Buddy Boeheim has been one of the big stars of the NCAA Tournament, as the Hall of Fame coach’s son has led his team to the Sweet 16. But his backcourt mate, Joseph Girard III, hasn’t been forgotten by Jim Boeheim, either.
“He’s playing great basketball in this tournament,” Syracuse’s coach said Wednesday over Zoom. “Probably a little underrated.”
The sophomore has rebounded from an inconsistent season to play big in both of the No. 11 Orange’s wins in the tournament, averaging 12 points and team-highs of seven assists and six rebounds.
New York State’s all-time leading scorer out of Glens Falls, he’s made 7 of 16 3-point attempts after shooting just 33.1 percent from deep during the regular season. This is only the second time all year Girard has scored in double figures in consecutive games.
“He loves having the fans here, probably more than anyone. He builds off of that,” Buddy Boeheim said. “It’s a lot of fun being out there with him because when we [both get going], it’s scary for other teams.”
It wasn’t Cameron Krutwig’s game that initially impressed Porter Moser when he began recruiting him. It was his personality and enthusiasm that really piqued the Loyola Chicago coach’s interest.
The first time Moser saw Krutwig, he was a sophomore star at Jacobs High School in Algonquin, Ill., the team’s best player. It was in the middle of a shooting drill and Krutwig was the most vocal player, encouraging and pushing his teammates.
“He was like a 5-foot-5 walk-on that’s there to bring energy,” Moser said. “He loves basketball. ‘Krut’ loves to play and he loves life and he loves people and he loves friends.”
With his old-school game and wispy mustache that has its own Twitter account, the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year has become a big star during the eighth-seeded Ramblers’ run to the Sweet 16. The 6-foot-9 forward, averaging 14.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists, was a hit on “The Dan Patrick Show” for breaking into a rendition of Hall and Oates’ “Private Eyes” and doing a Will Ferrell impersonation from the movie “Semi-Tough.”
“Him being in the national spotlight, you just know people are going to fall in love with him, because of just the type of person that he is,” senior Lucas Williamson, Krutwig’s roommate, said.
Oral Roberts’ NCAA Tournament success isn’t a coincidence. It prepared for March by facing an absolute gauntlet during the non-conference portion of its schedule. The 15th-seeded Golden Eagles played at the homes of five different tournament teams: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Wichita State, Missouri and Arkansas, their South Region semifinal opponent on Saturday.
They went winless in those games, but they were competitive in four of them. Oral Roberts led No. 2 Arkansas by 12 in the second half, before falling by 11 on Dec. 20, and lost by five points apiece at Oklahoma State and Wichita State.
“When you go back and watch this film, [you can point out], ‘here are the possessions that need to get cleaned up in order to be on the right side of these games,’” Oral Roberts coach Paul Mills said. “Those things prepared us well for what we are currently experiencing.”