressure on the ball that created the decisive steal, leading to the game winning bucket.

    As for UB – I think they are a lot better than what their record indicates. Injuries have been a problem. Saw them against Canisius and then against Bonnies. That was 2 different teams and I think guys like Tony Watson made a difference in his return. I don’t think Jarod Oldham is their answer at the point , but I think it is a team that is going to get better and better as the year goes on.

    The player that I have been impressed with is Marquise Simmons. It has lead me to wonder what the Bonnies would have been like with a healthy Simmons. He is physical, has a decent jumper and has pretty good footwork in the post.

    Great stuff Ryan!

  6. Casey   December 6, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    I like Oldham as a playmaker. He combines pretty well with McCrea on the ball screen and roll. UB has to get Ford into the game for another threat. They will beat Niagara this weekend.

    Speaking of defense – anyone else watching Vandy-Xavier. It’s a defensive gem.

  7. Smitty   December 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    I don’t disagree that Oldham is a playmaker, because I think he can be. I just necessarily see it in the role of a point guard. I don’t think they have to be one and the same.

    He looks far more comfortable when he is attacking and trying to score.

    I know you have seen him a few more times than me, so I may need to see him play more.. Oww, oww.. twist my arm..

  8. Ryan Lazo   December 7, 2012 at 12:09 am

    UB is severely underrated as a team. They really did impress me a lot with the way they were unselfish on offense against Bona. Even with McCrea struggling, they managed to stay in the game and compete until two miracle defensive stops by the Bonnies.

    And you also make great points on the strength of the Atlantic 10, but also college basketball in general. Memphis simply dominated Ohio, but that can happen to any team if they execute. I always think La Salle will be there in the end, but somehow they always disappoint. Their guard play is one of the best in the conference — sans Saint Joseph’s — but come conference play, I think they will fall down some.

    Under Archie Miller, UD will be a force. Not only is he a great recruiter but he is a good x’s and o’s coach. Seeing them play in the A-10 Tournament against Xavier showed me what this team is capable of. Can’t wait for the A-10 season to start

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.