Kevin Young to return to play, restore team’s energy

When senior forward Kevin Young returns to the men’s basketball team in its game against Michigan State in Atlanta Tuesday, the team will hope he can provide the missing piece to fix its early-season woes.

Without Young, the young Jayhawks aren’t communicating and haven’t been as aggressive as coach Bill Self wants them to be.

Ashleigh Lee/KANSAN
Ashleigh Lee/KANSAN
Senior forward Kevin Young walks into Allen Fieldhouse to watch his teammates play Friday, Nov. 9′s game against Southeast Missouri State where Kansas won 74-55. Young has not played yet this season because of a broken hand.

“He’s our best talker,” Self said. “He can direct traffic from talking and we’re the quietest team and that’s what’s going to get us beat is how quiet we are.”

Young injured his hand in practice Oct. 25 when he collided with freshman guard Andrew White III while they were  chasing the same rebound.

Both players charged toward the basket, but the ball took a long bounce off the rim, causing the players to run into each other.

Young underwent surgery the next day, but had to sit out Kansas’s two exhibition games and its season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Friday as he recovered.

While Young recovered, he watched how his teammates played and tried to figure out how he could fit in once he returned.

So far, the Jayhawks’ offense has found a tendency to fall into lulls at certain, sometimes crucial, points of games. They were fortunate to scrape by on their talent, but scraping by will be harder when the Jayhawks play against more talented opponents.

“I’m focusing on keeping the energy up the whole game,” Young said. “I do run a lot and I do talk a lot so I think that it’ll be pretty easy to help the team push the energy level up.”

Freshman guard Ben McLemore said Young’s presence will help the Jayhawks play on a high-octave level on both ends of the floor. He thinks the energy Young brings will inspire the team to develop a more aggressive mindset.

Young also wants to make more of a mark in this year’s Champions Classic. Last year against Kentucky, he only played two minutes because he hadn’t fully established himself and his role with the team.

“I didn’t get to play too much,” Young said. “I know it was really early in our season, like our second game, so I’d like to change that.”

Without Young available, the Jayhawks pulled out a 12-point victory against Division II Washburn, and against Southeast Missouri State, they saw their second half lead shrink to six before rallying later in the game.

“I hate not having Kevin on the court,” senior forward Elijah Johnson said. “When Kevin’s on the court, it’s somebody that I feel like I try to keep up with. He’s so far ahead of the game and he just never stops. Whenever Kevin’s on the court, that always gives me extra momentum.”

  • Updated Feb. 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm
  • Edited by Joanna Hlavacek