Troy Joseph started his sophomore basketball season at Fullerton College with a clear mind.
He had signed a national letter of intent before the season to attend New Mexico State. He didn't have to impress or convince any more college scouts.
Joseph, a 6-foot 4-inch swing player, could relax and concentrate on outside shooting and ballhandling.
Though he still plays low post at times for Fullerton, he will be a guard at New Mexico State, which began recruiting him in 1986 when he was a senior at Western High School.
But what was supposed to be a season without problems has turned into a stressful period for Joseph because he has lost his shooting touch.
"I really don't know what's wrong with it," Joseph said. "I guess it's just on vacation right now. I've been working on it a lot by shooting after practice. I know it is there somewhere, and I'll find it."
Some might look at Joseph's numbers and wonder why he's worrying.
He is averaging a team-high 19.6 points a game, including a career-high 25 points twice, and has been the leading scorer in 8 of Fullerton's 10 victories.
"I've still been able to score a lot of points but mostly on the inside," Joseph said. "About the only thing going for me is my layup. It's the only shot I can make these days, and even that has been shaky."
Joseph's most frustrating game came in the South Coast Conference opener Jan. 6 against Cerritos. He started out well, hitting back-to-back 15-foot jumpers in the first half.
But he struggled after that, finishing 3 for 15 from the field for a career-low 9 points. Fullerton lost, 79-75.
Joseph also struggled last Saturday, making just 4 of 12 from the floor but he still scored 15 points in Fullerton's 71-68 loss to Pasadena. Joseph is shooting 54% this season for Fullerton (10-8 overall and 0-2 in the South Coast Conference).
"There really isn't anything wrong with his shot from the mechanical aspect," said Roger See, Fullerton Coach. "I think it might be more mental than anything else. He's been shooting after practice and working really hard at it. He will find it. He has to, he's too important to our offense. We need him on the inside and the outside if we expect to compete in the conference."
Joseph has become so frustrated during the past month that he stopped lifting weights.
"I'm stronger this season but the ball is lighter too," said Joseph, 19. "I don't know if it will help, but all the lifting seems to have changed my shot."
Joseph started lifting seriously for the first time last summer and built his arm strength to the point he became more of an inside rebounder.
He leads Fullerton with 7.7 rebounds a game, equaling the best at Fullerton since Dan Wright averaged 7.7 in the 1982-83 season.
Joseph, who said he was getting the ball taken away from him two to four times a game last season when he averaged 5.7 rebounds, is now able to hang on or wrestle the ball away from opponents.
Joseph has grown two inches since he was a 6-2 starting senior center at Western. He also has gained 40 pounds with help from the weights and weighs 195. Joseph plans to go to bulk up to 200 pounds for next season.
"I want to hit the weights again this summer," Joseph said. "But I'm not going back until I find my shot. Like I keep saying, it's on vacation, but I'll find it."
Community College Notes
More football players signed with four-year colleges last week. Offensive linemen Derek Sang and Steve Blythe of Rancho Santiago, both all-Mission Conference players, signed with San Diego State. Odell Harrington, a linebacker from Golden West, signed with Weber State. Bill Marler, a quarterback from Golden West, signed with Western Kentucky. Maler was the sixth consecutive Golden West starting quarterback to sign with a division one school. Greg Gibson, an all-Mission Conference tight end from Orange Coast, signed with Tulsa.