Arguably the most discussed player on the Syracuse basketball roster is junior guard Trevor Cooney. After a hot start to the 2013-14 season, Cooney struggled mightily at the end of the year. Those inconsistencies continued at the start of this campaign with three-point shooting nights of 2-7, 1-5, 0-4, etc.
If this Syracuse squad was to make a run, Cooney would have to be better as their best outside shooting threat. There were even rumblings amongst fans, as crazy as it may seem now, that Cooney was better served spending time on the bench.
But over the last give games, not only has he been ‘good Trevor,’ but he has added elements to his game that show significant growth. During that stretch, Cooney has been the sharpshooter many thought he should be, shooting 43% from beyond the arc while averaging 16 points per game.
”It’s just about being aggressive,” Cooney said. “When we’re all aggressive, we’re all going to get open shots. We’re going to draw two and draw three and make the extra pass. That’s what we’re doing. When you make the easy basketball plays, good things will happen.”
His game goes beyond that. Cooney is averaging 2.4 assists per game as well as he has taken on a bigger ball-handling roll. Along with that has come more dribble drive opportunities, an element he has added to his game in the offseason and that head coach Jim Boeheim has begged him to utilize more often.
”All year I’ve wanted him to be aggressive,” Boeheim said. “I think he’s finally figured it out that he had to be. It’s made a big difference, I think, with our team.”
Cooney has shown a floater, the ability to finish at the rim and ability to be a playmaker in the lane. Add to that a consistent outside jumper and you have a complete weapon that makes the entire Syracuse offense better.
Over the last two seasons, Cooney has developed a reputation as struggling in big games. That has not been the case this year, scoring 14 against Iowa, 16 against Michigan and 17 against Villanova.
But it’s not just his offense that aids Syracuse’s efforts. He is the best defensive guard on the team, and averages nearly two steals per game on the season.
The key for Cooney, and Syracuse, is to continue to play at that level. Given what we’ve seen over the last five games, it appears likely that will happen. Not just because he is going through a hot shooting streak, but because of everything else he is doing on the floor.