After dropping two of their first three games, the Bonnies have fired off four wins in a row to bring them to a 5-2 overall record.
This streak includes a Power 5 win over Notre Dame, which Bona controlled from start to finish, as well as finding a way to beat Middle Tennessee State in a predominantly ugly performance at home.
Heading into the season, not many knew what to expect of the Bonnies. The team has zero returning minutes, leading to many unknowns surrounding rotations and how any member of the new roster would play alongside each other.
The good news is: so far, so good.
For a team with no returning players who saw the floor at Bonas last season, what the group has managed to do to this point is spectacular.
Power 5 win? Check. A surging defense? Check. Shooting over 40 percent from 3 throughout these wins? Check. You get the point. Over the current win streak, Bonas has shined on both ends of the floor, and created numerous performances to build off of as the season continues.
Not to mention, the two games that the Bonnies dropped were both very winnable, too.
The team's early success hasn't resulted in any tampered expectations, however.
"We just try to get better every day. Our goal is to come to practice every day and improve. We have a young team, we're still so far away from where we need to be," Coach Mark Schmidt said. "We play in spurts, but we have to play consistently. Our expectation is always the same, we try to win."
It was no secret heading into the season that this new group would run into some growing pains. This was seen throughout both losses and at numerous points throughout winning performances as well. However, overall, the Bonnies have been able to overcome mistakes that new-look teams will almost always make.
The Bonnies have given up 65 points per game, minimizing that number to close to 60 over their last three games. They are also holding opponents to a 24.6% 3-point percentage and 20.6% over the last three games. That's good for a top-10 perimeter defense in the country. Now, some of this has certainly been due to poor 3-point shooting from opponents, but Bonas has also found ways to make long range shots difficult.
The presence of A-10 Co-Player of the Week Chad Venning in the starting big man role has also helped contribute to winning basketball. He entered the starting lineup beginning in game four, which is the start of the current win streak.
There isn't any sign of Venning's role changing, and I'd expect him to be on the floor for as many minutes as possible if fouls aren't an issue. He has averaged 3 fouls per game, and seen a decrease in fouls since joining the starting lineup, averaging just 2 per game.
One area of improvement down low will be limiting offensive rebounding opportunities for opponents. The Bonnies are giving up over 8 offensive rebounds per game, which seem to mostly be due to struggles with lengthier opposing frontcourts. Second chance points have put them in a hole at times. Making a point to crash the boards and trying to limit offensive rebounds by a handful per game will go a long way in minimizing these situations.
Wednesday night against MTSU, redshirt freshman Brett Rumpel suited up and logged a couple of minutes off the bench after missing the Bonnies first six games due to a foot injury. Rumpel was certainly on a pitch count in his return, and is still working to get his conditioning up to game speed, however having him off the bench will be a welcome sight for Bonas moving forward.
As Kyrell Luc and Daryl Banks III will clearly continue to take on the great majority of the team's guard play, Rumpel will join Moses Flowers in bench support for the backcourt. With Rumpel's absence, Flowers was the only player that could support the starting guards off the bench.
Rumpel will also help take some ball handling pressure off of Banks when Luc is off the floor, allowing Banks to move off the ball and look for open 3s as he does alongside his starting bandmate.
To continue this win streak, momentum surrounding the perimeter should be where Bonas take an advantage. Against MTSU, there were times where it felt like the Bonnies were living and dying by the 3. Now, this makes sense as the team has been able to limit opposing long range scoring, while being able to get it going themselves beyond the arc. There have been some ruts at times scoring from 3. When this is the case, Bonas need to continue locking up opponents from deep to not let games get out of reach when their offense is struggling.
With increasing bench depth due to the return of Rumpel, improving defense and 3-point shooting, Bonas has a clear path to find more wins in the near future.
Cover photo courtesy of gobonnies.com