Is Kris Joseph ready to take his game to the next level, and drag the Orange along with him? Looks like it. K-Jo remembers the feeling all too well: walking off the court in Cleveland, following yet another disappointing early exit in the NCAA Tournament, this time against conference foe Marquette.
“It was tough to go out that early, it really drove me this summer. I want that feeling of being the last team on the court.”
K-Jo didn’t seemed hesitant to take the reigns as a go-to scorer last year, often deferring to Scoop Jardine late in the game. Kris has already voiced the potential for this team, but also the underlying traps in it all blowing up
. For this team to make a deep run in March, Joseph needs to stay aggressive and demand the ball in crunch time. He needs that killer instinct like Kemba Walker had for UConn last year.
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Joseph says he is capable of carrying a big scoring load, but insists the key for him is to pick his spots and get big baskets.
“We have enough guys who can score, it’s not just on me. When the team needs a basket, I feel like I can get it. But several guys on this team can score, so I need to be smart and take what comes to me.”
It’s nice to hear from a guy who believes in his teammates, but Joseph had a habit of disappearing for stretches last year. The Orange can’t ascend to a deep run in March without him getting involved heavily. Joseph also is taking a leadership role as one of two seniors in the rotation.
“We’ve got some young guys, but they’re talented. I’m ready to help them with whatever they need and set an example for them. As seniors (the new and mature) Scoop and I know it’s on us to guide the younger guys.”
As lead dogs, the upperclassmen will need to squash the in-fighting that played a role in the early exit last year. Especially with frosh Rakeem Christmas starting on the opposite wing, Joseph must be focused on helping guide him in that zone.
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Joseph will certainly be asked to do a lot for this team and he seems up to the task. When asked if he was ready to return to the floor, a smile appeared.
Aren’t we all?