After a 27-point and 17-rebound performance against Notre Dame December 8, Terrence Jones was the toast of the town, sporting per game averages of 20 points and 10.5 rebounds and finding his way into chatter about the top overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. But, in a game against an athletically limited Indiana frontline, huge numbers were expected and Jones seemed to lose his mojo a bit. That 3-11 shooting game appears to have been the start of a funk for Jones, who has averaged only 13.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest. After the game last night, Jones took to Twitter and asked a question that many UK fans have been wondering themselves.
What’s wrong with Terrence Jones?
If you listen to Coach Cal, which is probably a good place to start, the decreased production is a product of practice habits that haven’t been as good as expected the last couple of weeks. It’s not a situation that has placed the freshman forward in the dog house or seems to be developing into major issue, but Cal acknowledged that Jones has spent some time on the treadmill due to some not-so-spirited efforts.
As far as what’s happening on the court, it seems to be the complete opposite. Jones seems to be forcing shots and trying to create looks when he’d be better served letting the offense turn back over. Teams seem to be picking up on the fact that he seems to only go left, but, honestly, that hasn’t seemed to be a major issue. Yet. It just seems to be that he’s trying to make things happen instead of letting them happen for him, which is something his teammates seem to have learned rapidly over the past several games. And, simply put, that’s what Jones has to learn to do. Let the game come to you, young man!
Jones’ early success, as well as the spurts recently, can be attributed to him being a high-energy, emotional player. He’s a guy whose game seems to snowball into dominance as each bucket garners a little bit more confidence and he just hasn’t been able to build that momentum lately. In the past six games, he’s struggled out of the gate and Jones has found him forcing shots and drives the rest of the contest to find it. He’s a guy who very badly wants to be the best player on the floor. You’ll get no arguments there. But, he’s a guy who seems to be looking too hard to find it.
What’s the remedy? Well, for starters, Kentucky needs to get him good looks underneath early. It seems simple enough, but it’s the absolute truth. Josh Harrellson has developed an uncanny knack for finding that soft spot in the lane when the guards penetrate or a man in the zone rotates over. Terrence Jones has to find that same level of comfortability. And, more imporantly, Kentucky’s guards have to find him in those efficient spots. In the first eight games of the season, Jones was a force in the paint and it opened up a three-point shot for him. In the last six, he’s not only struggling to connect from inside the arc, but he’s also rarely looking for the three-ball, averaging just over one per game (three per during first eight). The problem isn’t in the effort or in getting shots. It’s in getting the good shots that will make the effort efficiently productive.
Basically, Terrence has to be Terrence again. And his teammates have to help him get there.