Offseason to-do list: Verdell Jones

Indiana’s Verdell Jones runs down the tipoff to start the second game against Illinois. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

With the season complete and the offseason officially started for the 2010-11 Indiana Hoosiers, The Hoosier Scoop will have a breakdown of each individual player’s season and what he needs to focus on during the offseason. The second player in the series is junior guard Verdell Jones.

2010-11 STATS: 12.5 points per game (44.8 percent FG, 29.8 percent 3Pt), 3.3 rebounds, 89 assists, 83 turnovers.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: When Jones was on, he was the player that made Indiana’s offense go. No one on the team was better off the dribble and he continued to show that he has one of the best mid-range games in the Big Ten Conference. When he was attacking and making smart decisions, he could be lethal on ball screens, with the ability to go to the hole, knock down a mid-range jumper or find shooters on the wing. He had plenty of struggles, some of them caused by knee inflammation that sapped him of some of his explosiveness, but he was still the team’s second leading scorer and scored double-digit points in 12 of Indiana’s last 13 regular season games.


  • Become more sound with the ball. Jones actually cut down on his turnovers a bit toward the end of the season with just eight in the final five games, but his season total of 83 was still tied for fourth highest in the Big Ten and the three guys who gave the ball away more — Michigan’s Darius Morris, Illinois’ Demetri McCamey and Iowa’s Bryce Cartwright  — were ranked 1-2-3 in the conference in assists. Jones was 14th. Too often he could be seen dribbling at the top of the key with his head down or with no particular direction, and too often he dribbled into traffic and lost the handle. It’s difficult to tell how Indiana will continue to split point guard duties between Jones and sophomore guard Jordan Hulls, but if Jones wishes to be the primary ball handler, he needs to get better at handling the ball.
  • Get better from beyond the 3-point arc. Jones takes and makes enough 3-pointers to require teams to defend him that far, but not enough to be reliable. He shot under 30 percent from beyond the arc for the second-straight season, and he’s under 30 percent for his career. Though a critical part of Crean’s offense is a point guard who can attack off the dribble, it’s almost as important that the point guard be dangerous from beyond the 3-point arc. Especially with Hulls getting more attention on the perimeter and struggling to hit as many 3-pointers under duress, the Hoosiers will need another one of their top perimeter scorers to get points from beyond the arc.
  • Score more from the free throw line. Jones’ numbers at the charity stripe took a significant hit in 2010-11. He shot 116 free throws, down from 190 as a sophomore, and made 78, his percentage dipping from 75.8 to 67.2. Considering that only Watford went to the basket more than Jones, the Hoosiers’ needed him to get to the line more, and they certainly needed him to convert more once he got there. Jones had never been automatic, but he was much closer in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
  • Improve perimeter defense. One of Indiana’s biggest problems this season is that it’s best perimeter scorers and best perimeter defenders were not one in the same. Jones wasn’t the Hoosiers’ biggest liability and he was decent in transition defense, but he needs to get better against the dribble. Adding strength to his lean frame would help in this category.
  • Figure out what his role is, once and for all, and fulfill it. This is obviously an abstract criticism and without a view into the Indiana locker room, it’s difficult to tell who ought to be to blame for it, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus in and around the program as to what overarching role Jones has and should have with Indiana.  Next year, he will be one of five seniors, three of whom will be on scholarship, to represent the first four-year players to play under coach Tom Crean at IU. Jones, already a 1,000-point scorer, is by far the most statistically accomplished of the group and also the most vocal. All of that surface information would suggest he would be the clear choice to be the team’s captain, unquestioned leader and go-to perimeter scorer next season. There were times throughout this season that Crean spoke of Jones as though he already was the captain, comparing his loss for several games with knee inflammation to losing the quarterback in football, and praising him for stepping up his leadership from the bench in those games. Jones, however, seemed to be respected by his teammates as a peer but not necessarily revered as a superior. He called out his teammates for mistakes on the floor, but at least once had a teammate fire back. He often wanted the ball late in games and tried to take over when he had the opportunity but didn’t have the sort of success that would earn him status as a go-to-guy. His teammates never seemed to complain that he was taking too many shots, but they didn’t necessarily defer to him either.  So what’s the point? Jones essentially has to figure out, either on his own or with help of the coaches, if he will be IU’s captain and go-to perimeter scorer next season or not and fulfill whatever role he ends up with, either commanding his team’s reverence and earning the right to take the shots that count or deferring somewhat and settling into a different role, as Jeremiah Rivers selflessly did this season for the Hoosiers’ benefit. Unlike Rivers, Jones would certainly still be an important cog in the offense regardless, but perhaps not approach every late-game situation as his moment. One way or the other, it would be best for IU and Jones if he either captures or cedes captainship early so he and the rest of the team can proceed accordingly.


