Bobby Jones ready to lead

With the graduation of vocal leader Will Conroy and the early entry into the NBA of gregarious guard Nate Robinson the Washington Huskies basketball program is looking for leaders who can play and also hold other accountable. Look no further than co-captains Brandon Roy and Bobby Jones. Jones sat down with this past week and talked about his leadership skills, what he sees from the new guys on the team and what he expects for the 2005 season.

"I'm not going to lie, it's a nice feeling," Jones said regarding his leadership role. "At the same time it's just more responsibility on our shoulders. Me and Brandon last year, we were captains, but we let Will be more of the vocal leader and we just tried to lead by example. This year with so many young players, we have to be more vocal and step up into that category."

Jones sees his role as a leader as something more than just pumping guys up and playing well. He also knows he has to help the young guys – players like Jon Brockman, Joe Wolfinger, Artem Wallace, Harvey Perry and Justin Dentmon – understand what the team expects from them and how to prepare themselves for the long season ahead.

"Before the season even started – in the summer time and the beginning of the school year – we tried to tell them how practice is going to be and how hard its going to get and how when the season gets going you're going to be tired and want to go to sleep," Jones said remembering his time as a young player on Montlake.

"They listened, but they won't know until they actually experience it and then they can look back and say ‘you were right about that and we still have got four more years of this.' Some guys will learn it's the system and you have to keep working hard and keep getting better. I think they're on the right path though."

On the right path for Jones usually means playing good defense and rebounding the ball, hoping to get the up-tempo Dawgs out on the break, but this season the senior swing-man will be on the perimeter more, which suits Jones just fine.

"I've been here for quite a while, defense is my first love and it's what I do naturally so I'm never going to turn that away and just change up my whole game," Jones said. "I play hard, I rebound and I like to shut the best player down. That's never going to change.

"At the same time though, I need to open up my game more and show people that I'm not a one-dimensional type of player and that I can do all types of things and I have the given strengths to."

Those include making cuts to the hoop, quick passes to the interior and making shots from long-range. Even though Jones was solid from 3-point range last season (50.8%), he said he worked on his shot all summer and that will continue as the season gets underway.

"You can always work on your shot," Jones noted. "You will never get to the point where you can say ‘my shot is perfect I don't need to work on it any more.' I'm always working on that.

"I need to get used to playing on the perimeter. I've been down low for three years so I need to get used to our motion and be able to make moves and dump it off helping other people get shots at the same time. You never know, Brandon might not be able to help us out or he might get in foul trouble and someone else is going to have to step up. I think I can be that player. It's going to be fun."

One benefit from being in the system for so long is that the coaches know what Jones and the other seniors can do. The same can't be said the young guys and Jones said he knows that's why they get more attention than the older players.

"At times (the coaches) are hard on me, but when they do drills they are trying to teach the young players how we play defense," Jones said with a hint of relief. "They know we've been here for quite a while so they aren't as hard on us as they are the freshman, because they need to be hard on them so they can learn what to do and what the techniques are.

"As a vet they let you off easy on certain things, but at the same time they still stay on you so you don't get too lazy and senioritis going on. They've got the right little balance of when to let us go and when stay on us."

With the team posting its first number-one seed and a Sweet 16 run in the NCAA Tournament this past March, expectations are high. Jones doesn't expect a drop-off and he knows the coaches, especially head coach Lorenzo Romar won't let this team rest on what was accomplished last season.

"He reminds us whatever we did last year is gone and in the past and it's time to turn the page," Jones said. "It's nice to dwell on that, but after a while you've got the look to the present and future and make our senior year a good year. We made Will's senior year a good year and now it's time to make Bobby's and Brandon's and Mike's and Jamal's senior year a good year. That's what we need to focus on right now.

"Since I've been here we've gotten better every season and I don't see a reason why we can't go deeper into the tournament this year."

Jones and his teammates will see how closely their goals will mesh with reality very quickly.

Bobby Jones Profile Top Stories