Kyle Lofton, a star for St. Bonaventure basketball

St. Bonaventure basketball will try and do something it hasn’t done since the days of Bob Lanier.

Kyle Lofton, Jaren Holmes, Dominick Welch, Jalen Adaway and Osun Osunniyi all return, giving St. Bonaventure basketball its five senior starters back for another run at things.

Two transfers should help strengthen coach Mark Schmidt’s light rotation, with one possibly altering the starting lineup if Schmidt chooses to do so.

No matter what, it will be a team that trusts each other and can knock off anyone in their way.

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Projected Rotation

PG: Kyle Lofton (6-3, 185, Sr.)

2021 stats: 14.4 points, 5.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 24.0 3P%

Projected stats: 16.1 points, 5.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 32.9 3P%

SG: Jaren Holmes (6-4, 210, Sr.)

2021 stats: 13.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 38.1 3P%

Projected stats: 13.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 37.4 3P%

SF: Dominick Welch (6-5, 205, Sr.)

2021 stats: 11.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 39.2 3P%

Projected stats: 10.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 38.3 3P%

PF: Abdoul Karim Coulibaly (6-9, 235, Rs.-So.)

2021 stats: 5.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.9 blocks, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals (Pitt)

Projected stats: 6.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 1.1 assists, 0.8 steals

C: Osun Osunniyi (6-10, 220, Sr.)

2021 stats: 10.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, 2.4 assists, 57.1 FG%

Projected stats: 13.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 2.2 assists, 59.8 FG%

6: Jalen Adaway (6-5, 215, Rs.-Sr.)

2021 stats: 12.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 34.5 3P%

Projected stats: 13.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 36.8 3P%

7: Quadry Adams (6-3, 190, Rs.-Fr.)

2021 stats: 2.2 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.4 steals, 8.0 minutes, 9 GP (Wake Forest)

Projected stats: 6.2 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 steals

8: Linton Brown (6-5, 210, Rs.-So.)

2021 stats: 18.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 48.3 3P% (Indian River State)

Projected stats: 4.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 40.0 3P%

9: Oluwasegun Durosinmi (6-9, 235, Rs.-Fr.)

2021 stats: 10.0 points, 9.9 rebounds, 62.2 FG% (Harcum College)

Projected stats: 2.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 54.6 FG%

Team MVP: Osun Osunniyi

With four crafty guards/wings manning a small-ball St. Bonaventure basketball team, Osunniyi is what sets the Bonnies apart from other great mid-major teams. He’s a dominating back-to-the-basket big man who controls the paint on both ends of the floor.

It’s rare to see a mid-major team with such a proven center, and Osunniyi is just that. The Bonnies are a smooth guard-oriented team that just so happens to have a big man who could play on virtually every team in the country.

This year, I fully expect Osunniyi to become even more of a scorer. The Bonnies will need him to be more of an offensive weapon during the course of the season. He shined against LSU in the round of 64, and that will be how they need him to play all season long.

Make-or-Break Player: Abdoul Karim Coulibaly

The Pitt transfer could give the Bonnies the extra boost they need to be able to switch things up and play with more size against bigger teams. Last season it was a small lineup with 6-foot-5 undersized forward Jalen Adaway playing the four. This season, I like Adaway to come off the bench and play the same time of minutes, but for Coulibaly to set the tone from the start.

Mark Schmidt might choose to go with the same lineup as last season, but I think there should be some sort of competition for Coulibaby. He’s an experienced ACC forward, playing crucial minutes for the Pitt Panthers. That’s nothing the shrug off and even if he plays until the first media timeout, Coulibaly just gives St. Bonaventure basketball another edge over their opponents.

Bench Rating: 4/10

Apart from Adaway – and that’s if he does come off the bench – it’s not an exciting St. Bonaventure bench. If Coulibaly is the sixth man, it’s even more dreadful.

To be fair, this is a very starting-lineup-driven team. Perhaps the only major loss was Alejandro Vasquez, and he’s certainly replaceable by Adams.

In college basketball, depth isn’t as important, but I’d still like to see some. I doubt Schmidt will dig too deep into his bench, but it’s nice to even at least two solid options and really a third. The Bonnies obviously have one of the most complete starting fives in the land, so I guess take what you can get, right?

Analytic to Know: FGAR

88.97 is the number of field goal attempts the Bonnies had per 100 trips upcourt in 2020-21. With the entire starting unit running it back, they’ll push for the top spot this season.

Numerous factors go into this metric. I look at the assist to turnover ratio. This Bonnies group knows how to find each other in their spots and simultaneously values the basketball. They ranked 22nd in doing this last season. If St. Bonaventure basketball is going to lose a basketball game, it won’t be because they were careless.

Team Outlook

Other than having a short bench – which really shouldn’t be a huge issue in Schmidt’s system – St. Bonaventure is looking like one of the mid-major favorites to be ranked at decent portions throughout the season.

They’ll play in the Charleston Classic against Boise State with potential matchups against Clemson, Marquette and West Virginia in future rounds. Games against Buffalo, Connecticut and Virginia Tech will also show the capabilities of this Bonnies team.

St. Bonaventure basketball has a chance to be really, really good, but the main key will be for the senior to never forget why they came back. Olean, New York has a chance to witness its best finish since 1970.

Projected Conference Finish: 1st in Atlantic 10

Projected Postseason Finish: NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Exit

Ceiling: NCAA Tournament Elite 8 Exit