In a vacuum, that’s fine. File it under “game time decision” and that’s why the announcement came with 58 minutes before the scheduled tip off.
Here’s the problem.
Kam Jones sprained his ankle on Friday during practice, according to head coach Shaka Smart. He was then a game time decision for Saturday’s noon tipoff at home against Seton Hall..... and from the opening tip, Jones was clearly not right. Do you remember that game during Justin Lewis’ freshman year — I think it was the Creighton game where he returned to the lineup after missing two games, played seven minutes, and then missed four more — where Lewis was clearly dragging his leg around the court behind him? Watching Jones hobble around for five minutes on Saturday was a lot like watching Lewis three years ago. It was clear to anyone with a set of eyeballs that Jones was unable to make totally normal cuts on the floor or run at all at full speed. It was apparent during pregame warmups that he was not right, and yet he was still allowed to go out there like that.
And now, more than 72 hours after that game, Jones is unable to play at all.
I’m not going to go so far as to call this dumb and dangerous, because once the game started, the coaching staff finally stepped in and did something about it. But it never should have gotten to that point.
So, who screwed up here?
Is it Marquette’s sports medicine and athletic training staff, who obviously gave the green light to Jones playing if Jones felt he could manage it?
Is it Marquette’s coaching staff, who is allowed to watch Jones in pregame warmups and tell him what they are seeing and then be the adult in the room and say “yeah, no, get some ice and a walking boot, my man” in order to protect Jones from himself?
Is it Jones himself, who had to be able to tell that he wasn’t right at somewhere between 50% and 90% speed during warmups and still didn’t take himself out of the lineup? This is particularly notable because Jones is a player who excels at making plays when he’s maximizing his speed and agility on the floor, something you can not do on a bum wheel.
Is there someone I’m leaving out here? Fire off in the comments as to who deserves to wear the burden on this one.