2021-22 St. Bonaventure Men’s Basketball Preview – The Bona Venture

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BY TOM SEIPP, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF.

It’s been 604 days since the Reilly Center has been filled with rowdy college students for a men’s basketball game. For the 16 home games in Saint-Bonaventure this year, fans will return with a treat: the opportunity to watch one of the top 25 teams in the country; or at least that’s what the AP poll suggests.

The Saint-Bonaventure Bonnies are entering the 2021-22 season with great expectations. Not only die-hard students and alumni attending college, but people from all over the country. On Wednesday, it was announced that the Bonnies have been unanimously selected as the No.1 seed in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll.

“To be chosen No.1 in such a good league with good coaches, good programs and good players is a great honor and we don’t take it lightly,” said head coach Mark Schmidt. “We built it.”

Expectations were high nationally with the return of the senior five, including two pre-season A10 first-team caps: Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi.

Lofton, a first-team member of all conferences and a member of the Atlantic Championship 10-all-star team in the 2020-21 season, returns as the main leader and point guard for the Bonnies. He’s been the Bonnies leader since his first year, leading the Bonnies in points, assists and steals last season.

Osunniyi returns after a big year for the 6-foot-10 center. Osunniyi only progressed as the year progressed, closing the Atlantic 10 Championship as the MVP after winning the 2020-21 A10 Defensive Player of the Year award. Last year, Osunniyi nearly averaged a double-double, racking up 10.7 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game.

The Bonnies are also firing their three other starters: Jalen Adaway, Jaren Holmes and Dominick Welch.

Bonnies fans know what to expect from their starters, and they’ll be tested at the start of Schmidt’s calling “the toughest non-conference since I’ve been here” and “the toughest in the past three decades.”

Bonaventure will start at home on November 9 against Siena and follow up with a Sunday night clash with Canisius on November 14 before traveling to South Carolina. The Bonnies will compete in the Charleston Classic, a mid-season tournament, on Nov. 18 against Boise State. Other teams they could face off against include Ole Miss, Marquette, Temple and West Virginia.

After this test, the schedule does not lighten. Following the trip to Charleston, the Bonnies will host northern Iowa (Nov. 27), Coppin State (Dec. 1), Buffalo (Dec. 4) and Loyola, Md. (Dec. 8) at home.

To wrap up the non-conference schedule, the Bonnies hit the road for the last three games: at a neutral venue in Newark, New Jersey against UConn (December 11), an at neutral venue in Charlotte, NC against Virginia Tech (the December 17), and their only real road game on the non-conference schedule, in Northeastern (December 22).

The Bonnies will be featured on national television a number of times, particularly on ESPN’s Friday Night Atlantic 10, with home dates with VCU and Richmond.

It will be a difficult task for Bonaventure to go against a much tighter schedule. But, depth is an option for Schmidt. After a large group of newcomers arrive for the Bonnies, Schimdt can turn to his bench for the first time in a few years.

The only name that stands out is Karim Coulibaly, a transfer from the University of Pittsburgh. Coulibaly started 20 games a year ago for Pitt, averaging 5.2 PPG and 3.9 rebounds per game. In the first few weeks of training, his game stood out with the coaching staff.

“Karim played at a high level, he’s a physical guy, he knows how to play,” Schmidt said. “If there’s one guy in the first three weeks of training who won over the coaching staff, it’s Karim. He’s tough, physical and can shoot the Premier’s ball. “

Coulibaly is a big addition for a Bonaventure team who were limited by the depth of their frontcourt behind Osunniyi last year.

The Bonnies are bringing in two freshmen who could also have an immediate impact: Joryam Saizonou and Justin Ndjock-Tadjore.

Saizonou, a first-year point guard from the Netherlands, could provide point depth behind Lofton, who had the third most minutes per game in the country last year. Ndjock-Tadjore could be a deep element behind Adaway / Holmes / Welch.

Quadry Adams, a transfer from Wake Forest, Oluwasegun Durosinmi, Linton Brown, Anouar Mellouk and Pedro Rossi complete the incoming class for 2021. Brett Rumpel, a freshman from Binghamton, New York, will be redshirting.

The Bonnies have high expectations for this coming year, and after a long summer wait, we can finally see them soon.

“The only expectations that matter are our expectations,” Schmidt said. “The matches are won on the court. Last year was last year, it’s a whole new year.

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