Halfway into Joe Girard‚Äôs first season on the hill, there have been plenty of ups and downs to squash some of the hype surrounding the freshman. Like most first year players, Girard struggled in non-conference games against power five opponents. Unlike most freshmen, Girard has started all but two games and never played less than 19 minutes.¬†
Similar to Buddy Boeheim a year ago, it took Girard some time to acclimate to the college game and rediscover his three point stroke. After performances against Oklahoma State, Penn State, and Iowa where Girard shot a combined 1-15 from deep, there was deep concern from some. But as ACC play has picked up, so has Girard‚Äôs.
He‚Äôs now shooting 36 percent from three, and 47 percent in the last four games ‚Äì all against ACC opponents. And of course, he‚Äôs money from the free throw line, shooting 96 percent on the season. Girard‚Äôs recent play is a big reason why Syracuse seems to have righted the ship to some regard. Along with the recent improvement from Boeheim, the three headed monster is looking the best it has looked all season.¬†
In Syracuse‚Äôs victory over Boston College, Girard scored an efficient 12 points (4-6, 3-4 from three). He doesn‚Äôt need to be the primary scorer. In fact, he shouldn‚Äôt be for this team. Being the third option is best for Girard‚Äôs development. His ability to can open threes is instrumental for SU‚Äôs turnaround.
Girard is currently averaging just over 12 points a game, and that might be enough with the emergence of Marek Dolezaj offensively. For the first time in years, SU‚Äôs offense is fluid. Rather than guards standing around the wing passing the ball back and forth, there is motion. On and off ball screens are prevalent. Girard‚Äôs passing skills and scoring range are a huge reason for an aesthetically pleasing offense.