UK Men's Basketball

Calipari to Jones: Pass the ball

Terrence Jones, left, scored over Auburn's Earnest Ross during his 35-point game last week. UK Coach John Calipari would like to see Jones strike a balance between scoring and passing.
Terrence Jones, left, scored over Auburn's Earnest Ross during his 35-point game last week. UK Coach John Calipari would like to see Jones strike a balance between scoring and passing.

When the ball goes to reigning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week Terrence Jones, chances are it's not on a round trip. On the plus side, he never shoots without the ball. Still, UK is working on getting Jones to not be so predictable in shooting the ball.

"We've got to get him to pass the ball," UK Coach John Calipari said on Monday. "Right now, he's not passing as much as he needs to."

Opposing defenses — most likely including Alabama Tuesday night — will try to prevent Jones from shooting by collapsing defenders around him whenever he gets the ball in the post area. His repeated double-doubles early this season clued opponents to the need to double-team Jones.

"It's real different," Jones said of facing more than one defender. "You've got to be able to finish plays — the right play — and try not to let the ball get stolen."

To encourage Jones, Calipari recalled the player he saw on the recruiting trail last year.

"I told his (UK) teammates, when I watched him in high school, what impressed me most about Terrence Jones wasn't his shooting," the UK coach said. "Wasn't his rebounding because he didn't always go for the ball. It was his passing. Unbelievable passer. We're just not seeing that right now."

Of course, it's not as simple as Jones passing more. Kentucky also wants Jones to score given that he's the team's best low-post threat.

"It's kind of like Brandon (Knight)," Calipari said. "We need you to run our team and pass the ball, but I need you to score some baskets, too.

"(Am I) asking a lot of him? Yeah. But I think he's capable."

When Kentucky last went on the road, Jones was a starter who was sometimes slow to warm to the competition. He played well enough coming off the bench against Auburn and LSU to be named the SEC's Freshman of the Week.

"It was good," Jones said of the award. "We were moving the ball so well. Everything is just coming easier. We are getting open shots,

"Against LSU, I was just trying to be a post presence and just get fouled."

Calipari was noncommittal about whether Jones would continue coming off the UK bench.

The new starting lineup, that includes fellow freshman Doron Lamb, got off to good starts against Auburn and LSU. But that wasn't the only reason Calipari seemed to be considering keeping Jones as sixth man.

"It's not only that there's a high energy level with that other group," the UK coach said. "There's also pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass. And if it goes pass-pass-you hold it, you're not going pass-pass-pass-pass. ... So we've got to get him moving (the ball)."

After the Auburn game, Calipari half-jokingly suggested UK fans not react with cheers whenever Jones made a three-point shot. The coach wanted Jones around the basket, which the freshman acknowledged.

"What Cal told me was my job is to be (the team's) post presence," Jones said. "Catching it in the post and either pass or score."

After the victory over Auburn, a reporter asked if Calipari believed Josh Harrellson or Jones had struggled because either felt satisfied with recent production. The UK coach defended the players, noting the possible pressure of trying to live up to past performances.

Neither accepted that notion.

"I think coach expects it every game now," Harrellson said. "I don't mind. It doesn't really add pressure. It adds another reason to go do it."

Jones also downplayed the suggestion of feeling pressure to duplicate the kind of play netted him five doubles-doubles in Kentucky's first eight games.

"I was just having fun," Jones said of the early spree. " ... I wasn't thinking of living up to anything or make it seem (like) I was trying to be some type of star."

Jones expressed his belief that Calipari still has faith in the freshman's three-point shooting. This has led player and coach to make a deal in practice.

If Jones can make 50 three-point shots in a five-minute period, he can continue shooting from the perimeter.

When asked if he can make that many three-pointers in five minutes, Jones said, "It usually depends on how hard the rebounders are working."

As laughter from reporters subsided, Jones was asked what happened when he did not make the required 50 three-pointers.

"The next five minutes, I've got to post up with Josh and Enes (Kanter) and Eloy (Vargas)," Jones said.

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