As hard as it is to believe, college basketball tips off in just a few weeks from now, with the "Champions Classic" getting things rolling on November 9th at Madison Square Garden.
And to get you ready for the season, Aaron Torres Online will be giving you 30 previews in the coming 30 days to get you ready for the start of the year, all written by college basketball nut and recruiting guru Jacob Polacheck.
We are smack dab in the midst of these previews, with thoughts on Indiana, USC, LSU, Maryland and Colorado State, and earlier this week, we got an exclusive sit down with Bruce Pearl to preview the Auburn Tigers.
Now, we take a look at the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, the reigning A-10 champs, who return literally everyone off a team that made the NCAA Tournament last year.
St. Bonaventure Bonnies
How it went down in 2020-21
St. Bonaventure reached new heights in 2020-21, winning the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament titles and earning the eighth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
And here’s why there’s so much excitement: They return just about everyone of substance off that team.
Junior big Osun Osunniyi was a major bright spot for last year’s St. Bonaventure team, averaging 10.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.9 blocks per game, en route to earning the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Even with Osunniyi controlling the paint, the Bonnies were able to find plenty of scoring from guards Kyle Lofton and Jaren Holmes, who finished with 14.4 and 13.8 points per game respectively.
Meanwhile, Dominick Welch provided a spark of shooting, hitting a team-high 51 three-pointers last season. Then there’s versatile forward Jalen Adaway, who played his role tremendously after transferring from Miami (OH), adding 12.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.5 steals per game in 21 games last season.
Despite playing only two non-conference games due to COVID, the Bonnies rolled through the regular season going 13-4 overall (11-4 conference) in the regular season. After reeling off wins against Duquesne, St. Louis and VCU to win the Atlantic 10 tournament title, the Bonnies were given a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament before falling to LSU in the first round 61-76.
In perhaps the best season in head coach Mark Schmidt’s 14-year tenure at St. Bonaventure, the Bonnies had all the makings of an NCAA Tournament contender and should be back once again this year.
What You Need to Know About 2021-2022
Key Returnees: Kyle Lofton, Osun Osunniyi, Jaren Holmes, Dominick Welch, Jalen Adaway
Key Losses: Alejandro Vasquez
Key Transfers: Quadry Adams, Karim Coulibaly, Linton Brown, Oluwasegun Durosinmi
Key Recruits: Justin Ndjock-Tadjore, Joryam Saizonou
As mentioned earlier, this team brings back the main core of its 2020-21 roster for this season, which will be led by Lofton and Holmes in the backcourt and Ossuniyi in the frontcourt.
Despite losing Alejandro Vasquez (4.4 points per game last season), the Bonnies are bringing in a number of high-impact transfers with Karim Coulibaly (Pitt), Quadry Adams (Wake Forest) and a pair of JUCO transfers in Oluwasegun Durosinmi and Linton Brown. Coulibaly and Durosinmi should provide added depth in the paint, while Brown adds a shooting touch that should pair nicely alongside Welch. After only playing in nine games as a freshman, Adams has solid potential for a breakout season.
With such a deep roster, Justin Ndjock-Tadjore and Joryam Saizonou aren’t expected to see the court often, but there’s potential for these two to be contributors by the time the season is done.
St. Bonaventure remains the team to beat in the Atlantic 10, yet VCU and Richmond are expected to be the Bonnies biggest threats in the conference this season.
The Bonnies have a strong non-conference schedule with 11 games on the slate, most notably a trip to the Charleston Classic prior to Thanksgiving. There they will face a fellow mid-major with at-large NCAA Tournament hopes, Boise State, and fom there, could face any number of power conference teams, including West Virginia, Clemson, Ole Miss or Marquette.
Picking up a few wins in Charleston could have long-term effects for their season as whole. It's the same with back-to-back games against legitimate NCAA Tournament caliber teams out of power conferences, when St. Bonaventure faces UConn and Virginia Tech in back-to-back games in mid-December. Each is on a neutral court and should provide the Bonnies with a real chance to pick up real wins that will matter all the way to March.
Conference play won’t be any easier as the Atlantic 10 features a Richmond team that brings back four fifth-year seniors, a VCU squad with a solid combination of newcomers and returnees, as well as teams like St. Louis, Davidson and Dayton that could make some noise this season.
The Bonnies will have a tough task to finish out the season with the team’s final four games of the regular season featuring matchups against Rhode Island, St. Joseph’s, VCU and Richmond.
St. Bonaventure will need to be on its A-Game in order to defend its crown as Atlantic 10 champions.
What to Expect in 2021-2022
Expect much of the same as last season with the majority of the roster set to return. St. Bonaventure should remain as one of the top defensive teams in the conference and is well-positioned for another A-10 Championship.
With a strong non-conference schedule and a conference that features multiple teams with NCAA Tournament potential, the Bonnies have a strong chance to remain a Top-25 team throughout this year if all goes as planned.
The Bonnies have everything you could want in a team heading into this year with shooting talent, big bodies in the frontcourt and incredible depth.
Another trip to the Big Dance should be on the way for St. Bonaventure.
The question now: Can they win a game - or more - once they get there.
A trip to the Sweet 16 for the first time in the modern era isn't out of the question.
For more college hoops coverage, make sure to follow Jacob Polacheck on Twitter @JacobPolacheck
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