“Trevor Cooney is my homeboy”
Monday night’s contest was the epitome of the hangover game. After the Orange #BeatDuke in a game for the ages, both the players and the crowd were listless all night. While the Irish never really, truly threatened…they were a threat to threaten all night, which made the game closer than it really should have been.
Defense, Defense, Defense
Normally when a team lacks energy at the start of a game, it’s the defense that suffers. Just about anyone can get hyped up for a drive to the rim, but being sharp on defensive rotations and hustling to cover shooters is a much more arduous task.
The exact opposite happened on Monday night. Despite leading briefly at 8-6 and 12-9, The Irish managed only 18 points in the first half. Syracuse closed the half on a 22-6 run, to go into the locker room with a 31-18 lead.
It was your homeboy, Trevor Cooney.
Cooney Joins “The 9s“
In case you hadn’t heard,
Gerry Tyler Travis Trevor Cooney had himself a game against Notre Dame. The Irish came in expected to try to beat the Orange with a barrage of threes, yet Cooney himself had three more triples (nine) than ND had as a team (that would be six, for you non-mathematicians out there), en route to a career-high 33 points. That’s 54% of Syracuse’s total output for the night.
That has to be some kind of record, right? Well, almost. Cooney was the fourth player to hit nine threes in an Orange uniform. Oddly, all of them came in the last 10 years as the other three are Gerry McNamara, Andy Rautins and James Southerland. He also had a couple of boards, a couple of assists and four steals on the game.
It’s a good thing that Cooney picked this night to scorch the nets in the Dome. The Irish mounted a furious comeback in the second half, closing to within one possession on several occasions. Cooney kept the Orange ahead with five threes in the period and then it was #TylerTime as super frosh Tyler Ennis helped to finish off the game in the last five minutes with a couple off assists and some free throws down the stretch.
A Team of Destiny?
In mulling over the game last night, I couldn’t help but to marvel at how many ways Syracuse has found ways to win games this season. Sometimes it’s been a total team effort. Sometimes, like during the Maui Invitational, hot free throw shooting was the key to victory. Sometimes, they just played straight up, tough as nails defense and held on for dear life until #TylerTime came around.
In the Duke game, everyone was on fire. I mean, look again at some of the shots they hit. CJ in particular hit a wide variety of difficult shots and every single one of them were needed.
Now, of course, one of the marks of a great team is being able to win games in a variety of ways. And maybe it’s just me viewing things with my orange tinted glasses, but there’s seems to be something special about how Syracuse seems to get exactly what is needs in any given game to get the W. Against Duke, they needed to hit everything, and they did. Against the Irish, they needed every one of Trevor Cooney’s threes, and they got them.
I don’t expect Syracuse to roll through the entire season undefeated. Their style of playing, winning close games with defense, has little margin for error will catch up with them on a night that the free throws or the threes aren’t falling. But, man, I can’t help but feel like the stars have aligned and this is their year.
(knock on wood)
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Chris Daughtrey is the creator and author of Bleeding Orange. He is a contributor at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician and at Atlantic Coast Confidential. You can connect with him on Twitter @OrangeBlood 44 or search #OrangeBlood.