Kaleb Joseph rode the pine quite a bit on Saturday. Like a lot.
The Syracuse basketball program’s newest, freshman point guard played just 19 minutes Saturday in the Orange’s 69 – 57 loss against St John’s. Averaging close to logging 37 MPG in SU’s previous four contests, Joseph was pretty much non-existent.
Boeheim was not shy to explain why K-Jo 2.0 was absent for almost the entire second half:
“He’s gotta learn that he’s a point guard and not a 3-point shooter. And he’s gotta play defense,” Boeheim said.
Now to be fair: Joseph took a grand total of just five shots. All of his attempts, though, were heaved from behind the arc. He reassured himself on his shot selection by saying, “I wouldn’t shoot them if I didn’t think they were good.”
The shaky performance caused Joseph to slowly but surely warm up to reporters postgame, as his initial responses to the press were simple hand gestures and slight mumbling. K-Jo is typically a high energy presence in the locker room, whether it’s an Orange win or loss. Certainly his limited showing Saturday afternoon frustrated him.
Joseph obviously needs to learn not every night is going to be his night. Not questioning is maturity level of any sort, but the way his psyche level tilts could determine many of Syracuse’s outcomes on the floor.
Remember, Joseph was part of two crucial mistakes in SU’s loss to Michigan last Tuesday. Add Saturday’s bench-fest sitting next to Coach Boeheim in a highly-contested, non-conference battle. At that point, all Joseph could have done in his stint on the bench was to be supportive of his teammates.
Boeheim ought to be careful with this. Just with the eye-test alone, Joseph’s passionate heart and drive to be successful have their soft spots. Joseph was just genuinely sad he was benched for shots he wouldn’t have taken if he didn’t think they were good.
Boeheim has already hammered some of his players this year, like Michael Gbinije for not playing well enough or downgrading Chris McCullough’s draft stock, which was not a direct shot at McCullough more of his general prognosis of early NBA draft boards.
The Joseph-Boeheim relationship remains in the works. It all falls back on Boeheim’s issue of time. He’s said this team needs time. Well, maybe unlike other freshman point guards from the past, Kaleb Joseph needs a bit more time. No one’s perfect, but Boeheim better not thicken early-season losses. Live with 5 and 3, but don’t live with losing Joseph’s competitive spirit.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen