ATLANTA — Media days are usually chock full of trite generalities and coached responses repeated over and over again, with athletes spending their Q-and-A sessions concerned with their quotes avoiding the headlines.
Not so much for Syracuse guard Brandon Triche, who lit a fire under Michigan on Friday afternoon.
“We think we’ve got mismatches at every position,” Triche said. “We feel like not too many teams can stay in front of us.”
“How tall is he?” Triche continued when asked specifically about Nik Stauskas. “6-6? So, what, he’s a small forward? So he’ll probably guard [6-foot-8 C.J. Fair]? C.J.’s definitely go at him. That’s one thing we’re going to do.
Triche would continue, talking about how well the Syracuse 2-3 zone did against Kemba Walker (eight points) when the UConn star was on his role, saying “I don’t see [Burke] being too much better than Kemba Walker.” In regards to Burke potentially guarding the much bigger Michael Carter-Williams, Triche said that whether or not he was the Player of the Year “he’s probably not the No. 1 defensive player.”
First and foremost, it should be noted that, when in context, these quotes from Triche are not nearly as bad as they sound. He said that Burke is not too much better than a guy that should have won National Player of the Year, carried UConn to a national title and was a top ten pick in the NBA Draft. That’s not exactly the same thing as calling him a bum. Saying that Fair is going to “definitely go at him” is a strategy; Stauskas is one of the nation’s best shooters, and a great way to get a shooter out of a rhythm is to tire him out by making him work defensively.
And no, Burke is not the No. 1 defensive player, especially not when he’s going to be forced to guard a player five inches taller than him.
But it really doesn’t matter what Triche’s quotes actually were in context.
What matters is the way that Michigan reacts to them.
“They’re going to say what they want to say,” Stauskas said when told of Triche’s comments. “We’re confident in our abilities.”
“Our team kind of takes offense to that,” Mitch McGary said. “We’re a great team. We made it to the Final Four. I’m going to congratulate the other teams for making here, it’s a great accomplishment. If they’re talking trash, than we’re just going show you our game.”
“I’m not going to say anything else. Just show you.”
They don’t sound happy.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.