With just under one minute remaining in overtime, Syracuse Orange men’s basketball guard Joe Girard buried his fifth and final three-pointer against Virginia. The bucket gave Syracuse a 60-49 lead over the Cavaliers and all but secured the biggest win of the 2019-20 season for the Orange.
As he connected on the three, Girard glanced at the Syracuse bench, shook his head, motioned his has across his neck repeatedly and gave his teammates a look as if to say, “It’s over. It’s over,” as he backpedalled toward the defensive end.
“That’s just a confident player, a confident shooter,” Buddy Boeheim said post-game. “He’s a tough player. I’d play with him any day of the week. Having a guy like that you trust to make big plays means a lot.”
That outward display of emotion symbolized the heart and passion Girard has for basketball. He’s a competitor and his will to win shines through in the most intense moments of the fight. After all, the freshman out of Glens Falls has a track record in for his competitive spirit. His reputation at Syracuse precedes him.
“Joe’s a competitor. He’s a competitive kid. He’s got a big heart,” Jim Boehiem said after the game. “You don’t win state championships — I don’t care who you’re playing against — unless you’ve got a big heart. When you’re the only guy out there making plays for the whole game... he’s got a big heart. He’s going to come after you.”
Girard of course won multiple state championships at Glens Falls in both football and basketball. He has, by far and away, exceeded all reasonable expectations in his freshman season at Syracuse. On Saturday, he scored 19 points on 5-11 shooting from distance against Virginia’s Kihei Clark, one of the better defenders in the league. He also grabbed 6 rebounds, dished out 3 assists and had 2 steals.
After Virginia scored first In extra time, Elijah Hughes got things started for Syracuse with a three from the left wing. On the ensuing possession, Girard connected on his fourth three of the game with alacrity. Of course, no shot in overtime was more emphatic than Buddy Boeheim’s bomb from near center court as the shot clock expired.
Not one to be bashful on the court, Girard rushed down to the other end of the floor shouting, “Let’s go, Bud!” to celebrate the play with his partner in the backcourt.
“You know Joe,” Buddy said after the game. “He leaves his passion on the court. You love having a guy like that.”
“I probably said a few explicit words,” Girard admitted. “It is what it is but that’s my guy. I’ll ride for him and fight for him for whatever, just like the rest of the guys on the team but that was big time for sure.”
As time expired and Syracuse’s win over Virginia became official, Girard slapped the ball likely relieving some frustration, but also with satisfaction. That’s the sort of heart and passion that Syracuse fans have come to expect out of Girard.
He’s a competitor. He wants to win and he’s shown that with heart and exuberance when it matters most.
Joe Girard following Syracuse’s win at Virginia. pic.twitter.com/El9hnwLtSB— James Szuba (@JamesSzuba) January 12, 2020