photo: Erin Lanahan/The Intrepid
By Jeff Uveino
Wednesday night’s exhibition vs Alfred University went the way it does every year for the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team.
They worked out some kinks, rotated players and ran over an inferior opponent.
Still, there are several things that we can learn from the Bonnies’ 90-45 victory over the Saxons. We saw a sneak peak of how the offense could run, an idea of the hierarchy of players coming off the bench, and may have discovered a newcomer who can really play.
Here are three takeaways from Wednesday night.
Alejandro Vasquez could be an impact player sooner than we thought
When Vasquez was announced as a starter for the Bonnies, it probably came as a surprise to many. It certainly did to me.
The freshman guard went on to score 20 points in 26 minutes, shoot 7-14 from the field and 3-7 from three-point range.
He hit three’s on back-to-back possessions in the second half, and put a defender on the ground with a step back before the second one.
“He’s picked up the system quicker than some other guys we’ve had in previous years,” Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said. “He can shoot the ball when he takes good shots. We need two or three young guys to help us, and hopefully he’ll be one of them.”
After Vasquez’s performance, I can’t help but draw parallels to Kyle Lofton’s arrival on the scene in the exhibition last season.
Before that game, little was known about Lofton, who was expected to come off the bench at point guard for last year’s Bonnies. Lofton scored 15 points against Alfred, went on to start every game for SBU, and was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team.
If Vasquez can be anywhere near the player for the Bonnies this year that Lofton was during his freshman year, it makes this Bona team a lot deeper than we thought it was.
And maybe, just maybe, Vasquez could be Schmidt’s latest start to come out of nowhere.
Planutis and Winston will complement each other well at power forward
Schmidt started sophomore guard/forward Bobby Planutis in a lineup that featured three other guards (Vasquez, Lofton, Dom Welch) and one forward (Amadi Ikpeze).
It’s been noted in the preseason that Planutis will most likely share time at power forward with freshman forward Justin Winston.
Winston played 21 minutes compared to Planutis’ 18, but scored just two points compared to 11 from Planutis.
Based on the different skill sets of the two players, it led me to think that the Bona offense would need to adjust when one of the players comes into the game for the other.
It’s been well noted that Planutis is a shooter, while Schmidt has repeatedly said that Winston has more bounce to his game and can attack on the inside.
However, Schmidt said that the offense can run smoothly regardless of whether Planutis or Winston is in the game.
“(Planutis) has a better feel right now because he’s been in the system for an extra year,” Schmidt said. “We run a ball screen motion offense, so (Planutis) can pop and shoot it, while (Winston) can pop and use his ‘junk in the trunk’.”
Planutis and Winston giving opposing teams two different looks could be a nice compliment for the Bonnies at the four position this year.
Ikpeze’s offseason work could make the Bonnies a lot more dangerous
A lot has been said about Ikpeze’s commitment to getting in shape and improving his game this past offseason.
In the exhibition, he looked great on the offensive end.
Ikpeze scored six points, which came off of two hook shots around the basket and one jumper from the free-throw line. He looked more comfortable on the offensive end than in years past.
“I was able to play okay, but there are things that I can improve on,” Ikpeze said. “Hopefully I can just keep working and build on my game to get ready for the real thing next Tuesday night.”
Ikpeze was referring to the Bonnies’ regular season opener, in which they’ll host Ohio University.
Ikpeze played nearly 12 minutes, while sophomore Osun Osunniyi, who started 21 games at forward last year, played 10 minutes.
SBU relied heavily on Osunniyi last season. If the two can each play at a high level this year, it makes Bona both deep and dangerous at forward.