That’s A Wrap: Verdell Jones

  • 04/05/2010 10:39 am in

Big Ten Basketball Tournament - First RoundWelcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our attempt to um, wrap up the 2009-10 season. Sit back. Relax. Grab some popcorn. Get your read on.

Final Stats (31 games): 14.9 ppg, 3.4 apg, 3.9 rpg, .9 spg, 39.9% FG, 27.3% from three.

In these last two seasons of frustration, disappointment and revolving lineups, if there’s been one player we can label as a constant — and I use the term somewhat loosely — it’s Verdell Jones.

When all semblance of an offense broke down, Jones was there to make something happen, whether it be by getting to the line, hitting a jumper or working his strong and varied mid-range game.

And Jones is about as close as this team has to clutch as well: He was instrumental in the win over Michigan at home on New Year’s Eve by hitting a big shot late, and he kept the Hoosier in contention against Purdue at home as well. (His turnoverfest at the end of regulation in the Northwestern win that almost cost Indiana the game not withstanding.)

He was far and away the team’s leader in free-throw attempts (129), and converted 79.1 percent of them, good for second on the team.

Jones also led the team in minutes (31.5) this season, as well as scoring among regulars (14.9). (Mo Creek averaged 16.4 before going down.) His large volume of minutes also led him to a team-high 87 turnovers (one more than Jeremiah Rivers), but his usage rate (23.4 percent) was the highest on the team as well.

Therefore, the turnovers are somewhat deceiving. And his turnover percentage bears that out: for the season, Jones’ was a respectable 13.4 percent.

But there are a few sour marks on Jones’ record from this season. His shooting percentage of 39.4 percent is nothing to write home about, and it dropped from his solid 44.5 percent a season ago. Same goes for his shooting beyond the arc: It dropped from 32.8 percent last season to 25.5 this year.

Jones was counted on for his scoring a lot when Creek went down, and it may have led to his poorer shooting percentages, as he was forced into creating when he had little space and forced the issue a bit.

The Bottom Line: Jones has been an integral part of the Hoosiers’ rebuilding process the last two years. That’s something that should continue next season. Assuming Creek returns to form, Jones will likely fall back to the second or third scoring option on the team, which is probably where he fits best — getting baskets and getting to the line when its crucial, but not doing so much that it drags down his overall game.

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  • IULaw10

    Excellent Wrap. Verdell was certainly a bright spot for the Hoosiers this year.

    Moreover, I think he'll continue to be our best offensive player next year. I am worried about fans' expectations of Maurice Creek. He's a truly special player, but he might come back from his injury a little more slowly than some expect. In the meantime, I have no problem with VJIII leading IU. He's gutsy in a way I couldn't have predicted after watching him play Pre-Epic Backcourt Screen Injury in 2008.

  • MillaRed

    Verdell worked hard last off-season and I expect him to do the same now. He still is a little loose with the ball and I think another 5 or so pounds can help get that straight. It will be nice to see VIII and Mo Creek create for each other out there. Truly a dual scoring threat to compete with anyone in the Big Ten at the guard level.

    Mo is such a great shooter, I still think he can contribute at the 3-point line. Let's hope he regains the explosiveness as quickly as possible.

    I'm a huge VIII fan. I hope he can cut down on his mistakes next season and compete for Big Ten honors.

  • Wish

    I agree with you on this one. VJIII has shown the ability to get better in the offseason and that puts some worries at ease. If he works on his handle, shooting and becomes interested in playing defense then I don't think anyone could ask for more. He has his go to shot and he's shown that he can be vocal. I'd love to see him come in and start at PG next season but that seems like a bit of a reach today with his ballhandling.

    15/5/5 should be his goal for next season. I would be fine with him seeing fewer minutes because I think he'd end up being more productive and maybe he'd find the energy to play defense.

  • JerryCT

    I used to say VJ3 could be the next Devin Harris ……. folks scoffed ……..probably for good reason……………. but I love the kid just the same.

    His defense however is so poor that honestly I doubt whether he could crack the Butler lineup right now.

    The only problem I have w this WRAP is the complete void of any defense discussion. Did he not lose the game against IL ? Is he not repsonsible for alot of fouls ………. oh the fouls I am talking about are not his, he is not close enough to foul , I am talking about TP, BC etc that have to help on his man and the ball screen.

