Versatile Jones giving Hoop Hogs big boost
FAYETTEVILLE - Mason Jones’ career-high 32 points doesn’t sum his game pacing Arkansas’ 91-43 basketball season-opening rout of the Rice Owls Tuesday night at Walton Arena.
Just call it a big tip of the Jones’ iceberg that titanically sunk the Owls.
Jones also grabbed seven rebounds made five steals and dished three assists, and like wine and cheese plates played mutual complements with teammate Isaiah Joe, the Fort Smith Northside alum scoring 24 points with seven assists and five rebounds.
Oh, and as a 6-5 guard
on a very small team, second year junior transfer Jones played a mean power forward, Arkansas first-year Coach Eric Musselman said.
“You know, you really have to give Mason a lot of credit,” Musselman said. “For his whole career, he’s been a 3 or a 2, small forward/off-guard. We are asking him to play power forward. It’s no secret, that’s what he played the whole game (vs. Rice), and he accepted that.”
The team’s lack of size, smaller than ever Tuesday night with 6-8 sophomore Reggie Chaney suspended indefinitely, gives Musselman no choice.
“We have a guard-laden roster and we need him to play the power forward spot,” Musselman said.
“But you know what, when he plays power forward he’s got his greatest mismatch. You saw that with a career high.”
With only eight scholarship players suiting up Tuesday, Musselman said
Joe, a 6-5 shooting guard, also played different positions Tuesday.
“I looked up at one point and Isaiah Joe was at the power forward spot and towards the end of the game his last segment he was playing point guard,” Musselman said. “So he went anywhere from the 1 (point guard) to the 4 (power forward). From a versatility standpoint our guys have done a really good job of learning multiple positions.”
Musselman is 2-deep at point guard with graduate transfer Jimmy Whitt and returning junior Jalen Harris, but between potential foul trouble and fatigue with a short roster believes he has to have another ready to run the point and that Joe could do it.
“Early on, after spending a first week or two with the team, I kind of felt like Isaiah could play some point guard,” Musselman said. “He’s got good size, he can run pick and roll and see over defenders, and he’s got a great basketball IQ. I don’t know how much he’ll play that point, but I certainly want the ball in his hands and be a little bit more of a playmaker instead of just a spot-up shooter.”
Whatever their positions Joe and Jones have meshed well.
“Those guys have been phenomenal playing together,” Musselman said. “Obviously, with the makeup of our team, we are going to need those guys on the floor a lot.”
Because of undisclosed injuries, Arkansas women’s basketball Coach Mike
Neighbors, already with out senior guard Jailyn Mason rehabbing a foot injury, may be minus senior 6-1 three-year lettering starting center Kiara Williams and 6-3 freshman Destinee Oberg in
his Razorbacks’ Friday season-opener against the University of New Orleans Privateers.
Opening with their annual Elementary Day busing in elementary students from throughout northwest Arkansas, the Razorbacks and Privateers, 0-1 off losing 83-49 Tuesday at LSU, tip off at 10:30 a.m Friday at Walton Arena.
“Kiara and Destinee, our size,” Neighbors said.
What do you if you don’t have them?
“Punt,” Neighbors replied before the Razorbacks practiced Wednesday. “Obviously you have to focus on what you do well. We’ve played small but we’ll have to play incredibly small without two of our biggest ones.”
Offensively what Neighbors’ Razorbacks do best is score with ALL-SEC junior Chelsea Dungee and junior transfer Amber Ramirez. Dungee scored 26 and 31 points, and junior Amber Ramirez, 23 points and 15 points, in Arkansas’ 97-67 and 77-62 exhibition victories over Pittsburg State and Oklahoma City University.
Arkansas junior Mason Jones competes in a 91-43 rout over the Rice Owls this past Tuesday at Bud Walton Arena. Jones scored a career-high 32 points in the win while the 6-5 guard played power forward practically all game.