When Joe Girard went on that run of 10 straight games scoring at least 15 points through December and the beginning of January, it was hard to not be happy for him. Alas, the Glens Falls native still drew the malign of many Orange fans throughout his SU career. Let’s put an end to that malarkey right now. Girard was overhated while he played for Syracuse, but never truly fit into the schemes surrounding him.
There was only one season in Girard’s career where the offense was built to his game, that being 2021-22. It was a simple philosophy- chuck up as many three-pointers as humanly possible and hope they go in. That certainly sounds like a scenario in which Girard would succeed, especially given the absurdity of some of the shots he took and made over his career. The only problem is, he was neither the number 1 nor the number 2 option to shoot. Buddy Boeheim distinguished himself as the top dawg in the previous season’s March Madness run, and Cole Swider had too high of an upside to not be the Robin to Buddy’s Batman. So the one year where the offense played to Girard’s strengths, he was the third option.
Every other season of his career, the offense was not built to Girard’s game. Sure, he excelled for much of his freshman season because he was able to camouflage himself behind the likes of Elijah Hughes. But this year and the 2020-21 season? Nope. Up until the end of that Sweet 16 run, the Orange offense revolved around Quincy Guerrier and Alan Griffin taking it inside, with the occasional three-point shot from one of them. The main weapon from deep on that team was Buddy, which is part of the reason why Girard struggled so much that season. It just wasn’t his forte. It wasn’t until Buddy broke out in March that Girard found his rhythm. This season, Girard was supposed to be that guy from deep, and for a stretch he was, but he had never been the alpha shooter of the offense before, and it showed at times.
And defensively, you can’t bash him too much because of his size, but therein lies the problem. Girard plays bigger than his 6-1 frame, but too often that was exposed rather easily by opposing ACC offenses. If he were just three, even two inches taller, we are looking back on his career in a much different light. But the cards weren’t drawn that way, and those struggles defensively detrimentally impacted his game.
Unless NBA scouts are really really impressed with him, it’s going to be strange seeing Girard in another uniform next season. Not only that, it’ll come with a sense of sadness because he could never reach his full potential playing under Jim Boeheim. We’ll see where Girard winds up down the line, but you wish he could’ve found more success in Central New York.