ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – The Bonnies played basketball on Wednesday night, providing fans with a first look at the new and experienced team. SBU dominated Alfred 80-41 in an exhibition at the Reilly Center where transfers Charles Pride (Bryant) and Mika Adams-Woods (Cincinnati) donned the Brown and White for the very first time. Both are primed for roles as key contributors once the regular season begins.
St. Bonaventure returns all five of its starters from last season. A far cry from the team with zero returners as they played through the 2022-23 season.
Now, with some exhibition basketball under the belt, here are three takeaways from the Bonnies preseason win over Alfred before the team opens its regular season against Longwood Nov. 6 back at the Reilly Center.
Charles Pride can unlock Bona’s offense
Pride, the transfer from Bryant, is a highlight addition for head coach Mark Schmidt. He brings scoring power to the Bonnies, already putting up 1,528 points throughout his collegiate career. Where I came away most impressed with Pride following the exhibition with Alfred was his work on the glass, however.
He grabbed eight rebounds in his 20 minutes of play, four of those boards coming on the offensive end of the floor. Pride is a great rebounder for a guard. His rebounding efficiency provides ample opportunity for second-chance points, which the Bonnies scored eight of Wednesday night against Alfred.
He moved around plenty along the baseline and perimeter while SBU operated on offense. He’s active off-the-ball, which will put him in position to grab offensive rebounds once regular season action begins. The Bonnies already have a strong presence down low in their starting group with Chad Venning, plus Assa Essamvous (who was known to fans as Yann Farell last year) who is a strong rebounder on the wing. Pride can help take some of the workload off his teammates, allowing Schmidt’s offense even more time to work.
Could the press work?
Disclaimer: I highly doubt Schmidt will implement the full-court press consistently when it counts. But it’s a fun idea.
St. Bonaventure pressed Alfred nearly the entire exhibition match. And the press was successful, doing so without fouling for the most part. The Saxons struggled to move the ball past half-court, pestered by defenders in the Brown and White. While the defensive tactic isn’t one to employ game over game, Schmidt can look to the press when he needs to. Especially if his defenders don’t foul.
When going up against a stagnating offense, the press can add further pressure, which can then turn into quick transition opportunities for the Bonnies. Schmidt can also fall back on the press when he needs his group to force quick turnovers that must turn into quick points.
Running a full-court press each possession, or even each game, isn’t feasible. But we learned that when in need of quick stops, the Bonnies are capable of applying immediate pressure.
Chad Venning is going to be a problem
Venning trimmed down and worked on his conditioning throughout the offseason. The big man scored 11 points against Alfred, converting five of his six field goal attempts in just 12 minutes of play. He also added two blocks. He scored the first two buckets of the game, going to work immediately as his teammates fed him the ball in the paint.
In his first year with the Bonnies last season, he averaged 12.7 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game, serving as the team’s primary interior presence. Venning, now a redshirt junior, received Preseason Atlantic 10 Third Team honors. Against Alfred, he showed that he is ready to prove the preseason honors right and continue his breakout as a force for the Bonnies.
(Photo Courtesy of Dan Nelligan)