- Dana O'Neil, ESPN Senior Writer
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Editor's Note: In the buildup to Midnight Madness, we are taking an in-depth look at Joe Lunardi's top five seeds in a series called Countdown To Madness. In addition to the Insider pieces, Eamonn Brennan will offer Three Big Things about each team and we'll have Five Questions with a player or coach from each squad.
Scoop Jardine wasn’t born in a Syracuse uniform.
It just seemed that way.
The point guard for the Orange spent five years on campus, becoming, along with sidekick Kris Joseph, both the face and the personality of the Syracuse program. Feisty and tough, proud but not arrogant.
The partners in success are gone now, along with Dion Waiters and Fab Melo, turning the keys of this upstate New York Cadillac over to Brandon Triche.
His soft-spoken personality is completely different from his predecessors, but his game is not. Triche has started every game of his career, topping the 1,000-point mark during last year’s NCAA tournament run. He has proven to be both a reliable scorer and a smart floor general.
But he has been able to do all of that from the anonymous comfort of a supporting role.
Now the Orange belong to him.
Syracuse has lost plenty -- Melo and Waiters, as well as Jardine and Joseph -- but return more than enough to keep the insatiable fan base expecting plenty again.
How well Triche adjusts will go a long way in determining how smoothly the transition goes for Syracuse in this, the Orange’s last year in the Big East.
ESPN.com caught up with the senior to see how his time in the spotlight was going.
Is it strange to look around and not see Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph on the court with you?
Brandon Triche: Yeah, it’s a lot different, obviously. All the years I’ve been here, I’ve had them, but in some ways it’s more fun for me. I get to be one of the team leaders. I finally get my turn.
Speaking of leadership, are you ready to fill that role and what kind of leader will you be?
BT: I’m definitely ready. Scoop and Kris prepped me to be in this position. I learned a lot from those guys and in high school, I was pretty much the go-to guy my whole time so it’s not like it’s new. I’m more of a leader by action, not so much verbal. I’m working on being more verbal. What I’ve found out is the guys on this team are willing to listen. That’s half the battle, having guys who trust you. You have to have that inner circle behind you or it doesn’t work and I have that here.
This is the last year for Syracuse in the Big East. Is there talk about going out of the conference with a bang?
BT: Definitely. I mean, we all want to end our career with a bang, so it’s not just leaving the Big East, but winning in general. The last couple of years we had teams capable of winning it all, so nothing’s changed. We have the same goals. But, yeah, winning the Big East would be special. It’s always special.
Has it hit you yet that this is your last year at Syracuse?
BT: It did at the beginning of the season. Mostly it’s when I look around campus and everybody looks so young. I’m so old. That’s what hits me the most. I’m really a senior. I’ve learned a lot. I wish I knew then that this wasn’t going to be a cakewalk. There are a lot of times you don’t get everything you deserve or want, but you’ve got to keep working.
Speaking of Syracuse, you’re from Jamesville, right around the corner. This could be the last year in your hometown as well. Are you ready to leave the nest?
BT: Definitely, I’m ready. Syracuse is a cool city to live in when you’re about 40 or 50 years old. As far as the lifestyle and activities, it’s a little bit boring when you’re my age. I’m ready for something maybe a little more fast paced. And a little warmer.
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