|Photo courtesy Joe Mattis and Gannon University|
But Jones was the spark in Sunday's 62-50 victory at Shippensburg, hitting for 14 points in 28 minutes of action as GU moved to 8-1 in PSAC play. Jones hit all three of his field goal attempts and went 8-of-9 at the line, leading a 26-4 advantage in bench points. We couldn't watch the game -- I can't wait for streaming video technology to arrive in central and eastern Pennsylvania -- but I'm sure Jones created every scoring opportunity at full speed.
On New Year's Day during lunch, I bumped into two longtime Gannon fans at the Pizza Hut near West 12th and Peninsula Drive. They were happy with the consistent production of Gannon's seniors but raved the most about Jones. I thought to myself that was quite a bit of praise for a kid who only scored 10 points during the first semester, but I couldn't disagree. Jones is a solid ballhandler, able to deal with pressure, move the ball side-to-side, and occasionally drive by his man. But defense is where he most impresses me. When many guards are asked to pressure the ball, they are likely get beat off the dribble ... but not Jones. He'll take one step back to stop the penetration then jump right back into the opposing point guard's chest. I haven't seen on-ball defense this good since lighting quick Roland Shannonhouse sparked Gannon to two deep NCAA runs in the late 1980s.
Earlier this season when Gannon struggled mightily on offense with Smith in foul trouble, fans looked to Adam Blazek to provide all the offense. Maybe Jones can be that X factor that makes Gannon great on both ends of the floor.
Other thoughts from this weekend:
* If you don't understand the "And Then Along Came Jones" reference in the headline, you aren't old enough to have season tickets in the plush seats. And you need to listen to more of The Coasters and less of this made-for-marketing tripe that passes for music today.
* Does anybody know why Raphell Thomas-Edwards played only 5 minutes Saturday? He returned for 28 minutes vs. Ship, so it's not like he broke his collarbone or anything like that.
* Gannon still has the best record in the PSAC West at 8-1, but IUP is creeping closer at 6-2 after a perfect weekend. The Crimson Hawks won handily at Stroud (78-63) and at West Chester (84-65). Taking bad losses were 6-2 Slippery Rock at Mansfield (82-72) and 6-3 Mercyhurst who scored just 16 points in the first half and shot 27% for the game in a 53-43 loss at Kutztown.
* The Bears are now 7-2 in the PSAC East -- should be quite a showdown Wednesday night at the Hammermill. KU started the season 0-2 -- just like our Golden Knights -- and have won 10-of-13 since. Two of those losses were nailbiters vs. Slippery Rock and West Chester.