Lots to Look Forward to with Cooney

CuseNation intern Jordan Greer breaks down exactly what Syracuse hoops standout Trevor Cooney does so well for the Orange, and what to expect from him next season.

All Pictures, screen grabs and videos courtesy of the ACC Digital Network

It's clear the Orange men's basketball squad will have to replace a lot of production from last season.

That's because C.J. Fair, Tyler Ennis, and Jerami Grant are all heading to the NBA.

Three of Syracuse's four top scorers are gone. The only other player to even average double figure points per game? Trevor Cooney.

Cooney made a huge jump in nearly every statistical category from his freshman to sophomore campaign. He took on the scoring load in a few games this season when other starters struggled, including a three-point explosion against Notre Dame in which he accounted for 33 of his team's 61 total points.

However, as Syracuse limped to the finish line on the season, so did Cooney.

In the last nine games of the season (the Orange went 3-6, eventually being upset by Dayton in the NCAA Tournament), the sharpshooting sophomore went a combined 23-85 (27%) from the field and 14-63 (22%) from three-point range.

Of course the less than stellar end of the season doesn't fall solely on Cooney's shoulders. The entire team was inept offensively down the stretch, and if opponents prevented Cooney from getting clean looks at the basket, they did not have to worry about other outside threats.

Just as Orange foes adjusted to playing Cooney, he must make his own adjustments and take another step forward as a junior.

OFFENSE

Cooney is already one of the top spot up shooters in the country. When he comes off a screen (or handoff in this case) and sets his feet, he is deadly.


Video from ACC Digital Network

Although this was a good shot and in rhythm, this also illustrates what Cooney can do more of next season.

There is plenty of space at the top of the key to create even more space and get a clean look off the dribble. Cooney did this perfectly in the second half of this same game against Boston College.

Shooting is an obvious strength of Cooney's game, but he the extra attention he draws from scoring can also be utilized to create opportunities for his teammates.

First, this was simply an incredible play by Cooney to find Ennis while falling out of bounds.

But if you look at what transpired prior to the loose ball, every Maryland defender on this play has eyes on Cooney as he drives baseline. Cooney has an open shooter in the opposite corner as a result of good penetration into the paint.

Cooney is bound to draw attention as a constant scoring threat, and his ability to not only create opportunities for himself, but also his teammates, will be key for the Orange offense.

DEFENSE

While the Ennis-Cooney combo at the top of the 2-3 zone did not provide the typical length seen in a Jim Boeheim zone, both guards averaged a combined four steals per game. Cooney's showed good anticipation in jumping passing lanes and disrupting offensive flow.

He immediately reacts here and gets the dunk in transition. Easy buckets are extremely important for a team that is struggling in the half court (like Syracuse much of the second half of last season).

An area where Cooney can definitely improve is in his defensive positioning and rebounding. He only averaged 2.1 rebounds per game, and that number needs to go up if he is playing 30-40 minutes per game.

For example, against Pittsburgh.

Cooney is essentially in "no man's land," as Talib Zanna and Cameron Wright crash the offensive boards. Yes, the shot went in, but if the ball comes off, ‘Cuse is at a disadvantage in the paint.

One of the difficulties in playing zone is not having a designated man to box out on the shot, but Cooney can do more on these types of possessions, particularly so he can still contribute in a game when he may have a poor shooting night.

Syracuse will most likely need immediate minutes from incoming freshman like Chris McCullough and Kaleb Joseph, but Cooney is an X-factor that is capable of swinging games. He made a jump last season, and another one in 2014-15 will only help the Orange find success in its second go around against fierce ACC competition.

All Images and video credit to the ACC Digital Network


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