Where do Jones, Louisville go after key guard's dismissal?
By ANNIE MOORE
College Contributor Network
University of Louisville senior guard Chris Jones was dismissed from the basketball program on Sunday for undisclosed reasons. The athletic department and basketball program, including head coach Rick Pitino declined to comment on the cause for the dismissal. But three weeks from Selection Sunday, Louisville finds itself one point guard short.
After sitting out the Syracuse game on February 18, Jones was back on the court for Louisville in its 55-53 win over Miami on Saturday. But just 24 hours later, Jones found himself dismissed from the University of Louisville basketball program.
Since his dismissal, rumors have circulated around the cause for the dismissal. The University of Louisville Police Department confirmed in a report on Monday that Jones sent a threatening text message to a female student after she vandalized his off-campus apartment. Jones allegedly threatened to "Smack the f*** out of" the female student.
The female student reportedly does not seek to press charges against Jones, but looked for him to seek help for his behavior. Jones is reportedly seeking anger management.
Three regular-season games away from Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament play, Louisville now looks down the bench to find a replacement for the 23-year-old senior starting point guard who was averaging 13.7 points, four rebounds and nearly four assists per game.
While Jones attempts to move on and seek help for his off-court issues, the Cardinals will attempt to find someone to step into his spot on the court and salvage hopes of a March Madness run.
A close win at Georgia Tech on Monday night proved that the Cardinals can in fact win without one of its leading scorers. But the game exposed many of the flaws in this new lineup. Freshman Shaqquan Aaron got the start in Jones' place, but added just two points on the night. Freshman and Louisville native Quentin Snider is also a possibility to fill the void, and finished with six points, four rebounds and four assists in the win over Georgia Tech.
After trailing by 13 points with less than ten minutes left in the game, this Louisville team showed resilience to recover and win on the road. But this game perhaps showcased a terrible reality for this new Louisville team. It is going to take a herculean effort from Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell for this team to make a run in any kind of tournament. Rozier had 22 points against the Yellow Jackets, and Harrell added eight points and eight rebounds.
Harrell and Rozier's efforts (including the go-ahead basket by Rozier with 20 seconds left on the clock) willed Louisville to the win, the reality is grim for the Louisville time when it faces a top team. In the win Monday night, Louisville was out-rebounded, lost the assist battle, allowed 36 points in the paint, and turned the ball over 13 times. Perhaps the most disturbing stat of the night, the bench only scored eight points.
With Chris Jones gone, it is more important than ever for freshmen and bench players to step up and produce in more minutes. Eight points from the bench isn't the depth that's going to push this team to a run in March.
Wayne Blackshear had 10 points and eight rebounds of his own on the night, production from the senior will also be key to lead this team, as the number of seniors dwindles by the police report.
Left on the schedule for the Cardinals, a game against Florida State in Tallahassee, and then back-to-back home games against Notre Dame, and No. 2 Virginia on Senior Night.
Louisville was a solid top 15 team with Chris Jones. The offense wasn't lights out when Jones was on the team, and now that he has been dismissed, it will be even more of an offensive struggle for this young squad. Harrell and Rozier will have to shoulder much of the offensive burden, while freshmen like Chinanu Onuaku, Anas Mahmoud, Snider and Aaron look to step up on both sides of the ball and make a name for themselves in their first season. Also necessary for Louisville will be consistent performances from sophomores Mangok Mathiang and Anton Gill.
The reality for Louisville is this, Harrell and Rozier cannot do it all. For Louisville to make any kind of run in March, it will take a grown up effort from some of Louisville's youngest members.
Update Feb. 27 -
Chris Jones has withdrawn from classes at the University of Louisville following his arrest and dismissal from the team. Jones has been charged with two counts of rape and two counts of sodomy following two separate incidents at the Cardinal Towne apartment complex, an independently owned off-campus student housing building. Jones and two co-defendants were charged Thursday morning, and Jones was placed on house arrest.
Head Coach Rick Pitino held a press conference Thursday afternoon in which he said Jones was dismissed immediately after the team learned he had broken curfew Saturday night, without knowing any details of the incident. Pitino said the entire team was "shocked, dismayed and saddened".
Annie Moore is a junior at the University of Louisville majoring in Communications with a Sport Administration minor. She believes Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. Follow her on Twitter: @AnyMoreSports