“There’s nothing you can say after those games,” said Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim, who coached Howard and now coaches Brandon.
Howard has had years to think about it.
“It’s just the way it happened,” he said. “I probably didn’t realize how big of a game it was at the time. Especially from the Syracuse community, to recognize that — that’s part of my life. That’s part of my history.”
Then he went on.
“Of course,” he said, “you wish one day I’d wake up and we won the game.”
On Thursday morning, Brandon Triche will wake up with a chance to write his own legacy against the Hoosiers, again a No. 1 seed with a chance to win the national championship.
Walking through a back hallway a few steps from the court, Brandon said advancing to the East Region final and maybe even to the Final Four are on his mind. It would be somewhat poetic if Howard’s nephew returned the favor against the Hoosiers, delivering his own measure of heartbreak and, in Central New York, further erasing Smart’s shot — and Howard Triche’s inability to stop it — from the collective memory.
“It sounds good,” Brandon said, “but especially for me, it hasn’t been as pounding in my brain. . . . I try to do things for myself.”
Howard, now 48, said he hopes things turn out differently for his nephew.
“I view it as him having a chance to have an opportunity that I didn’t do: to win a national championship,” Howard said. “Hopefully this is the year he can do that. That’s kind of how I envision it.”
A moment later, he added one final thought.
“This is his dream,” Howard said. “This is where he’s going to. It’s going to turn out different for him.”