Young Gun

Frank Young is a very different player than Tyrone Sally, the senior he replaced, but his big spark at the start of the second half against Wofford was, shall we say, quite Sally-like.

The departed Sally often gave the Mountaineers a lift with his drives to the basket and defensive work atop WVU's 1-3-1 zone defense, and getting someone to fill those shoes remains a priority for the 2005-06 Mountaineers. Young, whose style of play and strengths are different than those of Sally, still managed to give West Virginia the boost it needed to get past a pesky Wofford team and into the semi-finals of the Guardians Classic.

Trailing the Terriers by five at the half, Young knew that his team needed a quick lift.

"We needed a spark, because we didn't play very well in the first half," said Young, who will be the elder statesman of the Mountaineer team next year. "We wanted to come out and jump on them early."

That they did, as Young hit a three-pointer on WVU's first possession, then got a layup after Mike Gansey deflected a pass to him for a steal and a fast break. That quick burst erased Wofford's lead and brought the Mountaineers into a tie at 24-all, but Young wasn't finished yet. On Wofford's nest possession, Young again recorded a steal, then spotted up behind the arc in transition and nailed his second consecutive three-pointer to put West Virginia in the lead for good. Young's eight-point outburst bettered Kevin Pittsnogle's seven consecutive points to start the game and seemed to boost the entire team as well. After suffering through a 1-10 dry spell from three-point land in the first half, WVU bounced back with an 8-17 mark in the closing stanza.

"It just happened, but it was something I was trying to do, too," Young said of his scoring spree. "I hit the three, then Mike got the deflection and got it to me for a layup and that got us going. In the first half, we weren't hitting shots, but we weren't executing well either. We talked about it at the half."

Kevin Pittsnogle, who knows something about outbursts (he had 13 of WVU's 19 in the first half), concurred.

"Frank did a tremendous job. He knew he was going to pick it up and hit some shots, and he got us back in the game as quickly as possible."

The fact that Young could light up the scoreboard so quickly shouldn't come as a surprise, given his performances in the Big East Tournament last year while subbing for Sally, who was sick for much of the week. However, given West Virginia's senior-laden lineup, it was an eye-opener, and showed once again that anyone in West Virginia's top seven can be an offensive spark.

Those looking for Young to be a mirror-image replacement of Sally, however, will have to adjust their thinking a bit. Where Sally excelled at driving to the basket and finger-rolling an array of acrobatic layups into the hoop, Young is more of a spot up shooter. His long-range accuracy will probably surpass that of Sally, but he will probably not get to the free throw line nearly as much as Sally did. Those tradeoffs will be an important item to watch as the season progresses. Pittsnogle, however, believes that Young has the ability to fill the big holes left by Sally's departure.

"In some ways they are different and in ways they are alike. Ty was a wiry slasher, and Frank is more of a shooter, but he can still get to the basket and get rebounds," said Pittsnogle, who sees his junior teammate do that in practice. "I think he gets better all the time."

Perhaps just as important as Young's scoring streak was the five rebounds he grabbed against the Terriers. While not a physical rebounder, Sally was often able to slip through cracks inside and emerge with key boards. Coupled with the loss of D'or Fischer, West Virginia's rebounding strength, which was shaky at best, took a big hit. If young can average six or seven boards per game, it would go a long way toward filling that hole.

With WVU's difficult schedule, the Mountaineers will have to be firing on all cylinders in order to make the NCAA tournament again this year. Young, although still a year behind his fellow starters, will have to be a major part of the Mountaineer offense in order to make that happen. As he has already shown this year, he can get the job done – now he just has to do it night in and night out.


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