By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
When the Atlantic 10 announced its preseason all-conference teams at its media day last month, it seemed like the only person with St. Bonaventure connections who wasn’t up in arms over the league snubbing senior forward Dion Wright was Wright himself.
After ranking 11th in the conference in points per game with 13.5, eighth in field goal percentage at just over 54 percent and 11th in rebounds with seven a contest, many expected the Carson, Calif. native to be voted one of the A-10’s top 15 players. When he wasn’t picked, however, Wright showed indifference.
“That’s a great accomplishment, I’m not gonna lie, but at the end of the day I play for my teammates and my family,” Wright said. “I just want to win; everything else will take care of itself.”
The Bonnies won 18 games for the second consecutive year last season, winning four more conference games than they did the year before. The ten A-10 wins tied for the second-best mark in school history, and Wright had one of the biggest impacts in the successful year.
Posley was the leader on offense and Ndoye was the defensive anchor, but Wright was arguably the Bonnies’ best player; he was definitely the most consistent. The player some fans affectionately call “the worm” for his ability to sqirm and weave his way to the basket and score with ease recorded double-digit points in 26 of the team’s 29 games last season, shooting over 50 percent in 20 of them.
One of the scariest things for SBU’s opponents this year is the three-point shot Wright displayed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinal loss to Dayton. After coming into the game a career three-of-20 shooter from beyond the arch, he made four threes in five attempts against the Flyers while also making all six of his two-point attempts.
The 24-point performance in Brooklyn was a career best, but the Bonnies fell short in the game’s final minute, losing 75-71 to a Flyers team that won 27 games, including two in the NCAA tournament.
Wright has not forgotten the sting of losing after the game of his life.
“It obviously hurt,” he said. “We were right there and should’ve won the game but didn’t. You’ve got to learn from it; that should give you fuel to play harder this upcoming season.”
This year, Ndoye is in the NBA D-League with the Austin Spurs, Chris Dees has no NCAA eligibility left, Xavier Smith transferred to Division II Tarleton State and redshirt freshman Jordan Tyson is out indefinitely after surgery for a torn ligament in his wrist. All of these circumstances make the 6-foot-7 Wright one of the team’s biggest players at the start of the season; 6-foot-9 freshman Derrick Woods is the only eligible player listed at a taller height.
Bona will be playing a small-ball, up-tempo game this season, with an offense resembling the mid-2000s Phoenix Suns more than the big-man heavy San Antonio Spurs. Wright is determined to make the new offensive philosophy work.
“We’re going to be undersized but that won’t stop us from being successful. We can use that to our advantage,” said Wright. “We’ve got guys who can push the ball, rebound and run.”
Wright started his Bonaventure career the season after the Bonnies won the Atlantic 10 championship and advanced to the NCAA tourney, so the motivation is there to get a ring before his collegiate career comes to a close. For that to happen, he says the emphasis is on “playing team ball, sacrificing for each other, talking on defense, closing out on defense and playing as hard as possible for 40 minutes.”
“The worm” will go down in Bonaventure lore if he can help the team slither its way to glory this year.