Men's Basketball

Point guard Joseph prepares to fill void left by NBA-bound Ennis

Every morning Kaleb Joseph wakes up at 5:45 a.m., heads to the gym and makes 500 3-pointers before class.

It’s a routine Joseph started when he saw coaches questioning his shooting ability in an article. He takes 25 shots from each spot, and if he misses two in a row he sprints the length of the court. Three in a row and he has to start the 25 over.

“I want to go into next year proving I’m a more than capable 3-point shooter,” Joseph said.

Now that Tyler Ennis is heading to the NBA, Joseph, a senior at Cushing Academy (Ashburnham, Mass.), will likely be thrust into Syracuse’s starting point guard role as a freshman. Joseph’s wanted to start for the Orange ever since he was a kid, so he’s preparing to ensure his dream unfolds as planned.

“A great opportunity opened up,” Joseph said, “It didn’t really change what I planned on doing when I came to Syracuse, but it makes everything a little bit easier.”

Joseph’s morning routine never wavers. He wants to make sure he’s completely comfortable knocking down open 3s next season — something Ennis did in stretches, but was unable to do consistently throughout the season.

“It’s just about repetition,” Joseph’s high school teammate Idris Taqqee said. “He makes sure that he’s doing those things. I believe that he’s a good shooter.”

Joseph said Syracuse could have made a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament if it hit more shots — particularly 3-pointers. He added that the team became easy to guard because it couldn’t keep the defense honest.

That predictability, he said, eventually cost the Orange. Joseph watched the Tournament with some of his friends, and said he was devastated when SU lost.

“I was pissed,” Joseph said. “You brag about your team. If anybody asks you who’s winning the whole thing, you have to say Syracuse. It sucks.”

At the same time, Joseph said, it’s a good opportunity for him next year. He loved the sense of urgency and swagger Syracuse played with when it started 25-0, but said that urgency went away toward the end of the season.

Now the players know what getting bounced early feels like, and Joseph feels as though that will help them in the long run. Joseph believes next year’s team can make a deep run in the dance, even with Ennis gone.

He had a feeling Ennis would leave, so when he found out on Twitter he wasn’t too shocked.

“I didn’t really talk to him about anything,” Joseph said. “I think anybody in that position would go. If you’re a lottery pick, what is the sense of coming back?

“You can’t get any higher by coming back. I just put myself in his shoes. If any athlete puts themselves in his shoes, I think they’d be lying if they said they wouldn’t make the same decision.”

Joseph knows more pressure will be on him now that Ennis is gone, but that’s exactly the way he wants it.

There may be some bumps in the road, but he said he’s ready for the challenge.

Said Joseph: “I think it’s a great opportunity for all the guards on the team, including myself.”

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