Trevor Cooney stood in the corner of Jim Boeheim Court casually catching passes from a manager. The Syracuse guard took roughly 50 shots in the minutes leading up to his team’s season opener against Cornell on November 8th.
Entering his sophomore season as a member of the Orange, Cooney’s play may serve as one indicator of whether Syracuse lives up to the usual lofty expectations placed upon the program.
Simply put, Coach Jim Boeheim expects Cooney to fill (at least to a degree) some of the largest shoes that any Syracuse player has had to fill in recent memory. Brandon Triche graduated last season playing the most games ever in an Orange uniform and anchoring a highly successful run during his time at ‘Cuse.
While Triche was leading the Orange, Cooney was first redshirted upon arriving at SU. Last season, his game was inconsistent even when he was able to break onto the floor. Of course, Syracuse had one of the most dominating backcourts in the country with Triche and eventual NBA lottery pick Michael Carter-Williams, but both are now gone and it is up to Cooney to carry on the tradition that Syracuse fans expect, namely, one of winning.
Though his road hasn’t been easy up to this point, Cooney and assistant coach Gerry McNamara worked tirelessly during the offseason to prepare the former for the challenge of playing an increased role in 2013-14.
Last Friday, Cooney took the first step towards meeting that challenge. He earned his first career start against Cornell and anchored the top of the trademark 2-3 Orange defense.
He had a little extra pep in his step. Then the shots started falling.
Cooney made his first three point attempt, missed the next, then proceeded to make six in a row. The Carrier Dome crowd of 24,000-plus was rocking as each shot fell through the net. Cooney was noticeably fired up, barking out defensive orders and positioning, and urging the crowd to get louder. He may have even thrown a dunk down, but that is up for debate. No matter, this Cooney was markedly different from the timid player that suited up last year.
Cooney finished the night with 27 points while shooting 7-8 from three point land, both career highs in points and made threes. Coach Boeheim applauded Cooney’s efforts in the post-game presser.
“I thought we did a good job with finding Trevor. He bailed us out when we really needed him. In the first half, when we had nothing, he hit those two threes to get us close at halftime. Those were two monster shots. When he gets going, he’s going to make those shots.”
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