As the Syracuse Orange men's basketball squad edges ever closer to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the reality that Brandon Triche and James Southerland will not be in the locker room for another run becomes all the more evident.
With new foes and others familiar faces, the Orange must go on without the veteran leadership offered by these now Syracuse alum.
"I don't think you can replace a Brandon Triche," said Syracuse assistant coach Adrian Autry. "I think he's the winningest player in Syracuse history, that speaks volumes in itself. There's been a lot of great players that come through this place and a lot of great teams...He's the most winningest player there so you don't replace him. I think you look at what you have and you try to play to the strengths of what that team has."
Triche helped the Orange to achieve 121 wins in his four seasons. With his aid, Syracuse reached the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and Final Four in three different seasons.
He was the second-leading scorer on the team with 13.6 points per game, playing in each of the 40 games of his senior campaign. Triche was also second-highest in assists per game with 3.6. He added a little over three rebounds and one steal per game as well.
Looking from the backcourt to the frontcourt to Southerland, Autry offered, "James Southerland...was a senior, who was battle-tested, who I think came on his last two years. I think people didn't really look at his junior year. In his junior year, he played at a high level considering the minutes that he got...and the type of team that we had. And at the end of the year, if you look at the NCAA Tournament I think he was our third leading scorer that year going to the Elite Eight."
Southerland scored 15 points in back-to-back matches to open up the NCAA Tournament for Syracuse in 2012, helping them advance ahead to an eventual berth in the Elite Eight.
"I think it was a lot of different things, but James...his progression had arrived probably his junior year and he really had a solid junior year," Autry added. "I think the senior year it was more visual because it was his time. There was no one else there now so he was the starter."
Southerland was no longer playing behind Kris Joseph, was the first off the bench, and eventually was added to the official starting lineup in his senior season.
After having to sit out for six games for an off-the-court issue, Southerland would return to score in double-digits in eight-straight games and 11 of his first 12 since being reinstated.
He made 12 of his first 15 attempts from three-point-range to start Syracuse's last Big East Conference Tournament en route to the championship match.
Southerland was not finished, however, in his aid to the team. He upped his play on the boards, on defense, and in assisting his teammates. Southerland added two more rebounds per game while achieving at least one steal and one assist per game for the first time in his collegiate career, all within his senior campaign.
"Guys like that you can't replace, you just can't replace 'em, seniors," Autry shared. "James and Brandon, sometimes it doesn't show up in points but just that experience, that calming effect on everyone else. That guy that's been there. He walks into an arena, 18,000 is not scaring him. You know you [are] gonna get a consistent effort. You may not know how many points but you know you [are] gonna get that effort, you know you [are] gonna get that concentration. So those are the things that you can't replace and they're hard to replace, but when you look at the team coming in this year, we gotta figure it out. That's why we're...doing the European trip and getting a chance to get a feel for what these guys can do."