By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
Numbers never lie, but they don’t always tell the full story. That’s the case with Bonner. The first-year transfer from Fairmont State University in West Virginia has stepped up in the midst of key players being in and out of the lineup due to injury. Bonner has been playing inconsistent minutes during this stretch but has given it his all in every game no matter his role.
“You got to stay ready,” Bonner said. “You never know what’s going to happen. People get injured, that’s part of the game and that’s unfortunate, but I just got to be ready whenever my number is called. My mentality is to have a presence on and off the ball, defense and offense and just do anything my coaches and teammates need me to do.”
The Shaker Heights, Ohio, native has played as many as 36 minutes in a single game, and as little as four in another. His unpredictable minutes have led to deceiving stats, with Bonner averaging just 3.1 points per game and 1.7 assists. Head coach Scott Drew had high praise for Bonner’s attitude and ability to play his role.
“Dale’s a joy each and every day,” Drew said. “When we have everybody, sometimes he doesn’t play and then other times when you’re short-handed, he plays a ton, and that’s probably the toughest position. If you’re in the rotation, you know what to expect. If you’re not playing, you don’t know what to expect from one game to another. He does it with a smile each and every day, he’s never complained. Whatever he can do to help the team get better [he does].”
Drew said Bonner’s mindset has helped him improve on the court.
“The best thing is, he’s gotten better at competing in practice each and every day,” Drew said. “He’s learning from the upperclassmen, and then his game experience has gotten more relaxed.”
Bonner credits his hardworking and bubbly personality to the way he was raised.
“It’s not always about you,” Bonner said. “It’s about being a team player and having a role. Everybody on the team has a role and that’s my role — being a good character guy and to bring energy.”
This frame of mind has translated to his play style on the court.
“I’m more of a pass-first guard,” Bonner said. “Any way I can get my teammates going just makes me feel good.”
Despite coming from a Division II school where he led the team in scoring, assists and steals, joining the defending national champions in his new role hasn’t changed the way Bonner attacks every game.
“The crowd is definitely bigger, but mentally I’m the same,” Bonner said. “I come in and have the same type of mentality to attack, look for my teammates and shoot when I’m open.”
“We just have the same mentality each game, win or lose,” Bonner said. “We’re going to come ready to play regardless. Winning [a national title] again would definitely be top tier. We still have a good shot, next man up. Everybody on this team is prepared for anything. Everybody just stays ready and that’s the best part of our team.”