Being a starter matters to Hawks' Jones

St. Joseph's Carl Jones throws a pass around Harvard's Laurent Rivard during the first half at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia, Tuesday, November 20, 2012. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

Senior guard Carl Jones would seem like an ideal spark off the bench for the St. Joseph’s, but his preference is to be in the starting lineup.

Jones led the Hawks in scoring last season, averaging 17 points per game. In Tuesday’s 75-56 win over visiting Harvard, Jones came off the bench for the second time after returning Saturday from his earlier suspension for a violation of the University's community standards.

Jones had a game-high 24 points against Harvard, shooting 8 for 11 from the field and 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.

That came after scoring 13 points in Saturday’s 73-66 loss to Florida State in the finals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclays Center.

In both games Jones gave the offense plenty of life and one would think that coming off the bench might be a good move.

Except for one thing – Jones doesn’t endorse the idea.

When asked afterwards if it matters whether he starts or not, Jones didn’t hesitate.

“It does,” he said.

For some people, being in the starting lineup is a big deal and Jones is one of those players.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with somebody wanting to start, especially the only senior in the Hawks rotation.

Still, he has the type of game that would really pick a team up while coming off the bench.

When this reporter asked if nobody could convince him that he could be that spark off the bench, he was very clear in his response.

“No, not at all,” Jones replied.

When asked if Jones would go back in the starting lineup, coach Phil Martelli says the matter will be discussed this week, but all signs point to it happening. The Hawks don’t resume action until Nov. 28 against visiting American University.

Martelli said that Jones missed practice on Monday because he had a late-afternoon exam and that he wasn’t going to make a change after the team only practiced Sunday following the Florida State game.

The Hawks coach praised Jones for his shooting against Harvard.

“He hasn’t been shooting the ball well in practice but he really shot the ball (against Harvard),” Martelli said.

Martelli explained that it has been a difficult preseason for Jones, who suffered a concussion and then strep throat.

So now he is healthy, and could start hitting a groove. And he hopes that grove will come as a starter.

“We talked and I didn’t start because I wasn’t at practice (Monday),” Jones said. “We talked about it and resolved everything and everything should be fine in eight days.”

If Jones returns as a starter, Chris Wilson will likely go to the bench. Last season Ronald Roberts earned Atlantic-10 Sixth Man of the Year, but it’s unlikely he’s going back to a reserve role. Roberts has been the best player in the first four games for the 3-1 Hawks.

Wilson, even coming off the bench, should see significant minutes. Both Wilson and Roberts appear to be the most improved players from last year.

Either way, with Jones back, the Hawks have more depth. And freshman Isaiah Miles played 15 minutes against Harvard after totaling just four in the opener and not appearing in the next two.. Martelli says those minutes were earned by his play in practice.

The rotation won’t be a long one, but if Miles can earn some minutes, then it gives the Hawks more depth.

Regardless of what happens with the rest of the rotation, expect Jones to return to the starting lineup.

He has all the attributes to be a dynamic reserve, but it’s not in his heart to come off the bench and it’s likely he won’t have to do it anymore.