Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 29, 2018 at 10:22 am Contact Danny: firstname.lastname@example.org | @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. Comments
Whatever happened to those lovable Warrior smurfs who turned into this Frankenstein monster?The West, once comprised of titans, now seems to cower in their presence.Remember Doc Rivers musing about their good fortune at avoiding Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, the Spurs and even his Clippers in last spring’s title romp?It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature or, these days, with the Warriors, 81-15 over two seasons, trying to make it an NBA-record 15-0 start tonight in Denver. Steph looks like their little friend, even bulked up to 6-foot-2, 190 pounds from his days at Davidson, looking like the ballboy with the slight frame and choirboy face that led the big schools to snub him.There was never a shooter like Steph or, notes Warriors consultant Jerry West, an expert, anyone like him.“Best shooter” comprises two kinds: 1) Volume guys like Ray Allen and Reggie Miller; 2) Spot-up guys like Steve Kerr, Curry’s coach, who’s No. 1 all-time in three-point accuracy (45.4 percent).Kyle Korver and Steve Nash (No. 15 in makes, No. 9 in accuracy) are the only ones at the top of both lists.Curry is on his way to making it academic.He’s No. 3 in all-time accuracy (44.1 percent). At 27 with the most (2014-15), second-most (2012-13) and fifth-most (2013-14) 3-pointers in a season, he’s on track to be No. 1 in makes in his early 30s.Last spring, James Harden was upset at losing a deservedly close MVP race.If they took the vote now with Curry averaging 34 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and shooting 52 percent, he would be the first unanimous selection.Steph is now on a roll astonishing even for him, on pace to beat his record 286 3-pointers in a season … by 130.Not even miracle-wielding waifs can raise a team to such heights single-handedly.The Warriors are admirably balanced with Klay Thompson in — you guessed it — the greatest shooting backcourt ever, and arch-versatile Draymond Green, a 6-7, 245-pound power forward they put on Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul.Showing how special Green is in his own right, he leads them in rebounds (7.9) and assists (6.9), playing pick-and-roll with Steph, whom defenses converge on… leaving Draymond, who’s making 42 percent of his 3-pointers, too.As Rivers said after Green dropped three of them on the Clippers in the comeback, “You’ve got to live with something.”Or not live with it. Going into the weekend, Curry and Green were the No. 1 tandem at plus-169. Cleveland’s LeBron James and Kevin Love were closest, 52 points back.The Warriors and Clippers have had a bristling rivalry with Andrew Bogut roughing up Griffin and Green, who also leads them in attitude, responding to a Rivers jibe with, “Cool story, Glenn.”Maybe they can resume it later, the Clippers hope.“I wouldn’t really say this is a rivalry,” said Griffin. “We’re trying to get where they are.”So are the Spurs, Cavaliers and everyone else. The NBA story line suddenly revolves not around LeBron, but the Warriors.It doesn’t get any better for the NBA. With LeBron and the Warriors, the 2015 Finals got the highest ratings since Michael Jordan’s 1998 farewell.Not that I think the Warriors will be this good by the end, since no one ever has been.I don’t think they’ll post another 67 wins — this is still the West — much less make a run at the Bulls’ record of 72.Of course, now that I’m obliged to acknowledge it if I turn out wrong, nobody misses those cuddly little Warriors of old more than I do.Mark Heisler has written an NBA column since 1991 and was honored with the Naismith Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy Award in 2006. His column is published Sundays in Los Angeles News Group print editions. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Now you’re lucky to stay out of their way — especially the Clippers, 1-5 against them after the Warriors came from 23 behind to win Thursday.The Rockets, conference finalists last spring — for the five games the Warriors took to walk over them — got so desperate at falling 7 1/2 games behind, they fired coach Kevin McHale 11 games into his three-year, $12 million extension.Where have you gone, Don Nelson, Monta Ellis, David Lee and those entertaining teams that look like fluffy Disney characters next to this beast?The rest of the NBA turns its lonely eyes to you. The Warriors now have a rock-ribbed defense ranked No. 11 with the No. 1 offense arrayed around Steph Curry, pound for pound the greatest basketball player ever to lace them up.LeBron James is really good. Kevin Durant can really shoot. Anthony Davis looks like Peter Pan, flying around above Captain Hook’s bumbling crew.