CRAWFORD | Pitino says he benched Jones for flop against Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — University of Louisville junior Chris Jones was on the bench when the starting lineups were introduced before Tuesday's game against Long Beach State for the first time all season.
The reason why is interesting.
Jones flopped on an elbow he said he thought Kentucky center Dakari Johnson was about to throw, but never did, in Saturday's loss to the No. 1-ranked Wildcats. But Jones didn't just take a hard fall, he then pretended to rub his head as if Johnson had made contact, and officials checked the monitor to see if there had been a foul.
What they saw instead has played on replays nationally — even was made into a claymation video by a UK fan.
Jay Bilas on ESPN said the flop “an embarrassment.”
Cardinals coach Rick Pitino didn't disagree. After holding Jones out of the starting lineup and most of the first 30 minutes of Tuesday's game, Pitino said the flop was the reason.
“I didn't start Chris, not because of his shooting percentages, I didn't start him because of the flop issue,” Pitino said after Louisville beat Long Beach State 63-48. “I was very upset at that. We don't do that type of thing. And then to fake it with the jaw like you got hit. You can't fake it. In junior college you do it. But you can't fake it. It's on TV. You can't fake those things. So I told him, you're not playing because of that. That's something Louisville guys don't do. But he was the best cheerleader on the bench and he did a great job with the guys.”
After the game, Jones said he'd developed it somewhat into an art form at Northwest Florida College, where he was the National Junior College Division I player of the year in 2013.
“I used to be able to time the elbows in junior college,” Jones said. “I knew what guys were going to do.”
He thought he knew what Johnson was going to do, but instead made a play that he ultimately admitted was embarrassing.
“He swing once, and twice, and I thought he was going to swing a third time and obviously he didn't,” Jones said. “I just need to play straight up defense. If you get (el)bowed, you get ‘bowed,”
Jones said Pitino, after watching tape of the play, called him in and “just said it looked bad. I saw it for myself when we watched on film. So I've stopped doing it. I think (sitting) was the right decision. I never question my coach. It is what it is. I'm moving past it. I cheered my teammates on and stood up like a man. It's just something I'm not going to do anymore. . . . At the end of the day, after you rewind and rewind and rewind, it does embarrass you. When it looks bad on film you know it's bad, because film don't lie.”
Jones wound up playing nine minutes in the game, including the final seven, after freshman Quentin Snider became fatigued and asked to come out. Some will say the penalty perhaps wasn't harsh enough.
But ask yourself this: How many college basketball coaches have taken any action, unilaterally, for a player flopping? How many coaches have spoken out against the practice at all.
Most coaches are all too willing to talk about flopping when they think other teams do it. UK's John Calipari, in a game against Duke in November of 2012, said in a halftime interview on ESPN, “They're flopping all over the place. In the NBA they'd all be suspended.”
But for a coach to take any action with his own player for what he determines to be a flop is rather unusual, to say the least.
We'll see if anyone in college basketball follows suit.
As for Jones, he played the final seven minutes against Long Beach State, didn't take a shot, grabbed three rebounds and dished out an assist.
He'd gone 11 for 43 from the field his past four games, and said he sat with Pitino and watched tape of his games.
“Coach showed me what I have to do,” Jones said. “The main thing is stay away from challenged shots. And I need to be a facilitator, get the ball to my big men, get the ball to Terry. I can do all those things. I want to do what helps this team win.”
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