After Jalen Carey turned the ball over twice in just five minutes against Colgate, Jim Boeheim yanked him for the rest of the game. Joe Girard and Brycen Goodine took the reins,, with a little Howard Washington playing time as well. After the game when asked about Carey, Jim Boeheim adamantly remarked that Joe Girard would start against Seattle. So what should fans expect out of Girard?
Well if Wednesday’s win against Colgate was any indication, Girard will provide high energy and be an active, communicative defender. As soon as he came in for Carey, Syracuse’s play picked up, on both ends of the court. While SU fans might expect Girard to become a knock down shooter, that may not be his biggest influence early in his career. Girard was just 2-6 from the field for five points. But he was one of Syracuse’s best defenders, recording three steals. He also had better vision than many expected, ending the game with four assists and one turnover in 19 minutes.
One of those assists was to Buddy Boeheim for an open three at the beginning of the second half. Syracuse started to pull away, and the next possession Boeheim hit another three, marking a change in atmosphere in the Dome. Girard’s passing helped Boeheim heat up and SU run away from Colgate.
Even if Girard’s offense comes along slowly, he will impact games in a similar fashion as Marek Dolezaj. But Girard’s shooting should progress. Remember last season it took Boeheim time to adjust to ACC play. A non-conference slate as the starter should only help Girard improve quickly. By the time the ACC schedule rolls around, there’s a chance he could be playing close to the level Boeheim played at the end of his freshman season.
A year ago, Boeheim played behind Tyus Battle and Elijah Hughes. After just his second college basketball game, Girard has taken control of the starting position. And he doesn’t seem to be captured by the moment.
“I’m just going to go out there and play,” Girard said when asked about starting against Seattle. “Get the minutes that I get and try to make an impact on the game.”
And game three of his college career won’t be nearly as difficult as his first game. Starting a college career against Virginia’s incredible packline defense is less than ideal. But it also serves as one of the toughest – if not the toughest challenge of the season. And it seems like Girard expects everything to get better as the season goes along.
“I played a lot more confident and freely today,” Girard said when asked about the difference in the Colgate game versus Virginia. “Which helped me make plays and helped the other guys make plays off of me. Having played against Virginia the first game of your college career is kind of hard. But at the same time it’s going to help me in the long run.”