As the 2022-23 Bonnies took the floor for the first time in an exhibition game against Alfred University, all were looking to finally gain some insight into the many question marks surrounding the brand new roster.
The Bonnies came out showing quick efficiency on offense, especially from three point range, shooting at an impressive 39 percent clip on the night.
These contests are certainly mostly about developing chemistry, especially for a program that only has one player who logged any minutes for the team previously. It was nice for the new Bonnies to get some run under their belt before it actually counts, and see some team success while doing so.
Within the exhibition, looking to individual performance, rotations and how some players fed off each other will be more meaningful than the actual outcome of the game, so here are a few things that stood out from Bona's first showing.
Daryl Banks III has the green light of all green lights
It was no secret leading up to the season that Banks would be the Bonnies' leader as the new team worked to take shape. That was finally shown in the exhibition against the Saxons.
He quickly put up shots at a high volume, serving as the offensive cog early on. Banks saw two three balls go in within the first five minutes of the game and after saw himself cool from deep.
Banks finished the game with a team-high 18 points and 7 assists, as well as 3 rebounds, 3 steals and a block. You can't ask for much more from your leader and team captain, and you can only imagine the night that may have been brewing for Banks if he saw one or two more three pointers fall early on.
As Banks told SBUnfurled on the SBUnfurled and Friends podcast, with the injury to Brett Rumpel, we'll most likely see him run some point with the bench unit when Kyrell Luc is off the floor.
"Until Brett gets back, I'll be the second ball handler." Banks said, adding confidence in his ability to play the point and run the offense when called upon.
It will be a plus to have Banks serve multiple roles on the floor, being able to facilitate entire possessions and create without the ball when he has another ball handler playing alongside him. Serving as a primary ball handler will be a facet of Banks' game that he will continue to develop throughout his time at Bona which will surely be fun to watch.
Kyrell Luc can get it going at the drop of a hat
Luc struggled in the exhibition out of the gate, then caught fire by scoring 10 points in two minutes to end the first half. His athleticism and intensity led to quick and explosive offense, plus pressure on the Saxons at the other end of the floor.
This spark seemed to come about out of thin air. Luc's quickness really struck me as something that can be a momentum driver and can serve as the Bonnies own pest that opposing teams will have to plan for each night.
He also shot efficiently from three, going 3-for-4 from deep, as well as 6-for-11 overall from the field. We can't assume that Luc will shoot at that high of a clip each game, but if he can continue to find a way to make things happen offensively, he'll be a nightmare to try to defend.
This offensive threat will also help open more clean opportunities for Banks, as well as rolling and rim running opportunities for whoever is on the floor in the frontcourt.
It's clear that Luc will be a dynamic bandmate for Banks in the backcourt to start the season, and we can all look forward to more exciting guard play in the RC soon to come.
Who's going to play at the five spot?
The biggest unknown for this team, which is made up of mostly unknowns, is the center position.
There are three true centers on the roster: Pitt transfer Max Amadasun, Morgan State transfer Chad Venning and freshman Melian Martinez. None of those three saw themselves in the starting lineup during this season's exhibition as coach Mark Schmidt elected to go a bit small with his first group.
A similar strategy may be shown heading into the season, especially if no one takes a strong grasp of the traditional center role. Against Alfred, stretch forwards Yann Farrell, Barry Evans and Anouar Mellouk started alongside Banks and Luc. Including players who can run the floor and help provide an outside scoring threat will add needed floor spacing into the Bonnies' first group and potentially open some easy scoring chances that may be more difficult to come by with a traditional five on the floor.
I expect at least Amadasun and Venning to both see a decent sized role initially, whether it is starting or off the bench, and Schmidt adjusting once he is comfortable giving someone a more increased role. It will also be interesting to keep an eye on Martinez's minutes as he starts the season. If there isn't a strong hold taken on the front court rotation immediately, I wouldn't be shocked if he gets worked in sooner rather than later.
Bona's starting lineup, following rotations and minute distribution will be something to closely watch as the team gets a few regular season games under their belt. Will Schmidt carry over his strategy from the exhibition game? If he does, here's how we can expect the game flow to shake out: