This was the game everyone was looking for coming into the year from Trevor Cooney. The junior guard went for 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting including 4-of-8 from three. It was the first time Cooney had scored 20 points since the Notre Dame game last year when he scored 33.
Down the stretch, Cooney made some very nice plays, including getting the inbounds pass to Rakeem Christmas for the game-winning basket. The big key was what Coach Jim Boeheim said after the game, “Trevor was a player today, not a shooter.”
Cooney was going to the basket, making plays, dumping off passes to teammates, all in addition to hitting half of his threes. Today, Cooney came up big and had by far his best all-around game of the year.
After the game, Cooney said he knew he needed to step up and play a big role in today’s game. The redshirt junior said, “two of our best guys were in foul trouble, Michael Gbinije was hurt, so I had to (play well).”
After that, Cooney answered a follow up question by saying, “no, there wasn’t a specific moment when I thought, ‘time to step up’.”
Regardless of when it happened or if it was a conscious decision or not, Cooney stepped up big. His presence on the floor was much needed and today’s play showed how much it was missed earlier in the year. Cooney is there to spread the floor, and open up the lane. Boeheim even said as much in his post game press conference. He mentioned how much it helped Kaleb and Cooney himself when the threes were going in. Defenders were forced to respect his shooting and play him tighter, then Cooney was able to make them pay by taking them off the dribble.
Trevor Cooney doesn’t need to play every game like he did today, but he needs to make enough threes to make defenders respect his shooting. Cooney definitely doesn’t need to score 25 points a night. But he does need to hit 45-50% of his threes. Like it did today, that will open up the floor and the lane for more movement and scoring.
Posted: Seth Goldberg