  • walton

    I wasn't a huge fan of VJIII his first season, but dramatically somehow he became by far my favorite player on the team this past season. Even with some of his bad plays he stood out as the leader on the team and one I really felt comfortable with the ball in his hands in important situations. You can tell that he is proud to wear the IU uniform and does all he can to give IU a W. I hope Rivers and Pritch can adopt whatever he did in the offseason this offseason – and if so I will be a happy person.

  • walton

    You bring up a great point. Though not related to this article, IU overall defense (or lack of) is not really talked about a lot. A common attribute of many teams that went far in the tournament is their tenacious defense. Of course our size is a major factor here, but I can't remember IU ever really being up in people's grills on defense. Look at Purdue against Duke in the tournament – Duke really had Purdue outmatched in most aspects, but PU stayed in the game because they just annoyed the heck out of Duke. Crean really needs to instill a very aggressive in your face / annoy the other team type of defense. Since we are so outmatched in most other areas this could be the one area that keeps us in games.

  • Indiana_Knight

    Verdell is, for now at least, our best player and I really hope that Crean can get this kid to the NCAAs before he graduates. The improvement he made between last year and this year shows how seriously he took his offseason program, even coming off of a season as putrid as last year's. He should feel really good about the direction of this program and I imagine he'll put in another great offseason this summer. Besides Watford this is the guy I'm most excited to see play next season. I can't wait to see him reap the rewards of all of his hard work in the summertime.

    I also have some concern about how quickly Creek will rebound from a pretty serious knee injury. Luckily there wasn't ligament damage, but it'd be asking quite a bit for him to both return and really be playing at full strength before Nov/Dec/Jan. In my estimation Watford becomes our number one option for at least the first three quarters of the season, while Jones and Creek are 2a. and 2b. respectively.

  • walton

    unless IU adds a big man down low or finds a way to combine more height on the court at the same time – then I don't see Watford being able to contribute much more than he did last season.

  • marcusgresham

    I agree that you need tough defense like that, but to be able to get in someone's face you also need to have depth because aggressive, in-your-face defense inevitably creates fouls. This team didn't have the depth to sustain foul difficulties. That's no excuse for the poor level of defense this team showed, however–it HAS to be better to see any kind of success.

  • marsh21

    Verdell is a big part of our offensive threat which is what IU needs.

    He needs to focus on defensive foot work and defensive effort! He will not be able to compete at high levels without this focus.

    Also, Verdell needs to be able to penetrate the lane with his head up looking for the open shooter. Currently, he always shoots the ball when he makes the move and doesn't cause the defensive to break down. If he's the point guard then this needs to change or Mr. Crean will find someone who can.

    Anyone here anything about John Wilkins???

  • Kelin Blab

    I am going to take a slightly opposite direction on VJ3 and feel free to disagree. VJ3 is our most effective offensive player to the extent, I don't think his defense hurts us and maybe Vj3 is what he is…an ok defender and a offensive player. I am kinda ok with that….

    His defense may not be on the level of a dumes, but he needs to be on the floor. He makes up for players who lack offensively, just as players make up for what he lacks defensively. If VJ3 went 15-5-5 next year that would be alright with me….

    Trust me, I know defense is important, but I am from the “Loyola Marymount” school of thinking….the team that always wins in the end is the one who scored the most points. It was painful to watch IU's scoring droughts this year and last….

  • Wish

    I think you make some good points. VJIII had a lot of weight on his shoulders this past season and he had to put forth an awful lot of effort on the offensive end. It would be nice if he could catch a break on defense but IU didn't have the talent to make that happen. There were times, like the Illinois game, where instead of reaching he could have just slid over to stop a drive to the basket but maybe he was fatigued.

    At the same time, the kid has a lot of talent and sometimes it's tough to watch someone do so well on the offensive end but struggle on the defensive end. I wouldn't be opposed to it if IU went with primarily a zone next season for a few reasons, 1) Creek isn't going to be 100% right off the bat so let's not have him move around as much, 2) If you could put VJIII at PG, Creek at SG and Watford at SF….that's a lot of length out there and 3) I think they are really going to have to work hard to score points. That being said, it's tough to rebound in a zone at times and that's where IU really struggles so I'm torn.

  • Luke72

    Remembering hearing that they just removed the IV before he started will always stick in my mind. What courage this kid has! If for no other reason would love to see IU contend just to see Verdell have a pay off for being the unsung hero during a time when praise was short and winning was soo hard to achive! The best is yet to come for VJIII!

