It’s not often that a player can look back at a stat line that included going 1-6 from the field and be happy with his performance. But, for Kentucky sophomore Jon Hood, Sunday morning brings a renewed confidence and a sense of accomplishment as the shooting guard from Madisonville finally did exactly what the Kentucky staff wanted him to do against LSU Saturday – give them reason to keep him on the floor.
Against the Tigers, Hood registered career highs in assists (3) and rebounds (4), while committing zero turnovers. Most importantly, Hood appeared to shake what Cal called “buzzard’s luck” and fought on defense, which allowed him to register another career-high, 20 minutes on the floor. For a team that has looked to find another player or two to mix into the rotation and for a staff who has openly opined about Hood needing to focus on contributing in other areas of the game than points, it was a welcomed sign of development that, not surprisingly, left the staff very pleased.
After the game, assistant coach John Robic had this to say about Hood’s night:
“I was happy for him today. He played more aggressively. He went after balls instead of shying away from them. I think that is a big thing with him. The biggest thing about his confidence is him grabbing that offensive rebound and sticking it back in. And you know what, he had fun out there tonight and I think that is important for him. It was nice to see him get extended minutes.”
Before this season began, the expectation was that Hood would be given an opportunity to contribute to a roster left depleted by early entries into the NBA Draft. He even acknowledged this week that he expected to be playing more minutes this season. But, Coach Cal has remained firm that the minutes would have to be earned, no matter how thin the roster, and has had the same stance throughout the season that the minutes would have to be earned in all of the ways that Hood has not proven himself capable yet. On Saturday, despite a game that wasn’t statistically sexy, he seemed to tajke a major step forward. For Jon Hood, that’s a very good sign – a sign that, hopefully, becoming a reliable rotation player is soon to follow.