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PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE FOR MEN'S PROGRAM

What's up: Patience and responsibility.

It's a long road back for the Bonnies, who went 7-21 last season as they tried to put the taint of scandal behind them.

Coach Anthony Solomon isn't looking for a quick fix. He talked with University at Buffalo men's coach Reggie Witherspoon, who went through the same rebuilding-after-scandal process that the Bonnies are in now.

"The one thing we talked about was being patient," Solomon said. "When you come in and more than half of your team is there for the first time, you have to be patient because it's an adjustment for many newcomers. With that patience, certainly (it's important to be) understanding. You'll have some days where you want more from them and they're giving you their best. You've got to keep them upbeat and enthusiastic. The other thing, there are no short cuts."

After losing all-conference guard Marques Green to graduation, the Bonnies seem painfully thin and young. The good news starts with junior guard Ahmad Smith. He established himself as a go-to player last season, averaging 10.3 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds. Smith and junior Patrick Lottin, a preseason second-team A-10 pick, will be the core talent of the returning players. Still, Lottin has a long way to go after tearing the ACL in his right knee during an offseason workout. He should be back early in the season.

What's down: Experience. Half the team is new, including a freshman point guard. Count on growing pains as Isiah Carson takes over for Green.

"In playing that point guard position, it's important that (Carson) plays it in his style of play. He's a different type of guard than Marques was," Solomon said. "The other thing about the transition from Marques to Isiah when I think about that is Ahmad Smith. Ahmad is going to have to take over more ballhandling responsibilities this year than he did any of his previous two years. Isiah will need some relief and I think Ahmad has shown us he has improved in that area."

The Bonnies will need immediate contributions from junior college transfer Wade Dunston. The 6-foot-4 guard spent last season at nationally ranked Iowa Western, where he averaged 12 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

The post has been an inconsistent spot for the Bonnies. Seniors Saulis Dumbliauskas and Yankuba Camara are big players with big potential, but often fall short in game situations. They will need to show considerable improvement, particularly in rebounding, while freshman Michael Lee and sophomore junior college transfer Brian Gibbs will get significant minutes.

Outlook: It will be another challenging year for the Bonnies. Though the non-conference schedule is a bit kinder than last season's, the program is still a ways away from challenging in the Atlantic 10. One prolonged injury could devastate this team.

But Solomon has his eyes on the future of the program. While winning now would be nice, it's likely the Bonnies will have a repeat of last year with seven wins. If the stars align the right way, maybe they get up to nine or 10.
e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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