Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SPORTS >> Madden becomes go-to guy

By Nate Allen

For some teams, one basketball court might not be big enough for two freshman guards used to scoring like Arkansas’ B.J. Young of St. Louis and Ky Madden of Lepanto.

Turns out, not only is the court big enough for both, but so is the bench.

Their latest off the bench venture, last Saturday night’s 98-88 SEC opening upset over No. 15 Mississippi State, former East Poinsett County star Madden, scored 11 points in 21 minutes and grabbed a team-leading six rebounds.

Young surged off the bench to tie starting junior point guard Julysses Nobles with a team-high 24 points, including 18 in the second half after Nobles sparked the first half with 15.

For his 24 points against Mississippi State and his 17-point outing Jan. 3 in the 83-66 victory over Savannah State, Young was named the SEC Freshman of the Week by the SEC Office in Birmingham, Ala.

Young doled out more thanks than an Academy Award winner.

“I was just notified about SEC Freshman of the Week,” Young said before the Razorbacks’ Monday afternoon practice. “I’m very thankful for that. I want to thank all my coaches and teammates for putting me in a good position to make plays for my team against Mississippi State. I want to thank everybody in the Arkansas fan base for helping me get here.”

Madden was thankful for his fellow freshman.

“I am very excited for him,” Madden said. “He works hard every day and it’s something he deserves.”

First-year coach Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks are 12-3 and 1-0 despite losing their best and most experienced player, junior two-year letterman Marshawn Powell, to a season-ending knee injury back in November.

Powell’s absence would have been all the more reason for any of the four touted freshmen, Young, Madden and big men Hunter Mickelson and Devonta Abron, to become spotlight hogs more than basketball Hogs, but none have.

All the rookies and all the upperclassmen have done things other than score.

“You know that’s something we have got to do,” Madden said. “Everybody can’t go out there and score. Somebody has got to go out there and play defense. Somebody has got to rebound. There are some things we have to do in order to win. And the main goal is to win.”

And for Arkansas to win, it often has meant Young scoring most and doing some other things. It’s meant Abron, 6-8, 250 banging inside and doing some other things, and Mickelson blocking shots and doing some other things, and Madden, maybe more than all, doing a little bit of everything.

His 6-5 height and skill makes him that tweener big guard/small forward who can rebound, handle the ball, defend and shoot. He maybe doesn’t do any one of these better than the rest, but none are better than him at doing all of them.

“I think guys are understanding the roles they’re going to play,” Anderson said. “Let’s say a guy like Ky Madden, a guy that’ s got to come off the bench and give us a big lift. His versatility is important for our basketball team.”

Never playing off the bench at East Poinsett County or in AAU ball for the vaunted Arkansas Wings, Madden said he’s learned to observe from the bench what’s most needed when summoned.

“That’s what Coach A has been on me to do, a little bit of everything,” Madden said. “And that would do a lot to help our team win. So that’s what I feel I need to bring into the game.”