Jones moves across town, takes reins at BU

New Boston University men’s basketball coach Joe Jones (left) shares a laugh with athletic director Mike Lynch. New Boston University men’s basketball coach Joe Jones (left) shares a laugh with athletic director Mike Lynch. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)
By Nicole Auerbach
Globe Correspondent / June 28, 2011

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The colors and the job title changed, but little else will.

After one year as an associate coach at Boston College, Joe Jones traded in his maroon and gold for scarlet and white yesterday, taking over the men’s basketball job across town at Boston University.

Jones’s family won’t have to move, which the coach said was an important factor in his decision.

“It’s just a great fit for me,’’ said Jones.

The process started with a phone call from Jones to BU, expressing interest in the open job three weeks ago, and ended with yesterday’s introductory press conference at Agganis Arena.

“It’s a really exciting time to be a part of our program,’’ BU athletic director Mike Lynch said, referring to the school’s back-to-back 21-win seasons and last year’s NCAA Tournament berth. “I’d have to imagine that whoever steps into this seat, knowing the team we have back, has to be really excited.

“I’m really, really enthusiastic about this hire. I know Joe’s going to do a fantastic job.’’

Nearly two months ago, BU signed Patrick Chambers to a two-year contract extension through the 2015-16 season.

On June 3, however, Chambers took the Penn State job, leaving a veteran team without a coach, months after most coaching spots had been filled.

“We became known as the only school in the country [that] was doing a head coaching search,’’ Lynch said.

Lynch said he interviewed seven candidates from a pool of 50 who expressed interest in the job.

“I’d like to thank Pat Chambers, a dear friend, who I think did a tremendous job here,’’ Jones said. “We’re really looking to build on the excitement that Pat brought to this program.’’

Interestingly enough, Jones and Chambers were assistants under Jay Wright at Villanova. From there, Jones took the head job at Columbia, where his squads went 86-108 in seven seasons before he landed at BC.

This is BU’s third coaching change in four years. This one comes on the heels of an NCAA Tournament appearance, in which the Terriers lost to Kansas in their opening game.

BU will lose America East Player of the Year John Holland, but the Terriers return four starters and welcome back senior forward Jake O’Brien, who suffered a season-ending injury Dec. 31.

Jones said he hopes to keep the entire roster that Chambers assembled, including two incoming freshmen. Jones said he’s talked to every member of the team and some parents, too.

Jones said he is close to filling out his staff.

Yesterday, Jones promised that the Terriers would play an up-tempo style.

“Coach Jones is going to bring a new system, but there are going to be a lot of similarities, from what he’s been telling us,’’ senior guard Matt Griffin said. “I think we’ll go out there and play with a lot of confidence like we have been the past few years.’’

Next year’s senior class will have survived three coaching changes. They’ve adapted before, and they plan on doing it again.

“It’s difficult, initially,’’ O’Brien said. “You don’t know what to expect, and there’s a lot of uncertainty. The whole transition really has been smooth. We’re looking forward to keep moving forward.’’