Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino announced Tuesday that starting guard Chris Jones has been suspended indefinitely after what Pitino called an incident “unrelated to basketball.” Jones will miss Wednesday’s game against Syracuse, and it appears that the Memphis, Tennessee native could take an extended leave of absence from the squad. Still, it remains to be seen the exact violation that Jones broke, and the specific details will be a major indicator whether or not Jones will be able to return to the program.
Earlier this season, Jones had been benched against Long Beach State, but this suspension could stem from a much larger problem. Nonetheless, the senior has been an integral part of the Cardinals offense, averaging 13.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. The 12th ranked Louisville Cardinals are hoping that the potential loss of Jones won’t hinder their chances at a high seed for March’s NCAA Tournament, but in reality, could dash any hopes the team had at playing deep into March.
Sitting at 20-5 and coming off of a loss to N.C. State, this is a key point in the season for coach Pitino’s team to prove to the NCAA tournament committee that they are worthy of a potential top three seed. First, however, Louisville must take care of business against four unranked opponents before a prime time match up with the highly ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This game will be a true test of if the Cardinals are still able to compete with some of the Tournament field’s finest. Even if Jones does not return, expect Pitino to have his team ready for March Madness and primed for a deep tournament run.
*Section Photo credit to Andy Lyons, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Geoff Burke, USA Today Sports.