Without those three, however, Jones was not only expected to carry a larger load, but he was to do it with defenses very aware of him. His scoring and rebounding numbers pretty much stayed the same - Jones is averaging 13.1 points and 7.4 rebounds - but that's not what was expected of him.
And perhaps the pressure wore on him.
"It was kind of a burden to live up to that,'' Jones said of the expectations. "And I put so much pressure on myself.''
Lately, though, he has cast aside that pressure and tried to simply play the way he knows how to play. Against Louisville, he got a lot of points around the basket - he had 11 offensive rebounds, made four baskets on tips or follows and twice went to the foul line - but he also made six of those jump shots that were almost automatic last year. Three came along the baseline and the other three from around the foul line.
He's not hitting his 3-pointers at nearly the same rate (25.8 percent as opposed to 40.4 last season), but West Virginia is most effective when he's scoring inside the arc, anyway.
"It was more frustrating and disappointing than anything else,'' Jones said of his struggles with his mid-range shot this season. "But I've been working on my jump shot and my form and I've been able to improve it.''
And as a result, the Mountaineers have improved, as well.
BRIEFLY: Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough was the only unanimous selection to the all-league first team, whose other five members include Connecticut's Kemba Walker, Georgetown's Austin Freeman, Pitt's Ashton Gibbs, Providence's Marshon Brooks and Dwight Hardy of St. John's. The league player of the year will come from that group and will be announced Tuesday in New York, along with the coach of the year, rookie of the year and scholar athlete of the year.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.