Lofton’s value, versatility shine in 11-assist performance

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — If you’re a fan of box scores and a fan of St. Bonaventure men’s basketball, you’ve probably gotten used to seeing double-digit numbers next to Kyle Lofton’s name in the points category.

Lofton averaged over 14 points per game in each of his first two seasons at SBU, and through five games of a young 2020-21 season, he has averaged 13.2 points per game. On Wednesday, however, Lofton scored only four of Bona’s 83 points in a blowout win over Saint Joseph’s.

What the junior guard lacked in points, he made up for on the rest of the stat sheet.

Lofton dished out 11 assists, pulled down eight rebounds and had one steal against the Hawks, while two of his teammates enjoyed career-high scoring nights. Jaren Holmes scored 38 points on 14-for-22 shooting and 8-for-12 three-point shooting, while Jalen Adaway scored 24 points after shooting 11-for-12 from the field.

While Lofton’s offensive output against the Hawks was unusual for a player that had scored at least 13 points in each of the team’s first four games this season, Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said that his stat line on Wednesday showed the leadership that he brings to the team.

“He’s the leader,” Schmidt said. “He doesn’t care whether he scores one point or 25 points; he wants to win. He shared the ball and he’s smart.”

Lofton, who is a career 44% shooter from the floor and 32% shooter from beyond the three-point line, was 0-for-7 against the Hawks, and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc. Despite struggling to make shots, he only turned the ball over twice.

“That’s what’s so special about him,” Schmidt said.” He doesn’t care about scoring. His shot’s not going down, but he’s still a team guy and that’s what you want.”

Since Lofton arrived at SBU before the 2018-19 season, he has been Schmidt’s “floor general” at the point guard position. He has averaged over 37 minutes per game (regulation-length games are 40 minutes) in each season for the Bonnies. He played 35 minutes in his collegiate regular-season debut two seasons ago.

Since the departure of Jaylen Adams from the point guard position for Bona three years ago, Lofton has been the guy that Schmidt has trusted to run that position, which is the centerpiece to his offensive system.

Lofton has shown that he has been a competent successor to Adams, being both durable and consistent in the back court. He started all 34 of the team’s games two years ago and all 31 of its contests a year ago. Over his career, he has averaged 4.9 assists per game and 2.3 turnovers per game.

And, even on nights that Lofton struggles on the offensive end, he makes plays for the Bonnies.

“He knew that (Holmes) had a hot hand (against Saint Joe’s), and every point guard, that’s what you do,” Schmidt said. “You go back to that guy. A lot of times, when you don’t shoot the ball well, your head goes down and you get worried about that, but (Lofton is) not that type of kid.”

After Adams graduated in 2018, it was a change of pace for Bona fans to see someone else playing point guard in Mark Schmidt’s offense.

When Lofton leaves, presumably after four full years of manning the point for the Bonnies, perhaps SBU fans will feel the same way about his successor.