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James Young “Charles Dickens-ed” His Way to MVP Honors

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

I’ve long been a fan of James Young.  Before the season started, I was the guy saying “Watch out for James Young.  He’s like a taller Doron Lamb.”  While that’s not really a great comparison, I was happy when NBA folks started noticing Young’s potential, saying he could be drafted in the top 5 next year.  Telling people that “I called it” makes me happy, because I’m so often wrong.  It’s like having the title line in Star Wars.  It’s not important, but it makes you feel that way.  Plus, did anybody actually have the title line in Star Wars?  (“Boy, I sure do hate all these Star Wars.” -Yoda)

But last night’s game was a perfect exhibition of freshman frustration: for James Young, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Actually, to be fair, it started as the worst of times and quickly switched to the best of times before the woes of the Industrial Revolution Louisville defense wreaked too much havoc.  If you’ll remember, before the hustle-bound put-backs, before the ten rebounds, before the lockdown D on Chris Jones, there was 0-6.  Zero. Of. Six.  That’s a lousy number for a scorer, and worse for an offensive cornerstone.  But that, along with everything else, is what’s asked of Young, a talented player with more ability than experience.

Like any Dickens novel, the ups and downs are frustrating.  Nothing’s worse than disappointment after a bright spot.  Enjoy that put-back?  How about a botched in-bounds pass to follow it up.  When he’s doing all the little things, he’s the quintessential “glue guy,” and his stat sheet proved it–18 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and only a single turnover.  He led the Cats in all three major categories.  But as Mike DeCourcy (Sporting News) points out, sometimes less is more for the mercurial wing:

[Young] redefined his game in the second half against the Cards and operated as a complete basketball player, as a team player, as one who was willing to contribute whatever his team required to defeat a high-quality opponent.

Young averaged nearly a shot per minute in the first half, even as he made less than a quarter of them and his frontcourt teammates were connecting at better than an 80 percent rate. He shot only four times after the break, made two of them, and expended most of his energy making Louisville junior guard Chris Jones disappear at the opposite end of the floor.

Young’s shift from “worst of” to “best of” made the difference in a game where Kentucky was missing its best player.  He was allowed to be reckless when Julius Randle was there to clean everything up and make the half-court set look pretty.  Or if not pretty, at least effective.  But when Young became the go-to guy in the second half, the responsibility elicited a maturity that we could get used to.  Smarter shots, tougher rebounding, better teammate–he was excellent.

With his oft-infuriating unpredictability, Young embodies his name.  His play can be rash, hasty, and stubborn.  But with the selflessness he displayed in the latter parts of last night’s season-spurring win, he just might merit yet another Dickens-ian allusion: Great Expectations.

Article written by Corey Nichols

11 Comments for James Young “Charles Dickens-ed” His Way to MVP Honors

  1. The Real James Anderson
    9:44 pm December 29, 2013 Permalink

  2. True shooter
    10:19 pm December 29, 2013 Permalink

    He’s has a real shooters mentality. It doesn’t matter at all if he’s missing shots he clearly believes the next one is going to go in. His hussle and rebounding were HUGE in that game.

  3. bluebee
    10:20 pm December 29, 2013 Permalink

    Anyone who has the game recorded from yesterday, check out Russ Smith trying to trip Aaron Harrison on the fast break layup thrown full court by James Young. Russ sticks his foot out just as Aaron jumps toward the goal.

    • Mark
      10:28 am December 30, 2013 Permalink

      Watching it again tonight….

    • Please
      5:33 pm December 31, 2013 Permalink

      Or watch that nasty dunk on Randle from Russ

  4. are the oven mitts hot?
    10:31 pm December 29, 2013 Permalink

    Oh my. This is terrible.

    • Astute
      7:54 am December 30, 2013 Permalink

      Your post?

  5. bigblue091812
    10:37 pm December 29, 2013 Permalink

    James played a game any college player would be proud of, he played hard on both ends of the floor and made great decisions. Best team effort, been better each game since UNC and with 11 days before Miss St I look forward to seeing even more team play. I do feel the FT shooting will get much better, players like Andrew, Aaron, Young and Randle work too hard not to work on it. Not enough people are saying so yet but the twins are getting it and are playing harder each game. I didn’t see the pouting yesterday, I seen the stone cold killer in their faces after making a big play. KUDOS to the CATS, and Happy New Years to BBN and LOSERVILLE.

  6. bosshog
    11:30 pm December 29, 2013 Permalink

    Corey, this is a nice creative post with better than usual writing for KSR. I like the way you composed it. Thanks!

    • Corey Nichols
      12:24 am December 30, 2013 Permalink

      Thanks Boss. I love James Young. And actually hate Charles Dickens.

  7. blueinohio
    11:50 pm December 29, 2013 Permalink

    I have loved hi since day one. He has a high motor. Does make mistakes but has a world of potential. He can be an example for the other players.