The Oregon Ducks basketball squad was a question mark coming into the season. Did they have enough to compete with the rest of the PAC-12, or was this going to be a bust year with the loss of all the great talent that took the court a season ago? So far, the Ducks are 4-3 in league play, good for 5th in the conference standings. That’s definitely better than being last place USC, which is currently sitting at 1-6. Just to put things in perspective, the top 4 teams are all either 6-1 or 5-2.
Oregon has definitely been fighting hard to be in the position they’re in. Guys like Jordan Bell and Dillon Brooks have done an outstanding job protecting the paint, and the team has done a great job working together as a unit to play some solid defense.
Most contending college basketball teams have a solid team filled with players that are consistent and maybe one or two stars. Previous Duck teams have had that sort of squad, but this team is different. If you were to take away Joseph Young from last year’s squad, they may not have been as good, but they most likely would have had enough talent to make the tournament. Take away Joseph Young from this year’s team, they would probably be down there with USC.
That’s how important I believe Joseph Young is to this year’s team. In a time when the talent isn’t what it’s been recently at Oregon, Joseph Young has matured into a leader, understanding that the majority of offensive plays are going to go through him.
Last year, Young wasn’t handling the ball as much. He had other talented point guards to set up the offense. This year, however, is a totally different story, and that’s what makes Young so special. Joe is able to not only attack the basket and shoot the ball with the excellent efficiency we’re used to seeing from him, but he’s getting others involved and putting his teammates in the best positions possible.
Young is averaging 19 points a game, 5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He’s covering all categories of the boxscore, and given that this is his final year of eligibility, this is definitely his year to make a statement. He recently hit the 1000 point mark–get ready for this–after only a season and a half on the team! He’s been playing on another level after a slow start to the beginning of the season, and he’s letting the league know he’s the real deal.
If you asked me last year whether Young had a chance to be a solid player in the NBA, I would have laughed. After watching his display of beautiful basketball this year, I think he could be a late first-round pick.
So what makes his play so lethal? Let’s start with the obvious: his shot. Few have the touch Young has. As soon as the ball comes off his hand, it looks good every time. The great thing about his shot is that he has such a quick release, it doesn’t matter who’s guarding him.
Young’s dribbling abilities for a 2-guard are incredible as well. He’s able to weave in between defenders with such ease, there’s almost no stopping him. He’s a legit weapon. But the thing I love most about Joe is his drive to win, which translates to the defensive end of the floor. It’s very difficult to find guards who can play both sides of the ball, and that’s what makes him such a special player.
Joseph Young has been truly leading his team to great opportunities this year. It will be interesting to see how long he can maintain his high level of play within Dana Altman’s short rotation, which leaves little room for rest during games. Coach Altman needs to make sure his guys aren’t overworked throughout the season, because as it is, the team is pretty limited offensively outside of Young.
Top Photo By John Sperry
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