photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Sean Casey
ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team still does not know exactly when it will play its first game, but that does not mean that the team has been taking practice lightly.
After eight months without a competition, the 2020-21 regular season seems within reaching distance, and the team is prepared for it.
“There have been some recent changes to our schedule, and it’s going to come down to the wire I think,” said SBU head coach Jesse Fleming.
Regardless of when the Bonnies play, one thing we do know is that there will not be any fans in attendance at the Reilly Center this season.
“It sucks,” Fleming said. “It’s out of our control, and if people think that’s the best thing to do from a science standpoint, then I am 100% behind it. Obviously, you want to play in front of your friends and family… practicing at 6: 30a.m every day to play in front of fans. It’s a bummer and I really feel bad for the kids.”
The team has been practicing for months now, and according to sophomore guard Olivia Brown and junior guard Asianae Johnson, improvement has been noted.
“We have gotten better with our execution and transition defense,”Johnson said. “We are thriving as a team and are more connected than we were last year, knowing each other better and influencing each other in being better players.”
Brown said that she feels the team is more experienced than it was a year ago, and that they’re looking “really good.”
Experience seems to be a positive that the entire team is confident in and happy with.
“They’ve been through the fire in a lot of close games,” Fleming said.
Johnson, who is poised to be a key contributor for the team, will continue her role as a team leader this season. Fleming recalled a story from practice in which Johnson expressed how important to teammates diving on the ground for loose balls is.
“That’s the type of leadership you don’t develop by just telling someone to be a leader or telling someone to read a leadership book,” Fleming said. “(Johnson) has been through that.”
Johnson was named second-team preseason All-Atlantic 10, as voted on by the league’s head coaches.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity, and being noticed, but it’s always come to the point where I wouldn’t want to be second. At all,” Johnson said. “That’s always been my mindset, I wouldn’t want to be second, and I feel like I have the ability to be first team, and I have the ability to be first in every category.”
Fleming said that Johnson is in the gym “more than anyone,” and that she “deserves it with her work and her mentality.”
With so many questions going into this season, the team is just on working on what they can control: playing basketball and working hard.
“We’re going to try and take it one game at a time,” Fleming said. “One game might get taken away, but we want them to have a fun time and show up and compete. “