The bus ride to Louisville was quiet. Most of the players slept. Barrett read from a textbook, and a few others simply stared out the window.
The only conversation flowed between Kip Jones and Brugos, who kept up a steady banter near the back of the bus throughout the three-hour ride. Jones, who had tied Scheffler’s gym shoes to the bus seat posts on the way to a practice the previous season while Scheffler was dozing, went for an encore performance. He took off the shoelace on Scheffler’s left street shoe and stuffed it in his own pocket.
Along with starting forward, Jones’ position on the team was chief instigator. It was a self-assigned role, and one he relished. More than anyone on the team, he possessed the quality Keady thinks so highly of, orneriness, although it could be argued he took it to an extreme. Once, after an especially satisfying adventure in tormenting a teammate, he offered a concise, grinning self-analysis: “I thrive on being a prick.”
He was a natural. He had the sly grin of a cat that has just dined on fresh mouse, and he wore it often. Even as a kid, he had been the mischief maker who was constantly getting in trouble from grade school teachers for cutting up in the classroom.
Jones recalled one incident in grade school with particular pride. It was in art class, while everyone was finger painting. Jones asked the kid next to him if he could have some of his green paint. But when the kid began to shake the paint off his hand onto Jones’ hand, Jones pulled it away. The paint plopped onto the kid’s painting and ruined it. “I got in big trouble for that one,” he recalled, smiling.