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Joe Girard Deserves an Apology

Since Joe Girard stepped on campus, the guard has been inconsistent. A great game, followed by one where he was a liability. A stretch where he looked like an all-ACC player, followed by one where he couldn’t hit a shot.

This led to plenty of criticism. Some of it was warranted, specifically about his decision making. While others went as far as saying he wasn’t good enough to even play at this level.

This season began similarly to Girard’s first three. He was up-and-down over the first seven games. The senior scored 19 points in a season-opening win over Lehigh, 21 in just 27 minutes in a blowout of Northeastern and a career-best 31 in an overtime win over Richmond. That was the good.

The bad was a 4/15 shooting night in a loss to Colgate and nine total points across a three game stretch which included St. John’s, Bryant and Illinois, all games Syracuse lost. He didn’t even score a point against the Illini. 

But, since then, it’s been all good. Girard has scored 15 or more points in each of SU’s last eight games, the longest streak of his career. That includes 28 points against Louisville, a game Syracuse won by just one, and 24 points against Boston College. The Orange are 7-1 over this stretch.

If you want to know whether Syracuse has a chance to win a game, just find Girard’s name in the box score. The Orange are 10-1 this season in games where he scores 15 points or more. The only loss was the Pitt game, where the senior had three points at halftime and poured in 13 in the second half to lead a 20 point comeback that fell just short.

Overall, Girard is averaging 16.7 points per game, the highest mark on the team and 9th best in the ACC. Plus, this eight game stretch has shown consistency, something he hasn’t had throughout his career.

The move to shooting guard has obviously helped. With Judah Mintz as the primary ball handler, Girard plays the two, which is his natural position. Jim Boeheim will tell you that he was an above-average point guard in the ACC last year, which is true, but he doesn’t have the traditional point guard skill set, namely quickness and high-end decision making.

What he does have, though, is a knack for scoring that fits perfectly at shooting guard. His off-ball movement is good, he gets himself open and he makes outside shots in volume. He’s the only player on this team who’s a consistent and constant perimeter threat, something you obviously need given the way the game is played today.

That’s all to say, Girard deserves an apology. Not from those who said he was out of position, but the ones who called him a Patriot League talent playing in the ACC, or some iteration of that, which was plenty of people. He’s the reason Syracuse has kept its head above water. Now, could this all change based on how he performs against higher level ACC competition, sure. But, for now, he’s the reason we’re not already looking forward to lacrosse season.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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