For the second straight season, the Syracuse Orange will have a freshman as there starting point guard.
Kaleb Joseph of Nashua, N.H. will be taking over the reigns as the Orange's floor general in his first year of college basketball. While this past year, Tyler Ennis led the Orange at the point with pace and intelligence, but this new guy will be a little different. At 6'3", Joseph will be a solid balance of athleticism and excitement, something the Orange could definitely benefit from having, especially on the offensive end.
The Orange have had a couple of young point guards who have stepped into big roles in recent years, resulting in being first round draft picks. Jonny Flynn started for two years as a freshman and sophomore, doing enough to bring the Orange to the Sweet 16 in his final season. Michael Carter-Williams helped lead the Orange to a Final Four appearance in his sophomore and final season at the college level after having little experience the year before. Ennis was fantastic this season as a freshman, hitting big shots and helping the Orange to get off to their best start in program history. So Joseph has some big shoes to fill, but many young point guards have done well before him, so why couldn't he do the same?
Joseph is ranked 50th overall by ESPN in their class of 2014 rankings. He is a very hard worker, who is willing to learn and improve every day. He is fast, has a repertoire of dribble moves and is an explosive finisher at the rim. There is no doubt that he will be throwing down some highlight reel dunks this season and bringing more offense to a team that has struggled on that end for the past couple years. Head coach Jim Boeheim says he would like to push the tempo more often this season, a place where an attacking guard like Joseph could thrive. Joseph can be an instant impact and be the energizer bunny on both sides of the court for the Orange.
Joseph will also have the ability to keep defenders on their heals. His array of dribble moves can help him explode to the basket on the drive, open up the pass and even get defenders moving backwards to free up jumpers. His versatility as a scorer and passer reminds me more of what Flynn, or a guy like Kemba Walker could do. This will put a new ripple in the Syracuse offense that will make things a little bit different than the last two. His length and athleticism for his position will also be key for the 2-3 zone defense, hopefully resulting in more of those run outs and fast break opportunities that Boeheim wants to see.
Joseph will become a great fit for the Orange faster than many expected, since nobody knew how good Tyler Ennis would be. Don't look for him to be as perfect as Ennis. He will turn the ball over and seem more like a freshman, but I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. When he gets out there, Joseph will take chances and at times he will make mistakes but at others he will make big plays. I think his dribbling skills and ability to play at a fast pace will be very beneficial to a Syracuse team that will be relatively inexperienced. Joseph gives hope for the Orange to have another great point guard and another successful year.