Earlier in the season, when Syracuse basketball's sophomore guard Brandon Triche would routinely come out following the game's intermission shooting, making plays and switching the momentum in favor of the Orange. SU fans were glad to have a solid fourth option because junior forward Kris Joseph, the squad's leading scorer with 14.7 points per game, senior forward Rick Jackson and senior point guard Scoop Jardine couldn't always do it themselves.
However, as the postseason quickly sneaks up on the Orange (21-6, 8-6 Big East), who have four games remaining in the regular season, it seems as if Triche is now SU's No. 1 option. This was no clearer Monday night when Triche netted a team-best 20 points, his second 20-plus point performance in as many games, and led Syracuse to a 63-52 victory over the visiting West Virginia Mountaineers at the Carrier Dome. The victory snapped a two-game losing streak and helped head coach Jim Boeheim earn his 850th victory.
"Brandon (Triche) has been very aggressive for our team and that is important for our team - he is a scorer," said Boeheim in his post-game press conference about the Syracuse-area native, Triche. ""The last game Brandon (Triche) found himself and that continued tonight."
What Triche found out was his team and coaches were looking for someone to be more aggressive, more assertive and help SU score points.
"Taking shots is better than turning the ball over," said Triche after the game. "I’m just trying to be aggressive and get in the lane and commit two guys so I can hit the open player. If not, I have a good chance at scoring. All of the coaches are telling me to come out early. I’m scoring most of my points in the second half. I try to get up six or seven shots to try and get into a rhythm."
Triche seems to have a lot of tools that would make him a pretty spectacular player for the next two seasons. However, Joseph, Jackson and Jardine have been struggling on offense, which means Syracuse is, too. So, it seems that Boeheim is asking Triche to step up now.
If Triche is going to be SU's new "go-to" guy, I am sold because here is what the "Big Three" produced Monday night: Jardine had a stat-stuffing performance with nine points, six assists, five steals and five rebounds. (That's the Scoop Jardine that all Orange fans love.) Joseph had a quiet but productive 16 points (No. 32 is best when he's making plays that seem stealth-like), while teammate Jackson just missed another double-double (10 points and nine rebounds).
Nothing in Monday's victory was spectacular, but Syracuse was clearly the best team on the floor -- only senior guard Casey Mitchell's game-best 23 points, which came off the bench and included seven 3-pointers, kept the Mountaineers competitive. I guess, Boeheim was right in his post-game presser (click to watch -- trust me it's worth your time). The sky in Syracuse isn't or ever will fall. It just sometimes seems like it might.