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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Chairman of the Board

Even if Arizona wasn’t Point Guard U, all eyes are on Momo Jones, the Wildcat’s basketball’s motor.

Even if Jones’ head coach wasn’t a point guard during his University of Pittsburgh days, or the names Kerr, Stoudamire and Bibby weren’t listed in Arizona’s line of point guard succession, the throne is the king out of Harlem’s to take.

“”There’s no free pass anymore,”” head coach Sean Miller said at the conference media day. “”As your point guard goes — as he works and who he is everyday — that steers the ship to who your team is.””

But to Jones, none of the past matters. The sophomore knows he can only control his own game. He believes the point guard tradition isn’t a burden upon his shoulders. Worrying about it puts more pressure in an already pressure-filled position.

“”The tradition is going to be the tradition at Arizona, when I leave,”” Jones said of becoming the starting point guard. “”That’s just the tradition. But for me, it’s just another step in my life, it’s just another step forward.””

That surely won’t be the perception from anyone outside the program. With Arizona being picked to finish second in the Pacific 10 Conference, the Wildcat’s successes or failures likely will fixate upon Jones’ performances.

“”People out there are going to wonder if you’re going to do better than you did last year, and make this big jump,”” Jones said. “”That’s just people’s expectations. My expectations are really slim to none. You just come out and you play every night and give it your all.

During a freshman campaign of learning, Jones was voted by his teammates as the Wildcats’ most improved player. Miller said Jones never gave up through early-season struggles and absorbed Miller’s coaching to average 6.6 points and 1.6 assists in a backup role.

As he gained more playing time, he gained more confidence. As he gained more confidence, Jones said he assumed more responsibility.

“”Carrying over into this year I always wanted the responsibility,”” Jones said, “”but at the same time, you can’t get caught up into everybody saying, ‘Everything is on you, everything is on you,’ because at the end of the day there is no ‘I’ in team.””

Part of the carryover came in the form of his offseason. Jones returned from summer break in Harlem, N.Y., in shape thanks to home-cooked meals and doing the little things — Jones said that he took a four or five month hiatus from McDonalds and other fast-food restaurants.

Jones, who weighed around 200 pounds at 12 percent body fat when he came to Tucson, dropped 10 pounds and is now measuring in at just 6 percent body fat.

It wasn’t just his physique that improved while in New York. Negative talk back home gave Jones some motivation as well.

New Yorkers questioned why Jones had taken his talents to the desert, where they believed the play was soft and the style slow.

“”Everybody wanted to see me on TV every night, everybody wanted to see me in the Big East (Conference), everybody wanted to see me playing against my friends,”” he said. “”It’s something that I took with me and put in my little box that I hold with me, put it there. Everyday it reminds me of everything I need to do to succeed.””

Now, it’s on him to translate his fitness and mentality into productive minutes of running the team in what Miller has related to a quarterback managing a football team.

“”Momo is under bright lights because the point guard position has been manned by so many great players,”” Miller said. “”The bar is so high.

“”I want him to be himself. What I hope is that he grows, he learns.””

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