Jones is starting to come alive
Published: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 23:02
In the first half of Wednesday's West Virginia men's basketball game against Seton Hall, junior forward Kevin Jones surpassed the 1,000-point mark.
During a timeout, the crowd gave him a round of applause.
After that, Jones did what he knows best – went right back to work.
"It means a lot to me knowing the great players who have come through here," Jones said. "It wouldn't have meant as much if we didn't get the win."
The consistent do-gooder finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds in the Mountaineers' 56-44 victory over Seton Hall as WVU improved to 15-6 and 6-3 in the Big East Conference despite just eight regular players on its roster.
It hasn't necessarily been the season Jones would've liked so far, though.
Prior to Wednesday's game against Seton Hall, Jones was averaging 13.2 points per game, which was a bit lower than his average last season with star forward Da'Sean Butler on the squad with him.
Heading into the year, most expected Jones to take over the scoring that the team would miss from Butler's departure. That didn't happen.
Instead, players like now-suspended guard Casey Mitchell stepped up and gave the Mountaineers a much-needed spark on offense to keep the heat off of Jones.
In doing so, Jones has found himself struggling to work within the offense and get the shots he deserves at times.
"Looking at my season, I think I'm having a pretty good season, but it might not be the season everyone wanted me to have," Jones said. "I'm just glad that our chemistry is coming together, and we are starting to believe and trust in each other."
In addition, at the start of the season, Jones was the guy who was given the reigns in terms of leadership. Without players like Butler and former forward Wellington Smith on the roster, the team lost the bulk of its chemistry and leadership following the Final Four run.
It wasn't the smoothest of transitions looking back on it, head coach Bob Huggins admitted earlier this season. He said Jones just isn't an outwardly vocal leader – he does it with his play on the court.
"Coming into the season, I didn't know what to expect," Jones said. "I thought I would have to be more aggressive, but everyone has really stepped up … It's not just points. It comes with bringing a lot of energy, rebounding and just helping out any way I can. At the end of the day, I'm the type of player that will do anything to contribute."
Jones continued to work on the vocal leadership aspect of his game though, and said he turned the corner when Mitchell was suspended indefinitely and forward Dan Jennings left the team.
"I've never been very vocal, but I had to be more this year," Jones said. "It's been a tough time, especially with the Casey and Danny situations, but our team has come together as a whole."
Against Seton Hall, Jones was not lost in the mix. He was leading the pack.
Jones, who has been known to do everything right on and off the court on a team with a past filled by suspensions and arrests, was at his best.
He was hitting 3-pointers and layups and grabbing offensive rebounds. He even threw an ally-oop pass to forward John Flowers in the first half.
With 8:12 remaining, Jones left the game for a few minutes to modest applause – some of whom didn't realize the impact Jones had against the Pirates.
That just might be his lasting legacy, though. He does so much outside of the scoring column (like the 38 minutes, 12 rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal) and affects the game in other ways that can't even begin to be shown on a stat sheet.
On Wednesday night, Jones scored 1,000 points. That feat was overshadowed, though, by Jones' overall performance against the Pirates.
He was the consistent, confident, positive Jones that WVU is known to see throughout his time on campus.
If that same player comes back during each of the team's remaining games, West Virginia will have an all-Big East caliber player to lead the Mountaineers through a brutal, regular-season stretch coming up.
"This role has taken some adjustment and some getting used to," Jones said. "I'm starting to get it now."