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Triche Gave Syracuse Fans A Lot To Remember

April 8, 2013 - John Whittaker
It comes as no shock to anyone who has read this blog over the years that the News Wife and I am die-hard Syracuse fans.

So, this may surprise a lot of people, but the Final Four loss to Michigan didn't really bother us that much. In fact, the only thing that disappointed us about Saturday's Final Four loss to Michigan is knowing we won't see Brandon Triche play another game for the Orange.

Maybe that's why I had a hard time reading a column in the Daily Orange on Sunday saying it's appropriate Saturday's game ended the way it did -- with Triche unable to pull out a win. It's an all-or-nothing viewpoint that cheapens a great career for a good kid and a solid player.

For those who don't know, with a chance to complete an improbable comeback against Michigan on Saturday, Triche had a free throw rim out and a block/charge call not go his way. Make no mistake, Triche made the right play — pulling up is incredibly difficult with a bigger player challenging you. Saturday's officials had been leaning toward calling blocks most of the game Saturday (see the call against Michael Carter-Williams a few minutes earlier or the block called on Carter-Williams in the first half as proof).

Sometimes, you're just unlucky.

Some look at Brandon Triche and see a player who couldn't lead his team to tonight's championship game against Louisville. I see a guy I would gladly take on my team.

If anything, Brandon Triche is the victim of nothing worse than poor timing and bad luck.

His best two teams were undermined by injury and academic suspensions. His worst team surprised everyone with a trip to the Final Four.

The best situation for him was his freshman year, when Triche player point guard for a team with an NBA-caliber small forward in Wes Johnson, two stout post players who could get their shot on the low block in Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson and a capable 3-point shooter in Andy Rautins. That situation was tailor-made for Triche, and a knee injury to Onuaku in the Big East tournament derailed a realistic chance at an NCAA Championship. It was a talented team, but one that needed a smart player to run the show. Triche's floor sense and ability to feed hot players, find mismatches and find shooters in perfect rhythm made that talented team run efficiently. Without Triche, that team isn't nearly as good.

Triche's junior year saw Syracuse get off to a blazing start until Fab Melo was suspended for academic problems. It, too, had almost a perfect blend of talent with Kris Joseph (now in the NBA Developmental League), Dion Waiters as a creator and finisher, and Scoop Jardine, a decent shooter and heady player. The team got on a roll when Melo returned only to see the center suspended again for the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse ended up losing in the Elite Eight to an Ohio State team perfectly suited to exploit Syracuse's hole in the paint.

Expectations were a little too high this year for Syracuse. Fans got carried away with a great start and didn't see the team's holes. All season, Syracuse showed itself to be a solid, not great, team. It had serious holes inside and struggled to score, especially if James Southerland wasn't making shots. There was no offensive presence in the paint. The only consistent scorer was C.J. Fair — who should have seen the ball on 80 percent of the team's possessions. Alas, without Triche running the point, that didn't happen enough. Even with its holes exposed for the world, the 2012-13 Syracuse team rallied, showing boatloads of heart and guts to make the Big East Tournament finals. In the NCAA Tournament, they steamrolled No. 1 seeded Indiana and then flummoxed Marquette, a team with which Syracuse has struggled. This Final Four team is a team that maximized its talent, something for which you can credit Brandon Triche. Without his leadership, this team could well have folded late this year.

At worst, Brandon Triche was a solid player who anyone would love to play with in a pick-up basketball game — unselfish, someone who can shoot but doesn't dominate the ball, a good defender, positive to a fault and someone who didn't whine and point fingers when things didn't go his way. At his best, Triche was a player who you could win a championship with provided he played with the right type of guys.

In four years, Triche helped take two teams to the Elite Eight, one to the Sweet 16 and another to the Final Four. He was never a distraction. He was never a problem academically. He was never a problem in the locker room. If anything, he did what was best for the team even though it hurt his chances at an NBA career by moving from point guard — a position that seemed to perfectly fit his personality — to shooting guard.

When I think of Brandon Triche, I won't think of the end of the Michigan game.

I'll remember thinking Triche should have gotten the ball more in the season-ending loss to Marquette in the NCAA Tournament a couple of years ago. I'll remember him stepping up against No. 1 Louisville in January, scoring 23 points and hounding Louisville's guards when Syracuse upset the Cardinals without James Southerland - a game Syracuse had little business winning. I'll remember those gritty 13 points in the Big East Tournament upset against Georgetown this year to avenge that demoralizing 61-39 loss to end the regular season.

Most importantly, I'll remember Triche as a guy who was proud to wear the Syracuse uniform.

That has to count for something, doesn't it?


Article Comments



Apr-09-13 9:19 PM

*are die-hard Syracuse fans.


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