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Syracuse men’s basketball preseason player profiles: Joe Girard III

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The sharpshooter looks to settle into a more important role for the Orange.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

It remains to be seen when the Syracuse Orange basketball season will tip off after Jim Boeheim’s positive coronavirus test, but that doesn’t mean we can stop previewing the 2020-21 squad. James took a look at Buddy Boeheim on Tuesday, and today I profile his partner at the other guard position in Joseph Girard III.

The Glens Falls, N.Y. native made a name for himself in high school when he became the state’s all-time leading high school scorer as a junior. His 4,763 career points is good enough for 10th place on the National Federation of High Schools’ all-time list. Girard took the starting point guard role from Jalen Carey for Syracuse’s third game against Seattle. He started every game for the Orange from that point onward.

Girard averaged 12.4 points per game, good enough for third on the team behind Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim. He also ranked behind Hughes and Boeheim in three-point percentage with 32.3% Girard did lead the Orange in assists with 3.5 per game and in free throw percentage with an impressive 89.4% clip from the stripe. He’ll be looking to make a bigger impact in his sophomore season.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Guard

Class: Sophomore

Vitals: 6-foot-1, 195 lbs.

Stats: 2019-20: 12.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. Impressively, Girard only missed 10 free throws the entire season.

Strengthens/Weaknesses: Girard’s range is well documented as he and Boeheim are one of the better three-point shooting guard duos in the country. His explosiveness is what made him so attractive to Syracuse fans in the first place, which he showcased at times throughout the 2019-20 season. The stability that Girard also brought at the free-throw line was refreshing as well to ease some of the anxiety most Syracuse fans feel at the end of games.

As Kevin mentioned on Monday, Girard’s decision making on both sides of the ball needs work. The Orange guards weren’t great defensively at the top of the zone as you’d expect Syracuse guards to cause more havoc and turnovers. He’ll need to improve his shot selection as well, especially inside the arc. Girard only knocked down 38.5% of his shot from two-point range, and while he’s best outside the arc, a more complete scoring game is what made Boeheim so dangerous to opposing defenses. If Girard can improve on his efficiency inside the arc, Syracuse’s offense has a chance to turn even more heads than they did last year.

Ceiling: Much like Boeheim, Girard improves defensively at the top of the zone. Syracuse’s 2-3 zone wasn’t feared too much during the 2019-20 season, and more impact from both guards is needed for maximum effectiveness.

On offense, Girard continues to develop an inside game and gets more consistent from three. He doesn’t settle for the tough and quick shot and moves off-ball better to get himself open for easy threes. Girard also settles more comfortably into the primary ball-handler role and becomes a better distributor of the ball.

Floor: Girard fails to generate much influence at the top of the zone and his shooting remains wildly inconsistent and unpredictable. The ball also becomes stuck on offense as he tries to conduct the offense leading to more contested and tough shots. Girard also doesn’t provide much inside which makes him predictable to defend.