Heating Up

The Detroit Pistons championship teams of a few years ago featured stars like Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Bill Laimbeer, but one of the most important members of that team was Vinnie Johnson, nicknamed, "The Microwave" for his ability to heat up quickly. WVU has something of a reflection of that setup in the form of Frank Young, who has made his mark with quick scoring outbursts in key situations.

Although he doesn't have a high scoring average, he often gets his points quickly, which can be demoralizing to his opponent. His early barrage in last year's Big East Tournament, when he subbed for an ill Tyrone Sally, is already something of a legend in Mountaineer circles, and he has continued to show that ability this year.

The latest example of Young's ability to score in bunches came at the outset of the second half against Georgetown on Wednesday. WVU's jump start player scored seven consecutive points to open the half, providing the spark it needed in the win over the Hoyas. During the two-minute stretch, Young twice got out in transition, hitting a driving layup and a pull up jumper off WVU steals to give them the lead at 25-23. Then, following two Hoya free throws that retied the game, Young buried a three-pointer to push WVU in front at 28-25. The run, which continued a Mountaineer rally that had brought them to within two points at the half, came at a crucial point in the game when momentum hung in the balance.

This isn't the first time that Young has scored a number of points in a short period of time, or opened the second half with a scoring spurt. It's becoming something of trademark for the 6-5 junior, who will be the acknowledged team leader next year when the current crop of five seniors departs.

"It's just going out and trying to get a spark and get the team going," said Young of his outbursts at the start of the second half. "We closed the first half well, and I just wanted to come out in the second half and keep things going."

The Tallahassee, Fla., native doesn't do anything special to prepare for the second half.

"It's not different Gatorade or anything like that," he said with a deep laugh when asked about his halftime routine. I just try to get a sweat going so I'm ready to play."

As the Mountaineers move through the Big East season, West Virginia's "instant on" player sees some frustration on the part of other teams as they try to hold the WVU offense down for the entire game. Foes that have stopped, or slowed, Pittsnogle, Gansey or Patrick Beilein for much of the game are often frustrated to find that the Mountaineers still have a chance to win as the clock ticks down.

"I do kind of see that," Young admitted. "Georgetown and Villanova are very good teams, but I think as those games went on they just see that we're a team to be reckoned with."

One of the reasons for that, of course, is Young, who certainly doesn't head opponents' scouting reports, but who is becoming more comfortable with his shot and his offense as the year has progressed. He has added a pull up jumper to his repertoire, a move that is particularly effective because it's not a big feature of anyone other Mountaineer's game. (We don't include Joe Herber's stops, spins, and stepbacks here, as those are in an entirely different category.)

Young's outburst, which helped WVU build an early second half lead, also assisted in West Virginia's 3-0 conference start – its best-ever in the conference. With two more games remaining in a seven-day homestand, the Mountaineers are now poised to make a huge statement in the early part of the Big East season.

"I think it would be very important if we could win the next two," said Young. "That would be a 5-0 Big East start, which would be great. If we can handle that it would be very good for us."

By no means, however, was Young already counting the games over Marquette and Providence as wins. The Warriors are playing much better than expected, and already have an impressive win over Connecticut in the books. However, should the Mountaineers need a jump start to get going against the Warriors or Friars, they can likely depend on young to provide it.


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