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Could Syracuse basketball utilize a three-guard lineup moving forward?

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Syracuse went with a three-guard lineup for extended time against Miami. Is that something that we could see in the future?

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Taking on Miami on Tuesday night, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team played a three-guard lineup consisting of Kadary Richmond, Joe Girard and Buddy Boeheim for extended minutes. The lineup proved to be effective with Richmond at the point and Boeheim on the wing, playing the bottom of the 2-3 zone defensively.

Miami had jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead by the first media timeout and Marek Dolezaj picked up his second foul shortly thereafter. He was replaced by Jesse Edwards and Richmond substituted for Boeheim. The Orange immediately went on a 9-0 run fueled by two Richmond steals.

When the younger Boeheim checked back in he did so for Alan Griffin and played from the forward spot with the two underclassmen guards up top. From there Syracuse blitzed Miami as Girard got hot and scored 15 first half points. Without the onus of dribbling up court and setting up the offense, Girard was able to run through screens off-ball and hunt shots.

“We had Buddy at the three when we really got going there. That’s when we took the lead, we put the three guards out there, Jesse and Q [Quincy Guerrier]. That was a good lineup. Kadary made some really good passes, he got in the lane. His defense was exceptional but he got into the lane and made some really good passes,” Jim Boeheim said.

Girard — who is still shaking off the adverse affects of Covid-19 along with Buddy Boeheim — thought he was able to get into the lane more frequently playing the two guard with Richmond playing point. He said being a point guard, he prefers to have the ball in his hands but it doesn’t make a difference whether he plays on- or off-ball.

“Even having me, Buddy and Kadary, all three of us out there at the same time — even if Al’s [Alan Griffin] out there — we all have the opportunity to come off ball screens, make a play, stuff like that.”

NCAA Basketball: Miami-Florida at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The reason Syracuse went three-guard (with Buddy in over Griffin), according to Boeheim, is because Griffin was being a ball-stopper.

“Our ball movement was really good. The reason Alan was out for so long is he’s stopping the ball and he’s dribbling and shooting step-backs. We need more movement on offense. That’s what’s good for our team. When we move the ball and move people we end up getting better shots and that’s what we have to do to be successful,” Boeheim said.

The move allowed Richmond to play 20 minutes, the most time he’s received since the Buffalo game. He scored seven points, dished out eight assists and had five steals. Richmond trails only Duke’s Jordan Goldwire in the ACC in steals per game with 2.17. He’s 46th nationally in steals despite his limited minutes. Boeheim says that his freshman’s length and anticipation serve him well in the zone.

“He’s just a natural. He’s fit in and has really figured out where to make his gambles and make his plays. He’s got a real good instinct for the game. He’s got a good instinct for penetrating, he’s just got to develop his shot over time,” Boeheim remarked.

Girard thought the lineup was beneficial against Miami, but wasn’t sure if that’s it will be used going forward. It might’ve just proven effective against a smaller team, but it also might be another lineup to be used in Boeheim’s bag of tricks.

“I’m not sure to be honest with you. I think it’s all about matchup, how people are playing, what coach Boeheim is feeling. Obvious he’s the master. He knows what he’s doing. He’s going to put the right people in the right places to win the game. If he feels it’s going to help us then obviously he’ll do it,” Girard said.

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