BJ Joseph, the quintessential point guard, steps off from coaching

Indian River upsets Milford in Joseph’s final game
February 15, 2019

BJ Joseph steps off - Boys’ basketball coach BJ Joseph retired from the craziness of high school basketball Feb. 12 down at Indian River by engineering his Indians to an 88-72win over heavily favored Milford, which cost the Bucs the Southern Division title. The River had lost to Milford 94-33 Jan. 8 and followed that with a 10-point win against the same team Feb. 12 for a 77-point swing of good fortune. Senior Michael Meehan had 30 points for Indian River. Joseph, a point guard and first off the bench for the 1976 state championship Cape team, became the head coach at Laurel 22 years ago (I wrote a letter on his behalf) and followed that with a stint as head coach at Milford before taking the Indian River job. He has also been a social studies teacher. He is the the teacher/coach guy you want in your building because he is relatable across all levels and a kid-first type of person. BJ worked his way into the coaching business starting as an assistant at Wilmington University, then on to ninth-grade coach at Cape before assistant jobs at Dover and Sussex Central. In all, he has 27 years of coaching basketball. “BJ is a fixer ... coming in to build the squad. His greatest achievement is not winning games, but mentoring the young men who have gone on to college and successful careers with many of them becoming basketball coaches themselves!” said Melissa Joseph, the coach’s wife.

Athletes in action - The Cape girls’ basketball team has a balanced squad that has helped them to a record of 15-3 with two games left to play, then the Henlopen Conference title game versus Woodbridge at Dover. They’ve done it with a nucleus of basketball-first athletes like Mehkia Applewhite, Dania Cannon, Morgan Mahoney, Niya Mosley, Alexis Watkins and Abbey Hearn. The word “athlete” gets major play here because it speaks to strength and speed, and a never-back-down competitiveness. I see it off the ball when Niya Mosley and Mehkia Applewhite run the floor. “I pity the fool” who steps in their path to take a charge or sees either of them chasing on a breakaway layup. There are some great teams out there heading into the postseason state tournament, and Cape is one of them. One thing is for sure, you will not out-athlete Cape. If they all show up on the same night, it’s lights out.  

Steep learning curve - Decide as a high school freshman to try out for something on the first day for the first time. Let’s say it’s band. “Hand me one of those horns over there, whatever they’re called. That one only has three buttons, how hard can it be?” Maybe it’s field hockey or lacrosse, or perhaps softball. “Look at that big old ball. How hard can it be to hit?” Experts agree, the No. 1 determiner to future sports success is DNA, but someone has to give the athlete an opportunity. The weird thing is, “The game is afoot” years before a freshman shows up on the first day of practice. Some students who are not in the pipeline – and there are many – refer to this as a rigged game. Life is a series of games, overlaid like concentric circles, and all the games are rigged with rules that favor some over others. Unjust and unfair are the wild cards. The good news is you don’t have to play. The online library is always open.

He got pinnt! Rhymes with mint! Same as being pancaked. I remember in 1988 I had a senior wrestler in class the last period of the day on Friday. He was jazzed the Henlopen Conference Championships were at Cape. I raced down to the gym at the dismissal bell and poked my big head inside the Little Big House door just in time to see “my boy” get pinnt in the preliminary round. I will be on two-day wrestling lockdown this weekend for the Henlopen Conference Championships at Sussex Central, doing my impression of the oldest journalist in the wrestling room. I like it, but I also expect to take a physical and psychological beat down, perhaps even “get pinnt” by two heavyweights careening out of bounds, rolled up in a massive ball of confusion.

Snippets - Go to to follow results live from weekend tournaments. The site is slick, but you may have to resource a teenager to help you negotiate the steps. College lacrosse is underway, and baseball and softball get into full swing this weekend. Spring sports practice for high school begin Friday, March 1. The 82nd Georgetown Oyster Eat is Friday, Feb. 22. Tickets are $30 at the door. Back in the day, the boys and I rode to the Georgetown Oyster Eat in a wood-paneled caravan missing two hubcaps. We had a designated driver who was drinking his first and last beer. “Once we get there, no more drinking for me,” he said, laughing. I sure do miss Tom King and Bruce Hefke and that immersion deep into the local culture. “Hot stuff!” Go on now, git!

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