Jones injures knee in Penn State win, status unknown

Verdell Jones has worked for four years to help Indiana get back to the NCAA tournament.

Just as the Hoosiers are about to do so, it appears Jones may not be part of it.

The Indiana senior went down with a right knee injury in the first half Thursday against Penn State. A team spokesperson said Jones suffered a right knee sprain and was going to be further evaluated, but it looked more serious than that.

On his postgame radio show, Indiana coach Tom Crean got emotional and began to cry when talking about Jones.

“I’m going to keep holding on to that hope, but I don’t obviously feel good about that,” Crean said. “The initial of just watching him in pain, that’s hard. There’s no worse feeling than when your own children are sick or hurt, and it’s really a lot like that when you coach.

“It’s in the doctors’ hands. It’s in God’s hands. And we’re going to just absolutely hope for the best with him.”

Jones came to a jump stop near the free-throw line, and then fell to the floor in pain with just under six minutes remaining in the first half. He was tended to for the next five minutes before being helped to a wheelchair by teammates Austin Etherington and Kory Barnett. Jones didn’t put any weight on his right leg.

“It’s unbelievably painful, just for him and his family,” Barnett said. “After how hard he’s fought, it’s not fair.”

After Jones’ injury, the Hoosiers (25-7) seemed to play with more energy. But even as they cruised to a 75-58 first-round win, Crean said the team could feel Jones’ absence.

“There’s no question that we missed him,” Crean said. “I could feel it, not just the emotional part of it during the game, but I could feel it when he’s not in there.”

If Jones isn’t able to come back and play this season, it won’t be a totally new experience for the Hoosiers. Jones missed two games with a shoulder injury in early February, and Indiana won both of those games.

Freshman Remy Abell stepped up in Jones’ absence at Purdue on Feb. 4. Abell scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including a late 3-pointer that effectively put the game away. If Jones can’t return, Abell knows he must be ready again.

“It’s happened before, so when I come in, it won’t be a big surprise to me,” Abell said. “When Verdell was out, I had to come in and step up for the team. I’m just going to be ready when my name gets called.”

Still, though, it won’t be easy to replace Jones. Beyond his 8-point per game production, Jones’ leadership and ability to create his own shot are things the Hoosiers won’t easily be able to replicate.

“Verdell will never be replaced. You cannot replace Verdell Jones,” said junior forward Derek Elston. “But as we’ve been saying all year, it’s the next man up. Everybody’s really confident coming off the bench. It doesn’t matter who starts, it’s about coming in and playing your role.”

  • HoosierExile

    If anyone in college basketball deserves to play in the Tournament, it’s Verdell Jones.  What a shame.

  • Jmfriedman

    I hope it isn’t ACL, but I would be surprised if it isn’t.  Sprains don’t look like that….  Here’s to a speedy recovery regardless.

  • Jmfriedman

    I hope it isn’t ACL, but I would be surprised if it isn’t.  Sprains don’t look like that….  Here’s to a speedy recovery regardless.

  • 323SGrant

    Very sorry to hear about VJIII’s injury. After all the hard work he’s given and the tough losing seasons.

  • And_One

    Really hope it’s not as bad as everyone seems to think. This kid has given so much. He’s been a critical part of what must be considered to be one of the great seasons in the history of IU basketball, and to have him finish it on the bench in street clothes would be a crying shame. But though I’m worried about Verdell the player, I’m not worried about Verdell the man. The man will be okay.

  • Pinehurst

    I have said it before, Verdell is one of my all time favorities. As a player helping to restore IU basketball, 23rd leading scorer in IU history, a great guy on and off the court, this injury makes me sick. May God bless you Verdell and if you need anything please let Hoosier Nation know.

  • Steelhoosier

    I truly feel sick about Jones. 

    I loves Crean’s honesty and compassion. I love our coach. 

  • Johninmi

    I really hope the injury isn’t that bad. I didn’t have a chance to the see the game though.  And one, you are correct, Verdell the man will be fine. 

  • Walt

    Verdell has done a lot for this team. Coming off the bench he has been “smooth as silk”, an almost magical transformation, as I was one of those who “ragged” on him. Now, trying to think of a negative, cannot do, but my favorite memory of this year to date is him passing that ball back to Cwat during Kentucky game.  Just a class guy handling adversity, and I really think we have not seen the last of him this year on the court. Our prayers are with you VJ111.

  • BFowler

    God bless and speedy recovery Verdell.

  • HoosierPat

    I would not want to be in this team’s way.  They will be playing inspired basketball with an attitude and will to win.  Prayers going up for Verdell.

