Joe Girard is making his Syracuse homecoming this Saturday, when Clemson comes to the Dome to take on SU. It’s been a game that’s been circled on Orange fan’s calendars since the guard transferred to the Tigers, for better or for worse.
Many fans may have mixed feelings about Girard. He’s one of the most decorated shooters in program history, but had the misfortune of playing for Syracuse during one of the worst few-year stretches in the last five decades. Missing the tournament in his last two years at SU didn’t bode well for his reputation, but that can’t be pinned on just Girard.
Joe Girard was given a lot of blame for a lack of team success, when there were really so many factors going into it. The Orange were recruiting worse, playing a dying form of defense, and seeing a decline in coaching prowess at the end of Bowheim’s career. While Girard had his flaws, like subpar defense and streaky shooting, he still accomplished quite a bit at Syracuse.
The stats speak for themselves: Joe Girard is one of the best shooters in program history. He made the third-most three-pointers of any SU player, has the second-highest career free throw percentage, and is a top-20 scorer in Orange history. In a tough ACC conference, that’s no accident.
Girard was simply a good player at Syracuse. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Was he perfect? No. No player is. But Joe Girard produced for four years at SU, despite being scrutinized since the moment he stepped on campus. That’s impressive.
So if you’re at the game this Saturday, you have a choice to make when Joe Girard steps onto the court. Cheer or boo. Pick the first one. Give some respect to a player that played hard on that court for four seasons. Then, when the game starts, all bets are off. But Girard deserves that initial thank you.