February 22, 2001

Santa Clara's Jones winning numbers game

Feb. 22, 2001

By Jeff Faraudo
Oakland Tribune

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- His coach says he is not a particularly good shooter, great jumper or magical playmaker, but Santa Clara senior guard Brian Jones is on the doorstep of an impressive statistical milestone.

With six more assists, Jones will become the first Division I men's player in California history to accumulate at least 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists for his career.

A survey of the state's 21 schools -- from UCLA to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo -- finds that no other player has reached those three numerical plateaus.

"I'll get that easily," Jones said of collecting six assists tonight against Gonzaga. "Considering how many schools and players there have been, that's a big personal accomplishment."

Broncos coach Dick Davey, who has worked with the likes of Steve Nash and Kurt Rambis, said no one he has seen has more drive than Jones.

"He's the most competitive human being I think I've ever been around on the basketball floor," Davey said. "I think that's what makes him as good as he is.

"He's not a great shooter, but he can score points. He's not a big jumper, but he gets rebounds. He's not the greatest of all passers, but he gets assists. He finds a way to get things done, largely because of his nature."

Jones said he's been like this since he was a kid.

"It doesn't matter if it's bowling or basketball or miniature golf, I can't stand losing," he said. "I'm not a bad loser. I was taught to be a good sport. But you don't have to like it."

Entering the final weekend of West Coast Conference regular-season play, Jones has 1,636 points -- exactly 100 off Rambis' 21-year-old school record -- along with 547 rebounds and 494 assists. He needs 17 assists to break Nash's school mark.

A two-time all-WCC selection, Jones is averaging 15.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists this season. He also leads the conference in steals at 2.1 per game.

Jones said none of the records is a focal point for him. "When I leave here, I just want people to say, 'He tried to win every time he went out there,'" he said.

Still, his achievements are impressive, all the more so when put into context. Jones dislocated his right kneecap and suffered bone and tissue damage in a summer-league game in 1998, then missed all of the next season.

"That injury was so severe at the time, I really kind of thought there was no way," Davey said. "The punishment he went through to get back ... our athletic trainer is still amazed. Few people in this world have that kind of drive."

Jones believes the episode simply made him tougher and hungrier. He sustained the injury in a pro-am game collision with Adonal Foyle of the Warriors.

Asked if he will avoid the 6-foot-11 center in the future, Jones said, "I'm going to go right at him and try to dunk on him the first time I see him."