|Senior guard Brandon Triche will be the unquestioned leader for a young and inexperienced Syracuse team. (US Presswire)|
For someone who has started every game since arriving on campus as a freshman three years ago, Syracuse guard Brandon Triche has annually flown slightly beneath the radar.
Someone else has always overshadowed Triche, whether it was Scoop Jardine or Dion Waiters or Kris Joseph.
Now, though, the Orange belong to Triche. One of two scholarship seniors, Triche will be the most experienced player on the roster. He's started all 107 games in his career.
“I'm excited,” Triche said. “I'll have to take on more of a leadership role. We have guys that trust me, you know, putting the game in my hands.”
It's not like Triche will suddenly be by himself on the perimeter, though. Sophomore Michael Carter-Williams is one of the most-talented guards in the country and is poised for a breakout year alongside Triche. Both players can handle the ball, much like the two-point guard system coach Jim Boeheim utilized the past couple of seasons.
Triche said he likes the idea of splitting ball-handling duties because it's less pressure and also allows both guys to play off the ball at times.
“I think it's great,” he said. “Me and Mike want to get the best from our guys.”
Carter-Williams will also add length on the perimeter, which will help in the 2-3 zone defense and on the glass – the biggest weakness for Syracuse last season.
If Syracuse is going to be better than it was a year ago, its performance on the defensive glass will need to improve. The Orange ranked No. 341 in the country last season when it came to allowing offensive rebounds.
This season, the Orange won't be the same group. But the feeling around the program is they will be better defensively and on the glass – even without Jardine, Waiters, Joseph and Fab Melo.
“We've got James [Southerland] on the wing, Jerami [Grant] on the wing, C.J. [Fair] on the wing,” Triche said. “And we have guys who can rebound.”
No one averaged more than six rebounds a game last season, but big men Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita are expected to improve their numbers on the glass. Moreover, freshman DaJuan Coleman was a five-star center coming out of high school. The length on the perimeter from Carter-Williams, Fair and others should also create plenty of problems on the defensive end.
Last year, Syracuse relied on its depth to win games, going at least 10-deep on a nightly basis. The Orange will use their bench again this season, but it won't be the same; they only have nine scholarship players.
“The biggest difference is that we have young players who played last season,” Triche said. “We're not going to be as deep because we don't have those young players off the bench.”
With so many relatively inexperienced players, Triche will have to be the leader. There's no more taking a backseat for him.