How Josh Warren became a pass-first player for Cornell

first_imgIt hasn’t always been this way, but Cornell’s offense hinges on Josh Warren’s passing.As a senior forward, Warren runs the Big Red (1-3) offense. He leads Cornell in assists per game (4.75) and has a team-leading 6.8 rebounds per game. Standing at 6-foot-8, that combo is rare in college basketball.“He’s almost like a point guard in our half-court offense, which is a lot of responsibility for a bigger guy,” head coach Brian Earl said.Passing wasn’t always Warren’s strength. At Downingtown West (Pennsylvania) High School, Warren finished his career with 1,228 points, crowning him Downingtown West’s second all-time leading scorer. His high school head coach Jason Ritter said Warren would work out before school, setting an example for other players on his team.“He just outworked everyone,” Ritter said. “What made him great was his size, but he just outworked everybody in our league.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn high school, Ritter needed Warren to make the important shots. His high school team needed him to finish possessions, not initiate them. At Downingtown West, Warren averaged 15.0 points per game and 1.8 assists in his senior season. This season at Cornell, Warren averages 10.5 points per game and 4.5 assists per game.When Warren chose to play at Cornell, his game had to change. Instead of being a go-to scorer, Warren had to become a facilitator as a forward. The offense had to run through him. When Earl informed Warren of his new role, Warren was ready to take on the challenge.“It was kind of smart of him to not say ‘Hey I scored in high school, so I’m going to score here,’ Earl said. “He does whatever’s needed for the team.”Photo Courtesy of Cornell AthleticsWhen he got to Cornell, Warren started focusing on ball handling, passing and shooting. It was the first time he needed to hone these aspects of his game, he said.In his past three seasons, Warren said he looked up to Matt Morgan and Steven Julian — Cornell’s leading scorer and best defender, respectively. Now, they’ve both graduated. Although Warren said that no single player is going to replace them, he’s acknowledged that everyone is going to have to step up their game. His pass-first mentality was a starting point.As one of three seniors on Cornell, coaches said lesser experienced players look up to Warren like he used to admire Morgan and Julian.Because of Warren’s high basketball IQ and leadership, he was named one of three Big Red captains. In Cornell’s only win on the season, Warren paced the Big Red with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds.“We try to be a smart team,” Warren said, “And that kind of starts with me.” Comments Published on November 19, 2019 at 9:52 pm Contact Sophie: srlevine@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more