Welcome to a new series on Orange Fizz where we break down expectations and reality for the upcoming 2022-2023 campaign for Syracuse Men’s Basketball. With any good team, or team in general, its identity starts at the top (whether it be a leading scorer or an elder statesman).
That’s exactly where we will start, with (presumably) the oldest player on the team: Joseph Girard III.
If the ’21-’22 Syracuse team was known for its preseason shooting ability, JG3 was the assumed little splash brother. Luckily for his game’s development, the older brother in Buddy Boeheim is gone, which places more of the shooting load on Girard’s shoulders. That’s best case scenario for the soon-to-be senior. Although this places more pressure on the Glens Falls native, it also allows for a consistent green light, rather than Jim Boeheim allotting either five or 15 shots for his point guard.
This is the year where Girard improves immensely at the college level. He has more freedom to shoot and less to dribble, which is usually the responsibility tabbed to the “2” guard, where Girard’s natural position is. If the three-year starter builds up his confidence and molds patience into his game, Girard can lead the Orange in scoring.
Through the first couple weeks of this past season, Girard’s shooting percentage leaked above 50%, which shows that efficiency is doable and where the question lies is on sustainability. From averaging double figure points his freshman year, to losing strides at the mercy of no crowds last season, to having his best scoring season from a statistical standpoint this past season, Girard’s expectations should be sky high.
There is no excuse for a player who was recruited as a pure scorer to not live up to that bill, especially when starts are trivial on his resume.
’22-’23 averaged stats: 16 points (42% FG, 40% 3PT), 6 assists, 3 rebounds
As much as the loss of Buddy Boeheim and the presumed position change could positively impact the soon-to-be senior, the numbers prove that Girard is consistent. One might tab consistency as a good thing, but when you’re considered a sharpshooter and starting point guard while averaging 40% or higher from three-point range in just one of three seasons, plus four or more assists in only one season as well, that’s a level of consistency that needs to rise.
Girard will attempt more shots per game in the fall and next winter and spring, and if the numbers stay the same, all that will happen is a chance for a younger player to get involved and/or fans lobbying for Girard’s replacement. The New York native is a backup point guard at best when it comes to stats, but a starter in terms of “off the box score” tendencies. That places Boeheim in a position where he plays JG3 because of experience, but doesn’t necessarily start him at the end of games.
When taking into account that Girard is the oldest player and simultaneously needs to adopt a leadership role, the pressure might be too much for someone who needs to reach Buddy Boeheim (19-20 points per game) numbers in order to spearhead the team. This is not to say Girard is set to play poorly, but if reality is any barometer of his supposed performance next season, then Joe will hover around his marks from ’21’-22 and continue to either drop 30 or eight points in any given game.
’22-’23 averaged stats: 13 points (40% FG, 37% 3PT), 3 assists, 2 rebounds
Girard’s ceiling is astronomical and all dependent on Boeheim’s lineup schemes. But after three years of mediocrity, there is a pretty good chance that he exceeds expectations. Because of the unknown nature of Joe’s game, it is nearly impossible to guess what strides he’ll make as a leader and top dog on the team.
Stats: 18 points (46% FG, 43% 3PT), 7 assists, 5 rebounds
Every Syracuse fan has seen this benchmark first-hand. Yes, it is in individual efforts, but the floor is the floor, so without digging any deeper, Girard has had his fair share of games and stretches at this level. That is proof enough that this upcoming season could be worse than many predict.
Stats: 9 points (35% FG, 33% 3PT), 3 assists, 2 rebounds (PULLED FROM THE STARTING LINEUP)