Syracuse University basketball teammates Brandon Triche and Dajuan Coleman have a chance to pull off a feat that is not only rare but seemingly reserved for siblings: Together, they’re attempting to win both a state high school championship and the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship.
In 2009, they were teammates on the New York State Champion Jamesville-DeWitt Red Rams that also featured future Division I players Alshwan Hymes (Canisius) and Tyler Cavanaugh (Wake Forest). That championship was Triche’s second and Coleman’s first of three-in-a-row.
They’ll be trying to join a pair of brothers in winning those two elusive championships. Miles and Mason Plumlee won two North Carolina state titles before winning the 2010 NCAA championship with Duke.
UCLA’s 1995 championship was in large part due to Charles and Ed O’Bannon, who also won a state title at Artesia High in California.
That appears to be the entire list.
I can’t even fathom how cool it must be to play big-time college basketball with someone you played with in high school. Imagine going from "3..2..1 it’s good!" in the driveway to having Dick Enberg call your game on an aircraft carrier.
Welcome to the Orange world of Triche and Coleman.
Do they have a chance to join the brothers Plumlee and O’Bannon?
That really depends on the two of them. Syracuse has a lot of questions this year and two of the most important ones will be answered by the boys from Jamesville-DeWitt.
This year’s Orange team looks nothing like last year’s version, after the departures to the NBA of Dion Waiters, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph. Combine that with senior leader Scoop Jardine leaving after what seems like a decade in the Dome, and Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim has a new cast of characters to glare at.
Scoop and Joseph were the undisputed leaders last year. The quality of a team’s play on the court depends a lot on the dynamics of the team off the court. Coaches coach and players play, but players also lead.
Leadership comes in many forms. Fiery, inspirational sermons like those delivered by the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis. Showing up to work day after day after day like ironman Cal Ripken. Relentlessly needing to win, like Michael Jordan.
This year’s Orange will need to be led by Triche. I’ve watched Brandon play basketball since he was in third grade. I coached in the Jamesville-DeWitt development league a couple of years in which he played.
He will not give any Ray Lewis-like speeches. He will not punch any teammates for not putting out in practice like Jordan. But he will show up every day and show his teammates how to work, just like Ripken.
Brandon can lead this team. He is a very intelligent player who has started every one of the 108 games that have been played by the Orange since he arrived on campus in 2009. He’s done it quietly and has deferred to a lot of players who deserved more minutes and shots at the time.
He deferred to current NBA players Dion Waiters, Wesley Johnson, Kris Joseph and Fab Melo, as well as players who could still get to the league like Andy Rautins, Rick Jackson and Scoop Jardine.
Now it’s his turn.
Brandon combines an NBA body—6’4”, 200 pounds—with great intelligence and skills. But the determining factor in how well Triche does this year will be his head. He has a tendency to get down on himself.
If he continues to remember that he’s one of the best players on the court, the Orange can go far.
The second question has to do with replacing Fab Melo inside. While sophomore McDonald’s All-American Rakeem Christmas will play a bigger role this year, it will fall upon this year’s McDonald’s All-American—Coleman—to step in and be the defensive presence and rebounder that Melo was last year.
It takes big men a little longer to adjust to big-time college basketball than little guys. Even competing in AAU games, Coleman didn’t see a whole lot of 6’9”, 290-pound opponents. He may have played some 2-3 zone in high school, but not like Boeheim teaches it.
Coleman struggled in his first test against San Diego State. Early foul trouble limited him to only nine minutes, and his two points and two rebounds won’t get it done. I fully expect him to improve upon those numbers and be a force inside, but it remains to be seen.
Triche and Coleman know how to play together. They know how to win. It may be a bigger stage, but if they make it seem like the driveway, the Orange can cut down the nets in Atlanta.
Follow me on Twitter @sprtsramblngman.