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Class In Session: Women's Basketball Closes Out Summer Workouts

Class In Session: Women's Basketball Closes Out Summer Workouts

St. Bonaventure women's basketball is back in the gym as summer workouts come to an end.

"Speaking the same language is the focus this year," head coach Jesse Fleming said. "We're going to run a lot of the same things as last year and just get better. I thought we were in a good place as far as the packages we were running, but we just need to get better at running them. I like the stuff we are doing, putting people in the right positions."

The Bonnies return a core of 10 players from last year's roster, led by seniors Emily Calabrese and Jurnee President.

"I love the core that we have," Fleming said. "Our staff did a really good job of filling that size and depth issues that we had and bringing in some more shooting."

Calabrese has been a staple in head coach Jesse Fleming's lineup since joining the team as a freshman in 2017. The 6-foot forward has appeared in 90 games for the Bonnies, making 72 career starts. Last season, Calabrese led the Bonnies in rebounding (6.1 rpg) and was one of the most efficient scorers in the Atlantic 10, ranking fourth with a 50.9 shooting percentage against conference opponents.

Returning for her second season with the Bonnies, President looks to build off a year where she drained 41 threes in her first year donning the Brown and White. President led the Bonnies in minutes per game, averaging just over 30 minutes per contest. The 5-8 guard joined the program after spending two seasons at New Mexico junior college, where she helped lead the Thunderbirds to the NJCAA Division I National Championship Game as a sophomore.

Bona also welcomes back juniors Asianae Johnson and Deja Francis, the dynamic backcourt duo that averaged a combined 22.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game last season.

Johnson, a 5-8 guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., has yet to miss a start in two seasons with the Bonnies, getting the nod in 60 straight contests. That number marks the longest start streak since Mariah Ruff started 110 consecutive games. She led the Bonnies in scoring last season at 12.7 points per game and scored in double figures 21 times. Johnson is also a plus defender, leading the Bonnies with 45 steals and ranked sixth in the A-10 with 1.5 steals per game. Johnson also showed improvement from the free throw line last season, shooting 77.2 percent from the line after connecting on 66.4 percent as a freshman.

After being named to the Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Conference Third-Team, Francis struggled to begin the season but found her way back during conference play. Francis averaged 11.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists against A-10 opponents last season. A 5-7 guard, Francis has led the Bonnies in assists the last two seasons, tallying 74 assists last season and 104 as a freshman. Francis finished in double figures in 10 out of the last 11 games of the season in 2018-19.

"Deja Francis really came on at the end of the year after a little bit of a sophomore slump in the beginning," Fleming added. "We are going to put the ball in her hands and have her create for others. Asianae is the other one, I think she feels a little slighted that she didn't make any All-Conference teams, but we have to win more games. Emily is a going to be a four-year starter for us and Olivia Brown had a nice freshman year so we are really happy with the experience we have coming back."

Olivia Brown returns to the squad after starting 16 games as a freshman, seeing time in all 30 contests. Brown was tied for the team-high 42 made threes, shooting a team-high 35 percent from beyond the arc. A native of East Grand Rapids, Mich., Brown scored in double digits seven times, including three 20-point games. Brown was named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week on two separate occasions last season.

Also returning to the roster in 2020-21 for the Bonnies is redshirt sophomore forward Carrie Jornlin (12 career games) after missing last season due to injury, sophomore guard Kaitlyn Parker and redshirt freshman forward Claire Cody.

Redshirt junior Tori Harris will suit up for the Bonnies for the first time this season after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. She played in two seasons and earned postseason experience with James Madison.

The Bonnies will have a few new faces on the sidelines this season in graduate transfer Star Fitzgerald-Greer and freshmen, Maddie Dziezgowski and Morgan Gentile.

Bonaventure added height in 6-3 forwards Fitzgerald-Greer and mid-season transfer, 6-3 I'yanna Lops.

Fitzgerald-Greer joins the program after graduating from Howard, where she appeared in 81 career games. Fitzgerald-Greer was also a high school teammate of Johnson's at Grand St. Campus in Brooklyn and is also the granddaughter of St. Bonaventure men's basketball legend, Fred Crawford. After transferring from Cal State Bakersfield in January last season, Lops will sit the first semester and will be eligible in 2021.

"We were really happy to get Star, she is a tall kid that stretches the floor for us a little bit. We were last in the league in rebounding last season, and yes there is technique to that where we have to be better, but sometimes we were just too small. She brings in some size and I'yanna Lops is another one with size and length."

Dziezgowski, a 5-8 guard, ended her high school career with over 1,200 points for Bethel Park High School. She also helped lead her team to multiple PIAA State Playoff berths. Gentile is a local talent from Elmira, N.Y. She averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 3.0 assists per game and earned Section IV Elite 10 honors as a junior and senior.

"The two freshmen Morgan Gentile and Maddie Dziezgowski bring shot-making ability to the team. They are two kids with some size that can knock down shots for us."

With 10 players returning in 2020-21, Coach Fleming will look for his team's experience to guide them through the season.