Joe Girard’s Syracuse’s career can, and is, looked at through many different lenses. Some will remember his inconsistencies and the lack of team success with him as a starter. Others will see him as a local kid who made the most out of a limited physical stature and became a good ACC player.
The former is understandable. Girard went into Syracuse as New York State’s all time leading scorer. The comparisons to Gerry McNamara were all too obvious and the dream was that he would become that same type of player.
The first three years of Girard’s career, though, were plagued by inconsistencies. He was the starting point guard right away and held that job for three seasons, despite his propensity to follow up a great shooting night with a couple where he scored only a handful of points and had more turnovers than he did assists. Girard also only played in one NCAA Tournament, although that’s of course not entirely his fault.
His senior year was different. Girard moved to the two, played off the ball and thrived more than he ever had in his career, scoring about 17 points per game and being the only consistent perimeter threat Syracuse had. There were still off nights, he still wasn’t a good defender at the top of the zone because of his frame and lack of elite athletics, but he was a really good offensive player.
So, how will Syracuse fans remember him? The answer is in a more favorable way as time passes. Complaining about Girard was a favorite pastime for some, but the more removed we get from his time at SU, the more people will remember the fact that he was a local kid thrust into the starting point guard job as a freshman and acquitted himself fairly well at a position that didn’t suit him best.
People will remember the 25 point games where his hot stretches made him seem like he couldn’t miss. They’ll laugh about his 30-foot heat checks that they used to call into radio shows to complain about.
Girard was a staple of the final chapter of Syracuse basketball under Jim Boeheim and, as much as some may not like to admit it, he was a good player. Flawed, sure, but he had a skillset that, at times, led him to excel in a power 6 conference leading a team.
While you may not admit it yet, give it some time. Eventually, you’ll remember Joe Girard in a fond way.