  • Provider_UNE

    I have to admit that I have spent an inordinate amount of the afternoon and evening crying about VJIII, including during most of the second half. Don’t have BTN, so was listening to Fish, and have listened to Fish for long enough to know that it didn’t look good. The last time I felt remotely like this was not losing Henderson, but during the solo Senior night with Lyndon Jones.

    God speed Verdell…Get well soon!

    Go Hoosiers!!!
    .

  • Hoosier in NC

    Too bad.  It can happen anytime, I know.  But, it still feeds my inherent dislike of conference tournaments and why I refuse to watch them.

  • KraigIU

    I really feel bad for Verdell. To go through as much as he has with the team the last four years and to get hurt right before he was to play in his first and last NCAA must be incredibly depressing. I’m holding out hope its not that bad and he’ll be ready to go next week but I’m not optomistic.

  • http://twitter.com/hoosiersmitty HoosierSmitty

    If Verdell really is done, I’d love to see IU just thump our first round NCAA opponent, dress Verdell and help him on the court for one possession at the end of the game. I know it’s not the same as truly playing, but he deserves to be in the score book for the game. 

  • Provider_UNE

    I feel the same way Smitty and feel given the circumstances that the other coach might be accomodating. For all the crap VJ has had to endure…We’ve got great kids, a great Coach, and lots of ball left to play.

    Go Hoosiers!
    .

  • hoosierodi

    Or we could start him in the national championship game and have him really fire up the players

  • hoosierodi

    Or we could start him in the national championship game and have him really fire up the players

  • http://twitter.com/RatKingCole Cole Phillips Allen

    @HoosierSmitty:disqus That would be a moment in sports that I would never forget.  I sure hope he is able to come back and contribute at some time in the tournament, assuming we make it past the first or second round.  This (although I am obviously biased, in that I hate Purdue) trumps the recent injuries to Robbie Hummel, in terms of all time saddest sports stories.  It seems unfair, but I, personally, trust in God.  I believe that although this seems unfair at the moment, there is a reason for this.  Maybe it’s to light a fire behind the Hoosiers and take them on a late season tournament run, or maybe it’s simply going to make Verdell an even stronger person than he already is.  I know it will definitely do the latter.  If it’s your cup of tea, I don’t think it would hurt to say a prayer for Verdell and his family tonight.

  • IUMIKE1

    Alex, is there any place we can go to hear a replay of the post game conversation that Fish had with Crean ? Would there be any way possible to post the audio of it on here ? I have heard several others asking about this. Even though I almost always watch the game on TV I rarely ever miss the post game chat between Fish & Crean, and wouldn’t you know it, the one time this year that I really wanted to hear it and couldn’t.

    Any kind of info, link from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

  • InTheMtns

    Justin,

    One correction to your story if I may. You wrote “Just as the Hoosiers are about to do so (get back to the NCAA tournament), it appears Jones may not be part of it.”  The correction is that even if  Verdell can’t play, he still will be very much a part of it.

  • InTheMtns

    Justin,

    One correction to your story if I may. You wrote “Just as the Hoosiers are about to do so (get back to the NCAA tournament), it appears Jones may not be part of it.”  The correction is that even if  Verdell can’t play, he still will be very much a part of it.

  • Geoff_85

    I thought about that too. Unfortunately, I don’t know if that’s even possible. He may not be able to even walk on that knee. I sure hope that’s not the case, but even if he can’t, we all know that he was a huge part of this team all season, and whether he plays in the first round of the NCAA Tournament or not, he will have had a hand in that game.

  • kenny george

    God speed your recovery Verdell. we are praying for a quick recovery and hope to see you soon on the court leading the Hoosiers to another Victory.

  • millzy32

    I feel really bad for Verdell.  He always gave it his all no matter what and you could tell that he was trying even when he did some things that you sometimes shook your head about.  He always had a great attitude even if he was just cheering on the bench or if he was making that pass to Watford for the game winner vs Kentucky.  The worst part about this is that unlike some that get injured Verdell is going Pro in something other than basketball and it would be truly sad if this was his last time on the court.  Hopefully it isn’t as bad as feared and we’ll see you out there again really soon in a big time tournament game.

    Best Wishes on a speedy and full recovery.

  • Daburns0

    Coach Crean is as classy as they come.  He geniunely cares about his players, and wants more for them in life than just basketball.  We are very lucky to have him as our coach.  He will attract only the highest quality players to our program.  I compare him more to a coach K, than a Coach Knight.  I don’t think parents will hesitate to send their sons to play for that type of man.
    He reacted the same way to M. Creek being hurt as he did for Verdell.

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