“He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” – Aristotle
As we await the 2012-13 edition of the Syracuse basketball team, we look at a roster devoid of four significant pieces from last year’s Elite 8 representative. Dion Waiters, Fab Melo, and Kris Joseph have all moved on to greener (quite literally in the case of new Celtics, Melo and Joseph) NBA pastures. And Scoop Jardine, the veteran point guard of five years on the SU hill, is also now an alum.
Jardine and Joseph were Syracuse’s court commanders last season. Melo and Waiters were looked at to produce in ways that no other players on the roster could, with Melo defending and rebounding and Waiters getting to the cup.
Lost in the shuffle last season (and arguably each of the last three seasons) was Brandon Triche. Good at a lot of things, not great at any one thing, Triche’s game was quietly solid…his mouth even quieter.
Not one to open his mouth much, Triche is a player that lets his game do his talking. However, despite enormous talent, his play fluctuated in his junior season. Six times he scored 15 or more points. But, seven times he scored five points or less. At season’s end, his points per game average sat at 9.4.
It is here where Aristotle’s quote starts to take shape for the Orange. With all the other leaders on the team last season, Triche could just fill his role and obey his commanders. Now, as one of just two scholarship seniors on the roster (James Southerland being the other), Triche must shepherd the herd this season. Head coach Jim Boeheim knows this is Triche’s time to shine.
“He’s really deferred a little bit to the guys who were here and I think he realizes this is his year to step forward on the offensive and defensive end,” proclaimed Boeheim. “I think he will do that. He has prepared himself as well as any player I’ve ever coached and I expect he will have a great year this year.”
Ah, preparation. Triche certainly has that going for him, as nobody has ever questioned his dedication or his work ethic. And there is no one single way of leading. Brandon may not be the most vocal guy around. But, ask any coach and he’ll tell you it makes it a lot easier to get the most out of a team when his best player is also his hardest worker.
Leading by example may be the most effective way for Triche to take this team under his wing. But, he has not stopped there in his quest to be team leader.
“In preason, I’ve been talking a lot more actually,” said Triche. “I am one of those guys who says what needs to be said. I don’t say anything extra, but I’m going to pick my teammates up and say what needs to be said.”
Effective in leading by example, efficient in being a vocal leader. However he decides to do it, Triche will have to firmly grab hold of his new-found role in order for the Orange to flourish the way they hope to.
In recent days, both Derek Jeter and Ray Lewis, two of the all-time great leaders in sports, went down with season-ending injuries, calling to the forefront the importance on having a team leader and how a team functions without one. Those two undoubtedly were born to be leaders, possessing an innate trait to maximize both their own abilities and those of their teammates.
Through his talent and somewhat by default, Triche has been thrust into that role for Syracuse. It may not come naturally to him. But, not all leaders fit the mold of Jeter and Lewis. Some grow into that role, rather than naturally fitting into it.
“The task of a leader is to get people from where they are to where they have not been.” – Henry Kissinger
Syracuse will be a Top 10 or Top 15 team at the start of the season. But, if this year’s Orange team wants to get to where they have never been (a Final Four and beyond), as Kissinger is quoted, it will have to be Triche that steps up on and off the floor and takes them there.
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