Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Brandon Triche in Review
Brandon Triche has one of the most difficult careers to define at Syracuse. Is he an overrated local player who was fortunate enough to be along for the ride on three great Syracuse squads? Or is he an integral part of those teams that defined whether they one or loss the games? Triche has started a school record 146 games, soon to be 147 come this Saturday.
Three Point Shooting: If you don’t think getting open looks and having defenses sag off of you don’t make a difference, take a look a Triche’s three point shooting season by season. As a freshman he made 40% of his shots (32 of 80). He benefited a lot because opposing defenses had to respect Andy Rautins on the perimeter, Wesley Johnson everywhere on the court, Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson with their high percentage shooting inside, and Kris Joseph slashing to the hoop. A great situation for a freshman sharpshooter to be in, and Triche delivered.
As a sophomore, Triche became the main three point shooter, and his percentage dropped to 33%. Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph also took to shooting the trey, but nobody was a serious threat… at least not of the level of Rautins and Johnson.
Ditto with his junior season; there was no great three point shooters, though a bevy of guys who all shot in that 35% range. Triche hit 35%.
This season Triche inexplicably has dropped to 29%. That is just plain awful for a guy who shoots as much as he does. And his career has shown that he should be about a 34%-35% shooter in this situation.
Free Throw Shooting: Triche struggled at the line his freshman year, hitting only 63% of his free throws. His sophomore season, Triche became an iceman at that free throw line, hitting 84% of his charity shots, including a school record 37 consecutive free throws. Triche dropped a little his junior year, hitting 77.5%, but still was a solid shooter, and was often on the court the last few minutes of the game because of his stellar free throw shooting.
His senior year, Triche is hitting 74% of his free throws. That’s an average number, somewhat respectable. But he now seems to miss all the crucial free throws, the complete opposite of the previous two years.
Clutch Shooting: Triche was often removed from the court his freshman year during crunch time because Jardine was a much better clutch shooter. Yet late in his sophomore season, and throughout his junior season, Triche was seemingly always the guy who would step up and make two critical shots in a row to start a Syracuse rally, or to stop an opposing team’s rally. Even early this season that occurred, and yet that has seemed to completely disappeared from his resume.
Ball Handling: Triche was the steady ball handler his junior season, the guy you wanted on the court during crunch time because he wouldn’t make mistakes. He had a 1.9 assist to turnover ratio that year, which is fine for a 2-guard. This season Triche has twice the number of turnovers, and a 1.27 assist to turnover ratio. The frustrating thing is that a lot of his turnovers appear to be of the freshman variety; that is, poor decision making and sloppy passing.
Driving to the Hoop: Triche is a strong player and has always been excellent at driving to the hoop. It seems like he has settled for more three point shots this year than in the past. Statistically speaking, that is not true. 38.5% of his shots this year are three pointers, compared to 40%, 48% and 41.1% for each of his first three years. So he is taking a higher percentage of his shots inside the arc, albeit a small difference. It just doesn’t seem that way.
He is also shooting at about the same frequency as he has in the past; if anything, it is a little bit less. His junior year, he had a shot every 2.9 minutes. This year he has a shot every 3.0 minutes.
Rebounding: Triche is a good rebounder for a guard, averaging about 3.4 rebounds a game. That’s not record breaking, nor even in Michael Carter-Williams league, but it is a respectable number for a 2-guard. That has remained somewhat consistent for his career.
Reputation: I have read a lot of fans derisively state that the only reason that Triche got a scholarship to Syracuse was that he was Howard Triche’s nephew. Furthermore, that the only reason Jim Boeheim plays him is because of that same reason, and that he wouldn’t start for most top 25 teams
There is no evidence to support that. New York State has a reputation for turning out high quality high school basketball players. Recruiting the New York State Player of the Year, for the highest school classification, would be a plum in the cap of any coach. Brandon Triche earned that distinction his senior year at Jamesville-DeWitt.
Syracuse has been 121-25 in the four years that Triche has played, including 55-17 in the Big East, one of the toughest, if not the toughest conference in the country. That includes two Big East Regular Season Championships, and a 29-12 record against top 25 teams. He is a 6’4” guard with the ability to rebound, drive to the hoop, play some point guard, and in most seasons, make a three. Guys like him will start for most top 25 programs.
Conclusion: Overall, I do not know what to make of Triche’s career. This Final Four run has clearly helped his legacy. During one stretch of this season when James Southerland was out of the line up, Triche would lead the Orange in scoring four out of seven games, including a victory on the road to #1 Louisville. The only loss during that period was an overtime loss to Villanova, where Triche led the team with 23 points. So he has been the big man for a period of this year; we all just seemed to have forgotten that with his terrible play down the regular season stretch.
If I was pushed for an answer, I would say he is a great complimentary player. He is the type of guy that Championship teams have on their starting roster, but not the star of a team. You don’t win championships without guys like Brandon Triche in your lineup, but you also don’t win championships if your team is dependent upon guys like him.