One thing needs to be elaborated upon before we finally close the book on the Seton Hall game. While it was one of the more forgettable games in that it was fraught with missed shots not just from the floor, but also from the free throw line, Brandon Triche put the team on his back in the second half’s run that proved to be the difference-maker.
In making his first four shots of the second half and sinking four threes total on the day, Triche was the team’s most valuable player on Saturday. Though it’s not what SU fans typically expect from him due to his stoic nature and complementary position alongside flashier and more experienced players, Triche has turned the corner over the last month, turning in a string of efficient, low-mistake performances.
Through the team’s first eight games, Triche’s struggles paralleled the team’s general hardships in putting away lesser teams. In that time, he averaged 7.9 points per game, with 23 turnovers to go with just 26 assists. He also had several rough shooting performances, putting up a mark of 50% or better from the field just twice in those eight games. While the scouting reports never touted Triche as an excellent shooter coming out of Jamesville-Dewitt, it generally isn’t much to expect a player to make half his shots. His pacifism was also reflected in trips to the stripe; from the season opener through the NC State game, Triche got to the line just 13 times, and seven of those came against Georgia Tech.
After the Michigan State game, I wrote that I noticed something of a spark in Triche’s play. Despite his 1-7 mark from the field, he got to the line eight times, and almost blew the roof off of Madison Square Garden with a driving dunk that didn’t connect. Now that eight games including that night are in the books, it’s a perfect time to see just how much the hometown sophomore has improved.
In that time, Triche is shooting over 50% and has helped the team solve its three-point shooting question by hitting on nearly 43% of his tries from beyond the arc. He’s also getting to the line more often, going 18-24 for a 75% clip. His dependable 73% conversion rate on the season leads the team, though it’s also damning that 73% is good enough to lead the team (though it isn’t surprising, since this is Syracuse we’re talking about). Still, his scoring average over the last eight games is 11.5 points per game, a noticeable improvement over the aforementioned scoring average of 7.9 in the first quarter of the season.
His control has also improved, based on his assist-turnover ratio of 25/15 in that sample. The Big East schedule will surely test his consistency, but Triche’s increased confidence, coupled with last year’s experience of a full season already under his belt, bodes well for his future as a key role player.