Blue Demon Backcourt Looks To Lead

Without question, one of the most essential pieces to building a successful team is the backcourt. Especially in the Big East, the importance of quality guard play is immeasurable.

Assuming the role for DePaul this year are Jeremiah Kelly and Brandon Young. The tandem has started every game for the Blue Demons and looked to throttle the team through what has been a coarse first half of the season.

Currently sitting at 6-11 (0-5), both players peer ahead and see plenty of games left to be played.

"It's been an up and down season so far," said Kelly. "We've had some close games we could have won, but it's a long season."

Young shared similar thoughts: "The season's going OK for me, you know. We expected to get more wins, but you can't hang your head. It's a long season. We got a lot to improve on and we're just gonna keep getting better everyday."

As guards -- and point guards in particular -- both have naturally been placed in leadership roles, statistically heading the team in many ways, as well. Kelly and Young lead the Demons minutes (32.2 and 31.4, respectively), assists (2.9, 3.9) and steals (1.9, 1.5). Young's 12.5 points per game are also second on the team.

"It was a pretty easy transition for me," said Kelly on being one of the team's incumbent leaders as an upperclassman and returning starter. "I've been here before so I can tell guys what to do. Getting used to the coaching staff was a challenge, but I like it because it's the same style I played in high school."

"When I first got the starting position it was kind of hard for me because I didn't think they would listen to me since I was a freshman," said Young. "But this is college basketball, so whoever the leader is you just gotta pay your respect to them and listen to them. I bought into it, they listen to what I gotta say. I say what I gotta say. Sometimes I can get out of hand, but that's where Jeremiah comes in and lets me know that's when I gotta lead, and you can't have all that negative energy."

Kelly was the Demons' starting point guard last year, but has moved predominantly off the ball with Young now on board. A change he said was a smooth shift also. Young acknowledged that playing next to Kelly has helped him make a transition of his own: from high school to college.

"It's a good experience for me especially because, being that I'm a freshman and he's [Jeremiah] been in the Big East, he lets me know certain things to look out and watch out for. He knows that I'm a leader so he tells me to come lead the team and make sure you keep people in place," said the first year player.

After beginning the season 6-6, the Demons have since dropped their first five games of conference play. The Big East presents a whole new set of challenges, no doubt.

"Big East is one of the best conferences in the country," said Kelly. "Non-conference isn't as physical, but the conference is tough. All the games are down to the wire and its always hard to win on the road."

"It's more physical," added Young. "You gotta be focused. You can't be coming out there lackadaisical and lazy, because they'll expose you. They'll let you know that this is the Big East."

40 minutes seems to be the golden number.

"As a team we have to improve on being consistent. We've got to play for 40 minutes and finish games," said Kelly.

Young seems to be on the same page. "Play hard for 40 minutes, be committed to the system and listen to the coaches."

As they look to get things back on track, Young and Kelly know what they must do to help their squad get back rolling.

"It always starts on the defensive end and it always starts with us," said Young. We're the guards. We have to stop our man from getting to the bucket."

"I'm gonna just be a leader and get my team involved. I'm just gonna talk positive and let everybody know what's going on, how it's gonna go. I just gotta make the right plays."

"I just gotta be a leader and play my role," said Kelly. "Knock down shots, play defense and let guys know what to do."

Kelly and Young will most certainly have their hands full trying to contain dynamite guards night-in, night-out. (UCONN junior six-foot sensation Kemba Walker being their most recent challenge.) Still, the two take after their coach's philosophy, will attempt to apply pressure, pioneering their team.

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