Big East Player to Watch: Brandon Triche (Syracuse)

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Syracuse is somewhat of an enigma entering 2012-13. The departures of Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters and Fab Melo depleted Jim Boeheim’s rotation, and the Orange’s success will largely be determined by the production of incoming freshmen – DaJuan Coleman and Jerami Grant – and relatively inexperienced returnees – Michael Carter-Williams and Rakeem Christmas.

One thing Boeheim can definitely count on, though, is the reliability of Brandon Triche, the team’s senior leader and top returning scorer. The question is: can the Jamesville, NY native elevate his game to a higher level.

Triche averaged 9.4 points, 2.6 assists, 2.4 boards and a steal per game as a junior, and without the scoring forces of Joseph, Jardine and Waiters, he’ll be required to shoot more than the 7.8 field goal attempts he averaged last year. With his talent, more shots should lead to more points.

However, Triche will need help from his teammates. He is more than capable of creating his own shots and attacking the rim, but the senior’s most notable strength is the fast break, where his quickness and athleticism really help him excel.

Last year, the Orange thrived in transition by recording 9.1 steals per game – good for fifth in the nation. But without Waiters and Jardine at the top of Boeheim’s 2-3 zone, Triche, Carter-Williams and the rest of the Orange will need to increase their defensive pressure to get out in transition. There’s definitely hope with Carter-Williams, who averaged nearly one steal in 10.3 minutes per game as a freshman.

Triche could improve by getting to the foul line more frequently this year. As a junior, he averaged just 2.2 free throw attempts per game, but he has the quickness and strength to get to the rim and draw fouls. Once he reaches the stripe, Triche is a reliable foul shooter, shooting 77.5 percent as a junior.