Brandon Triche always measures his thoughts carefully before he speaks.
An intelligent, thoughtful young man who would like to work in the public health field some day, Triche is sought after following each Syracuse game for his cerebral assessment of the Oranges performance, and his straight-forward approach to the game.
Following last Saturdays 63-61 home win over West Virginia, in which Triche made several key plays to help the Orange survive, all the 6-foot-4 sophomore guard could talk about was his lack of help on the boards, where SU got outrebounded 40-21 by the Mountaineers.
A lot of time, I could have gotten rebounds when I was a step away, said Triche, who did not grab one official rebound. But I was a little bit lazy today, and for that I guess I let down the team.
His teammates beg to differ. It was Triche who made the key outside shots in the second half, and the two clutch foul shots that ultimately made the difference in a tight Big East Conference game at the packed Carrier Dome.
If not for Brandon, we dont win that game, plain and simple, said fellow junior James Southerland. Hes starting to quietly take over at key moments. Hes not going to be the type to start yelling or anything like that. But you can tell hes really focused when he plays like that.
Triche sank a 3-pointer to start the SU second-half scoring, then followed that shot with a steal and run-out that increased the Orange lead to 33-27.
Later, with his club trailing by a point, Triche drained a contested three that gave SU the lead, bringing the seasons largest crowd (28,740) to its feet.
I was open, then they closed a bit, he said. But once I get my feet set, I figure Ive got a pretty good chance to make it.
Triche followed that three with a 10-foot jumper. And with West Virginia threatening to pull off the upset, Triche drove the lane with 1:28 left and the score tied, was fouled and drained both free throws for the final points of the game.
Even coach Jim Boeheim, who dishes out praise infrequently, said Triche made some huge plays for us. He really stepped up.
Thats been the case many times this season, even though Triches numbers wont wow you.
While playing just over 22 minutes per game, he is scoring a little bit less than last year (10.2 ppg. compared to 11.1 in 2010-11), is averaging 2.9 assists, 2.4 rebounds and is third on the team with 29 steals.
Hes shooting 45 percent from the floor, and a team-leading 40 percent from 3-point range and 33 treys.
Its Triches all-around game which draws the attention of opposing coaches.
Hes tough to defend because hes so strong, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. But hes also quick enough to get off his own shot.
Triche is also SUs best guard defender, making the top of the Orange 2-3 zone tough to penetrate or shoot over.
Hes just a steady, smart player, Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. A perfect fit for that team.
A former New York State Player of the Year at Jamesville-DeWitt, Triche was a high-level national recruit and expected to make an immediate impact on the Orange program.
He has started every game in his SU career (92) and has been a vital cog in the Orange success the last three years. Yet, he always leaves you wanting for more.
Boeheim has said more than once that Triche can be as good as he wants to be. His potential is limitless.
Boeheim has talked to Triche about being more aggressive going to the hoop and looking for his shot more.
Relayed those thoughts, Triche just shrugs his shoulders and says, I think Ive gotten better each year, and I know Ive become a lot smarter player. But this team is not about individuals. Its about the team and thats all that matters to me.
Triche has seen some of his minutes taken over by flashy sophomore guard Dion Waiters, who makes several highlight-reel plays a game. But Triche, the nephew of former Orange star Howard Triche, said, theres plenty of minutes for everybody. At the end of the day, its all about winning. When a good things is going well, why change it?
Brandon is the ultimate team player, backcourt mate Scoop Jardine said. Whatever he needs to do to help this team win, hell do it. Some nights thats scoring, sometimes its passing, and he always plays great defense.
New unis: mixed reviews
SU will wear new Nike uniforms on Feb. 22 when it hosts the University of South Florida in the Carrier Dome.
The new look features gray shirts and shorts trimmed in orange. Most fans have voiced their displeasure with the uniforms.
Players have given them a more positive review.
James Southerland: I honestly didnt get a good enough look at em. Its nice to play in gray and all. It looks nice. Its different. But well see.
C.J. Fair: I like the whole idea of the gray uniforms. I always wanted to wear an alternate jersey. I always wanted to wear the blue jerseys, but I heard Coach doesnt want to wear em. But the gray, if he allows us to wear them, Ill be excited about that. Ive seen the pictures. Its a different look.
Scoop Jardine: Its a nice uniform. Something I can put in my collection when I leave here. Im a senior, so everything Ive ever worn at Syracuse, I keep. So I get the blue uniform, the white, the orange and now I get the gray. Ones gonna go to my grandma, ones gonna go to my other grandma, my dad gets one and my mom gets one.
Dion Waiters: Theyre hot. I like em. Its different. I like the Cuse and I like the big S in the back. Its just kind of hot, the orange and the gray.
The uniforms also feature orange socks and orange Nike shoes. Waiters has been the only SU player to wear orange socks this season. (Now) everybodys going to be out there looking nice, he said.
Best Big East Moments
The Big East Conference is holding fan voting on the conferences greatest moment, greatest player and greatest team from the conference tournaments history at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The Orange are well-represented in the nominations. Syracuses six-overtime win over Connecticut in 2009 and Gerry McNamaras tournament heroics in 2006 are both nominated for Best Moment. The Orange have four nominees for Best Player Pearl Washington, Sherman Douglas, Gerry McNamara and Johnny Flynn. The 2006 Orange is nominated for Best Team.
Go to Big East .org to register your vote.