The Basketball Tournament

Brandon Triche leading Boeheim’s Army with renewed search for stardom

Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

Brandon Triche, a four-year starter at Syracuse, led the Orange to the Final Four in 2013 alongside Michael Carter-Williams. Four years later, he’s still chasing NBA dreams.

The celebration after Brandon Triche’s late 3-pointer in Brooklyn was not flashy. Nothing extra, just the same reservation he displayed as a four-year starter at Syracuse. He later approached the free-throw line with the same ease he showcased when he led SU to the 2013 Final Four. He calmly sunk all four free-throws to secure Boeheim’s Army a spot in the Elite Eight, where he ran point during the SU alumni’s 40-10 run to end the game.  

This Triche of summer 2017 insists he’s better than the Triche of 2013, when he averaged 13.6 points as starting shooting guard in his final season at Syracuse. He insists that now he’s a step quicker, a little more mobile and consistent with his jumper. He insists he can scan the floor with an extra sense of how things will play out in front of him. He said the efficiency, strength and floor sense is all there.

That’s important because he’s averaging 11 points, six assists and 4.8 boards per game for a Boeheim’s Army team two victories away from capturing The Basketball Tournament’s $2 million grand prize. He missed the entire 2015-16 season overseas due to injury, taking a diminished role in last year’s TBT. Clearing his mind and preserving his body, he surged into TBT this summer.

At 26, Triche said what’s most important is showcasing his talents on national TV and, hopefully, earning a nice paycheck. Winning the 64-team, single-elimination tournament this week in Baltimore would give him both, affording him the chance to give it another go in the NBA G-League this fall.

“I want to get paid somewhere close to what I deserve,” Triche said, “and use this as a stepping stone. This is a great opportunity at a high enough level where I have exposure on ESPN. If I do play well, teams will see that, and it’ll open up doors I didn’t have before.”

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 30: Baye Moussa-Keita #12 of the Syracuse Orange looks on with teamate Brandon Triche #20 in the game against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the East Regional Final Round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Verizon Center on March 30, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nate Shron/The Daily Orange)

Daily Orange File Photo 

The 6-foot-4 guard does not lead BA in scoring, but he’s been arguably the team’s most efficient player. In both Brooklyn games, he heated up in the second half. He’s running the point with the same composure he displayed at SU and he’s turnover-free.

“He’s the best all-around player on our team,” BA guard John Gillon said.

Leading up to the tournament, it had been a rocky stretch of basketball for Triche. After graduating SU, he signed a one-year deal in the Italian Second Division. He played for the New York Knicks summer league team in 2014, but didn’t latch on in the NBA.

When his production and speed declined in early 2015, Triche said, he was released from an Italian pro team. He told others it was his ankle that bothered him. Yet he had been playing high-level European hoops for a month with “no meniscus, no ACL,” his agent, Jamar Smiley, said. “He’s a monster.”

His left knee was reconstructed on March 31, 2015. He first tore his ACL as a 15-year-old at Jamesville-DeWitt (New York) High School. He sat out the entire 2015-16 season.

“Being hurt for 16 months,” Triche said, “it’s easy for people to forget about you … some people still ask me (whether) I still play basketball. This past year for me I realized I’m healthy and even better. I’m getting seen by more eyes.”

By that, he means a shot at high-level basketball. Specifically, a shot at the NBA by means of the G-League. Stand out there, he figures, and he could get on an NBA floor. In an ideal world, BA wins the title this week and he stays in the United States. If not, he wants to earn what top players overseas make, several hundred thousand dollars per year.

While playing there over parts of the past few seasons, he lived in Rome and Israel. Children who recognized Triche came up to him on Israeli beaches and at gas stations, asking for selfies, autographs or just to say hello.

uofl-2

Daily Orange File Photo

When back at Syracuse, he works out at local YMCAs and the Jewish Community Center in DeWitt. He said he still carries the fact that he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2012 as a driving force, a reminder to himself that he went from a local three-star recruit to a four-year starter at SU, turning down heavy interest from Georgetown to play for Jim Boeheim at home in central New York.

In the process, he stayed to his quiet self. Teammate James Southerland, fresh off a stint with the Utah Jazz in the NBA Summer League, recalls meeting Triche when they were about 16. Southerland approached Triche at a basketball showcase in Philadelphia. Triche didn’t respond.

“He packed his bags, didn’t say anything. That was weird as heck,” Southerland said. “Years later, that’s the same kid we’re seeing. That’s the kid who never said a word.”

A few days from now he may be back home in the Syracuse area, gearing up for another year overseas. Or he may be celebrating the TBT title with some extra cash in his pocket and a renewed focus at the NBA. Either way, he has reminded Syracuse fans of the same Triche they once saw, rekindling the memories of that deep run in March 2013.

“I know my accomplishments,” Triche said, “and the high level I can get to.”

Comments

Top Stories