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USF pitches Jones for Big East basketball award
Basketball coach Stan Heath, once cautious about the high praise heaped upon freshman guard Dominique Jones, makes no bones about saying that Jones deserves to be honored as Big East rookie of the year.
By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
Published March 5, 2008
TAMPA - Basketball coach Stan Heath, once cautious about the high praise heaped upon freshman guard Dominique Jones, makes no bones about saying that Jones deserves to be honored as Big East rookie of the year.
"Obviously I have bias because he plays for me, but even when I take myself out of it and ask who's the best freshman in the league, who impacts their team the most, I say Dominique Jones," Heath said Monday. "I think he's a leg above some terrific players in our league, and when we've gone to war against tough opponents, he's shown what he can do on the court. I think clearly he's that guy."
Jones had back-to-back 30-point games in December, the first Big East freshman to do so since Allen Iverson at Georgetown, but he's now proven himself in conference play with the highest league scoring average of any freshman 17.4. His primary competition comes from Syracuse forward Donte Greene (16.2) and guard Jonny Flynn (16.6).
You could argue that Syracuse has been a more relevant team, but a recent slide could keep the Orange out of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. That leaves Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair, who is third in the league in rebounding. Jones and Greene have won rookie of the week honors four times, and Blair, with three nods, is the only other player to win more than once.
Jones has set USF's freshman scoring record, and needs 18 points to reach 500 this season. Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he is as good as any freshman in the league, and Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez, after seeing Jones score 31 against him last week, said it was the best offensive performance by any conference player against his team this season.
"He's got the respect of the coaches, there's no doubt about it," Heath said. "In terms of the surrounding support he has, compared to everyone else, he's had to do more for us, and he's done it. He's earned it."
LOW SCORING: Softball (10-8) is leaning heavily on its pitchers, with a 1-8 record when opponents score more than one run. The Bulls went 15-20 last season when opponents scored two or more.
Sophomore Kristen Gordon, who led the team in innings pitched last season and had a 1.59 ERA, is off to an 0-3 start with a 6.52 ERA, 11 walks and seven strikeouts. Freshman Capri Catalano leads the staff with 46 strikeouts and a 0.79 ERA.
THIS AND THAT: Senior right-hander Daniel Thomas, a Gaither grad who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, is back in form, with a 2.70 ERA in two starts, and 15 strikeouts and two walks. Coach Lelo Prado is still trying to find his bullpen, with six pitchers saddled with ERAs over 7.00 after six games. ...Frank Wintrich, a Seminole graduate, has returned to USF as associate director of strength and conditioning after two years at the Citadel. Wintrich was a graduate assistant at USF under Ronnie McKeefery. ... New walk-ons making the spring football roster include two freshmen from Wharton, running back Joel Miller and defensive end Rony DeLisca. ... USF's annual pro day workout for scouts is Friday, with most attention falling on cornerback Mike Jenkins, projected as a first-round draft pick in April, as well as cornerback Trae Williams and linebacker Ben Moffitt.