The 2014-15 season at LSU is Johnny Jones third as head coach of the Tigers and that is important.
But more importantly, the Jones legacy at LSU hits an important milestone in 2014-15.
Four years as a player.
13 years as a member of Dale Brown’s coaching staff
Now, three years as the head coach at LSU.
In two years, Jones has established his program at LSU from foundation to building the floors of the program. His teams have won 39 games over those two years (the most by any LSU coach in their first two years as head coach in the long Southeastern Conference era) and the Tigers appearance last year in post-season made him only the second LSU head coach in SEC history to take the Tigers to a tournament in the first two years.
Now as the 2014-15 season begins, he has his staff in place and his players in place with more on the way to make the LSU program a continued player on the league and national stage.
For Jones, just the fifth LSU alum to hold the top position in the men’s basketball program and the third to have played and served as head coach, his beliefs about reaching out to fans and giving them an exciting style of basketball to watch in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center has been a strong selling point to fans and recruits alike.
In his time at LSU, the Tigers have brought in nationally-ranked recruiting classes and two of those players enter the season off results that earned them SEC citations.
Jones in his two seasons have put on the floor teams that will play hard from start to finish and play a style of basketball that makes players want to showcase their talent in a team concept. Four times in those two years the Tigers have rallied from double digit deficits to win:
Down 16 with 17 minutes left at home against Seton Hall (Dec. 2012), the Tigers used a press to make a difference, igniting the players and the fans alike, as LSU rallied to win, 72-67.
Down 17 with three minutes to go in the first half and down 14 at halftime, LSU rallied to win with a 9-2 run in the final 1:47 at Mississippi State (Feb. 2013), 69-68.
Down 10 to Alabama with 2:52 to play (Feb. 2013), the Tigers scored the last 10 points of the game to force overtime. The Tigers would win in three overtimes, 97-94.
Down 16 to Vanderbilt with 3:40 to go in the first half at Nashville (March 2014), LSU cut the margin to eight by halftime and held Vandy to 19 points in the second half to win, 57-51.
Nine of LSU’s SEC wins in the two years against SEC teams were by 5 (three times), 4, 3 (three times) and back-to-back one-point decisions.
Those games and more proved the Tigers would play down to the wire and have a good chance to get out with the victory.
In his opening statement after being hired, Jones brought back the “HIT” philosophy of LSU Basketball that Coach Dale Brown used when Jones played and coached. The “HIT” philosophy stands for “Hard, Intelligent and Together.”
More than anything, Jones, since his hiring on April 13, 2012, has gone out of his way to embrace all aspects of the community, traveling throughout the state on the LSU Tiger Tour and speaking to civic groups and youth organizations. Included in his points in all his stops was how much he wants people to embrace LSU basketball. It’s not only fans he wants to hear that message but high school coaches who are excited again to have LSU coaches visiting with them on a regular basis.
LSU and Coach Jones has a successful booster club that gathers before each game for food and scouting reports in the practice facility prior to each home game, Jones is also hosting public luncheons each month to talk to fans about their basketball program and the luncheons are drawing strong crowds each month during the season.
In his first year at the helm, the Tigers won 19 games and became one of the league’s toughest teams by winning 10-of-their-last-16 games against SEC competition while making a school record 234 three-pointers while posting five players scoring in double figures. It was a team that brought memories of Coach Brown’s first team in the 1970s that was known as “The Hustlers.”
In 2013-14, the Tigers came right back and won 20 games and advanced to post-season play for the first time since 2009. LSU advanced to the NIT and went to San Francisco and walked away with a victory. Johnny O’Bryant, who would be selected in the NBA draft by Milwaukee, would earn All-SEC first-team honors, as would freshman Jordan Mickey, who became just the second player in LSU history to block 100 shots in a season. Another freshman, Jarell Martin, would overcome an early ankle injury, to finish as one of the strongest players in LSU’s post-season run and earn freshman All-SEC honors with Mickey.
