Trying to pin down the legacies of Brandon Triche and James Southerland at Syracuse is a tricky one. It's tough to do in the wake of the team's run, and loss, in the Final Four, and it will even trickier the further we get from their SU careers.
I agree with pretty much everything Michael Cohen says in his final Daily Orange piece, about how the two seniors never truly met their lofty expectations, and yet they were key cogs in the most successful four-year stretch in the history of the program. Even if it is quite harsh...
They were senior leaders who, at the season’s most pivotal point, could not take the lead.
It left them one game shy of rewriting a misleading legacy. They’ve won more games than anyone else, but they have no hardware to show for it.
And Syracuse’s historic duo left humbled once again.
Had this Syracuse team done what it was supposed to do, which was lose somewhere around the Sweet Sixteen, we'd be looking at Triche and Southerland (but mostly Triche) as the Lenny Wilkins of SU basketball players. The guy who has more wins than anyone but who's also never mentioned among the all-time greats. Consistency over championships.
But here's the thing, they DID make it to the Final Four. And that's something a LOT of great Syracuse players can't say. Not Dave Bing. Not Roosevelt Bouie. Not Pearl Washington. Not Billy Owens. Not Lawrence Moten. Not Jonny Flynn. Not Wes Johnson. Not Dion Waiters. Certainly Not Fab Melo. Not Scoop Jardine.
We can quabble over details like the 2010 and 2012 teams being kneecapped (in one case, literally) by lost players. And we can say that the road to the Final Four was a bit easier this time than in previous ones. And you can easily make a case that this team got lucky or streaky or happened to have a trick up their sleeve (2-3 zone) perfect for a time when college basketball talent is receding. Whatever case you want to make, you'll win.
But they got to the Final Four and those other guys didn't. That's the point of all this, right? To get to the Final Four and beyond? It's not a Big East Player of the Year trophy or a statistical record or a retired jersey, but, it's still the entire point of every college basketball season and something only four Syracuse basketball teams have done before them.
And say nothing of the other teams both these guys were a part of. Two teams with No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Big East regular season titles. Big East Tournament Champions. Etc., etc.
We'll probably remember that Triche never lived up to the expectations befitting a guy who started every game as a freshman. And we'll probably remember that when we needed Southerland's sharp-shooting talents the most, he was ice cold.
But you know what else we'll remember? Those things happened in the Final Four.