first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 29, 2018 at 10:22 am Contact Danny: dremerma@syr.edu | @DannyEmerman Through his first 12 games at St. Bonaventure, freshman Kyle Lofton has proved point guards don’t need to bark out instructions to be effective. He knows he can be a leader without being the loudest in the locker room and on the court. “He’s vocal when he has to be, but he’s not the loudest kid,” Tom Espinoza, who coached Lofton at Putnam (Connecticut) Science Academy, said. “Kyle has that leadership quality. People just go with him and respect him — it’s amazing.”Lofton, St. Bonaventure’s silent floor general, developed a jump shot after scouts questioned his shooting ability. After earning no Division I offers, he proved himself at Putnam, where he helped win the school’s first prep national championship. In his first 12 games for St. Bonaventure (4-8), Lofton leads in the team in assists (4.0 per game) and logs the second most minutes (36.6). But entering Saturday’s game versus Syracuse (8-4), the 6-foot-3 point guard will have to learn to overcome his soft-spoken personality to thrive in the Carrier Dome’s rowdy environment.Instead of being vocal, Lofton leads by example. He knows every play from each position and often reminds his teammates where to be in practice. He soaks in advice and wisdom from his more experienced teammates and applies it in games.Lofton has always been soft-spoken, teammates and coaches said. Still, he often struggles to communicate, a necessary skill for point guards at the highest level, SBU senior Nelson Kaputo said. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I think he’ll just become more vocal the more comfortable he gets playing the game of college basketball,” Kaputo said. “At the end of the day, he’s still a freshman … so he has a long way to go.”At Putnam, when some of his teammates signed with D-I schools and left campus before graduation, Lofton stayed and locked himself in the gym to continue improving his jump shot even after the season ended. Lofton improved his jumper and studied the intricacies of pick-and-roll offense, learning how to read a defense while there. He built muscle and became a better leader on the court. As his play grew more confident and aggressive, his shot followed. Lofton has an unconventional shooting form where he removes his guide hand from the ball a half-second before releasing the ball. After scouts questioned his outside stroke, Lofton shot 40 percent from beyond the arc at Putnam and currently shoots at a 34.4 percent clip with the Bonnies. “It was unbelievable what he did with us,” Espinoza said. “So it’s not a surprise what he’s doing at Bonnies.”He’s brought that same work ethic to St. Bonaventure in his first year. In addition to his passing and “elite” defense, Espinoza said, Lofton has also taken a scoring role, averaging 13.9 points per game, third-most on the team. He dropped 23 points at Vermont, 20 against Boise St. and 15 versus then-No. 17 Buffalo. At St. Bonaventure, Lofton often prefers to put his teammates in positions to score by passing to them in their spots, Kaputo said. Against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, Lofton plans to be aggressive, looking for passing lanes to his teammates at the high post, he said. The biggest difference between D-I and the prep league, Lofton said, is the pace of play. He didn’t expect to play this many minutes this early in his freshman year, and he admits to feeling fatigued in some games.The speed of Saturday’s game against Syracuse may be more of what Lofton’s accustomed to. According to teamrankings.com, SU averages 69.4 possessions per game, 294th out of 353 D-I programs. Though Syracuse has struggled offensively, they remain tough at home, with a 7-2 record in the Carrier Dome. However, Lofton may get an extra boost from playing in the same arena as Carmelo Anthony, his favorite player growing up. Lofton’s envisioned his Dome debut since middle school, when he dreamed of lacing up orange shoes for Syracuse. In the raucous crowd of his childhood dreams, Lofton may struggle with the sole element of his game that’s held him back — he’ll need to make his voice heard. “It’s gonna be loud,” Lofton said. Commentslast_img