Now in 2014-15, Mickey and Martin anchor a returning group that has the opportunity to continue the forward movement of the team along with Keith Hornsby, a transfer who spent all last season in Baton Rouge working as hard as any playing member of the team. Plus another talented group of recruits continues the influx of talent that the LSU coaching staff is able to reload with and fill needs as needed each season.
Jones’ Head Coaching Roots
This is Jones’ third career head coaching position he has served as the interim head coach at the University of Memphis during the 1999-2000 season and began his run as the head coach at the University of North Texas prior to the 2001-02 season. The Mean Green advanced to four-of-his-last six Sun Belt Conference Tournament championships games which included each of the final three seasons Jones was there (2010, 2011, 2012).
North Texas averaged just five wins per season in the four years prior to his arrival. Under Jones, the Mean Green averaged 21 wins per year over his last six seasons which included a school record 24 wins in 2010 and a pair of SBC titles and NCAA Tournament trips.
Jones won more games than any other Sun Belt coach over his last six years and he coached five of the nine 20-win seasons in North Texas history at that point. Jones is responsible for the third best single-season attendance mark in school history in 2012, which marked a 121 percent attendance increase over his tenure.
In 2010, Jones was named a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award, given annually to the nation’s top minority coach. As head coach at Memphis and North Texas, he defeated five Final Four coaches – Lou Henson, Nolan Richardson, John Brady, Billy Tubbs and Tom Crean.
After two seasons at LSU, that number has now reached seven as he has led the Tigers to wins over Final Four coaches Tubby Smith and John Calipari.
At LSU, Jones’ 19 first-season wins in 2013 was the second most games ever won by a first-year LSU coach. After a 20 win season in 2014, his 39 wins was the most of any LSU head coach in their first two seasons in school history:
Johnny Jones - 39 wins
Trent Johnson - 38 wins
Harry Rabenhorst - 35 wins (2nd stint)
Dale Morey - 28 wins
Dale Brown - 26 wins
Tad Gormley - 25 wins
John Brady - 21 wins
Press Maravich - 17 wins
Jay McCreary - 17 wins
Dr. C. C. Stroud - 17 wins
Harry Rabenhorst - 16 wins (1st stint)
J. W. Mayhew - 11 wins
F. M. Long - 6 wins
At LSU, as at North Texas, Jones has made his mark with an up-tempo style of play that gives his team the best shot to win. His last two seasons at North Texas that up tempo style led the Sun Belt’s highest scoring offense and highest scoring player in each of his last two seasons. The Mean Green ranked first or second in the league in scoring in each of the last seven seasons Jones was in Denton. The Mean Green also led the nation in free throws made per game in 2009 and 2011.
In Jones’ first two seasons, LSU has averaged over 70 points for the first time in consecutive seasons since the 2005 and 2006 campaigns. In 2013, LSU’s scoring average was one of six teams in the 14-team SEC to average over 70 and in 2014, LSU’s average of 74.7 was fourth in the league, just 0.5 out of second.
LSU’s three-point percentage of 35.6 was tied for third in the league in 2013 when LSU made a school record 234 and in 2014 LSU was just shy of the mark, making 231 treys and a percentage of 34.4.
Jones’ teams can also play defense with four-of-the-top five shot blockers in North Texas history playing during his tenure. In 2012, the Mean Green ranked among the top 50 in field goal percentage defense, rebound margin and defensive 3-point field goal percentage.
At LSU, Jones’ has become known for a helter-skelter press that comes at various times that has caused opponents to rush and turn the ball over. LSU was second in the league and 10th in the nation in steals in 2013, averaging 9.1 a game. LSU held teams to a 31.5 percent shooting mark behind the three-point arc, equaling the lowest by an LSU team since 2000.
In 2014, thanks to Jordan Mickey’s 100-plus blocks that made him the first and only player other than Shaquille O’Neal to block 100 or more shots at LSU in a season, LSU tied for the highest block average in the league at 5.9 a game and was 15th in the country. The Tigers were third in the league and 29th in the nation at 7.7 steals per game.
