John Denton's Knights Insider: Young Always Ready to Help His Team

Jan. 21, 2011

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Playing on arguably the best UCF team he's been a part of the past four years, senior guard Taylor Young knew this season that he'd have to try and fit in where he could get in and make whatever contributions that he could.

UCF's success early in the season meant less playing time for Young, but he'll gladly trade the success the Knights have enjoyed in exchange. For Young, a scrappy sort willing to play any role asked of him, there is no expectation of playing time, only an expectation that he'll do what he can to help out.

``It doesn't matter to me (about playing time) because when your number is called you have to be ready to go in and play,'' said Young, who tied a season high on Wednesday against East Carolina by playing 14 minutes. ``Whether I expected to play or not, Coach (Donnie Jones) told me to go into the game so I played as hard as I possibly could.''

It's with that kind of effort and attitude that the Knights, 14-3 overall and 1-3 in Conference USA, hope to end their three-game losing skid Saturday night at UCF Arena against Rice (8-10, 0-4). Once 14-0 and ranked No. 18 in the country, the Knights have since suffered losses to Houston, Southern Miss and East Carolina. The Pirates topped UCF 74-62 Wednesday night by jumping to a big lead on the strength of six early 3-point shots and holding off a couple of charges.

But the skid has done little to deter the confidence of the Knights, said Young, one of just three seniors on UCF's relatively young roster.

``We just have to keep practicing and keep growing. We just have to tweak some things in the film room and get better,'' Young said. ``We don't need to duck our heads and feel sorry for ourselves. We just need to get back to work and get better.''

Young, an Orlando native, was a key cog on last season's team, appearing in all 32 games, while making 11 starts. He had a 23-point effort against Marshall last season and a 15-point night against SMU in the C-USA tournament.

But with an influx of new players this season under Jones, Young has seen his role shrink. But being a part of the first UCF team ever to move into the national rankings combined with an opportunity to possibly play in the postseason in March has helped Young cope with fewer minutes on the floor.

But even that role could be changing what with junior point guard A.J. Rompza being bothered by a sore foot. Young proved that he can run the team, handing out two assists and grabbing two rebounds on Wednesday. And his 3-pointer with 3:47 to play drew the Knights within eight points of the lead and kept alive hopes of a comeback.

Jones said that he's comfortable with Young running the UCF offense, and added that he might tinker with his rotations to get more energy onto the floor.

``Taylor Young came in (on Wednesday) and gave us good minutes, playing with good energy and running our offense. He hit a big shot and he's got to be able to start playing some minutes for us,'' Jones said. ``With some of these guys, there will be an opportunity to play based on how they practice.''

John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.