On Fire

Frank Young came out smoking against Duquesne, hitting all five of his first half three-point attempts, and he knew from the moment he took the floor he had a chance for a red-hot start.

"I don't think I've ever shot like that in my whole West Virginia career. It felt good," a smiling Young said after West Virginia's 85-54 road win over Duquesne. "As soon as I got out in warmups, I was really shooting the ball well. So I knew I had a chance at a good first half."

"Good" might be a bit of an understatement. Young was 5-6 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, with all five successes coming from behind the three-point line. All came in the rhythm of the West Virginia offense, and there wasn't much doubt that the open looks were going to be on target.

When in the midst of such streaks, many players are tempted to ride the hot hand, and get as many shots as possible away before "the zone" -- that fabled place where athletes on hot streaks reside -- fades away. However, Young, a senior, resisted the temptation.

"I try not to look for more shots [when I'm shooting well], because I'm not one to try to force it," he explained. "I still try to take shots within the offense and make sure they are good shots that Coach Beilein would want us to take."

Later, Beilein would offer praise to Young for just that trait, which certainly demonstrates that the Tallahassee, Fla., native has been listening to his coach. It also, however, shows that Young realizes it would be a bad precedent, as a leader, to jack up shots just because the last two (or four, or five) have gone in. With a number of youthful teammates who are still learning those lessons, Young was Exhibit A in how to let the system bring shots, and not force the reverse.

As has been the case a couple of times this year, West Virginia shot better from three-point range than from two. The Mountaineers made 59.6% of their threes, while hitting just 51.7% of their attempts inside the arc. Young followed suit in the first half, missing his only attempt that did not come from downtown.

"We are a good penetrating team, and they usually give a lot of help when we drive," said Young, explaining why threes can sometimes be easier to make. "But it was a good shot that I missed on the two-pointer. That is something that we have been doing this year though - making threes."

So long as the three-pointers keep dropping, no one is going to begrudge the occasional missed two, of course. West Virginia is still working on finishing its drives -- several Mountaineer layups have been soundly rejected this year after somewhat tame efforts to get to the basket. Young, again leading the way, had several strong dives in the second half. One of those put him on the free throw line, another resulted in a basket, and a couple more ended with passes to Alex Ruoff, who complemented Young's first half outburst with six threes of his own. As that phase of his game continues to evolve, Young should be even tougher to cover beyond the arc -- something future Mountaineer foes will have to contend with.

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