CHARLOTTE AMALIE, Virgin Islands — When LSU met Old Dominion in the opening round of the Paradise Jam on Friday night, Tigers coach Johnny Jones saw a familiar face on the opposing team’s bench.
Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones, who is in his second season as the Monarchs coach, was a starter at point guard for Virginia from 1979-82. He left the school as its all-time assists leader.
As a junior, he led the Cavs to the Final Four, where his team beat LSU and freshman point guard Johnny Jones in the consolation game 78-74. That was the last time a third-place game was played in the Final Four.
“I was on one of the little guys because Jeff is a big guy,” Johnny Jones said this week. “Throughout our coaching careers, we’ve reminded each other about playing against each other in the Final Four.”
The LSU men’s basketball program is playing in its 53rd regular-season tournament all-time, with the first appearance coming in 1947 in the Fort Worth Collegiate Classic.
Most recently, the Tigers went 2-1 in the Old Spice Classic last season in Orlando, Florida.
While LSU has played in the Hawaiian islands 11 times over the years, the Tigers are playing in the Atlantic time zone, which is two hours ahead of Central time, for the first time.
It’s LSU’s first appearance in the Paradise Jam tournament.
They’ve been Jammin’
Old Dominion, LSU’s tournament-opening opponent Friday night, is playing in the Paradise Jam for the third time.
The Monarchs first played in the 2005 event and lost to Wisconsin in the championship game. They returned in 2010 and defeated Xavier in the final.
The University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center, a 64,000-square foot athletics and physical education facility, is the site of the 15th annual Paradise Jam.
The basketball arena, which seats just 4,000 spectators, has received praise from coaches who have brought teams to the tournament as the finest athletic facility of its kind in the Caribbean.
Does she know something?
The public address announcer began LSU’s pregame introductions by saying forward Jarell Martin was a 6-foot-10 senior from Baton Rouge.
Martin, a sophomore who briefly considered putting his name in the NBA draft last spring, smiled when he received some good-natured ribbing from teammates while running onto the court.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.