Syracuse got out to a comfortable lead, but Indiana head coach Tom Crean figured out the Orange offensive attack in the first half.
Game after game, Cooney seems more comfortable and it is the playing time and the experience that has done him so well in his first season as a starter. After Syracuse’s 69-52 win over Indiana in the Sweet 16 rematch, Cooney averages 17 points per game after a 21-point performance.
At first, Cooney’s sudden and long-awaited success brought smiles to his face on the court. Now, it’s just part of his daily routine. He shows up to the game, gets dressed, plays his game and dominates. Last season was frustrating because his potential was not immediately recognized on the court. Now, he has found his stroke and is nothing but motivated.
In the second half of Tuesday’s game, Indiana’s Austin Etherington knocked Cooney to the ground with less than 10 minutes left in the second half. Etherington was given an early shower after the flagrant two foul. Cooney fell to the court and was slow to get up. When he did, he gathered his teammates and fired everyone up.
After the game, Cooney spoke about how the team follows C.J. Fair. He may be the leader because of seniority, but Cooney’s success has brought him the confidence on the court to be a leader in this exact situation. Cooney said he takes every foul personal and this one he felt was just that. Less than three minutes later, Tyler Ennis stole the ball from Yogi Ferrell and passed it to Cooney, who got his revenge when he dunked it, sending Orange Nation into a frenzy.
The Syracuse backcourt is young, but it has helped this team to be 8-0 and no. 4 in the country. The problem for Syracuse heading into this season was how young it was. The point guard is a freshman and the two guard is playing his first full season. It has paid off when you look at the numbers, though. The guards have helped lead this team on the court and the chemistry continues to grow stronger between Cooney and Ennis (17 pts, seven rebounds, eight assists). Ennis looked a little MCW-like because of his all-around great play.
You have to wonder if Cooney’s success will continue into ACC play. He has only scored fewer than 10 points once this season, but everyone can have a tough game once in a while. When he’s hot, he’s hot, and when he’s not, he’s not. This is just the beginning of something big for the sharp-shooting sophomore.
Posted by: Austin Pollack