By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – There are two types of anger, Ole Miss basketball coach and philosopher Andy Kennedy says.
He just hopes the Rebels bring the right kind of anger to the court tonight as they try to finish strong in the SEC and earn a first-round bye in the league tournament.
Tennessee has the same goals. An NCAA tournament at-large bid is a long shot for both teams as they meet tonight at 6 at the Volunteers’ Thompson-Bowling Arena. The game will be televised by CSS.
Kennedy and others gathered in the tunnel outside the locker room saw the wrong kind following last Thursday’s 102-76 home loss to Vanderbilt, an action that was followed by a statement of apology from transfer guard Jelan Kendrick.
Aaron Jones’ story is different. Kennedy laughed when asked Monday about the Jones type of anger.
“I could go a long way with this,” he said. “Y’all saw some of the anger that was a little misguided a couple of games ago. We all get frustrated, that’s a word that’s used a lot. I try to stay out of that, and I want my guys to stay out of it, because the reality is frustration is an empty emotion, it does you no good. Anger, on the other hand, can have some postiive results if you channel it properly.”
Jones, an athletic 6-foot-8 freshman from Pascagoula, turned his anger over his lack of playing time into energy in practice.
He played 12 minutes at LSU in the SEC opener, got in games against Arkansas and Auburn then went a string of five games where he didn’t get off the bench.
“I took it out on the court and played harder in practice. When you’re mad, as you grow up, you shouldn’t tell nobody that you’re mad. You should just work harder, play harder, take it out on somebody else, like a teammate or opponent,” Jones said.
It was nearly a month’s time before Jones got back on the floor with five minutes at Mississippi State on Feb. 9.
He played seven minutes in a home win against Auburn, then 17 against Vanderbilt and 12 last Saturday at Kentucky.
At LSU, Jones showed his energy with five points and five rebounds, but those limited 12 minutes were also enough time for him to pick up five fouls.
Things are different now, he says.
“To be honest, I feel I got stronger, and I’m rebounding the ball more. I feel like I can score easier now,” he said. “I’m fouling less, except for Vandy. I got a little frustrated and took a couple of fouls.”
Jones had five points and six rebounds against Vanderbilt. He hit his only field goal attempt and had a blocked shot against Kentucky.
“AJ was disappointed that he wasn’t playing, and I want that,” Kennedy said. “He didn’t mope and pout, he continued to work, and when he got his opportunity, he took advantage of it.”