Help From His Friends

NEW YORK – Frank Young stared into his teammates' eyes in the huddle.

It was something he had done before, urging, pleading them onward and, at times, upward in his quest for just one more. One more game, one more start, one more chance to play with this group. He gets the absolute career game on Thursday, when West Virginia meets Clemson for the NIT championship at 7 p.m. in Madison Square Garden. And he gets it because of a long-range shot that will be remembered long after the season – and for some career – finale'.

"I said that a couple of times," Young recalled of his not wanting any game but the final to be his last. "It really transferred to how hard we started to play defense in the second half. We clamped down and they penetrated, but we really made them take tough, contested lay-ups instead of some of the easy lay-ups they were getting earlier."

Young will be recalled most for his play in the Garden, where he burst onto the Big East scene in 2005, scoring 14 points on three treys in an upset of top-seeded and then-No. 7 Boston College as West Virginia advanced to its first-ever league title game. He has continued the tear since, especially in the postseason. Young has averaged more than 24 points per game through the first three rounds, drilling 70 percent of his 3-pointers over the same span. So it was fitting that the shot which had carried West Virginia, and Young, so far, would be the one to lift the Mountaineers into the final 40-minute span of the season, allowing them to play for the championship after the 63-62 win over Mississippi State.

"When I hear that from a guy like Frank Young, who means so much to the program, it makes me buckle down and play harder. The same for the rest of the guys. He had a hand in my face and I saw it go in. I was just happy to get that for Frank."

Said Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury: "The last play didn't beat us. They made a huge shot and a huge play. But it's magnified. That play will be talked about because it's such a huge play for West Virginia. They are a very good basketball team. They hung around and hung around and gave themselves an opportunity. We contested it and that's all you can ask."

Much like Young. Just give it a best shot and see what happens. And get a little aid from teammates in your time of need. The senior did, and now he has one final shot on the national stage, at the World's Most Famous Arena, trying to knock off a second ACC team – the league against which he made his very name – in three games.

"I was just happy that Darris hit that shot," Young said. "I was really excited. Darris almost made me cry. I was so excited. He extended my career for one more game."

Relish it. After carrying teammates through three rounds, the Tallahassee Kid gets some help. It's a full circle well-earned.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories