The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team just edged the North Carolina State Wolfpack 76-73 on Sunday night. The Orange were able to win in part due to the play of talented freshman guard Kadary Richmond.
Richmond finished his night with 14 points on 6-7 shooting in 16 minutes of playing time. He was two points shy of his career-high.
Coming off the bench, Richmond came into the game and quickly knocked in a floater in traffic off a spin move. In the first half Syracuse found itself down by double-digits, but Richmond kept the Orange within striking distance.
Toward the end of the half he went two-for-one and scored both times. On the first play, Richmond got to the rim and was fouled. He made both free throws. With the last possession of the half, Richmond got by Dereon Seabron and finished just before the halftime buzzer.
“He was able to get in the lane and make some plays,” Jim Boeheim said of his freshman point guard. “He made a big play at the end to get us the lead again. I though he was just really good getting to the basket, which is what he can do.”
Richmond was just as good in the second half. Kevin Keatts had his team switching on ball screens and Richmond took advantage blowing by both Braxton Beverly and Shakeel Moore at various points.
After regaining control and getting back out in front, Syracuse was clinging to a one point lead with just over a minute left. Richmond had the ball at the top of the key. He crossed Seabron to the right, spun back to his left and finished with a lefty lay at the rim to give Syracuse a three point lead.
“They had a big guy on him and he just got by him in the lane and made a couple really good shots. In the end, he got all the way to the basket — they have a really good shot blocker — he just got by and got it off the glass and in. That’s what he can do,” Boeheim said.
As Buddy Boeheim played all 40 minutes, Richmond’s minutes came at the expense of Joe Girard, who has struggled to shoot the ball with consistency in his sophomore year. Girard shot 2-10 from the floor against the Wolfpack.
“I thought Joe was aggressive tonight. He’s been aggressive in practices. He got good looks. He was 2-10, 1-5 (from three). He really just wasn’t hitting them but he will hit those,” Boeheim said. “I thought the reason he came out the second time because Kadary was so good in the first half that I wanted to see what Kadary could do in the second. He made a couple big time plays again.”
Richmond’s play has left people wondering why he hasn’t seen more of the floor. He struggles with his perimeter shot, but Richmond makes 49.3% of his shots from the floor, has a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio and defends well. Boeheim insists Syracuse needs all of its guards to play by saying, “We need all three of those guards. I’m really sick of people thinking, ‘Well this guy should play, that guy should.’ We need all three guys to play and be effective.”
Despite averaging just 20.8 minutes per game, Richmond is fourth in the ACC in steals with 1.7 per game. Buddy Boeheim noted the freshman’s defensive contributions against NC State. The defense turned around in the second half after struggling in the first, partially thanks to Richmond as well as some halftime adjustments.
“K, he’s a great defender, great instincts. He’s so lengthy and he’s always getting in guys’ heads. You don’t know if you have space to throw to the high-post because he can get there in a second,” The younger Boeheim said.
Like other talented freshmen at Syracuse before him, Richmond has provided a spark off the bench. He might not start, but he can close. His head coach went with him down the stretch. Richmond just has one obvious hole in his game at current.
“He’s naturally a play-maker,” Buddy Boeheim said. “You watch him play in pickup or a game, whatever it is, he can get in the lane so easily and make a play. I think that’s what he’s best at. He’s working on his shot. Once that gets down it’s going to be even scarier.”