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Air Force freshman sensation Kaelin Immel confronted by similar issues as Oklahoma star Trae Young

February 20, 2018 Updated: February 20, 2018 at 5:29 pm
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photo - Photos from Air Force Athletics (Immel) and The Associated Press (Young)
Photos from Air Force Athletics (Immel) and The Associated Press (Young) 

The plight of the Air Force women’s record-setting freshman bears similarities to the nation’s top freshman on the men’s side.

The Falcons’ Kaelin Immel, whose 366 points are the most for a freshman since the program has played at the Division I level, averaged 20.9 points through the first seven Mountain West games. Over the past nine games that number has dipped to 12.4.

For Oklahoma’s Trae Young, who is dominating to the tune of 28.3 points and 9.2 assists per game, there has been a similar dip. After scoring 43 or more points three times over six games in January, Young has averaged “just” 21.5 points during a six-game losing streak.

“I was thinking about it the other day when I heard the young guy from Oklahoma, Trae Young, talk about how tough it’s gotten lately,” Air Force women’s coach Chris Gobrecht said. “I thought, wow, that sounds familiar. He was talking about how defenses go after him. Every time (Immel) steps on the floor she’s got a senior and the best defender on the other team guarding her. Every single time, it seems like. So we’ve had to deal with that. I wish we could take a little pressure off of her, but I think she’ll be better for it next year. I just think it will put her in a different place in terms of mentally how much she’s going to grow from this experience and how tough it’s been and what she’s learned about what she can and cannot do, what she can and cannot get away with.”

While Young will likely be playing in the NBA next year, Gobrecht is counting on Immel returning to lead the next phase of the team’s growth – but hopefully with more scoring support around her to ease the burden.

“We’re really excited about the 2018 class, and I think there are definitely, definitely going to be some freshmen who can help these guys out coming in next year,” Gobrecht said.

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