The Orange has been atrocious from beyond the 3-point arc this year. Hitting just 26.6 percent of all threes, Syracuse ranks 333rd out of 345 Division I basketball schools.
After an extremely slow start, Trevor Cooney has hit 50 percent of his 3-point attempts over the last three games. Coincidentally, the game against Louisiana Tech, Villanova and Colgate were three of the best games the Orange played all season. As examined earlier on The Fizz, Trevor Cooney needs to do this each time out. The Orange cannot afford for Cooney to have an “off night” and it has shown this year.
But what is the biggest difference in Cooney’s game the past few weeks? First, he seems more confident. Cooney is taking shots recently that he wouldn’t have taken earlier in the season. Cooney had mentioned that maybe it helped that he hit a couple easy shots before taking his first 3-pointer, but it seems like there has to be something more than that. He has been more active on the defensive end of the floor as well, that has contributed to some of his easier baskets.
Another big difference comes from what Jim Boeheim said following the Louisiana Tech game. In a press conference that was remembered more for the lashing Boeheim gave his team, he actually had a couple nice words to say about Cooney. The coach said, “Trevor was a player today, not a shooter.”
Boeheim went on to say that Cooney is a great player and that Cooney doesn’t need to prove anything to him, regardless of what others may think.
Those last two things from Boeheim are the biggest difference in Cooney’s play since that Louisiana Tech game. Cooney is being more of a basketball player and not just a “shooter.” A label that has been thrown on him since before he came to SU for a variety of reasons.
But if you watch closely, Cooney is more than just a shooter. At times, he has become Syracuse’s primary ball handler. He has begun to drive to the basket more often and with better results. That has opened up the 3-point shot fr Syracuse’s most lethal shooter. And Cooney has delivered.
On a team that is devoid of any other three-point threat, Cooney needs to hit close to 40 percent of his threes. If he can do that, it opens up the SU offense. All of a sudden, there is a little more room for Rakeem Christmas to work down low. There are more opportunities for Kaleb Joseph to drive to the basket. There will be more openings for Michael Gbinije to slash and cut to the basket.
As odd as it sounds, Cooney’s 3-point shooting could be the piece of the offense that makes it go, and makes the Orange successful in ACC play.
Posted: Seth Goldberg