The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball program is set to host the Clemson Tigers at noon on Saturday. It’ll be a homecoming for former Syracuse player and Glens Falls native Joe Girard, who transferred to Clemson utilizing his covid-year after playing four years at Syracuse.
It’ll mark Girard’s first game back in the JMA Wireless Dome since he transferred following Jim Boeheim’s retirement last season. Girard finished 17th on Syracuse’s all-time scoring list with 1,652 points. He sits third all-time in three point field goals made and eighth in assists. Girard is second all-time in free throw percentage, second only to Gerry McNamara.
In an interview with WSPA-TV in Clemson, Girard was asked about how the upcoming game at Syracuse would be for him.
“To be honest all year I haven’t really thought much about it. Being in the season you’re kind of focused day by day, every practice and every game,” Girard said. “I mean the emotions are the same. You want to go out there and get a W.”
That and more from the former Orange guard below.
Q: So much has changed up there since you’ve left. Coach Boeheim’s gone. They play a different style. What do you know about what you’ve seen from that and how different is it?
Girard: They’re trying to play at a faster pace on both offense and defense. Trying to get a lot of steals. Trying to pressure the ball. They got a lot of good athletes and a lot of talent. On offense they’re pretty good as well. We just gotta be disciplined, do what we do, follow the game plan coach is going to give us.
Q: When you look at a place like playing in the dome it’s very different. What have you told your teammates here about playing in the dome?
Girard: The basket is the same and the ball is the same. That’s really all it comes down to. Just have confidence, go out there and play your game. Nothing is really different. It might look a little different from the outside but on the inside the basketball is the same, the court’s the same, the hoop’s the same.
Q: What are some of your favorite things or favorite memories (of playing at Syracuse)?
Girard: Yeah I mean I had a lot. Obviously had a great four years there. Blessed to be able to play for a Hall of Famer like Coach Boeheim. Had a lot of great teammates throughout the way. There’s so many that come to mind. But I mean obviously playing in the Sweet 16 — as a little kid you always dream about playing in March Madness — to be able to make a Sweet 16 my sophomore year was unbelievable, something I’ll remember forever. We got a lot of wins here and there playing at places that were really unique, really cool atmospheres. Playing at Barclays. Playing at Madison Square Garden. Being able to play at a lot of different venues that as a kid growing up in New York you hear about all the time was pretty cool for me.
Q: Off the basketball court, some of things you miss about Syracuse?
Girard: Yeah I mean being a New York kid I knew a lot of people in the community. Obviously grew up a few hours away, but you know being there for four years I met a lot of people. Played a lot of golf at a lot of different places with a lot of people. The community was great to me. Although things didn’t go as well as we wanted sometimes on the court there was always great people to learn from and have relationships with. A lot of people that I met that I miss.
Q: Final question, coming to Clemson, South Carolina. Off the court what are some things you like here?
Girard: Clemson’s the best. People are so nice. The weather is great. People just love Clemson sports, basketball included. Obviously football’s a big thing here. But people love their Clemson sports and I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve seen is just how much support fans truly give to all their teams. I’ve loved it so far. Obviously a different style of living. It’s really nice outside and the people are nice as well. I’ve loved my time here and it’s been great so far.
Syracuse and Clemson will tip off at noon on Saturday and will air on ESPN2.