At 9-4 and poised to reach a modest milestone, Mark Schmidt said he doesn’t need to remind his players the potential hazards of overlooking winless Cornell.
A win at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Reilly Center against the Big Red would give St. Bonaventure its most non-conference victories under Schmidt, now in his seventh season, and a confidence boost heading into Atlantic 10 Conference play.
Standing in their way is 0-12 Cornell a team Schmidt is convinced, “is gonna get somebody at some point.”
“They understand they have good players,’’ Schmidt said about his team. “We lost to Siena by two and they lost to Siena by one. If we don’t play well we’re not going to win.”
Meanwhile, inclement weather conditions have forced the cancellation of the University at Buffalo’s men’s basketball game tonight against South Dakota State.
South Dakota State was told Thursday morning that its connecting flight in Chicago was cancelled due to heavy lake-effect snow throughout the Midwest. There is a chance, weather permitting, that the game could be rescheduled for Saturday and UB officials announced Thursday afternoon that they were working with South Dakota State to that effect.
Elsewhere in the Big 4, Canisius (8-2, 2-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) plays at Saint Peter’s (4-7, 0-2) at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
In Big 4 women’s basketball Niagara (2-9, 0-2 MAAC) looks to break a four-game losing streak when it hosts Saint Peter’s (2-9, 1-1) at noon today at the Gallagher Center. Also looking to end a four-game skid is Canisius (4-8, 0-3) when it hosts Iona (9-2, 2-0) at 7 tonight at the Koessler Center.
UB (7-4), which ended its non-conference schedule with back-to-back wins against Niagara at Roberts Wesleyan, opens Mid-American Conference play at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bowling Green (10-2). The Falcons have won six of seven. St. Bonaventure (11-5, 0-1 A-10) is idle until Jan. 8 when it hosts Richmond (6-7, 0-0).
The Bona men have won three of their past four games and currently have the seventh-best record among Atlantic 10 Conference teams against non-league opponents. During this recent stretch, they outgunned high-scoring Iona on the road and won at Niagara on a game-winning layup by Charlon Kloof.
On Monday, St. Bonaventure took a 40-28 halftime lead, then held on late to defeat Delaware at the Reilly Center, 80-73, in which Schmidt said it was the Bonnies best defensive effort over the last five games.
“After we lost to Wake Forest our goal was to get to 10,” Schmidt said. “Being on a three-game winning streak going into the Atlantic 10, having some momentum, that was the goal and we couldn’t get there if we hadn’t won the first two and now it’s here.”
It’s been a struggle for the Big Red (0-12) since the 2009-10 season when they finished 29-5 and lost to the Sweet 16 to John Wall and Kentucky. Cornell is 35-64 overall and 18-24 in the Ivy League. But when they played in Ithaca last season, the Bonnies slipped out with a hard-fought four-point win which is all the ammunition Schmidt needs to persuade his players Cornell can’t be easily dismissed.
Nolan Cressler (16.7 ppg.), Robert Hatter (11.3) and Devin Cherry (10.4) are all capable of putting up numbers.
“They have talent, but they’ve just been snake-bitten a little bit,” Schmidt said. “Our guys have respect for them and it would be different if we hadn’t played them before. Our guys will not underestimate them and they will not be overconfident.”