Michigan and Syracuse need no hype or motivation for their National Semifinal showdown. On Friday, Syracuse guard Brandon Triche delivered some locker room material for Michigan by poppin' off with some big smack talk.
“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.”
Stauskas and Mitch McGary responded succinctly.
“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.”
It remains to be seen whether Triche's words light a fire in Syracuse's belly, but considering the canned answers usually uttered by college basketball players, this is some refreshing honesty.
Either way, the Orange have to back it up on the hardwood by maintaining their defensive intensity and by knocking down some shots to match Michigan's skill level. Syracuse's size advantage on the floor is no state secret, but it's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters. It's the size of the fight in the dog. Syracuse has to back up that bark with some bite.