Last season Joe Girard III started for the majority of the year. Some fans called him overrated, others described him as the second coming of Orange great and now coach, Gerry McNamara. While Girard isn’t quite at Gmac’s level just yet, he could be what spurs the Orange to up around the 20 win mark this upcoming season.
The kid from Glen Falls, NY had a good freshman season. Nearly 13 points per game off 35% shooting is a lot to ask or from a 3-star freshman, and Girard delivered. Although that won’t be enough for this upcoming season. If the Orange have a chance at the big dance, Girard will have to take a big step up. With Elijah Hughes off to the NBA and Jalen Carey, Howard Washington and Brycen Goodine all transferring away, the Orange lineup will look something like this:
PG: Joe Girard III SG: Buddy Boeheim SF: Alan Griffin (pending waiver) PF: Marek Dolezaj C: Bourama Sidibe
From the looks of it, the lineup is missing a primary scorer. Boeheim was solid last season and certainly made a clear improvement from freshman to sophomore year, but it just doesn’t seem like he’s the kind of player to be the one with the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. Dolezaj is a fan-favorite and arguably the most important player on the court due to his extensive versatility, but scoring just isn’t his forté, that leaves Girard. Three-point shooting could become this team’s mantra come the 2020-21 campaign, which is why it’s so important that Girard gets better. It’s games like N.C. State and Miami last season that JGIII got his chance to shine, and he really didn’t. In both of those games, Hughes was absent for a significant amount of time due to injury, against N.C. State, Girard dropped his self-proclaimed, “worst 30 points of his life,” shooting 1 for 10 from distance. Against Miami, Hughes played just one half before he was struck by injury. In the second, Girard attempted to take over but instead was an absolute dud. 5-17 shooting with just 13 points, and the unforgettable brick he jacked up in desperation in the final seconds of what would become SU’s 14th loss of the season.
If Syracuse has any chance of winning games next year, it’s going to need a primary scorer, and Girard is the only guy that fits the bill. Just like 2004 when Gmac was left without Carmelo, JGIII is going to have to take over.