Syracuse Orange men's basketball redshirt-sophomore Trevor Cooney took a few games in order to start finding comfort in scoring the ball. That comfort level has increased in the last three games, as Cooney's tries have attracted the net.
Cooney has attained double-figures in scoring in each of the last three games, with 11-, 11-, and 15-point outings, respectively. His 15-point performance in the team's last game versus Monmouth equaled his total achieved in the first five games of the season combined.
Much of what Cooney has added to the scoreboard has come from where it was most expected and anticipated: behind the arc. All of Cooney's made shots against Monmouth came from long range, with five of his nine tries going through the cylinder.
In Syracuse's last three games combined, Cooney is shooting 10-for-22 from three-point range, meaning that almost half of what he sends from deep is ending in the net. This is a drastic improvement from where Cooney was earlier this season. Before the last three games, Cooney spent the previous three games going 0-for-11 from distance. In the first five match-ups for the Orange, Cooney was shooting 2-for-16 overall from beyond the arc.
When asked how he kept shooting despite so many misses early on, Cooney said, "You just gotta remember all the work that you put in and just all the work that you deserve for that next one to fall. I mean if I wasn't putting work in the gym, I mean, I wouldn't have the confidence in myself for that next one to fall, really. But, I mean, I put that work in so I believe in myself that every shot's gonna go in, really. And if you have that mentality then it's gonna work for ya." That mentality definitely has, as Cooney's consistent confidence in his shot is now resulting in points that the Orange will take no matter who the opponent.
But even when Cooney has struggled to score, he has helped out somewhere while on the floor. Defensively, he has achieved at least one steal in six of Syracuse's eight matches, attaining multiple steals in three of those six matches.
Speaking on Orange head coach Jim Boeheim's trust in him not just on offense, but also defensively, Cooeny shared, "It's good for me. I mean sitting out last year and just learning the ways of this program and how the 2-3 [zone] works, really helped me this year." Boeheim had said before the start of the season that Cooney was not taken out during practice, so he had plenty of time to work and learn with the team despite not playing in an actual game.
Cooney admitted that after redshirting last season, his offense may take some time. "I think just knocking the rust off these first couple games…hopefully I'm gonna be able to get into a nice groove the next couple [games] and throughout the rest of the season." As games progress, Cooney continues to push himself, setting the bar higher each night when he takes the floor.
Now, people watching are beginning to see that Cooney is not simply an outside presence as well, with the guard attacking the rim for dunks within the last few games. Cooney gave his take on whether or not instituting this addition to his game helps him on the floor. "Without a doubt, just expanding the game," Cooney expressed. "I mean if guys wanna just come up on me, then I'm gonna be able to get to the rim or even create for my team. So that's just not gonna make my game better, but also the team's game better."
Cooney will have an opportunity to do just that as the Orange open up their next four games within the Gotham Classic to end the year.