After Kadary Richmond’s 16 point, 7 rebound, 6 assist clinic and Joe Girard’s rough outing against Niagara, many Syracuse fans are calling for Jim Boeheim to swap out his struggling point guard for the longer, shinier and sexier option.
That’s a question that will likely be asked throughout Buddy Boeheim’s two-week quarantine while Richmond starts alongside Girard at the top of the zone. But the question that needs to be asked before the Fizz’s mailbox overflows is how much does it really matter.
If Girard comes off the bench, he would likely fall into the role of spark plug. The Glens Falls, NY native would give SU more shooting and leadership than any other bench piece in the ACC. After all, he’s not a natural point guard anyway. But the idea of having Richmond coming off the bench should be just as attractive. Not many ACC programs have a 6’5” guard as a sixth man who can do a little bit of everything.
That’s not to say these next two weeks won’t be telling. The real problem, as of now, with Richmond taking Girard’s spot as the point guard when Boeheim returns is that the freshman has not proven his ability to control the ball and facilitate the offense. Every indication from camp is that Richmond is a good point guard, but the limited tape Orange fans have of him on the Hill is predominantly as the shooting guard.
A point guard change is a drastic decision for a 2-0 team, and it’s possible that Girard’s shooting woes are a result of the on-and-off COVID-19 scheduling. After a two-week layover from Jim Boeheim’s positive test, Girard shot just 2-14 from the field for six points. After the game, Boeheim said that it was the worst Girard had ever played at Syracuse. The second game against Niagara wasn’t much better (3-11, 8 points), but the Orange were still without a full week of practice.
As of now, Richmond’s bid for the starting point guard role is a moot point anyway. Boeheim will not start him unless it is out of desperation until the Brooklyn, NY native builds up his stamina. After the Niagara game, Boeheim applauded Richmond’s performance, but said, “If we get him out against a real pressure team getting after him, I think he’d get tired in about five minutes. But he’s got the tools.”
Low stamina and high ability screams spark plug bench piece.
So to answer the question, yes. It does matter who starts as Syracuse’s point guard. But it is an impossible question to answer until Boeheim sees what Richmond can provide against ACC competition and Girard finds his rhythm. Either way, the Orange should be in good shape at the top of the zone.