The 2022-23 iteration of the Bonnies thankfully started their season with a win after getting the best of the Saint Francis Red Flash in the Reilly Center by a final score of 71-58.
After last week's exhibition win against Alfred, coach Mark Schmidt showed us that we will likely get a mixed bag of lineups to start the season, and that did end up carrying over to the regular season opener.
Both Kyrell Luc and Daryl Banks III were mainstays on the floor in the backcourt, with Luc logging 38 minutes and Banks going the full distance. The Bonnies were thin at guard with Brett Rumpel out due to injury and Moses Flowers ruled out somewhat surprisingly as the game neared. Flowers suffered a concussion in practice Sunday, and Schmidt hopes he can return to action Saturday at Canisius. Even as Flowers and Rumpel return, Banks and Luc will seemingly play as many minutes as they can as Bona's offensive leaders.
The Bonnies will continue to work to gel after struggling with the Red Flash and finding themselves in a tied ball game at halftime. Nevertheless, getting to see this new team play meaningful basketball gives us some things to monitor over the next few games and others we can only hope will continue moving forward.
Three positives from St. Bonaventure's opening night win over St. Francis
Kyrell Luc's energy and efficiency
Luc was the leading scorer for the Bonnies on an efficient night from the field. He finished his SBU debut with 23 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals.
After Banks was hot early and struggled from the field for the rest of the game, Luc helped generate scoring when it was needed most. Noticeably, his first step is amazingly quick, which allowed him to beat defenders on numerous occasions allowing for easier scoring opportunities.
Luc was also able to get to the line and take advantage of those opportunities, going 7-for-8 at the free throw line on the night.
Chad Venning's strong presence off the bench
Venning was first off the bench for Bona's, trying to contain St. Francis big man Josh Cohen who took advantage of Schmidt's smaller lineup early on. He immediately came in and grabbed a couple of boards, giving Cohen a tougher time down low.
Venning also started the second half, which was a bit out of the ordinary for Schmidt to stray from the starting lineup. He did put up productive minutes to help Bona not get into any further trouble.
"Overall I thought Chad Venning was a big factor in the game, especially in the second half." Schmidt said.
It will be interesting to see whether he continues to be the first man up to support the Bonnies first group. If he is able to contribute and bring a big presence to the floor like he did during the opener, Venning will continue to have a huge role for this team.
Barry Evans bringing the house down
Coming into his freshman season, Evans' athleticism was definitely something that fans could look forward to in the Reilly Center. Evans' first bucket in the brown and white was a dunk. He then came up with a late steal and slam dagger late in the game that was a huge exclamation point to seal the opening night win.
Evans filled the stat sheet at Putnam Science Academy, and he showed how he can bring something similar during his time at SBU. On top of his 12 points, Evans also tallied 8 boards and 2 steals, leading the team on the glass. This will be key for the starting group, especially if Schmidt decides to continue with the current lineup that does not contain a traditional big.
It's hard to ask for a better debut out of Evans. His high energy plays and rim running ability will create many more exciting moments for the team throughout his career.
Three things to monitor in the Bonnies next few games
What will Schmidt do with the starting lineup?
It's unknown whether coach Schmidt will adjust the starting lineup at all, however he may elect to do so on a nightly basis based on matchups. St. Francis big man Josh Cohen was able to exploit his mismatch with the Bonnies starters early, causing Schmidt to call on Venning and Max Amadasun for support. This resulted in an early hole, as well as all of the Bona bigs picking up two fouls in the first half.
"We have to go inside, we need a five man that we can throw the ball into that can give us something." Schmidt noted. "I think Chad (Venning) can be that guy."
On nights where there is a tough matchup with an opposing big, coach may look to Venning or Amadasun for spot starts to try and contain the paint immediately. This spot still remains the biggest question for this year's team, however it's safe to assume that we will see a healthy dose of rotations both with Venning or Amadasun as well as smaller lineups to see what sticks.
"The five man is going to be by committee. The guy that's playing better is going to play a little bit longer, just like Chad did today." Schmidt added regarding his frontcourt rotation.
Daryl Banks III streaky shooting
Banks was on fire early, making two threes out of the gate. He unfortunately came back down to earth, struggling from the field the rest of the night.
Down the stretch, Banks still saw a healthy dose of opportunities, drawing defensive attention to open the door for some others on the floor. You would've liked to see Banks convert on at least some of the chances he had after his early run, which would have helped Bona put this game away much earlier than they did.
This isn't something that we should look too deep into, as this was Banks' first game for the team. However, the Bonnies will need him to keep it going throughout the course of a night as they move into tough non-conference matchups and A10 play.
"Offense is fickle, jump shots are fickle, that's why you have to live in the paint." Schmidt said when asked about Banks' tough shooting night.
It was nice to see that Banks' confidence didn't dip throughout the shooting struggles he ran into, which will be critical for him to continue as Bona's leader.
Slowing down from the three point line
Against the Frankies, only Banks and Luc converted any attempts from beyond the arc. Even further, the Bonnies did not have a single 3-point make during the second half.
This is a bit alarming, especially within a game that was tied at the break. As Banks and Luc lead the offense, this may carry over to other games this season. However, if the likes of Evans, Anquan Hill, Anouar Mellouk and others can make even a small number of three balls during a game, this could open doors for the offense to be much more dynamic and efficient.