When Johnny Jones suited up for his first game as an LSU Tiger against Colgate in the Great Alaskan Shootout on Nov. 28, 1980, it would mark the first of 121 games that he would play for LSU. Then the player would turn assistant coach and be on the bench with Coach Dale Brown for another 407 contests.
Now he has coached the first 65 games of what will be a long and successful career as LSU’s head coach.
Before going to LSU, he attracted the attention of Coach Brown and other top coaches after a stellar prep career at DeRidder High in southwest Louisiana where he led his team to a combined 83-26 record. He was named the MVP in Class 4A and to several prep All-American teams his senior season, averaging 28.3 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
As a player at LSU, besides playing on the 1981 NCAA Final Four team, Jones started 54 career games. Nicknamed “The Bullet”, he led the team in assists (124) as a junior and was ranked among the top five in the SEC that year. Even to this date, he remains ranked 13th in career assists with 271 and is just one of 29 players in the history of the program to have dished out 200 assists or more.
His 136 career steals ranks 15th all-time on a list of 24 Tigers that have recorded 100 career steals.
After finishing his eligibility in 1984, he was asked by Coach Brown to join the staff as a student assistant for a year before moving into a full-time role on the staff after earning his degree and graduating one year later in 1985. Jones served as assistant coach in 1986 and 1987 and administrative assistant in 1988 before returning to the assistant coach position beginning with the 1988-89 season.
Prior to the 1994-95 season, Jones was promoted to Associate Coach of the Tigers. Jones is the only person in LSU history to both play (1981) and coach (1986, assistant) in an NCAA Final Four.
As an assistant coach, Jones was part of teams that went to an NCAA Final Four (1986), an Elite Eight (1987) as well as nine consecutive NCAA Tournaments (1985-93). Two of the LSU squads he helped coach to Southeastern Conference regular season championships in 1985 and 1991.
It was during his tenure at LSU that Jones earned his stripes as a top recruiter, something that continues to be his passion as head coach as he brings in the best players available that can help move the program forward. Among those he helped lure to LSU in his assistant days were NBA superstar and College Player of the Year, Shaquille O’Neal. He also was involved in recruiting to Tiger Town two-time All-American Chris Jackson (now Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) and former national high school player of the year, Randy Livingston. The class that included Livingston and Ronnie Henderson was part of a recruiting class that was ranked at the top of the charts by recruiting services.
After Coach Brown’s retirement following the 1996-97 season, Jones moved to another set of Tigers in Memphis to serve as Associate Head Coach in 1998 and 1999. In his first year in Memphis, Jones also helped accumulate a JUCO recruiting class that was ranked No. 1 nationally and was the cornerstone of an overall class that was ranked seventh.
Jones was named the interim head coach at Memphis just prior to the 1999-2000 season before spending a season as an assistant coach in the SEC, as an assistant with the Alabama Crimson Tide (2001). He was named the head coach at North Texas on April 16, 2001.
Johnny Jones and his wife Kelli, have two children, John and Jillian.
The Jones File
Seasons: Third at LSU
Birth Date: March 30, 1961
Hometown: DeRidder, La.
High School: DeRidder High
College: LSU, BA, 1985
Children: John, Jillian
College Coaching Experience
1984-85 - Student Assistant, LSU
1985-87 - Assistant Coach, LSU
1987-88 - Administrative Assistant, Lsu
1988-94 - Assistant Coach, LSU
1994-97 - Associate Coach, LSU
1997-99 - Associate Coach, Memphis
1999-2000 - Interim Head Coach, Memphis
2000-01 - Assistant Coach, Alabama
2001-12 - Head Coach, North Texas
April 13, 2012-Present - Head Coach, LSU
Head Coaching Record Year-by-Year
||Interim Head Coach
||SBC Tourn. Champs, NCAA
||SBC Tourn. Champs, NCAA
||NIT Second Round