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SU’s Triche underrated, but appreciated

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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 Orange’s performance, and his straight-forward approach to the game.

Following last Saturday’s 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 don’t win that game, plain and simple,’’ said fellow junior James Southerland. “He’s starting to quietly take over at key moments. He’s not going to be the type to start yelling or anything like that. But you can tell he’s 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 season’s 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 I’ve 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.’’

That’s been the case many times this season, even though Triche’s numbers won’t 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.

He’s shooting 45 percent from the floor, and a team-leading 40 percent from 3-point range and 33 treys.

It’s Triche’s all-around game which draws the attention of opposing coaches.

“He’s tough to defend because he’s so strong,’’ West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “But he’s also quick enough to get off his own shot.’’

Triche is also SU’s best guard defender, making the top of the Orange 2-3 zone tough to penetrate or shoot over.

“He’s 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 I’ve gotten better each year, and I know I’ve become a lot smarter player. But this team is not about individuals. It’s about the team and that’s 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, “there’s plenty of minutes for everybody. At the end of the day, it’s 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, he’ll do it. Some nights that’s 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 didn’t get a good enough look at ‘em. It’s nice to play in gray and all. It looks nice. It’s different. But we’ll 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 doesn’t want to wear ‘em. But the gray, if he allows us to wear them, I’ll be excited about that. I’ve seen the pictures. It’s a different look.’’

Scoop Jardine: “It’s a nice uniform. Something I can put in my collection when I leave here. I’m a senior, so everything I’ve ever worn at Syracuse, I keep. So I get the blue uniform, the white, the orange and now I get the gray. One’s gonna go to my grandma, one’s gonna go to my other grandma, my dad gets one and my mom gets one.”

Dion Waiters: “They’re hot. I like ‘em. It’s different. I like the “Cuse” and I like the big “S” in the back. It’s 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) everybody’s going to be out there looking nice,” he said.

Best Big East Moments

The Big East Conference is holding fan voting on the conference’s greatest moment, greatest player and greatest team from the conference tournament’s history at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The Orange are well-represented in the nominations. Syracuse’s six-overtime win over Connecticut in 2009 and Gerry McNamara’s 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.

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