  1. Any IU fans who want to watchsome good college BBall can watch the Mike Davis coached UAB tonight. Hahaha lol thats hilarious. Think about where we would be if we would not have ran a good man out of town because of his color and would have instead got onboard and supported him. I guess we are getting what we deserve now.

  2. If you’re being serious, Doug, you might win the award for most idiotic post in Scoop history.

  3. Well I was majorly wrong about this IU season….I thought 15 or 16 wins including 6 or 7 big 10 wins and a bubble team for the NIT. (At least get some consideration).

    Now, as I look at the future 1, 2, and 3 years with the recruits comming in I see those 16 wins including 6 or 7 big ten wins….For the losses….The main difference will be by a more narrow margin including some close games and more less than 10 point losses instead of 20+…Thus ending the unsuccessful Tom Crean era. Recruiting is going to be improved when compared to present IU team, however, I do not see the future recruits making a power house team when I analyze other top team recruits….Sorry!….If Brad Stevens is available and would leave Butler….Thus starts the Brad Stevens era….Money can’t buy you love….It has been over a decade now and IU continues to be in a basketball tail spin.

  4. If Mike Davis hadn’t spent the whole time in Bloomington whining and saying he’d rather be coaching in the NBA he would have been embraced. People wanted to like him. There was nothing to like about him.

  5. During the same time IU was going through the Knight situation Wisconsin also had a very successful assistant coach that temporarily took over for Dick Bennett. (When Knight was the coach IU had a huge string of straight wins over Wisconsin in basketball). Even Wisconsin would not hire the assistant coach full time even though the argument could be made he proved himself. Wisconsin hired Bo Ryan….IU was then one of the top programs in the country….IU high paid administration put the basketball program into a tail spin that is still spinning.

  6. Jones is not going to be a positive influence especially with heralded freshman coming into the mix. He needs to either get on board with his role on the team or go.Mike Davis may want him? Jones is not a great player but could contribute to the team but my guess is that he never will. He continues to be the player pouting when he doesn’t get his shot or turns the ball over.
    Crean needs to put the pieces in place this next year or be gone. I posted earlier in the year Brad Stevens has a system that works. I was crucified by the IU faithful as a Butler lover but that is far from the truth. Butler wins because the coach has a system and puts the players in a position to make it work, even with losing a lottery pick.
    I am waiting on an IU system that works.

  7. Chet–

    Nothing like re-writing history.

    The Knight-worshipers HATED DAVIS’ GUTS from the SECOND he took the job.

    They expected him to turn down the job and thought he was a TRAITOR for taking it.

    From then on, every time he farted, they CRUCIFIED the guy.

    I’m not saying he was perfect.

    I’m saying he was never given a chance by the nutjobs.

  8. Davis’ teams got worse over time. He started decently with Knight’s players – did a pretty darned good job. But he was on the downslope from then on with his own recruits.

    His offense eventually consisted of Bracey Wright hoisting 3’s from the rafters while closely guarded.

    And then, he couldn’t handle the pressure and had at least one melt down (at Kentucky).

