Villanova needs Jenkins to heat up
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Kris Jenkins has spent most of the past year being asked to relive “The Shot.”
Yep, that one.
Now Jenkins is getting questions about whether he can drop anything through the rim.
Villanova’s senior forward, whose 3-pointer at the buzzer in last year’s NCAA championship game forever changed his life and rocketed his school back to the top of college basketball’s mountain, is stuck in one of those shooting funks that could rattle the average player.
Jenkins, though, appears unfazed.
“I don’t know what a slump is,” he said Friday as the top-seeded Wildcats (32-3) prepared for a tough second-round matchup on today against eighth-seeded Wisconsin (26-9) in the East region.
Jenkins missed all six 3-pointers and went 2 of 13 from the floor in Thursday’s 76-56 win over Mount St. Mary’s, a fearless No. 16 seed that was within one point of the defending champions at halftime. The “off” night continued a pattern of misfires by Jenkins, who is just 9 of 46 from behind the arc in his last seven games and has had three games in which he’s missed all of his long-range attempts.
Despite his inaccuracy, the Wildcats aren’t asking Jenkins to change.
Rather, they want him to fire at will.
“I tell him if I pass you the ball, and you’re open, one, two, step and let it fly,” said guard Josh Hart. “That’s what he does. He’s a great shooter. When you’re a great shooter, you don’t worry about slumps. And he’s a great shooter, and I just know his mindset. Every one that he’s going to shoot is going to go in. As a great shooter, you don’t worry about the ones you miss, you have a short-term memory.”
He’s not the only one. Villanova coach Jay Wright has been straight with Jenkins about his shooting all season, urging him not to change a thing. Wright likens Jenkins to a “gun-slinging quarterback” — unafraid of any consequences.
“We have a term: shoot’em up, sleep in the streets,” Wright said. “Kris lives that better than anybody that we’ve ever had. Scotty Reynolds was one of the best, and Kris is in that category. They don’t fear a 2-for-13 night. I’ve been asked a lot by a lot of people, ‘What about Kris? What about Kris, is he going to be OK?’ It doesn’t bother him at all.
“That’s what I love about him. I want all of our guys to be like that.”
The 23-year-old Jenkins has done his best to distance himself from his famous shot, a now-iconic jumper that resulted in once-in-a-lifetime trips to the White House and ESPYs for him and his teammates. Jenkins didn’t talk about “The Shot” unless he was asked by fans, and that was virtually every day.
“They come up to him everywhere,” Hart said.
While Jenkins may have temporarily lost his shooting touch, he has found other ways to help the Wildcats win. He contributed five rebounds and played solid defense in 33 minutes against Mount St. Mary’s.
There’s a good chance Jenkins may be on the spot to take another big shot for Villanova, which is trying to become the first school since Florida in 2007 to repeat as national champions.