Syracuse point guard Kaleb Joseph: 'I'm going to attack with purpose' vs. California

Syracuse, N.Y. -- Jim Boeheim likes scoring point guards. He recruits them, gives them the ball and encourages them to seek their own shots.

After two games, Syracuse's new point guard has attempted a total of eight shots. Kaleb Joseph said that could change this week, when the Orange plays California Thursday and either Iowa or Texas Friday in the 2K Classic in Madison Square Garden.

"If coach wants me to be aggressive going into Madison Square Garden, that's what I'm going to look to do," Joseph said. "I'm going to attack with a purpose and try to create some havoc."

Joseph scored 19 points in 26 minutes in Syracuse's opening game, the unofficial exhibition vs. Canadian powerhouse Carleton. The freshman point guard took nine shots in that game and sank seven of them. He went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line.

Syracuse's Kaleb Joseph in the first half of the Orange's game vs. Carleton at the Carrier Dome. Nov.2, 2014.

Joseph said his coach had been "talking up" Carleton all week with his players. Joseph figured the stiff Carleton competition meant he would need to exercise his scoring options. He pursued his shots, he said, because "I knew I needed to be aggressive in that game."

In SU's two games that counted, Joseph said, the presumed wide margins of victory made his own offensive production less important.

"I just think in those games I didn't think it was very necessary to score," he said. "I think early on, I want to get guys shots because later on in the season, we don't know if they'll get them. I know I'm going to be in the game regardless, so I was just trying to get guys shots."

Boeheim used Sunday's post-game pulpit to illuminate the blemishes of his young point guard's play in SU's 65-47 win over Hampton: The ill-advised, poor-angle bounce pass from up top into the post that resulted in a turnover, a couple bungled decisions in transition, his inability to unearth turnovers, his lack of rebounding.

The SU coach wants Joseph to use his superior speed more, to "get in the lane and get it to somebody for an easy play." Boeheim said he's seen some of that — he prefers to see more.

"He played like a freshman point guard. He's learning. He's thinking about things," Boeheim said Sunday. "It's very, very difficult for a freshman point guard to come in and play at a high level. There's been very few that are capable of doing that. He's a good player. He'll get better. But he's got work to do."

The work continues on Thursday, when the Orange meets California at 9:30 in the second game of the 2K Classic. Cal's point guard, the 6-foot-5 Tyrone Wallace, is averaging 20 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.

Joseph said he's looking forward to the matchup.

"I want to play against the best players because I think it brings out the best in me," he said. "I'm not going to back down from any challenge."