There's no rest for the Youngs
Jacob Young is trying to right Oregon's ship in Eugene and finding inspiration from older brother Joe, who is back from China and trying to grind his way back to the NBA.
(Photo of Jacob Young from Eric Evans/GoDucks.com)
EUGENE — The energy had mostly left Matthew Knight Arena.
Earlier, Oregon had the crowd buzzing with a 10-point lead over No. 1 Baylor. But Oregon’s attempt to put a charge in its season evaporated in the second half, and in the dying moments fans began to head for the aisles. The thinning attendance made Dana Altman’s voice from the sideline echo all the louder, with the 12th-year Oregon coach barking out commands to a pressing Oregon defense. The late-December game was all but over, but with the season Oregon’s had, Altman could certainly build off keeping this loss to single digits.
The Bears led by 13 with 3:37 to play. The game ended 78-70, with Oregon’s Jacob Young scoring seven of his 11 points in the final three minutes.
It had been a challenging year for Young, the younger brother of former Oregon Pac-12 player of the year Joe Young. He arrived in Eugene this summer after two years at Texas and another pair at Rutgers. It was after he played a role in the Scarlet Knights’ first NCAA Tournament appearance in 31 years that he got a call from Altman seeing if he wanted to finish his career like his brother.
Oregon’s transformed into a perennial Sweet 16 threat since Joe’s time with the Ducks, and Jacob always appreciated Altman’s coaching style. Altman was hard on Joe, always pushing him to be better. Back when crowds were sparse at MKA, Altman’s pleas for “Joe!” to get back on defense echoed through the arena.
And there’s been plenty of “Jacob!” in this season’s opening months. The experience of Young (121 career games before Oregon) and fellow transfers De’Vion Harmon (68 games) and Quincy Guerrier (60 games) was supposed to carry Oregon after losing first-round pick Chris Duarte and three others from the starting lineup. But the season’s first two months saw the Ducks largely out of sync. In some instances they were competitive in last-second losses. In others, the Ducks were simply blown out of the gym.
So with the Ducks still within spitting distance of Baylor, Altman kept his foot on the pedal. He kept on Young, who pushed himself up and down the court until a smile curled across his face standing next to a huffing Baylor guard. There was a minute left. But if Jacob’s learned one thing from his brother, he knows the grind never stops.
(Joe Young at the 2015 Pac-12 Tournament, Courtesy ESPN)
Joe Young lives in Alabama now. And if that seems out of the way, consider he moved there after spending the last three seasons in China.
It’s been six years since Young averaged 19.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists to lead Oregon to a surprise NCAA Tournament berth in 2015. He hit buzzer-beaters against Arizona State and Washington during the regular season, and his heave from the logo against Utah in the Pac-12 tournament sent the Ducks to the conference final in Las Vegas. His college career ended with 30 points against No. 1-seed Wisconsin in a gutsy second-round NCAA Tournament loss.
He smiled throughout his final interview as a Duck.
“I might shed some tears, but I’m a lot older than just crying,” Young said then. “No, I already overcame it. It’s sad, but at the same time, I hope they learned from it.”
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The I-5 Corridor to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.