Published Tuesday, December 11, 2012 AT 12:03 AM / Updated at 12:12 AM
Jones’ message to Bluejays: It’s time to step up
Steven Pivovar Omaha World-Herald

Josh Jones got a chance to address his Creighton teammates two days after they saw him carted out of the Devaney Center on a stretcher.

The senior guard fainted during warm-ups before last Thursday’s game at Nebraska. He was taken by ambulance to a Lincoln hospital and was kept overnight. He returned to Omaha on Friday and was allowed to attend Saturday’s practice as a spectator.

Afterward, he talked to all of his teammates but singled out a few of them.

“He specifically talked to the guys that need to step up in his absence,’’ Creighton guard Grant Gibbs said. “He did a lot for our team, and there’s 20 minutes to fill there. Josh stressed that with every kind of adversity, there’s an opportunity for other people.’’

With Jones sidelined indefinitely, starting guard Jahenns Manigat will be asked to do more. So will sophomore Avery Dingman, who played a season-high 22 minutes and scored eight points in Sunday’s 77-61 win over Akron.

Jones was at the CenturyLink Center to watch his teammates win their ninth game of the season. He received a couple of nice ovations from the fans. His presence provided his teammates with a lift.

“It’s a tough situation but we have to move on,’’ Creighton forward Doug McDermott said. “He’s like a brother to all of us, and we’re playing for him. He’s continued to stay really positive and that smile never seems to come off of his face.

“We’re going to continue to fight for him and fight through this, and hopefully we’ll get him back.’’

That’s hardly guaranteed at this point. Jones underwent open heart surgery in 2007 when he was a senior at Omaha Central. While Jones has had no health problems since, Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said Creighton will be very cautious in determining when — or if — Jones will be allowed to return to the court.

Jones and his coach are expected to provide an update on the player’s status at a Wednesday press conference.

McDermott said he’s never encountered a situation like this during his coaching career but that Jones, with his effervescent personality, is helping make things easier on everybody.

McDermott recalled an incident that took place during Saturday’s practice. The Bluejays were working on a play they thought might work against Akron’s defense. The players ran it to perfection but Manigat missed a wide-open layup.

“Josh jumped up and said, ‘Jahenns, you’re making my heart rate go up, you can’t be missing those kind of shots,’’’ McDermott said. “That’s who Josh is. I talked to him the day after he got out of the hospital and all he wanted to know was about the team.

“He’s an incredible kid. When he’ll get back or if he gets back, I don’t think anyone can answer that right now. The important thing is that long-term it appears he’s going to be fine.’’

About Steven Pivovar

Steven Pivovar is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and primarily covers Creighton athletics and the College World Series. You can follow Steven on Twitter (@PivOWH) or email him at spivovar@owh.com.