Jim Boeheim appeared on the Doug Gottlieb show yesterday and Mike Hopkins stopped by Brent Axe's show and both touched on the touchy subject of Mookie Jones and his "demands" for more playing time. First up are Boeheim's comments on Mookie's PT:
He's concerned about playing time...and as I explained to him before and after the game, Florida, they're a pressing team and we were gonna go with our three best ball-handling guards. Mookie struggles handling the ball, he's a very good two-guard, shoots it well...he'll play, probably in most every game, just, he does struggle against pressure defense. But there's a lot of teams that don't press.
Did Boeheim take Mookie's comments personally?
No, not at all. I want guys to want to play. If [Mike Waters] had handled it right, he would have asked him "are you upset with your playing time," and he would have said "yeah, I wanna play." And I want everybody to wanna play. I don't want anybody sitting on my bench to think he can't play here at Syracuse. So I don't mind that.
The only problem was that we'd talked about it beforehand so he kinda knew what was gonna happen in the game and, you know, he's working in practice, he came back and had a good game the other night against St. Francis and I expect him to play in the next two non-conference games and I hope he keeps getting better.
The thing is, too, Doug, we redshirted him last year so he's still a freshman. But I think the one thing you see in college basketball...I saw a freshman that went home from South Florida in our league after two games. (Laughs) You know, he wasn't playing enough after two games...I think, you know, that's the problem in basketball today.
Freshmen used to have a little patience. You could kinda get a freshman through that year...by sophomore year if he'd was playing he'd be fine but it's pretty much "I wanna play right now."
As for Hopkins, he shared some stories that you hope have not been lost on young Mookie:
"One of the great things about this, especially with coach (Boeheim) is we have all been through this. Coach (Boeheim) came off the bench. Coach (Boeheim) was a walk-on officially when he first came to Syracuse. When I first came to Syracuse, I red-shirted. I was never supposed to play, I didn't play (laughs). Then you have Lazarus Sims. It took four years, then he led us to the Final Four. We have all been through this, we have a lot of guys on staff, Gerry McNamara has been absolutely terrific. The best way to respond to that, like with a case like Mookie, is to working harder, show them you do deserve to play, and that your potential goal is to get better."
So I guess you can put away your Mookie Jones TransferWatch Bingo card for now. The coaches know what they're doing. Make sure you listen to both interviews as they talk also about how the team is doing so well and the success of Andy Rautins, Wes Johnson and others.