In an attempt to revitalize the game of Syracuse Orange senior guard Brandon Triche, who over the past four games has averaged 10 points on 33-percent shooting, including 2-for-16 from behind the 3-point line, this letter was written.
I haven't seen a post-game tweet or re-tweet from you in awhile, so I wanted to drop you an "old school" line to see if everything is OK.
Honestly, I know everything is not. I watched Saturday's game versus Louisville and I am sorry to say this, but you didn't look well. I heard in the post-game, after the tough 58-53 loss to the Cardinals, you didn't sound so good either.
Look man, I understand you're going through a tough time. Shots are not falling, passes seem to be finding the other team and to make up for it your feet have decided to get into the game. (They do know they are not allowed to dribble, right?)
On top of that, this is your senior season at SU, a place you've called home for four years, and you feel like you're letting everyone down.
This is your team and its struggling right now. With those struggles comes the Orange foam fingers pointing in your direction. People need a scapegoat when bad things happen and, right now, after Saturday's blah performance, you're the easiest target.
Personally, I sort of know what you're going through. Sure, my personal athletic experiences do not rival playing at the Division I level, in fact it was just high school baseball, but the experiences relates.
See, when I was a senior in high school I batted lead-off and played third base for a really good team that was favored in our Region to make it to States.
During my final season, I played well, came close to setting a few school records, but made the most critical mistakes at the worst time.
It was the Sectional semifinals against a team we were slightly better than. Our team took an early lead, only to have it shrink after a late rally that forced our lead slip to one run.
I don't remember the exact situation, but at a key time a hard hit ball was directed at me in the hot corner. Like a good third baseman I stopped the ball on a dive (no joke), got up and, with plenty of time to get the runner, threw the ball five feet over the head of our first baseman.
Now, the game wasn't over but the opposing team had now put serious pressure on us.
Not kidding. The very next play, another rocket is hit at me. Again, I dive (no joke), stop it, get up and just like that my brain freezes up and I literally shot put a throw to our first baseman. The ball rolls into his glove well after the runner is safe.
From there, the rest of the game is a blur, though, history books indicate we lost to the eventual State Champions, 4-3, in extra innings. I just remember crying a lot on the bus ride home. Crying a lot the next day and feeling depressed for a good week.
Years and years of hard work (and we were a group of players that spent countless hours together in the offseason) had been flushed down the drain in two plays that I screwed up. I had let a lot of people down, especially my teammates, and it sucked.
Of course, the biggest difference between my story and your current situation (overlooking the level of play) is that my story ended, while your story continues Wednesday against visiting DePaul.
In fact, you have at least three more games until a bad game really costs your team anything. Think of it as three mulligans to help get your confidence back before it actually really counts. (Though, if you could get your confidence back by Saturday, when, you and your teammates visit Georgetown that'd be super.)
Look, I don't know how to help you get out of your latest funk. Heck, not even your head coach Jim Boeheim does. It seems this is just something you will need to figure out on your own.
But here's what I do know. Just like my second throw to third base this is all mental.
See, you're an outstanding player. This list of SU players to start every single one of their games for four straight years is slim, and that's something to be proud of.
Every Syracuse fan knows you can "ball" and have the ability to put a team on your back.
However, lately, against ranked opponents, you seem to use your awesome superpower of invisibility to disappear.
I am assuming the reason for your disappearance is the act of trying to do too much.
I know, from experience, the best way to bust out of a funk is to play within yourself. Forcing things only makes it worse.
To take the pressure off your large and well-built shoulders -- honest question: what do you bench? It has to be a lot -- lean on your teammates a bit more. Lately, C.J. Fair has been playing really well, so let him carry the main load (I think he can handle it, don't you agree?), while you can pick your spots and maybe rebound a few of his misses.
I'd also advise that you let James Southerland do most of the 3-point shooting. The team can live with him going 3-for-7 from long range, but can't when both of you are doing it.
But, hey, if you'd like to shoot the 3-ball just make sure your god-like shoulders are square to the basket and you're taking the shot from no more than 21-feet.
The thing is, just get back to being you -- a solid complementary player that scores 10-12 points per game, collects a few rebounds, dishes out an assist or two and plays good defense a top of the zone (Luke Hancock, bro!).
You do that and I think you and the Syracuse basketball team will be fine.
Believe it or not, we're all rooting for you and want your career to end with a bang.
I hope this letter finds your well and, as always, GO ORANGE!
-- Jared Smith
Can a get a re-tweet? If so, look for @JaredSmithCNY. Thanks.