Syracuse basketball needs Joe Girard back. Now, that obviously can’t happen. However the Orange would be a much better team if he was still on it.
Many SU fans wanted Girard off the team. While in hindsight, that seems less understandable, there were some decent reasons at the time. His three-point percentage had dipped in his last year, his assists were at a career-low 3.0 per game, and his defense really struggled.
At the Orange Fizz, we knew it was never that simple. Girard was a great shooter that had a lot of pressure to be the top scorer. Last year, that didn’t work out, with Syracuse missing out on the NCAA Tournament yet again.
In a different set of circumstances, Girard could be the x-factor that pushes a team over the edge. If there was a team where he didn’t have to be the number one scoring option and there were several other guards that were stronger defenders, he’d be a perfect fit. Girard is proving that at Clemson, where he’s scoring almost 15 points per game on his best shooting percentage of his career. If he was on SU this year, it would be a similar situation.
Joe Girard had to carry the scoring load while Judah Mintz learned in his first year of college. Now, Mintz is ready to be a top-level scorer. He’s averaging 19.6 points per game, with a new career high of 33 points under his belt as well. If Girard was still on the team, he could defer to Mintz to lead the offense, while he focused on his shooting. Girard could also let Mintz and JJ Starling handle the traditional point guard duty of distributing the ball as well.
There’s clearly a need for another shooter on the Orange this year. Chris Bell and Justin Taylor are the only two consistent catch-and-shoot guys that can score from the wings. Plus, more often than not, one of them is cold. You can have a successful team with just one shooter, and that’s often the position SU is in. Girard being on Syracuse this season would fill that gap.
In terms of defense, a man-to-man defense could actually hide Girard better than the 2-3 zone does. While the zone does mean he doesn’t need to guard anyone one-on-one, teams often isolated to his side of the defense and picked him apart from there. In a man defense, Girard could be assigned to the weaker guard while Mintz, Starling, or Quadir Copeland handled the opponent’s best offensive player.
At this point, it doesn’t really matter. Joe Girard won’t and can’t come back to Syracuse. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that he really is the missing piece. Hopefully, SU fans can at least appreciate that.