first_img Published on November 12, 2019 at 9:10 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @MikeJMcCleary Facebook Twitter Google+ When another attempt to break through Virginia’s defense in the second half failed and Jalen Carey’s swooping layup was swatted out of bounds, SU head coach Jim Boeheim scowled, pointed towards Joe Girard III and ordered the freshman off the bench.Girard had given the Orange a spark in the first half, and SU’s ventures into the lane weren’t effective. Syracuse needed 3s. With Buddy Boeheim and Elijah Hughes playing almost every minute, the Orange needed the freshman Girard to take control.“I’m just going to do whatever coach tells me to do,” Girard said. “Today, he just put me at the point guard. Maybe he thought that was our best shot.”In his first game at SU, Girard found himself in a role uncharacteristic of his scouting report. Known for his shooting, Girard showcased his abilities as a playmaking lead guard for Syracuse and was one of the lone bright spots in a historically bad offensive game against Virginia. Boeheim said giving Hughes ball-handling responsibilities gives the team “a different look,” and Girard in the same role does much of the same.Though Girard was unsure of why point guard was his chosen role against the Cavaliers, Buddy acknowledged that a commitment to 3-pointers — despite uneven results — dictated much of SU’s game plan in the opener. If Syracuse continues its reliance on 3-point shooting, a lineup with its three best shooters together in the backcourt could produce consistent offense.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“He probably looked at the landscape and was like, ‘Elijah and Buddy are veterans and they’re going to play a lot of minutes,’” said Jim Hart, Girard’s City Rocks AAU coach. “So, in the ‘find-a-way JGIII mentality,’ he found a way to get a lot of minutes at (point guard) in his first game in college — when no one thought he would.”Karleigh Merritt-Henry | Digital Design EditorAs word of Girard’s shooting stroke spread early in his career, defenders denied him the ball however possible. Girard had to develop a natural creativity on and off the ball. His shot fake often fooled defenders wary of his 3-point shooting, which opened a driving lane,  drew an interior defender and created a dump-pass option to a teammate inside. Playing with Buddy at City Rocks, the two created an understanding to seek the extra pass before a shot in hopes of getting a better one.Girard said he’s worked with SU assistant coach Gerry McNamara on driving to the rim, utilizing the strength in his lower body as opposed to relying on his broad-shouldered frame. In high school, he noted that he had to take plays off when possible to preserve energy to score. But at Syracuse, the mindset is different and he has to maintain a steady competitive energy throughout the game. When there aren’t three defenders on him, it’s easier.“I think the biggest thing for me is showing off that I’m not just a shooter, I’m not just a scorer,” Girard said.But as a player who averaged 50 points for much of his high school career, the results in a playmaking role are sometimes erratic. Several times in the preseason, Girard drove in with his upper-body and was charged with offensive fouls or had his momentum stopped.After sparking an early SU scoring run against Virginia on a two-dribble penetration and a dish to Marek Dolezaj, Girard had too much forward momentum and fired a pass out of bounds while leading the break.“(Girard)’s not ready for (Virginia): This defense, this team,” Boeheim said after SU’s loss to Virginia.Near the end of the first half against the Cavaliers, Girard took the ball and immediately gave it to Hughes. Girard faded off the ball, and his defender crept towards Hughes. Girard darted back, took a dump pass from Hughes and rose up beyond the line. His shot ricocheted off the back rim and fell through the hoop. Girard stuck up three fingers and tucked them to his side.Said Boeheim: “But he’ll get better.” Commentslast_img

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