With just a few days until the season gets underway, we stop at St. Bonaventure for today’s A10 WBB Season Preview!
The 2020-21 St. Bonaventure Women’s Basketball season was a mixed bag. With big wins against conference foes, including a sweep of Davidson and a victory against Duquesne, head coach Jesse Fleming posted one of the better conference records since he arrived in Olean. However, those promising moments were also marred by blowout losses to George Washington and La Salle, and the season culminated in defeat in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament to the same Davidson side which they had defeated handedly earlier in the year.
To that extent, the Bonnies were picked to finish 13th of 14 in the preseason poll. The loss of the stalwart Emily Calabrese will be big – she appeared in 111 games over four years and is using her final year of eligibility at Northeastern. However, the Bonnies return a good chunk of experienced players, which should help them in their initial non-conference slate. The Bonnies should have a decent chance to rack up some wins early on, facing a number of low-major programs from New York and the mid-Atlantic.
The Asianae Johnson show will need to continue if the Bonnies want to outpace their preseason polling place of 13th. Johnson, named to the all-conference third team last season (and in this preseason), put up career highs of 13.5 points, 3 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. Johnson is one of the co-captains for this Bonnies team, joined by Tori Harris (11 ppg). I’Yanna Lops shot a remarkable 48.5% from the field while chipping in with 17 blocks and 16 steals last year in what was her first season in St. Bonaventure colors after transferring in from Cal State Bakersfield.
After being fairly undersized for two years, the Bonnies looked to add some size in the transfer portal through Wichita State’s Ene Adams, who checks in at 6’5. Her arrival should free up Johnson as a shot creator and enable some nice pick and roll sets. Fleming highlights incoming first year forward Taylor Napper as someone who could make an immediate impact, noting that “when you play with [UConn commit] Azzi Fudd, you know how to screen and how to rebound.” Napper shared the court with Azzi Fudd in high school; Fudd was a consensus top recruit in the nation. Fleming, in his A10 Media Day press conference, did emphasize that this team will rely heavily on the leadership group of Johnson and Harris. If that pair can take big steps, and if Adams and Napper can contribute immediately in their first years, the Bonnies could easily outperform their preseason spot.
The Bonnies should be a better team than they were last year, when they were spilled from the A10 Tournament by Davidson in the first round. However, as the Bonnies got deeper, so did the rest of the league. It might be another season of uphill sledding for Jesse Fleming et co, but don’t count them out just yet.