With another season behind us, we’re looking ahead to the 2022-23 Syracuse Orange men’s basketball roster. We’ll look at the players that we anticipate will be returning, as well as the incoming recruits. Next up on the agenda is Guard Joe Girard.
A junior with nearly three years of starting experience, Girard was expected to rack up playing time and did so, averaging over 34 minutes per game to compensate for a thin SU bench. He started off the season scorching hot, especially from three, and that trend continued for much of the campaign. He finished shooting .403 from deep and .392 overall, both career highs.
Girard definitely had his moments this year. He hit a pair of free throws in the final second of 2nd Overtime to beat then-undefeated Indiana, and he had several 20+ point performances - including a 23-point game against Clemson where he shot 80% outside the arc. And in the ACC Tournament against Duke, he hit this fadeaway three to close out an 18-point first half and give the Orange hope toward a major upset:
After a sophomore slump, there were questions as to whether prioritizing Girard over, say, Kadary Richmond, was the right call. At least on offense, Joe didn’t disappoint.
There’s two main areas that Girard needs to focus on for his senior season. The first is improving his situational awareness. There were times this season where Joe seemingly zoned out and made mistakes at crucial points in close games. Look no further than the regular season finale against Miami. Inside the game’s final minute, Joe had both a sloppy turnover that led to the Canes cutting the lead to one and a badly contested shot while down one, with time on his side and the game on the line. It’s somewhat encouraging that even with some questionable shot selection, he had really good scoring numbers. He will need to fine tune that though - he won’t have another deep threat in Buddy Boeheim as his wingman this time around.
Girard’s defense can also improve. The zone had plenty of lapses this past season, so Joe’s not the only culprit, but better positioning is a must. There is the possibility of the Orange playing some man with a very athletic incoming class, so that can help account for Girard’s size disadvantage with some opponents.
JGIII is probably the primary scoring option for the Orange next season. That will mean he’s going to draw a lot of defensive attention, but if Jesse Edwards can set up plays, then Girard just needs to be patient and take the shots he is given. If he can do that, it ought to be a respectable final(?) ride for the in-state product.