Jeff Jones: "The Emotions Hit Me In The Face"

After securing an NCAA Tournament bid, Old Dominion's coach felt a wide range of emotions – some having nothing to do with basketball

Taz and the Moose
March 20, 2019 - 10:27 am
Jeff Jones Old Dominion NCAA Tournament

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After beating Western Kentucky in the Conference-USA Championship on Saturday, Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones felt a wide range of emotions.

“Obviously I was very happy that we had won the conference tournament and were going to go to the Big Dance,” Jones said on Taz & The Moose. “There was a certain amount of relief. It’s been a few years since Old Dominion has been in the tournament, so there was that element of it.”

Indeed, Old Dominion had not reached the tournament since 2011.

Jones, though, also felt emotions that had nothing to do with basketball.

“From a personal standpoint, I announced back in September that my cancer had come back,” he said. “After having surgery and radiation and all that stuff, I was cancer-free for a while. It came back a couple years ago. I didn’t say anything the first year, but then last year, because I was starting treatment, I knew that word would get out.”

Jones, 58, wanted that word to come from him.

"No. 1, I wanted my players to hear it from me,” he said, “and secondly, I thought that maybe by being public with it that I could bring some awareness to prostate cancer and encourage men to get their PSA test done and hopefully catch it early. If you do catch prostate cancer early, you might be able to live a long, healthy and productive life.

“So at that moment right after we won, the emotions of the whole thing kind of hit me in the face,” Jones continued. “I just kind of had to take a minute and soak it all in at that point.”

Old Dominion (26-8), seeded 13th in the South Region, will face No. 4 Purdue (23-9) on Thursday at 9:50 p.m. ET.

“Our guys are going to compete,” Jones said. “We defend pretty well. Our guys are going to compete. We’re not afraid of getting down and working and competing. From a physical standpoint, we might not be quite as big, but I think we’ll fight them there as well. We struggle offensively at times. In our conference tournament, we had three games where we held our opponents in the 50s. We’re not doing that to Purdue. I’d like to think that we could guard them, but 50s, that’s just not going to happen. We’re going to have to score some points.”