The backcourt of the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team has undergone a makeover with the graduation of Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters elevating into the NBA.
Senior Brandon Triche, whose time in games has fluctuated during his first three seasons, and sophomore Michael Carter-Williams, who saw some games pass without getting onto the court, now comprise the Syracuse starting backcourt. "I'm excited. I can't wait," Carter-Williams said of sharing the backcourt with Triche. "He's definitely a veteran. He's gonna be a big part of this team year and I'm just excited to be out there with him."
With a long season ahead and no one ahead of him on the depth chart, Carter-Williams took time after last season to prepare for what lies ahead on his road. "…Over the summertime, and over the offseason, just getting better and better every day," said Carter-Williams. "Just practicing on the little things, getting my shooting down, dribbling down…"
Along with working on the fundamentals of playing in the backcourt, Carter-Williams also stated that he has worked on "…having confidence in my teammates", an essential component of being a leader so as to not try to win by playing one-on-five.
Though Jardine is no longer on the Orange roster, leadership is something he exhibited while with the team, and Carter-Williams paid attention. "He was a great player," stated Carter-Williams. "He was here for awhile. He's learned a lot. He's learned a lot from a lot of different coaches, and I think he just passed that all on to me."
"He's a great friend of mine," continued Carter-Williams. "He's like a brother to me and he just taught me so much that I can go into using this year."
One element of Jardine's leadership was his voice. Syracuse's head coach Jim Boeheim has said going into the 2012-13 campaign that Carter-Williams is who he considers to be a vocal leader, of which Carter-Williams agrees. "You know I just think, in a team, especially in a team that I'm on, I think I should be the vocal leader, just because I was blessed with some natural talents," Carter-Williams expressed. "Not in the game, but just knowing the game and just know how the game works. And I was just taught that at a very young age, and I think that my knowledge of the game I can use to pass onto my teammates."
That knowledge, coupled with handling adversity, makes Carter-Williams into a teacher through experience. Last season, he watched as Jardine, Waiters, and Triche were called into games, while his name was not uttered. Now, with an opportunity from Boeheim, with belief in him as the substance of that opportunity, Carter-Williams will head into this season understanding that sometimes you have to do what you do not always want to, and that you can educate yourself from those instances.
Carter-Williams said that last season taught him to "just always be patient". "Things could always be worse," he added. "Just a learning experience and that when I'm out there, just know that what I went through last year is gonna make me better this year."