By: Jaycee Cruz
The McMaster basketball team bus arrived in Ottawa and out came McMaster Forward Troy Joseph donning a Toronto Maple Leafs toque, some NCAA headphones, a Long Island University gym bag, and a McMaster Basketball backpack.
Each of those accessories tell us a little bit about the 6’5” forward who decided to forego his final year of eligibility at Long Island University Brooklyn (NCAA Division-1) to play here at McMaster. This isn’t a random transfer up north, but a sort of return home for the Scarborough, Ontario native.
Now the Maple Leafs toque and the NCAA headphones make some sense.
Joseph played 2 seasons playing for the Long Island University (LIU) Blackbirds in Brooklyn, NY. LIU Brooklyn is part of the Northeast Conference (NEC). While playing for LIU, Joseph was part of three NEC championship teams and has experience playing in the NCAA March Madness tournament.
Almost exactly a year ago, Joseph was the leading scorer for an LIU team that lost 73-72 on the road at Indiana University. Joseph scored 16 points on 5-9 shoot- ing (4-7 from 3-point range), one less than Indiana forward Noah Vonleh— a freshman drafted ninth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Joseph brings valuable experience and leadership to this already experienced Marauders squad.
The NCAA transfer has found his transition from LIU to Mac as a difficult, but welcoming at the same time.
“It’s harder than I thought it would be in terms of coming to a new team, understanding their concepts, different rotations and different terminologies. I’m still dealing with that stuff now, but its not that bad,” Joseph said.
“I was in terrible condition at first so it was harder back then but now I’m in better shape. Honestly, it’s just me understanding the team, how the team operates, their terminologies, and all that stuff.”
Despite the growing pains of change, Joseph credits and cites his experience playing NCAA basketball as the reason for his mental strength and relentless work ethic.
“Division-1 was tough, definitely tough. Coaches were tough on me from year one to year four. There were a lot of expectations so it was tough. I liked it though, it has helped me become mentally tough and develop a strong work ethic. My mindset is to keep going, to play hard all the time,” said Joseph.
That’s the one thing NCAA coaches are big on: playing hard all the time and not taking a play off. When I came to Mac, every practice I was applying what I learned and just bringing it over. If Division-1 taught me anything, it was playing hard and being relentless.”
In terms of bonding with his new teammates, Joseph paints a warm picture of the Marauder basketball family off the court. “The team has treated me like I came in with them and knew them for four years. Knowing Aaron [Redpath] and Leon [Alexander] helped; I got close with Taylor [Black] and Rohan [Boney] quickly, and bonded with young guys like Connor [Gilmore] and Dave McCulloch. Dave McCullough’s family and my family knew each other. It was kind of crazy how it happened. I played with Joe for Team Ontario. They took me in like it was nothing,” said Joseph.
Troy Joseph is a unique player on the court bringing what head coach Amos Connolly calls “guard quickness but forward length” making him a mismatch. He is a “wing-forward” type of player who has the ability to guard a forward but play a guard spot. Connolly describes one of Joseph’s standout qualities as being, “his commitment to being a good defender that is willing to be verbal and vocal on the defensive end.”
A lot of coaches preach that student comes first in the term “student-athlete” on purpose. For Joseph, that distinction is something he is aware of. “Troy is committed to being better at school and committed to being better on the court. He’s well-rounded,” said Connolly.
Joseph is expected to be able to attack forwards on the offensive end, but Connolly will use his defensive versatility to cause headaches for opponents. Joseph’s unique skill set gives Mac Basketball a threat on both sides of the ball that can play and guard several positions.
Joseph has two years of eligibility left and will spend them representing the maroon and white wearing the number five. While NCAA transfers have a history of joining a CIS team and dominating the playbook, Joseph is embracing his role and helping push this team further into the national championship conversation.