Dukes Need Games Like the Last One From Jerry Jones

By Steve DiMiceli

During the offseason, Duquesne fans knew that experienced players were few and far between on the roster. Sean Johnson and Andre Marhold would be the the only returning starters and Kadeem Pantophlet and Jerry Jones had been reliable bench options. We understood that if the Dukes were to have a chance for any success this season, those players would need to take steps forward. Sean is matching his 2011-12 performance which isn't good enough but Marhold is looking a little better with the ball and on the glass, particularly in the last two weeks. Really, he's giving us about what I expected and I think there is a noticeable drop off when he's not on the floor. So far, Pantophlet has been very good defensively while learning to play the post. Offensively, he's not hitting open looks and he's yet to develop the inside game the current manifestation of the Duquesne men's basketball is sorely lacking. As a sophomore learning a completely new position, Kadeem gets a pass for now. On the other hand,  Jerry Jones is playing his more natural small forward position and I think it was almost universally expected that he would win a starting job and become a cornerstone of this team on defense, as a shooter and rebounding the ball. If there was anyone that was truly expected to get better, it was Jones, but unfortunately, we haven't seen the needed improvement or consistency from him.

Jones had arguably the best game of his career against Wednesday against St Louis and it got me asking myself why he plays at a high level so infrequently. It was his first career double double, but only his 7th game scoring 10 or more points this season and his first in double figures since Robert Morris. In all, I'd say he's had 3 truly big games during his junior campaign. Problem is that campaign in almost 2/3's of the way finished and the Dukes have needed more from him. Consistency was a problem for Jones last year and it's still holding him back this year. While his overall scoring is up by two points a games this year, he's still gone missing in action for games at a time.

It's not as if I don't think Jones is getting better. He's exhibiting more on ball handling skills this year and he's shown a nice step back jumper to create space for himself. His body control and finishing have been more acrobatic even if his shot selection has suffered. Jones is still at his best running off the ball and we saw him actively looking for space against St Louis. He's still fairly dependent on his teammates finding him to create offense, but he ought to benefit from the low post screens we're seeing more of over the last few games.

If the Dukes are going to win more than a couple of games the rest of the way and get back to the postseason next year, they will need Jerry Jones to show up with his best more often. One stellar and one good performance every month is simply not enough from an upperclassman on a young team. As the half court offense adds more sets to suite Jones' playing style and opposing defenses concentrate more and more on stopping Colter and Johnson, someone needs to step up and take advantage of the space being created. I feel like that person can and should be Jerry.  The table is set for Jones, now he just needs to sit down and dig in. We saw it against St Louis. Will we see it in Dayton and the rest of the season?