What happened to Jeff Jones?
...It's a good question to ask. Jones scored in double figures in back-to-back losses to Wake Forest and Virginia Tech on Jan. 23 and Jan. 28. He played at least 10 minutes in all but one game leading up to a Jan. 31 win over North Carolina.
Yet the victory over the Tar Heels also included the beginning of a significant slide in minutes for Jones. In the last three games, Jones has played a combined 11 minutes (3, 4 and 4, respectively), while attempting a total of two shots during the span.
"We've got a rotation, and I've played up to 10 guys at times," Coach Tony Bennett said. "With Calvin coming back, a little surer ball-handing and more experience, I've give Calvin some minutes. And with Jeff, he's kind of been on the short end of the minute. I've tried to get him in there and get a look and read the situation. I went with [Mustapha Farrakhan], not that they both couldn't play. It's hard, because there's not enough minutes to play consistently that many perimeter guys."
Bennett was referring to Calvin Baker, who missed a week with a team and the first Wake Forest team because of a "coach's decision" stemming from frustration with decreased playing time. Baker has since assumed a more prominent role.
Sylven Landesberg, Sammy Zeglinski and Jontel Evans remain consistent contributors for the Cavaliers, and Farrakhan has also established a role off the bench. With Bennett playing a more traditional lineup and less of a four-guard lineup, the minute distribution featured earlier this season is gone. Now, big men such as Jerome Meyinsse and Will Sherrill have become regular contributors.
That has left Jones as an odd man out. Before the season, Jones appeared ready to be one of the team's most improved players. Certainly, he's become a consistent shooter (Jones has hit 41.7 percent of his three-pointers, but only 3 of his last 15 attempts), but it appears he must develop his ball handling and improve on defense to earn more minutes.
"I try to make decisions, and I always look at practice," Bennett said. "Jeff hasn't gotten the opportunity. It's not so much that when he's been out there he screwed up or struggled. But I've tried to get going with what I feel gives us the best chance at that time regarding matchups defensively, or even offensively, with ball-handling, to help us out."
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