The St. Bonaventure teams that fans have grown familiar with are the grossly underrated squads composed of players nobody outside of Olean has heard of. They rally behind Schmidt and an unheralded star to prove nearly every preseason projection wrong come March. Not these Bonnies. This years’ team enters with the lofty goal of reaching the Big Dance, and a target on their backs. It’s reasonable to conclude that there hasn’t been this much anticipation for a Bona basketball season in Western New York in quite some time.
1. Will Jay Adams be healthy?
In the Top 25 player rankings entering the season, I mentioned how one of the biggest factors to the Bonnies’ success this season would be the health of Jaylen Adams. And then, 12 minutes into an exhibition against the division three Alfred Saxons, he was forced to leave the game with an ankle injury. All signs are pointing to this being minor, however everyone has their fingers crossed that this won’t be the same nagging injury that hindered Jay for most of last season. Making the Big Dance will be near impossible without a healthy Adams.
2. Who will step up down low?
It’s no secret that between the Bonnies have exceptional guards. Jay Adams and Matt Mobley are both preseason All Conference First Team selections. Add in a healthy Courtney Stockard, and the Bonnies should be a nightmare to defend at the perimeter. How far this team goes though will likely depend on whether the Bonnies find a reliable presence, both offensively and defensively, inside.
Josh Ayeni has a beautiful mid range jumper but struggled under the hoop both finishing and rebounding last season. Amadi Ikpeze showed touch around the rim but could barely stay on the court due to foul trouble in his freshman campaign. The Bonnies will need serious improvements from one of those two, or serious contributions from newcomer Ndene Gueye, in order to contend with some of the league’s best big men.
3. Can they win the big non-conference games?
The Bonnies haven’t beaten a power 5 opponent since Andrew Nicholson’s last second shot lifted them over St. John’s in 2010. They have up to three chances this year, with guaranteed games against Maryland and Syracuse, and a potential matchup against TCU in the final of the Emerald Coast Classic if they can reach it. The Bonnies will need to capitalize on these opportunities if they hope hear their name called on Selection Sunday. Not to mention, they’ll have to play well in conference play as always. After the snub in 2016, the fans asked for a tougher schedule, and Athletic Director Tim Kenney answered. Now it’s up the team to deliver.