Men's basketball

Boeheim says SU will be tested in nonconference play; Cooney ends drought from beyond the arc

Syracuse is 6-0 and ranked fourth in the country. Still, Jim Boeheim made it clear on Monday he still thinks his team has a lot of progress to make.

After the Orange’s 84-48 drubbing of Eastern Michigan, Boeheim said he thinks it’s wrong to assume Syracuse is going to win every game of its nonconference schedule and then cruise through the Big East. His team is not as good as last year’s was, Boeheim said, and has a way to go before it can get there.

He said Syracuse can lose to any team on any day if it’s not ready.

“This team is going to get more than well tested and I laugh when I see everybody that we’re going to win every game,” Boeheim said. “Do you watch any games? Do you even watch teams like Boise State beating Creighton by 12, 15 points? Do you watch Oakland being 10, 12 up at Pittsburgh, or Illinois State being up 12, 15 at Louisville?”

Boeheim said these nonconference games early in the season won’t get Syracuse ready for the postseason, but will only improve it for the next two or three weeks. It’s the difficult slate of conference teams that will really test the Orange, he said.

Syracuse committed 18 turnovers on Monday against the Eagles. It’s a stat Boeheim said he’ll point out to his players. And he emphasized that they have a lot to learn.

James Southerland hit nine 3-pointers in SU’s win over Arkansas last Friday, and Boeheim said that’s the reason the Orange left Bud Walton Arena with a victory. Without those 3s, Syracuse loses, he said.

“To just assume we’re going to win games is the most arrogant thing that I ever seen in my life,” Boeheim said. “It’s nothing but arrogant.”

Right now, he said Syracuse is not good, but has to work to be good. And he said he wants the players to stay focused on improving.

“This team is a work in progress. We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Boeheim said. “We can get better, but we’re a long ways from that. If you can’t see that, you’re not watching. Watch.”

Cooney finds shooting stroke

Trevor Cooney didn’t let the misses get to him. After going 0-for-11 from beyond the arc in his last three games, the Syracuse guard stayed confident.

Against Eastern Michigan on Monday night, that attitude served Cooney well after he missed his first four 3-point attempts before knocking down his last two. Cooney finished with 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting off the bench to help the Orange to a blowout win in the Carrier Dome.

“If you let it really get to you then you’re just going to be done,” Cooney said. “If you really let it get to you then you can’t play a sport like this really.”

Cooney stayed aggressive after missing his first five attempts, including a few air balls. He got going with some drives to the basket that landed him at the free-throw line. From there, he found his stroke and was able to hit two 3s.

“He’s a good shooter, he’s going to make some,” Boeheim said. “I think he got hit on the two that he threw up there that were short. I think he got hit on both of them.

“But he’s just got to keep getting in his spots and get his shot up there and the two foul shots loosened him up a little bit. That’s what sometimes it takes, a layup or something.”

His first 3 was the biggest, building Syracuse’s lead to 29 and igniting the home crowd at the end of what became an easy win. He added another about six minutes later on a step-back off the dribble as the Eagles defense disappeared behind a screen.

The lead stood at 33, and Cooney showed why he’s still the team’s sharpshooter despite the previous two games.

Said Boeheim: “He’s just got to keep plugging away and we’ll get him some shots and I think he’ll make some.”


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