    He just wasn’t ready – and he now admits that himself.

    And there may be racist jerks who wouldn’t have given him credit even if he had walked on water, but by the time he left, speaking objectively, it was time for him to go.

  9. I think a lot- most- people were against Davis not because of his race or for being unfaithful to RMK, but because he simply didn’t have the resume for the job. Therefore, he never really had a mandate and only had a faction of fans behind him. Yes, given RMK, it was hard or impossible for anyone, but Davis was not a good candidate. Think about it, say we fire Crean- who would be happy if we were looking at young, assistants who had never been head coaches. And our stock was a lot higher then. I still think keeping him was the worst decision of any of the terrible ones made over the past 10-15 years. Not because he’s black or because he’s not a great guy, but because he didnt know what the hell he was doing. Not to mention, he was a terrible public speaker and could never use his bully pulpit to improve his standing. And, then there was also the fact that we kept getting worse and worse under his watch.

  10. How about Jones DEFENSE? Definitely needs improvement. Shouldn’t play if can’t do better than what he had done in the past in that area!!!!

  11. Give me a break, The guy stood up for knight and tried to help knight save his job, and yet from day 1 he was not good enough. WHY? because he was not a white hypocrit. Those players of knights that he supposed to have played with his first year were all recruited by Mike Davis and would not have been there if it was not for Mike, everyone knows that. Every one wants to think basketball is rocket science, two things make a good coach PERIOD #1 Recruit- they have to be able to land the players and with a solid fan base behind him Mike Davis could have recruited with anyone. #2 motivate- He could have used some help with this because he wanted to be their friend instead of putting a boot in their behind, it would have came though. UAB lost but at leats they played in the tournament. He can coach and recruit good enough to get UAB in, you can’t argue with that. What would he have done here with a solid backing. I bet it would surprise you.

  12. I said when Jones was out that we were a better team and dreaded him coming back. People said I was wrong. Well….we never won another game after he came back. He dribbles with his head down, takes bad shots, turns the ball over, dribbles the ball off his foot, etc. he si the same as he was his freshman year. he needs to sit while VO, Sheehy and AE take over next year. Also as aside this post was about VJ III not RMK or Mike Davis. stay on topic people or go to the PU site and spew your venom.

  13. Please add defense to Verdell’s To-Do List, Dustin.

    I totally agree with the notion of getting hs role figured out (both him and the coaching staff) and fulfilling it.

    For me, Verdell, has been a total frustration (for reasons Dustin mentioned). But I will forever honor him for his decision to come to IU (he had other good offers) that first year when the cupboard was completley bare. He has stuck with us and I’m sticking with him. I hope he has a great Senior year and I hope he gets to play in the NCAA tournatment his Senior year.

  14. Leffy, by that time most IU fans did not worship Knight. I certainly didn’t.
    Wisco, you are correct. The only opposition was because he was woefully under qualified. Perhaps no coach has ever gotten a bigger break with less experience. From the least senior assistant to head coach?
    Doug, Davis never “stood up” for Knight. What on earth are you talking about?
    Whoda f, I speaking in terms of tournament teams. They are going nowhere past UAB.

  15. A bunch of teams are going nowhere after the next round.SO WHAT?. At least their in the dance.Are you saying you wouldn’t take a 22-11 record and a NCAA berth right now?

  16. Sure, but look at Clemson over the past 15 or so years. They play 20 bad teams, get an NCAA invite, then get killed. I don’t know why Virginia Tech didn’t get that bid. At least they lost games against really good teams. But then again, they beat Duke and then lost to, guess who, Clemson. I guess that’s why they don’t let me pick the teams.

  17. Fair enough,but Clemson has a new coach now and a very good one at that.Things will change for the better there.Wait and see.

  18. Chet I remember a press conference like it was yesterday when Knight got in trouble, they were drawing what happened on a blackboard what happened trying to take up for knight and Davis was right there saying Knight was innocent. Then he never got a chance.

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