NEW YORK — Syracuse forward Kris Joseph spent his summer getting fouled, over, and over again.
Joseph, who was named to the preseason All Big East first team, used his summer to improve all aspects of his game. One of the biggest areas of improvement was his strength and conditioning with the goal of finishing better in traffic.
“We did a lot of work with the pads and we did a lot of work with people just fouling me,” Joseph said during Big East basketball media day on Wednesday. “Anything to just make me a better player and I think that’s going to help me in the long run.”
Two summers ago, Joseph improved on his quick first step and got to the basket with ease in his sophomore year. He was rewarded by being named Big East Sixth Man of the Year.
Last year, he worked with then-assistant coach Rob Murphy on his outside shooting, practicing with an oversized ball. It paid off, as Joseph earned third-team conference honors in his junior year after averaging a team-leading 14.3 points and 5.2 rebounds.
This year, besides his overall strength, another big difference in Joseph’s game will be his mid-range shot.
“Kids either shoot the 3-ball, or they go to the basket,” Joseph said. “A lot of the in between game is lost.”
Joseph spent a large amount of time this summer making up for that lost ground.
“When he was off, the one thing that helped him is that he had a lot of time to work on his shooting mechanics,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “I think that will pay off big dividends for him this year.”
Said Joseph: “I want to make sure I can get in the lane, pull up for a jump shot and give the defense a headache. I can shoot 3s, get to the basket or pull up from the midrange area.”
Opposing coaches have already taken notice. Besides being named to the conference first team, Joseph has also been named a preseason Blue Ribbon First Team All-American.
“It’s a good feeling that people think that highly of me,” Joseph said. “I appreciate it a lot, all of these preseason honors. But at the same time, it could mean nothing. I could come out and be a bust.”
It seems unlikely.
And, besides, Joseph’s improvements haven’t been limited to his own game. Joseph, now a senior, has assumed a leadership role on the team.
“He’s more vocal,” fellow senior Scoop Jardine said. “His leadership ability is going to be really great this year.”
All of that has the makings of a great year for the Syracuse forward.
“He’s a key guy for us,” Boeheim said. “He’s got to have a big year for us, and I think he will.”