The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

WVU Sports

March 4, 2011

HERTZEL COLUMN: Jones helping WVU despite shooting slump

MORGANTOWN — When this rather crazy West Virginia University basketball season started there were very few givens for the Mountaineers, save for one that everyone believed:

“Enjoy Kevin Jones this year because he’ll be playing in the NBA next year.”

Well, we are down to one final home game at the Coliseum at noon Saturday against Louisville, and certainly it is going-away day for seniors Joe Mazzulla, John Flowers, Jonnie West and Casey Mitchell, but there has to be some doubt as to whether Jones, a junior, will leave without using his senior season to work on getting his shot back.

No one can argue, least of all him, that his outside shooting mysteriously deteriorated this year, his 3-point shooting percentage diving from 40.4 to 27.4 and his free-throw shooting from 66.1 percent to 56.6 percent.

Expected to be the go-to scorer when the year began, absorbing the role that Da’Sean Butler had abdicated by graduating, Jones was unable to ever really find a rhythm and, because of that, the impression he has left is of someone having a down year.

This is not necessarily the case, according to the man who most appreciates what he does, his coach, Bob Huggins.

“The thing about K.J. is he tends to make shots when you need them. He made the big 3 in the Georgetown game when they made the run at us. His rebound basket was huge for us (Wednesday night against Connecticut),” Huggins said.

“The truth is he’s played OK. He just hasn’t shot the ball very well. When you look at what he’s done, he’s played well. He shot poorly from the free-throw line and very poorly from 3. But he shot it OK from 2.”

If you think you are going to get Huggins to find fault with Jones’ game you are wrong.

“One game —the Pitt game — he couldn’t make anything around the goal,” Huggins said, thinking back to a game when Jones made 4 of 13 shots. “Generally speaking he scores around the goal for us.”

He does that by being one of the great offensive rebounders at this school, and no one places more value on the offensive boards than Huggins.

“He very well could wind up being the all-time leading offensive rebounder around here, and that says a lot. That’s what everyone knows, that he rebounds. Everyone is trying to keep you from rebounding when you get the reputation,” Huggins said.

And Jones keeps grabbing the offensive boards, just as he did in the UConn game to score at the key moment, turning a three-point lead into a five-point lead.

This is not just accidental, the fact that even in games where he is struggling, Jones finds ways to overcome it. He verbalizes the feelings inside him well.

“It’s horrible; it’s frustrating. You want the ball to go in. You want to play so well for your fans,” he said. “These are your last two games. When it doesn’t go in, you have to keep your head up. My teammates stood behind me, told me to keep playing my game and that they’d keep looking for me.”

In the meantime, Jones just goes after the rest of the game.

“I said to myself, ‘OK, your shots aren’t falling. What else can I do to contribute to the team?’ I figured it was rebounding and playing defense. I did that until my offense came around.”

It takes an inner strength to be able to do this, night after night, game after game, shooting below your potential but still able to be an effective player on a winning team.

This is nothing new. There is more to Kevin Jones that basketball player. You can find it by going back to his recruiting website “officialkevjones.com” as he was coming out of Mount Vernon High in New York.

“His passion, drive and determination paid off on the court and in the classroom. Kevin has been a member of the National Honor Society since his freshman year and a scholastic All-American who has received countless offers from several hi-major collegiate programs,” it reads.

“When he is not on the court showcasing his basketball skills Kevin can be found giving back to his community as a basketball coach and mentor for the youth who participate in various basketball and community programs. Kevin recognizes and acknowledges the positive and supportive guidance and mentoring that is a major part of his development. He is committed to giving back to the community as a way of saying THANK YOU to everyone for their continued support.”

He is a good person, raised the right way so that he takes the important things in life seriously.

 Then there’s his work ethic, which is why everyone believes he’ll get his shot back and wind up making baskets in the NBA.

“Kevin practices diligently under the direction of his brother, Gerard Jones, an ex-football player at the University of Massachusetts and NFL prospect,” the website said. “Early in his basketball development, which began in elementary school, Kevin adopted a work-out regime that will rival most elite strength and conditioning programs. The predawn workouts consisted of pyometrics, weight training and shooting drills that helped increase Kevin’s stamina, muscle tone and shooting range.”

You might make note of two elements of that statement that separate Jones from your normal athlete: elementary school and predawn.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos