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Chatting with San Diego Guard, Joey Calcaterra

USD Looks to Upset Gonzaga in the McCarthey Athletic Center This Saturday (8 PM ET)

Joey Calcaterra is a redshirt freshman guard for the Toreros. He played his high school ball at Marin Catholic in the Bay Area where he averaged 30.0 PPG his senior year (ranked 24th nationally during the 2016-2017 season). After sitting out the 2017-2018 campaign at San Diego, Joey has appeared in 19 games this season while averaging 3.8 PPG, 1.4 RPG, and 1.2 APG in 16.5 MPG.

Since WCC play has started, Joey has stepped into a new role with more minutes due to injuries to point guard Isaiah Wright (Wrist injury; Missed four straight games, including the first three games of WCC play) and shooting guard Olin Carter III (Abdomen injury; Out for the previous four WCC games and questionable against Gonzaga). San Diego is coming off two huge wins at home against Loyola Marymount and San Francisco where Joey saw a lot of time on the court. He played his career-high of 38 minutes against LMU and finished with 12 points/5 assists in the victory.

I got a chance to speak with Joey before San Diego (15-7, 4-3) travels up to Spokane to take on #4 Gonzaga (19-2, 6-0) this Saturday.

Arden Cravalho: Joey, you came to USD to play under Lamont Smith who, unfortunately, resigned as the head coach for an incident that happened last season in San Francisco. Sam Scholl has taking the reins of the program now. How has it been going with Coach Scholl?

Joey Calcaterra: It has been going really well. He’s actually the one who recruited me the summer before my senior year. We started building a relationship from there and then when he took over the head coaching position, I was extremely excited for him. He finally got the opportunity he was looking for and so far, he has been doing a great job.

AC: With the injuries to Wright and now Carter, you have stepped into a bigger role on the team. Has your mentality and attitude changed with this new position on the squad?

JC: I knew I had to bring a little bit extra when Carter went out and I was ready for the task. For me personally, I’ve just been building more confidence as I started getting more and more games under my belt. Since I had to sit out last year, I’ve been very happy with more minutes but at the same time, I’m playing for my guys. My teammates. Doing whatever it takes to come out with a win.

AC: Your team has gotten two quality conference wins against LMU and USF. What has been different in those games compared to the previous loss at Saint Mary’s?

JC: After the loss to Saint Mary’s, Coach Scholl wanted us to compete more. Both in practices and games. We changed our mindsets after losing to the Gaels and came into work every day ready to compete.

AC: San Diego has the biggest test of the season as the Toreros take on #4 Gonzaga on the road. What’s the game plan against the best team in the WCC? What do you know about the Bulldogs?

JC: We’re treating it like any other game. Coach Scholl stacked our preseason with competitive games on the road at Oregon, Washington, Ole Miss. We got that experience we needed and we feel like we can compete with any team in the country. As for Gonzaga, Hachimura and Clarke are tough to handle. Perkins, Norvell... they just have good players all over the place. Our coaches do a good job preparing the team before every game so we’re just going to go in there and execute our game plan.

AC: This is your first time playing against a ranked opponent in your college career. What do you like to do calm your nerves before a big game like this?

JC: It has been nice getting major minutes before heading into this matchup so that has already been calming me down. I’ve just been letting the game come to me and that has been helping me out a lot. I’m going to do my job on the defensive end. When my shots come, I’m going to take advantage.

AC: San Diego is making strides to the top of the WCC standings and you have stepped up when asked upon. What do you want to have achieved by the end of the season, both as a team and individually?

JC: Our goal from the beginning of the season is to make the NCAA Tournament so we’re going to keep striving for that. It all comes down to the WCC Tournament in Vegas at the end of the season. We are going to keep working hard until then and hopefully, our best basketball shows up in early March. Personally, I just want to do what I need to do in order to make this team successful. I play for my teammates and coaches while listening to whatever they have to say to me.

AC: Isaiah Pineiro, Olin Carter III, Isaiah Wright, and Tyler Williams are all seniors. USD is looking for someone to step up and be the leader for this team next season. Who do you say is the future of this San Diego program?

JC: I don’t want to single out one person since we all have been working hard. Me, Yauhen Massalski, Finn Sullivan, Braun Hartfield who is a redshirt junior and a transfer from Youngstown State. Alex Floresca, a key part of the team this season, and Jose Martinez are going to be the senior leaders for next season. We’re going to be alright.

AC: It’s Super Bowl weekend and Jared Goff, a Marin Catholic alum (Joey’s alma mater), is playing against Tom Brady, a Junípero Serra alum (My alma mater). Have you had any sort of connection with Jared before?

JC: Yea, I have. My oldest brother, Nick, was in the same grade with Jared at Marin Catholic. They played CYO basketball together. Our families have a good connection as well. We use to go to the Goff’s Super Bowl parties at their house every year. Our family will be rooting for Jared on Sunday.

Thanks to Joey for taking some time to talk with me. This is the busiest part of the basketball season with West Coast Conference action heating up so I really appreciate it. I wish him and the Toreros the best of luck against Gonzaga on Saturday.

Go Pats!

*Arden Cravalho is a senior at Gonzaga University... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho