Next in Line
The Brandon Triche era begins at Syracuse.
The Point Guard position has been synonymous with success at Syracuse University for more than three decades. In that time, Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim has implemented an offense that’s allowed his lead guards the freedom to create and make plays. In over thirty years behind the bench, Boeheim’s recruited athletes of all different shapes and sizes to run his system. While the players have come and gone, the results have remained constant. 20-win seasons, NCAA tournament appearances, and national notoriety for the young man running his team have become second nature.
In the 80s, Pearl Washington and Sherman Douglas used this offensive freedom to show the world their talent, turning Syracuse into a basketball hotbed. In the 90′s, Adrian Autry and Jason Hart continued the tradition, helping Syracuse remain a perennial top 25 team. By the turn of the millennium, Gerry McNamara and Jonny Flynn were national household names, touring the country like rock stars, while achieving new levels of media coverage and acquiring a country full of adoring fans.
Enter Brandon Triche. New York State’s 2009 “Mr. Basketball”, and next in line to run coach Boeheim’s offense. A 6-4, 210 pound pit-bull who led nearby Jamesville-Dewitt to two High School Class A State Championships and a Federation Championship. A local point guard with an outstanding work ethic, chiseled frame, and championship mentality. So will it be another seamless transition at point guard for the Orange?
Ask the personnel in Syracuse, and those who’ve been around him the last few years, and the definitive answer is yes. “Winning is an attitude, and he certainly brings that to our program,” said Gerry McNamara, the newest member of Syracuse’s coaching staff. “Any time you’ve won a lot of games, you’re a guy that hates to lose. I’m sure he’s going to come in, expect to win, and expect to win right away. Any time you have kids like that, you’re definitely moving in the right direction.”
Yet, Brandon’s spent most of his short basketball career flying under the radar. As a high school Senior, he wasn’t invited to the McDonald’s All- American game, nor was he amongst anyone’s top ranked point guards in the class of 2009. “It’s fuel to the fire. I’m just going out there to prove people wrong. I’m going to take what people have said are my weaknesses and turn them into my strengths. Coming into college, I have motivation from the people who put me under the radar and didn’t think I was very good. I think I’m going to show them, I’m better than people expect ” explains Triche.
Triche is a power point guard. He uses his muscular frame to get to the rim, and he’s a guard that can finish with contact. He’s got a high basketball IQ, can shoot the ball with range, and looks to get his teammates involved at every opportunity. Does that make him a pass first point guard? His 1,929 career points make him one of the most prolific scorers in Central New York history, and his 20+ ppg average over his final two seasons would suggest he’s more than just a one trick pony.
How will these skills translate to the next level? We’re only weeks from finding out.
With practice set to begin, one thing is certain. Brandon has big shoes to fill. When Jonny Flynn decided to enter the draft and forgo his Junior season, it meant two things for Brandon. He’s no longer going to have a grace period to progress along the learning curve, and he’s going to be given more responsibility out of the gate. So how will Brandon be different than Jonny? “He was one of the top 5 point guards in the country last year, and if he came back this year, he would have been the top player in the country” declares Brandon about his predecessor and friend. ” I’m about 3-4 inches taller and a lot bigger. I probably won’t be able to get to the basket as easily as Jonny, but he’s probably the best point guard in SU history getting to the basket… Hopefully I’ll be able to win a championship.”
Winning. That seems to be the common theme when talking to Brandon Triche. With his past success, and relentless drive to be the best, what should the fans of Syracuse expect from their local floor general? “In having me, you’re going to have a great leader, a guy who has a successful basketball background, who’s always been a winner, and who knows how to close out games. I think that’s what coach Boeheim has seen in me.”
Coach Boeheim certainly hasn’t been talking down his new point guard. He seems to be gushing about his freshman to be every chance he gets. Brandon’s history of winning has a lot to do with it I’m sure, but so does his work ethic. “He works as hard as any player that’s come in as a freshman that I’ve been around.” proclaims McNamara “The way he works individually, and the pride he takes in his own success , it’s going to be fun to watch him develop.”
GMAC isn’t the only one who’s excited to watch Brandon develop. He’s had fans in Syracuse for years and has been one of the most highly anticipated recruits in some time, regardless of rankings. “I think with me being a great guy, not being a cocky person, and always being humble, it should help me get more fans. I think it’s the big reason I have a lot of fans in Syracuse now.” said Brandon. That helps, no question. Leading Jamesville-Dewitt, a school just 5 minutes outside of Syracuse to the two most successful years in the programs history, that’s icing on the cake.
Playing in front of your hometown family and friends isn’t always easy. ” The biggest reason I stayed here was because of my family. I love being around home and around Syracuse. ” reveals Triche. What if Brandon doesn’t fill the shoes of those who came before him? “If I play bad, they know me. I’ll always be around Syracuse, so if I play bad the fans might say bad things about me.” says Triche, looking comfortable with that reality. “Being a local guy, it’s probably going to be tough, but I know I’m ready for it.”
Ready or not, Triche is going to be counted on to help replace the production of Jonny Flynn. What kind of numbers should people around the country expect? “I want to average 15 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds” says a confident Triche. “I’m a guy who sets high goals. It gives me motivation to go out there and reach them.”
While Jonny’s departure may have tempered expectations from the fan base, the players are still working towards the same goals. According to Brandon, “The guys have worked hard and really stepped their games up. We’re dreaming about the same things even without Jonny.”
If Brandon continues to win at the rate he’s become accustomed, and somehow reaches his 15-6-6 prediction…the next SLAM article will be about how the Orange plan to replace Brandon Triche. And the cycle continues.
Nolan Shulman is the North American Recruiting Analyst for Flagrant Fouls. He provides an in-depth look at standout prospects and programs from Toronto to California. Flagrant Fouls watches and evaluates prospects from the earliest point of their basketball development.