When things aren’t going well for Syracuse Basketball, it’s natural to look towards coaching. The folks in
suits polos are grown adults with million dollar salaries, hence much easier to target than unpaid university students. When the Orange dropped to 1-3 in ACC play after a second loss to Pittsburgh, many screamed coaching malpractice. This blew my mind, because the cause of SU’s struggles were pretty clear, and it wasn’t Jim Boeheim. The Orange have two veteran starters in the backcourt who were, and still are, expected to build on what they accomplished last season. Joe Girard and Buddy Boeheim are dramatically underperforming, and the story of all four of Syracuse’s losses are proof of that.
12/8 @ Rutgers: 79-69 L
Girard: 1/8 FG with three points
1/6 vs. Pittsburgh: 63-60 L
Girard: 3/11 FG with eight points
Boeheim: 3/12 FG with eight points
1/12 @ North Carolina: 81-75 L
Girard: 2/7 FG with six points
Boeheim: 7/15 FG with 18 points
*All of Buddy’s 18 points came in the first half, after which the score was tied 40-40
1/16 @ Pittsburgh: 96-76 L
Girard: 0/4 FG with two points
Boeheim: 4/12 FG with 12 points
Both Boeheim and Girard contracted covid-19 after Syracuse played Buffalo on December 19th, and their illness could have contributed to their slow play coming out of the program’s pause. Syracuse’s last win over Miami was the most complete performance we’ve seen out of the backcourt duo, scoring 23 each.
Girard has failed to reach the nine-point mark in all of SU’s losses. He averaged 12.4 PPG last season, which has regressed to 11.3 thus far.
Boeheim’s per game statistics don’t show regression, because his volume has increased in Elijah Hughes’s absence. It’s the three point percentage that tells the story for Boeheim. His clip has nosedived from 37% to 29%.
I’d expect Boeheim to return to form eventually. Girard’s lack of paint penetration might be more of a long-term issue, but his jumper is also due to improve. There is no magical coaching formula that Jim has yet to uncover here. Let me stop you before you say that Richmond is the fix, because he was not effective in any of aforementioned losses, shooting a combined 5/18 FG.
Syracuse is still undefeated when both starting guards score double figures. Girard and Buddy can and must play better.