NEW YORK —The game’s leading scorer with 10 points at halftime Friday night at the sold out, rocking Garden as Syracuse and Georgetown did finally meet one last time in the Big East’s all-time greatest rivalry over 34-years of play was…Orange redshirt freshman Trevor Cooney.
Solidifying his third guard role as Brandon Triche struggled early, Cooney was 4-of-6 shooting with a pair of 3s, but also as importantly contributed four defensive boards off Hoya misses in the rousing 58-53 overtime win to move into tonight’s championship game against Louisville.
His thoughts are all about comfort, which leads to confidence when Jim Boeheim summoned him into the game in the first half Friday.
“When I hit the first one I knew I was going to be in some kind of a groove, Cooney told the larger than normal group of media surrounding his locker. “With my shot, it’s just about being confident and also taking my time, (which) is what I did today.”
“I hit the close one first (a 12 footer), it definitely got me into a rhythm, and then you kind of get your legs under you, then step back and hit another one (his first three). But yes, that first one (shot) definitely helped me out.”
For Cooney, often times the subject of Orange Nation’s wrath this season as perhaps the buildup was too intense during his redshirt year that he would come in and instantly be the three-point shooting weapon to keep defenses honest, the hard work, getting to practice early and staying late, shooting thousands of shots, provided some vindication with his performance on such a large stage.
“With me, it’s just a mindset and having confidence,” Cooney said. “I mean, I put in the work. It’s just about being calm on the court and slowing my shot down a little bit. I was able to do that today on all my threes.”
Now, the second-half bench heroic award versus Georgetown went to Baye Moussa Keita and his incredible 7-for-7 free throw shooting, and Cooney gladly shared the substitute spotlight with the backup center. Like the rest of his teammates, Cooney says the new found confidence in practices before arriving in New York, and each subsequent day of their final Big East games has led to the last goal.
“We didn’t come here just to win a game or beat Georgetown. We came here to win the whole thing, and to set ourselves up to play in the last championship game in the Big East is really big for us.”