Johnson: Jenkins “deserved” start

Justin Jenkins was going nowhere fast.
Throughout the preseason, Fairfield head coach Sydney Johnson talked about excited he was to watch Jenkins, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, play and help the Stags in 2013-14.
However, it seems Jenkins himself wasn’t very excited at all.
Too many lackluster practices earned him at seat at the end if the Fairfield bench and rarely did there come a time when Jenkins was able to take off the warm-ups and actually get into a game.
Heading into Wednesday night’s game against St. Peter’s at the Webster Bank Arena, Jenkins had played just 16 minutes – all season – and scored three points, two against Marist and one at Manhattan, in five games.
But against St. Peter’s, Jenkins not only played, he started (it was the first start of his career) and he gave Johnson a career-high tying 16 points in a career-high 35 minutes in what would be a heartbreaking 56-55 St. Peter’s win, thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Desi Washington.
Apparently, there has been a major change in attitude for the sophomore, who has been more energized in practice, a work-ethic that earned him his first career start.
“I base all our playing time, just the opportunity to play, I base it all on practice and there were two or three days there where Justin was clearly more aggressive and more productive than the other guys at his spot,” Johnson said after the game. “And to his credit, he deserved to start. But that’s the first time that that’s happened, so I hope when we come back in the gym tomorrow (Thursday) and on Friday, we see the same type of Justin Jenkins.”
Why it took Jenkins almost half the season to realize that he needed to step it up in practice to be able to play, only Jenkins knows. Because Johnson sure doesn’t.
“I don’t know,” the coach said. “I think I’m very straight with the guys. They understand. I talk to them a lot about their roles and I was very pleased with the fact that he (Jenkins) answered the bell. Now, it’s late in the year but hopefully, we’ll see more of that.”