By the time February 22nd rolls around, the Rhode Island Rams should have a lot of things sorted out. The lineup, the playing time, and the playbook should all be under control. If Rhody hits their stride right about then, it’s bad news for the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. Here’s a closer look at the team from Olean:
2012-13 Record: 14-15 (7-9 in the Atlantic 10)
Key Losses: F Demitrius Conger, G Eric Mosley, G Chris Johnson
Key Returners: G Matthew Wright, C Youssou Ndoye, F Marquise Simmons
Player to Watch: C Youssou Ndoye
The Bonnies are in a tough spot this season as they’ve lost all three of last year’s double-figure scorers to graduation. Luckily for them, they still have 7’0″ center Youssou Ndoye. The Senegalese big man averaged just 6.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game a year ago, but he came on stronger towards the end of the season. Ndoye improved his average to 7.4 points during conference play despite struggling with foul trouble at times. That was a case when St. Bonaventure came to Kingston last season as Ndoye played just 23 minutes and committed four fouls. He was still able to net eight points and six rebounds in the 67-61 Bonnies win.
Prediction: Rhode Island 70 – St. Bonaventure 58
While the Rams are on the rise, St. Bonaventure is likely going to experience a down year. And despite the fact that Rhody will have to head to the Reilly Center this season, URI looks to be in the driver’s seat in this match-up. Without Conger and Mosley, it’s hard to imagine the Bonnies reaching the 72.7 points-per-game average they achieved last season. Couple that with an improved Rhode Island team and all signs point to a conference win on the road for the Rams.