Redskins

Arkansas' Young adjusting to increased role

201301221222445554468-p2.jpeg

Arkansas' Young adjusting to increased role

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) One of BJ Young's reasons for returning to Arkansas for his sophomore season was to improve as an overall playmaker.

The Razorbacks guard has done just that so far this season, nearly doubling his assists total while facing defenses that are geared to stop the talented scorer.

Heading into Wednesday night's game against Mississippi State (7-9, 2-2 Southeastern Conference), Young is fourth in the SEC in assists at 4.2 per game. That's up from the 2.3 assists he had per game last season as a freshman, when he led Arkansas (11-6, 2-2) in scoring at 15.3 points per game.

The 6-foot-3 Young once again leads the team in scoring at 17.2 points per game, third-best in the SEC. It's his role, however, as an offensive facilitator - including a season-high nine assists earlier this season against Alabama A&M - that coach Mike Anderson has stressed and noticed.

``I think he's trying to become a more well-rounded player,'' Anderson said. ``Defenses are gearing up toward him, and I think he's doing a good job of distributing the basketball as well. That, to me, is part of him developing and growing as a player.''

Young's evolution has come at a price: While his scoring is up nearly two points per game from last season, his overall shooting numbers are down across the board. He led all SEC guards in shooting percentage from the field last season, connecting on 50.4 percent of his shots - including a 41.3 percent mark on 3-pointers.

This season, Young is connecting on 46.8 percent of his shots and has hit just 13 of 59 (22 percent) of his 3-pointers. Also, Young's free throw percentage has fallen off from 74.3 percent last year to 65.7 percent so far this season.

``Hopefully, it's a situation where at some point in time he can really get on course in terms of knocking shots down,'' Anderson said. ``But he's more of a scorer. BJ's not a shooter. He's more of a scorer.''

Young said his confidence in his shot remains high, no more so than last week when he stepped back and hit a key 3-pointer in double overtime that led to a win over Auburn. That shot followed a play near the end of the first overtime when the lightning-quick Young attempted to penetrate the Tigers' zone defense - only to run into a trio of waiting defenders.

``I'm sure the scouting reports have changed and they know what I like to do,'' Young said. ``I just have to have a feel for the game and see how the game is going on and where it takes me; just do whatever my team needs me to do to win.''

Young said he's gone through shooting slumps before, but he's not quite ready to put that label on this season's drop-off. He's still fifth overall in shooting percentage in the SEC, and his overall improvement - including averaging 4.4 rebounds per game - likely offsets his drop in accuracy.

The change in Young's game has been noticed by more than just Anderson.

Junior forward Marshawn Powell, who is second on the Razorbacks in scoring with 15.2 point per game, missed all but two games last season with a torn ACL. Powell watched Young rely on his quick first step for much of his offense last season, but he's seen the guard add a variety of pullup jumpers this year - along with the knack for finding an open teammate under the basket.

``He's learning how to play better with other players,'' Powell said. ``Last year he had to score and do a lot of things for us with me being out and other people getting hurt, too. You can tell he's making the progress to be a good point guard in this league. If he continues to make it, we will be better.''

Arkansas hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 2008, and its home game against Mississippi State is its last before a two-game road trip at South Carolina and Alabama. Considering that the Razorbacks have yet to win away from home this season, a win over the Bulldogs is critical for their postseason hopes.

Young would like nothing better than to snap the postseason drought for Arkansas, and he's ready to keep working - and evolving - in order for that to happen.

``Some of the shots I made last year aren't going down for me this year, but I've just got to keep working at it,'' Young said. ``But my role has gotten a lot bigger this year, and I accepted that ... We're going to stay confident and close as a team, and I'm going to keep doing everything I can to help us win.''

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Alex Ovechkin said the Caps would return to Washington with a tied series. The Caps captain is a man of his word as the Caps won both Game 3 and Game 4 to even up the series at two games apiece.

John Tortorella had no answers after seeing his Columbus Blue Jackets fall in Game 4, but he will have to figure things out quickly as the series shifts back to Washington for a pivotal Game 5.

The Caps return home with two straight wins and all the momentum. There's just one problem: No one seemingly can win at home.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 5

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC.

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 5 on Saturday, April 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Washington. The series is tied 2-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Tune back to NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Blue Jackets on NBC
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 5 is available to stream live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE