The Times West Virginian

March 7, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: Award or not, Jones was BE’s best player

By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian

NEW YORK — Where’s Eliot Ness when you really need him? J. Edgar Hoover? At least Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

We need you all, the Untouchables, the feds, and, yes, even the man charged with keeping Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham in line in Arizona.

See, we wuz robbed.

Description of the felon? Tall guy, about 6-6. Long dreadlocks pulled back into a ponytail. Last seen wearing a Marquette warm-up suit.

He was running north, toward Providence, R.I., carrying a big piece of hardware, said to be Kevin Jones’ Big East Player of the Year trophy.

Beware, he must be armed to have pulled this thievery off.

Kevin Jones, you see, had a place set aside for where he could set this trophy in his house.

You win the Big East’s scoring and rebounding championship, you work as hard to succeed as the men who built the Erie Canal, you are nice to dogs and children and help old ladies across the street, you don’t expect to turn your back for one second and find some Jae Come Lately stealing your award.

Oh, Jae Crowder’s a good enough kid and certainly a fine basketball player, although there is some question as to whether or not he’s as good as his teammate, Darius Johnson-Odom, who actually would have stolen the scoring title from Jones had he not been suspended for one half of the West Virginia game for breaking team rules.

See, Jones beat him out by only two points, but beat him out he did and that ought to be worth something.

Bob Huggins, who has coached Jones since he walked on campus at WVU, was perplexed by the injustice.

“Obviously, I thought Kevin Jones would be the Player of the Year,” Huggins said. “He led the league in scoring and rebounding and took seven freshmen and a transfer and two other guys that hadn’t been in the program at all and won 19 games and maybe woulda, coulda, shoulda won a whole bunch more.

“Honestly that doesn’t bother me as much as whoever it was who didn’t deem him first-team All-Big East. How could he not be on someone’s first team? I mean, who could name six players in the league who were better than he is?”

Who could name two?

“Obviously there were some people who didn’t think he was near as good as we thought he was or didn’t think he had as good a year as we thought he had. I just can’t imagine whoever couldn’t put him on the first team.”

Huggins was going now.

“But you know what? Kemba (Walker of Connecticut) wasn’t unanimous last year. I don’t know, I feel bad for K.J. The kind of year he had, the kind of person he is, it meant a lot to him. He was disappointed.”

Let us understand, this was not — to repeat, not — a conspiracy against West Virginia for its divorce from the Big East.

If it was you wouldn’t have seen before the Player of the Year announcement The Sporting News come out with its own awards, in which it named Crowder the Big East’s Player of the Year and put Jones on its third-team All-America squad with Crowder on the second.

Huggins was asked if he thought it could have been a spiteful vote, a knee jerk — emphasis on the jerk — reaction to WVU bolting to the Big 12.

“You’d hope not. You’d hope people would do the right thing because this isn’t about anyone but K.J. It’s not about our university. It’s not about me. It’s about K.J. I’m dumbfounded by whomever — we don’t know how many — didn’t think he was a first-team player. That’s mind-boggling.”

It’s also now history. Jae Crowder is Player of the Year; Kevin Jones is just another guy who led the Big East in scoring and rebounding. The fact that there are only two others in history and their names aren’t Patrick Ewing or Chris Mullen or Ray Allen or Richard Hamilton doesn’t seem to matter at all.

And so it was, with that knowledge, Huggins and his team took off to their practice facility, a Manhattan health club that had a basketball court.

One problem.

“They took us to the wrong place,” Huggins said.

When they arrived, the lady at the front desk informed them of the mistake.

“Marquette is in there practicing,” she said.

And so they left, missing out on a wonderful opportunity.

They should have let Kevin Jones play Jae Crowder one-on-one for the trophy.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.