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Will Brandon Triche Answer The Bell?

One of if not the biggest storyline coming into the 2012-13 season is whether Brandon Triche will come alive and lead the Orange to a deep tournament run. Now if you follow the team, you probably don’t need me to name the reasons why, but for clarity’s sake, it’s a mix of a few things. He’s started every game he’s played. He’s one of just two scholarship seniors. He’s a local guy. He didn’t put up a fuss (at least not publicly) when he was asked to switch positions. He has excellent vision. When he’s on, he’s one of the best shooters in the conference and can read a passing lane with the best of them. The only way he could be under more pressure is if he was a can’t-miss NBA prospect. There’s a ton to like about Triche.

The other thing about being such a mainstay in the lineup for his first three seasons, though, is that the exposure has given fans and media ample opportunity to pick at some of his perceived shortcomings – he’s too stoic, too streaky, he’s had nagging injuries, he’s not aggressive or vocal enough. As fans, many of us run hot and cold on this team and have seen what happens when expectations are heaped on rising seniors adjusting to more prominent roles.

Don’t get me wrong; there have been some excellent senior campaigns over the years, but for every Rick Jackson, it seems like there have been two or three Kris Josephs. The counterargument is that most anyone who was good enough to have that kind of year as a senior left for the NBA before the opportunity presented itself, and that’s certainly part of it, but it’s Triche’s cross to bear as the season draws closer. On roughly 342 occasions, we’ve seen him have an excellent game and wonder aloud if he’s turned the corner only to see him fade back into the background three days later as quickly as he broke out of it. Granted, I don’t think fan and media expectations play a huge role in a given player’s success, but I’m not completely ignoring it, either. Faced with a more prominent role, everyone is wondering if Brandon Triche will be the leader he wants to be.

The attention surrounding Triche comes from expecting more all around, but a lot of the talk hinges on him being needed to score, and I’m not completely sure I agree with that. As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, one of the great things about this team is that it will have tremendous depth, especially in the shooting department. Triche, Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair and James Southerland can all put points on the board in a hurry and it’s also the calling card of Trevor Cooney.

Triche hasn’t scored more than 11 points per game in a season (his sophomore year), though I think that’s more a product of having scorers everywhere around him to this point than it is a knock on his lack of aggression. Usually when I think of big scorers who lead the team, I think of guys who average 15 or more a game consistently. In fact, only twice in the last 11 seasons has the Orange’s leading scorer failed to crack that threshold, though on the flip side, those two occasions came in the previous two seasons.

While I believe Triche is definitely capable of putting up those kinds of numbers, I don’t think it will be a necessity. The accuracy of the other players I named in this paragraph will go a long way towards determining whether Triche will have to put up 15+ for the team to be successful. I’m hoping that’s not the case, but leadership can be measured in other ways.

If Triche can average somewhere between 12 and 15 points on a nightly basis and dish out a few assists when Michael Carter-Williams catches a breather, all will be well. However, if he continues to hover between 7 and 11 points as the team’s most experienced player and is held back by injuries and inconsistency, it’s going to make the mountain that much steeper and put a little more stress on the Southerlands and Cooneys of the team.

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