Let’s get one thing straight right off the top, who starts and who doesn’t doesn’t matter. Especially with a head coach like Jim Boeheim, whoever deserves to play is going to play. If a starter is having a horrible game, Boeheim will find someone to fill the spot, and if the starters are all playing well, he will stick with them. So, this big push to get Joe Girard out of the starting lineup is pointless because whoever is playing well is going to play the majority of the minutes, and that is what really matters.
With all of that being said, however, Girard needs to be the starter. There are multiple reasons for this, so here you go:
Reason #1: Mental Warfare
Girard is a very hot and cold player, as we have all seen this season. He gets in his own head and is more affected than most when challenged. If Boeheim was to pull Girard from the starting lineup, that would completely mess with his psyche and send him down a rabbit hole with long term ramifications. The best thing to do is keep him as a starter, which tells Girard that Boeheim has confidence in him, and let him work out the issues he’s been having. If he can’t work them out, then pull him early in games (like the Buffalo game) and let Kadary Richmond step in.
Plus, many of the other starters have a really strong relationship with Girard, especially Buddy Boeheim. By taking him out of the starting lineup, it would mess with Buddy’s head and the feng shui of the team.
Reason #2: Spreading the Floor
With Joe Girard in the starting lineup, it completely changes how opposing teams have to gameplan for Syracuse. JG3 is known as a shooter, which means defenses need to stick with him on the outside. That in turn leads to the inside opening up and allowing the Orange to have success down there, which they’ve had plenty of this season. Plus, by Girard starting, SU has three (kind of four) shooters on the floor out of the gates. It stretches opposing defenses thin and allows Syracuse to do a lot more. If Richmond took over the starting role, teams wouldn’t need to key on him outside the three-point arc, which would stuff up the middle and make it more difficult for the SU offense.
Reason #3: Not as Bad as Advertised
Is Girard playing well? No. Is anyone happy with his stats so far? No. Is he living up to the hype we thought he’d be? No. But here’s the thing– Girard is fine. He’s serviceable. JG3 is averaging 11 points per game, which is just one below his season average from last year. In addition, he’s grabbing three rebounds and dishing out four assists per contest. The sophomore is not as great as we wanted, but he’s not as bad as a lot of people are making him out to be. Plus, there are so many other offensive weapons on this Syracuse squad that Girard doesn’t have need to be a crazy scorer. It would be nice if he was, but it’s not mandatory. Syracuse is still winning games despite the slight downturn Girard has taken.