Syracuse was in the news all season long for both success on the court and tough times off of it, but one player wasn't in the news much despite being a highly-touted incoming freshman.
Former four-star recruit and known sharpshooter Trevor Cooney was redshirted just before the first game of the season because the team was so deep at the guard position. With the year wrapped-up, Cooney reflected on the campaign and looks forward to the 2012-13 season.
"It was just a learning experience, really, we had a great team and it was just a hell of a ride and a great ride for me to be on," said Cooney. "I learned so many different things, so many new things from the senior guys and some from the guys coming back next year.
"I became a ten-times better player."
Cooney was already known as a deep threat and an under-the-radar dunker and attacker of the rim – but he's improved on the other end of the floor thanks to practicing against the likes of now-departed teammates Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters. It took him some time to buy into the system Jim Boeheim operates on defense, however.
"Having faith in the zone," said Cooney of what he learned the most this season. "Coming into it not really playing zone my whole life, and kind of coming to the only program that really plays the zone, and just learning the principles of it.
"Learning the movement that goes into it…that was fun for me this year and coming in next year – being a freshman again – I understand all that and I'll be able to come in right away and play."
"No expectations right now, we'll see how the offseason goes, but when I play – I'm gonna play hard and just give it my all," he said.
So now it's a matter of getting better and preparing for the next step.
"Getting bigger, stronger, ball-handling, getting more aggressive (in terms of) shooting," admitted Cooney when asked in which areas he needs to focus on. "Everything, really."
But the Delaware product did offer a refresher for Syracuse fans that may have forgotten what he can bring to a team.
"Offensively, I can shoot it," he said with a smile. "High IQ, play hard on both ends and give it my all."
Above all, Cooney is excited to take his learning experience from the 2011-12 season into making 2012-13 even better for the Orange.
"This team is special, this program is special," he said. "This is why people come here, to be a part of something like this.
"To be a part of this team this year was really fun and I'm glad I was able to."
After next season, perhaps another freshman who had to sit the year out will reflect in similar fashion about an equally-deep team featuring Cooney as a spark off the bench.