Isaac Sosa is someone who would prefer not to deviate from his script. Where an unconscious shooter doesn’t care when or where he lets fly, Sosa picks his spots and probably long before tipoff. But veer off course ...
“That’s a red flag, but that’s the way that I am and my dad is too,” said the Canisius College senior guard. “We’re very methodical. We like to look into the future and kind of predict things. Imagine things a certain way and we want to have some certainty about things. When there’s a slight change it’s not necessarily a bad thing but you have to be aware of it.”
Playing for four coaches in five seasons forced Sosa to stray from his plan and adapt on the run. But the way he has been playing recently is the latest example of how he’s progressing. His first month at Canisius was filled with uncertainty and second-guessing as he often strayed into secrecy while questioning his role.
“Anytime you have a coaching change there’s a period of adjustment,” Canisius coach Jim Baron said. “I’ve always had good shooters and scorers and I needed Isaac to shoot and score and he’s stepped up and done that for us.”
The 6-foot-3 transfer from Central Florida became more assertive and earned Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors on Monday. He scored a season-high 25 points last week against Manhattan and last Saturday scored 18 points in a victory over Siena. Since the New Year, Sosa is averaging 15 points and is 20 for 53 from long distance. His 3.1 three-pointers a game ranked second in the MAAC and 18th nationally.
“It’s going great, especially lately,” said Sosa, who sat out the 2011-12 season after transferring. “Early in the year I had my struggles and they couldn’t find the perfect role for me in the system so I was trying to earn more minutes by talking to the coaches about it. They told me not to worry about it and to keep playing hard and it would fix itself.”
The first six games of the season, he reached double figures twice and averaged just 6.6 points a game.
“I had a pretty negative attitude about it and I thought it was going to go south from there,” Sosa said. “I don’t know why. But I developed the right attitude about it and I came hard to practice every day and motivated my teammates.”
It took awhile for Sosa to become a team leader.
“Coach Baron told me from the start that I was going to be one of the five captains and with that comes responsibility and I understood that,” he said. “I figured that when things were going wrong I backed off a little bit and that was a big mistake and I realized that.”
Sosa became more vocal in practice.
“I tried to go back to what leaders are,” he said. “Direct people and speak up in practice and I think that attitude helped me overcome that.”
Sosa’s career has not been without some trials. A native of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, he played two seasons at Central Florida under Kirk Speraw, who eventually was fired and replaced by Donnie Jones. As a junior playing for Jones, Sosa led Conference USA in three-point shooting.
“Things were going well at first but I think it was my fault that I lost communication with him,” Sosa said of Jones. “My relationship with the head coach fell apart a little bit and in the middle of the season I started seeing some changes and I realized that I didn’t think it was going to change going into the next season – the structure of the team, the people who were going to stay – so I didn’t want to risk my senior year like that. I wanted to have a good experience. I wanted to have the best year of my life as far as basketball.”
Sosa sought help from Art Alvarez, his AAU coach and the founder and president of the Miami Tropics AAU team. Alvarez has a close relationship with Tom Parrotta so Canisius was a natural fit. Then Parrotta was dismissed last spring. More changes to the script.
“I came here for a different coach and that’s the reality of things,” Sosa said. “He recruited me, he brought me here and I thought I was going to play for him and finish my collegiate career with him. I was very disappointed and I honestly thought about transferring.”
But he liked Baron and his shot-clock-be-damned style of play. When in doubt, catch-and-shoot, Baron told him.
“I gave myself a chance to talk to Coach Baron and the new staff to see what they had to say and I was convinced,” Sosa said. “He’s a very experienced coach and he’s coached for many, many years. ... He understands my goals, my long-term goals, and I figured he would help me just as much.”
Now Sosa is in a comfortable place.
“Yes,” he said, smiling. “Thank God.”