Trevor Cooney was one of the most talked about players on Syracuse's Final Four squad from a year ago, but for all the wrong reasons. Cooney airballed open three pointers and seemed lost at times on offense. The good news was that he was not counted on for major production.
Fast forward to the 2013-14 campaign, and Cooney is the likely starter in the backcourt next to freshman Tyler Ennis. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim can see the improvement from last season to this one.
"I think Trevor has really come along," Boeheim said. "I think he showed some really good signs last year. I think he's much more consistent this year. Every day at practice you see a difference. He's a much more consistent player.
"He's a hard worker. With some players it takes a year or two to really get ready and I think Trevor has used the first couple of years extremely well. I think he's ready."
That improvement was evident during Syracuse's Canadian tour of exhibition games. Cooney seemed more comfortable in his role, and shot the ball more consistently.
Even at Orange Madness Cooney showed a confident stroke. He finished with a game high 24 points on 6-9 shooting from beyond the three-point arc. What has been the key to what seems like significant improvement?
"Just being in better shape," Cooney said. "I don't think I was in good shape last year. This summer I really worked on it and getting stronger every day. Jump roping. That's really helped me in practice. I feel great during practices. I feel better than last year and I'm shooting a lot better."
Syracuse has dreams of getting back to the Final Four and finishing the job this time around. If they are to achieve those lofty goals, Cooney will have to play a significant role. Shooting like he did on Friday is a good start.
The Orange open the season in the Carrier Dome on November 8th against Cornell.