If Syracuse basketball's "Orange Madness" was any indication, all of Trevor Cooney's work over the summer has paid off.
Cooney arrived in upstate New York with a lot of hype about his three-point shooting ability. There was even talk of shooting contests in practice between him and former Syracuse great and current assistant coach Gerry McNamara. After redshirting in his freshman season, it would have been hard for Cooney to live up to all of the expectations in his first year, even with a decent season.
Cooney, however, struggled throughout his first season on the court and managed to only shoot 26.7 percent from the land of plenty. This season, Orange fans are hoping Cooney can find his touch. With the loss of James Southerland, there are no proven three-point threats on the roster.
Playing behind Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche, Cooney struggled to get into a rhythm when he checked into games. His shooting stroke wasn't consistent, and if he missed a shot or two all of his confidence went down the drain.
Going into this season, though, Cooney is the only guard on the roster with game experience. He should therefore see his role expand and find it easier to get involved in the game. Cooney explained what he had to work on this summer to Donna Ditota of syracuse.com.
Being a good shooter is different for different people. Like, I'm a legs guy. I step into my shot, use my legs, explode up. And if you're going to be a good shooter that way, you have to be in good shape. Your legs have to be strong, you have to be able to run up and down the court. And I didn't think I did a good enough job of that last year in being in great shape. I thought I did a better job this summer on it. And it's helped me in these practices this far.
So far this year, Cooney has looked like a different player. Cooney averaged 9.8 points over four games during the team's trip to Canada. He also nailed five three-pointers and poured in 23 points, a game high, in the Orange Madness scrimmage.
Cooney should be able to carry the confidence he built up with these performances into the regular season. If he starts strong, it could set the tone for a big year for the sophomore from Delaware.
Cooney also wasn't the first freshman to struggle with his shot during his first year in orange. Take a look at how some of Syracuse's greatest shooters have fared as freshmen (hat tip to Mike Waters of syracuse.com).
|James Southerland||7-for-24||29.2 percent|
|Andy Rautins||15-for-46||32.6 percent|
|Demetris Nichols||17-for-72||23.6 percent|
|Wes Johnson (at Iowa State)||32-for-109||29.4 percent|
Syracuse fans know about how all of these players improved. Southerland jumped to 36.8 percent his sophomore year. Wes Johnson improved to 33.3 percent, and then 41.5 percent in his junior year, his only at Syracuse.
And then there's Andy Rautins, who probably holds the Syracuse three-point shooting title belt. He knocked down 35.6 of his treys in his sophomore year and was all the way up at 40.7 percent by the time he graduated.
So all is not lost for Cooney. After dedicating himself and putting in work over the summer, he came back strong and confident. With more opportunities and a year at the college level under his belt, expect there to be echos of "COOOOOO-NEYYYY" throughout the Carrier Dome as he tickles the twines this year.