Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

68° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Hurt finger won’t sideline Cats’ Young

Guard Jitim Young played with a broken foot in Welsh-Ryan Arena, though he didn’t know how serious the injury was until after the game.

Fortunately for the Wildcats, that game was in high school.

The Northwestern men’s basketball team (7-13, 0-8 Big Ten) avoided a major scare Saturday night — though not of the magnitude of a broken foot — when Young hurt his left ring finger. He underwent further examination Monday, and doctors found little or no ligament and bone damage, Young said.

Just hours after receiving the good news Monday, the freshman practiced with the team, even taking extra jumpers beforehand.

Young injured the finger in the second half Saturday going for a steal on Michigan power forward Josh Asselin. The ring finger was dislocated and began to swell immediately, and Young said he was certain the finger was broken.

After leaving the game for a few minutes, he returned with a splint, though the finger popped out of place five more times in the game, Young said.

“When I would bend my finger, it would pop back out of place, and I’d have to pull it back into place,” said Young, who is averaging 8.2 points per game. “After the game, it was aching so badly I started crying a little bit. We went to the doctor, and he said I had torn a ligament. But (Monday) I went back, and he said there was nothing wrong, and that I must heal quickly.”

Young scored only three points against Michigan — none after the injury. But he still played 28 minutes and 13 of the final 18 after heading to the bench in pain.

“It looked like I wouldn’t be able to practice or play on Wednesday, ” said Young, who will play with a splint on his finger for about three weeks. “But (Monday), the doctor gave me the OK.”

NU coach Bill Carmody said the team’s two practices before Wednesday’s game against Buffalo would determine how much playing time Young would get. The team took Sunday off, so Monday night’s practice was the first chance the freshman had to prove his health.

“We’ll have to wait until he catches the ball and shoots it,” Carmody said. “I’d like to play him 40 minutes if he could. The guy needs to be out there all the time.”

BIG BEN: Last season, sophomore guard Ben Johnson routinely led the Cats in scoring. But this season, Johnson has rarely sat atop the scoreboard — until Saturday.

In NU’s loss to Michigan, Johnson — who has played small forward this year despite standing 6-foot-2 — chipped in 19 points, as well as four rebounds and four assists.

More surprising than his point total was the way he scored.

Johnson’s strength has been scoring off the dribble, and, unlike Kevin O’Neill’s offense last season, Carmody’s offense hasn’t given Johnson the free rein to create his own scoring opportunities.

But against Michigan, Johnson dribbled laterally and hit fadeaway jumpers on more than one occasion.

“A couple games, I got caught up in thinking too much about where I was supposed to be, and during the (Michigan) game I just got caught up in playing basketball,” he said. “After we played our last Big Ten game, the coaches had a couple of set plays for me and Jitim to create more. They knew that that’s what we could do.”

Johnson also drained catch-and-shoot jumpers better than he had in most games, including two three-pointers.

“Any time you can get your guy fading to the basket, it opens up a lot of things,” said Johnson, who has averaged 10.3 points per game this year. “They can’t guard your shot and your drive.”

THREE’S COMPANY: Monday was the final day of Harry Good’s two-week window to appeal to keep his scholarship, and last Friday was Casey Cortez’s last day of a similar two-week window. Carmody couldn’t confirm that the two scholarships definitely would be available, but said he expects them to open up.

“It appears that we’ll probably have those two scholarships available for next year,” said Carmody, who has only one scholarship to offer for certain — one that senior Sean Wink still has despite quitting the team before last season.

As a result, Carmody said he is telling recruits that it’s likely that two more scholarships will be available, but he has not yet offered them.

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Hurt finger won’t sideline Cats’ Young