  • JerryCT

    I have no real stats comparable to offensive stats with which to argue but if I HAD to argue with you I would say that in CTC's transition offense it starts w defense……… no defense or defensive rebound … then no offense or …. you know the drill, we usually go late late in shot clock w a contested shot. Our defense largely explains our droughts ……… I would argue.

    I would say he does not make our team offense alot better but he makes our team defense , which starts our offense, alot worse.

    I agree we cannot have VJ3 on the bench but we also cannot win w/o defensive stops. The only answer is for him to develop such that he gets over the top of screens and/or prevents his man from reaching the screen cleanly.

  • JerryCT

    If TP would just set a low screen off the ball for him I bet we could get him the ball cleanly in the lane ………… I bet he would hit 80% from there w no blocks …….. same w Elston ( maybe not 80% ) ….. but our scheme will need to change. TP would have killed Kramer by the end of the PU game if we had done this.

  • Kelin Blab

    Luke72 you are 100% right and 0% wrong. I would love for VJ3 to get into the NCAA tourney and showcase his talent on a national level. It may be a stretch next year but the year after I hope it happens for him. I am sure those around him have asked why he is there, why he stays etc but this is a case of a non indiana kid….becoming an Indiana kid like AJ Moye, DJ White etc. A healthy Mo Creek and Matt Roth, a Rivers that has bought in fully, a stronger watford, an improved elston, and some bench contribution could set IU up for a interesting 2010-2011 season

  • walton

    agree 100% – the lack of off the ball low screens last season baffled me

  • So_Cal_Hoosier

    I saw Mo Creek walking around campus, at a pretty brisk pace if I might add. No crutches, no limp, and from what I could tell no brace either. He's a young kid and probably a fast healer, and if he is already walking at full speed and shooting the ball, I'd give it a few more months of rehab and exercise before he is back close to full strength.

  • Totally glazed over this when I wrote it up quick this morning. Along with the shooting percentages, Jones needs to work on his defense as well.

    Thanks for bringing it to the discussion, all.

  • marsh21

    Some people don't appear to think Verdell's lack of defense is an issue. When you're watching the game tonight try to think if Verdell would even see the floor as a member of Butler's team. It's all about defense which creates offense! Butler shoots 30% from the floor, hits 1 bucket in the last 10 minutes of the game and still beats the Big 10 Champion. My friends they didn't win the game because of offense at all. Once Crean gets players that understand this we will watching IU tonight!

    I like Verdell so don't get me wrong but the kid reaches with his hands instead of moving his feet. That is why even if he averages 25 points a game with no improvement defensively he will never see the professional basketball.

    I'm sure he understands this and is working in the off season to improve.

  • geometer

    I agree that there will be a great selection of weapons next year (if all are back, healthy, and improved). To me, it seems Roth, Hulls, Rivers, and Jones all have different strengths and weaknesses at the guard spots, and Pritchard, Capo, and Bawa are have different strengths and weaknesses down low. Could it be that we might see Elston, Watford, and Creek at the 4/3/2 some games against bigger teams (with the best match up for that team at 1 and 5) and those three at the 5/4/3 against other teams? I just don't think the team has players that can be completely dominant at a position; might it be better if they are moved to best match up game by game (though this does have drawbacks too).

    Personally I'd like to see a 1-3-1 with Jones, Creek, Watford, Elston, and Bawa some just to see if it could be effective.

  • marcusgresham

    I love the 1-3-1 in spurts, but that defense takes a lot out of you physically–at least if you're the guy on the point.

  • Hoosier79

    All (most) who post here have made wonderful comments all season long. It has been a real pleasure to read as the season progressed. Great wrap for Verdell.

    This season dissapointed me in so many ways.
    1) No structure for help on offense-no off ball screens, very limited motion or movement
    2) No understanding of help defense-get past your man and a free layup is yours.

    These as well as other fundemental issues put Creans coaching in the category of almost clueless. Sure you can run intransition but what if you didn't get the stop? Noone helps on D so stops are fewer. You end up having to grind out the offensive possession with guys passing the ball around the perimeter while desperate to dribble drive.

    Crean getting 10 years was folly. There has been nothing produced as a result of the program leadership to inspire recruit 1 at a high level.

    Sorry for the diatribe.

  • Indiana_Knight

    Crean's original seven year deal was the right length, in my mind. I really can't imagine why he was extended before his first season; that part really does defy all reasonable logic.