Considered to be first-and-foremost a shooter with a deep impact, Cooney has begun to show another area where he can be of service. "I'm just coming into the game, not worried about my offense, and, I mean, I focused on defense, 'cause I know that's what's gonna get me to play," said Cooney.
As far as his struggles on offense in his first season on the court for Syracuse, "[I] just gotta have confidence in my shot," Cooney shared. "It's gonna come. I mean, I had good looks [against DePaul], and they're gonna fall for me soon. I just gotta have confidence in myself."
Where is Cooney's confidence in his shooting ability right now? "It's right where it's at, been the whole season really," Cooney stated. "Just keep getting good looks, I guess that's all I can do. I mean, guys found me in great positions. I just gotta shoot it and just not think about whether it's gonna go in or not. Just fire away."
Speaking of guys finding him, Cooney offered what it means to him to share the court with fellow guards, senior Brandon Triche and sophomore Michael Carter-Williams. "They've helped me a lot," said Cooney. "Both of 'em have created shots for me, and it's just been great. I mean, they're easy guys to play with just because they go off the dribble so well and can draw two [defenders] and kick. And, I mean, they've been great to play with."
What does Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim think about Cooney's play? "He's doing enough on defense to stay in there and he needs to probably forget about just shooting threes and try to make a play until he gets going," said Boeheim.
Cooney showed his ability to get to the rim and be successful earlier in the season, whether making the high-percentage shot or getting fouled and connecting from the foul line. Against the DePaul Blue Demons, he went inside for a soft-touch lay-in after spending much time away from the basket. When asked if it is important for him to attack the basket more moving forward, Cooney responded, "Big time. I mean, getting to the basket, even getting a foul called on another team, or getting to the line, I mean, it adds momentum."
"So, I mean, I just gotta look to do that a little more, and then get a rhythm going like I have in some games where it's led me into making some threes," Cooney continued, echoing Boeheim's sentiments.
Looking out from himself to the team as a whole, Cooney shared how important it was for Syracuse to defeat DePaul after a three-game losing streak. "It's big," Cooney remarked. "Losing three is tough, I mean, and to come out and play anyone the next game after losing three is tough."
"I was glad on our effort later on in the game, defensively," Cooney added. "We were able to get some stops and get going."
As far as gaining a win over a Blue Demons team currently in last place in the Big East Conference, Cooney does not see any reason to underplay the victory in any way. "A win's a win," Cooney expressed. "I mean, DePaul's a good offensive team and they took Notre Dame into two overtimes...[in] two games. So, I mean, they're a good team, so to come out and beat them right now is good just to get on track and get going."
With the Orange as a squad paralleling Cooney's struggles to score, the young guard discussed whether or not he currently sees Syracuse as more of a defense-heavy team. "Yeah, I mean, we started to notice that our 2-3 [zone] has kept us in games when we weren't supposed to be in games, when we've been really bad offensively," said Cooney. "And I think we're starting to notice that and really starting to pride ourself on the 2-3 zone. But, I mean, it's stuff that we could work on a lot and to get it better."
Looking ahead, the Orange do not have much room for error with one game to go before tournament play begins.
Their final regular season match will be the last against Georgetown in the Big East and will officially close Big East regular season play for Syracuse for good, but Cooney has stated that the team is not focused on any of these attachments to the game. "We're not worried about anything about the Big East or last game," Cooney stressed. "This is a big game for us. And, I mean, they beat us here [at the Carrier Dome] and that's all we're worried about is that they beat us here, and we wanna get 'em back."
"This is a big game for us," Cooney repeated. "Georgetown - Syracuse is a big rivalry and we know that, so we just wanna come out and get a 'W'".