UK Basketball: Calipari wants Terrence Jones to be more aggressive
Terrence Jones, center, admits he has been more tentative since dislocating his pinky finger two weeks ago, but hopes his overall play will continue to improve as he gets healthier. (Clay Jackson)
He’s averaging 11.3 points per game (fourth on the team) and 6.6 rebounds (third on the team). He’s shooting 44.5 percent from the field and has more turnovers (25) than assists (18), blocked shots (23) or steals (15).
Jones also missed two games because of a dislocated pinky finger on his left hand, and obviously was still bothered by it Saturday when he went 1-for-9 from the field and 0-for-4 at the foul line in a two-point performance during the 69-62 win over Louisville. Since injuring his hand, Jones has missed two games and gone 5-for-19 from the field in the two games he has played.
However, he did have 11 rebounds in 30 minutes against Louisville along with three steals while making just one turnover.
“I think he is back. His whole mindset is just a different mindset,” freshman teammate Anthony Davis said. “He is just trying to prove people wrong. People are saying a whole lot of bad things about him. He has been working hard in the gym, weight room to just get out of that slump.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari had called on Jones to play better before he was injured, especially after he scored only four points and got just two rebounds in UK’s only loss at Indiana. Since then, the coach has continued to insist Jones will get back to his star form that had him as a likely top 20 NBA draft pick last year if he had not returned to UK.
“Terrence took strides to come back. He was one-for-nine and missed seven one-foot shots. What he needed to do was try to dunk each one of those,” Calipari said after Saturday’s win. “I think within the next week and a half, he'll be fine. He went in there, got 11 rebounds. He made strides there. He battled and did what we needed him to do. He's not all the way back, but that's OK.”
Calipari elaborated Monday on what he wanted to see Jones do starting with tonight’s game against Arkansas-Little Rock.
“I’ve had many guys go in to a slumber and then have to crack out of it and it’s not easy. You do it with defense, tough rebounding and physical play. Dunking balls. It’s kind of like a football player, you have the butterflies and all the sudden you go whack the first guy and they are gone and now you just play, it’s no different in basketball,” Calipari said.
“He tried defensively, wasn’t bad, wasn’t great, He still not what he needs to be. He did go get balls but we still have to get him flying up and down that court. Part of it is, you have to have fun but if you are having fun, you will fly up and down that court and make your faces and do all that. You can only have fun if you are the aggressor. Just think about it. If you are getting knocked in the head you aren’t going to think it’s fun, if you knocking them you are having fun.
“He’s not as aggressive as needs to be and as he was at the beginning of the year so he just has to get back to that. You can argue it that being aggressive means you are playing harder and play at a difference pace and you have got to play harder than the other guy and with more intensity and that’s hard. He’s a terrific player, he’ll be fine.”
But could his hand injury be the problem with his play?
“It’s not the finger,” Calipari said.
Davis felt that Jones showed he could do more than score to help the Wildcats win in Saturday’s game..
“Coach told me your offensive game isn’t going. Go rebound. Go play defense. That’s what Terrence did today,” Davis said Saturday. “He blocked shots, got rebounds, and the shots that he did get were good looks. He just missed them. He scored and he’s trying to find his way back. That’s what we need from him.”
Here is what Jones had to say after the game:
Question: How is your left hand and how do you feel you played against Louisville?
Jones: “I am just trying to do the best I can in my role being out there and still trying to get to 100 percent. Coach told me he just wanted me to go in there and rebound and just do what I can as a leader and rebounder and score if I can.¿I just tried to focus on rebounding.”
Question: Is the left hand where you dislocated the pinky finger before Christmas bothering you a lot when you try to score?