The second-year forward is hoping to build on her solid freshman year and take a bigger role on the team.
Last season, Hawaii came within one game of winning the Big West Conference championship and earning an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. They had a double-digit lead on UC Davis in the first half, only to watch it slip away.
They lost a few key players from last season’s team, but they still have some solid talent on the roster that’s capable of making another run in the Big West this year. One of those players is second-year forward Myrrah Joseph.
Joseph didn’t play much at first as a freshman, but as the season went on and Big West play rolled around, she gradually worked her way into the rotation. She became a key contributor off the bench and was ultimately named to the conference’s All-Freshman Team.
It initially took her a while to get used to the differences between high school basketball and the college level. She had to make a few adjustments and learn some new things on the court.
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“One of the big things was pace. You don’t realize it until you’re on the floor and running, pace was a big one,” Joseph told High Post Hoops. “And learning defensive schemes. In high school you play zone, just go for the ball, but I couldn’t do that cause I had two fouls in two minutes so I had to sit. I had to learn how to play with my body and my physicality on the court. I had to change in that way and play smarter.”
Heading into the 2019-20 season, cutting down on fouls and being able to stay on the court was the main thing that Joseph needed to work on. Offenses are much more advanced in college and a lot of the things you can get away with in high school don’t fly at the next level.
According to Hawaii head coach Laura Beeman, working on her body control and ability to play defense without fouling is the next major step in Joseph’s development. She believes that Joseph has all the tools to be a standout player for the Rainbow Wahine. So far, she’s seen some encouraging signs from Joseph on that end.
“She’s a super aggressive player so the biggest challenge we’ve had is keeping her out of foul trouble. I think she’s done a good job of moving her feet, keeping her hands off opponents. Her growth in her overall control has been fun to watch,” Beeman told High Post Hoops. “She’s got a really good basketball mind. Her mind and her commitment to her team, her willingness to box out, she’s got the full game. The biggest thing in growth is just body control and not fouling.”
Joseph is also settling into her role as being someone who can provide instant offense off the bench. She showed off her ability to score during conference play last season. She has a solid back to the basket game and can establish position well in the post. Last year, she led the team in field goal percentage shooting 50 percent from the floor.
Another part of her development though is being able to be a more well-rounded player offensively. Sometimes that means being able to play on the wing and make plays off the dribble rather than in the paint. Other times, it means knowing when to look for her own shot and be aggressive in looking to score.
Being a little more aggressive offensively is something that the coaching staff would like to see out of Joseph.
“Now that I’m expanding my game out to the three-point line, getting the ball, facing up, taking my time, surveying, I’ve got to take the time to look for me first,” Joseph said. “I know that I want to pass and create for my teammates, but coach is telling me in order to help the team, I need to look for me first at times.”
Last season, Joseph was primarily a post player. She used her size to her advantage over smaller defenders and was able to score efficiently in the paint. By asking her to expand her offensive repertoire and extend her range out to the three-point line, Beeman believes that Joseph will be able to add new dimensions to their offense.
“I think that if she keeps herself on the floor and continues to get in game shape, we’ll be able to play her a lot. I think that we can stretch her out so that she’s not just back to the basket,” Beeman said. “She can actually do more attacking from slots and from wings. She’s a tough matchup wherever she is. I think that as she gets in game shape, we’ll see her role improve drastically.”
Although it took some time for Joseph to get acclimated to the college game, one of the main reasons she was able to do so was her AAU experience. In high school, she played with the Cal Storm program on their elite Team Taurasi, sponsored by WNBA star Diana Taurasi.
Over the years, there have been countless players who have come through the program that have gone on to play in college as well as at the pro level. When Joseph initially got to Hawaii, she just took a lot of what she learned with Cal Storm and tried to apply that, especially when it came to playing with other talented players.
“All the girls on the team, we all came from good high school teams. When we were on the floor, we took what we did well and implemented it on the floor,” Joseph said. “I just wanted to keep building on that and growing as a player. Doing what I do on the floor and keep working.”
And as this young season progresses, Joseph is looking forward to continuing her development and expanding her role on the team. She knows the team will need that in order to be successful this year.
“At the end of the day, I want to become a three-level player. If I can expand my game that far, the opportunities will be endless for me. That’s my end goal,” Joseph said. “But I know right now I have to focus on doing my part for the team. That’s rebounding, boxing out, being a presence inside, and taking the time to look for myself and play with my teammates.”
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