Cooney’s improvement would help the Orange in the three-game finish to the ACC tournament.
When Trevor Cooney played his first game as a starter, he didn’t fail to impress. Throughout non-conference play, he continued to hit the deep shot and put up double-digit points.
Bottom line: Syracuse could be 0-5 in its last five games, but it’s not.
Since the win against Clemson, Cooney has scored 7.4 points per game. Obviously, Cooney is in a funk right now and he needs to spend some extra time with Gerry McNamara to find a way to turn things around before the ACC tournament.
Syracuse needs Cooney to play better than 7.4 points per game because his dry streak is a big reason the Orange has played close games and it contributes to the two losses. This was something Orange Nation feared going into ACC play. These are smarter teams and they know they can’t give Cooney an open look possession after possession, because when he catches the ball and shoots it from deep range, he will hit it at least 50 percent of the time.
Hitting the three isn’t all Cooney can do. Since teams are finding ways to keep the ball out of his hands behind the three-point line, he needs to contribute in another way. He needs to dish out assists or drive to the basket. With the team struggling to play comfortable games, there is more he can do.
Going into conference play, Cooney was around a 50 percent three-point shooter. In his last five games, he’s a 27 percent three-point shooter. Some people could argue he can’t be more effective when he’s not shooting and the deep shot is the only good part about his game. That’s not true. Against BC in Chestnut Hill, Cooney scored 21 points, and only six came from threes. In that game, he said he wanted to find a different way to help the team win and he did that by driving to the basket and scoring points off BC turnovers.
The entire team is tired. Not only has it played close games toward the end of a long regular season, but it’s played very competitive and talented teams. Now is not the time to struggle. Last season, the entire team struggled at this point in the season. Syracuse lost four of its last five against all of those losses came against ranked opponents.
The ACC has very talented teams. There are teams in other conferences that are more talented. If the NCAA tournament were to start this weekend, Syracuse would have an easy trip to the Sweet 16. If the team continues to play close games where one team has to start fouling to have a chance, Syracuse will face an exit in the Sweet 16. The Orange needs Cooney to step it up and be able to hit jumpers or find other ways to score. Syracuse can’t only do it with the duo of Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair.
The 26-2 Orange have three games remaining in the regular season, and one giant task in No. 12 Virginia on Saturday.
Posted by: Austin Pollack