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Trevor Cooney’s Playing Time

Trevor Cooney's best shot at a rotation spot is to make a big early impression on SU's coaching staff. (Dennis Nett/Post-Standard)

Of the three players in SU’s incoming recruiting class, Michael Carter-Williams and Rakeem Christmas have received the bulk of the attention over the last few months due to their high-visibility exhibition games and upside projections. It’s hard not to be excited over the thought of Rakeem Christmas swatting shots into orbit or to let the idea of Carter-Williams going off for 40 drift into your head. But over those last few months, Trevor Cooney has fallen to the wayside. As someone who’s drawn steady comparisons to Andy Rautins, a player who was beloved by the SU faithful, it’s important to take a look at what may be in store for him in his freshman season.

Cooney’s similarities to Rautins are pretty uncanny – both players show high levels of competitiveness, hold reputations as sharpshooters with quick release, and both display a high basketball IQ, and are comfortable as a facilitator as well as in a scoring role. Whereas Rakeem Christmas figures to get reps immediately as the frontcourt rotation sorts itself out, projecting where Cooney plays into the equation is a trickier subject, as the guard rotation seems to have a more established pecking order.

We know that for better or worse, Scoop Jardine is going to start at point guard and play over 30 minutes per game. Brandon Triche, though inconsistent, will still be given every opportunity to turn the corner from the ¬†two-guard slot as long as he can stay healthy. In a reserve role, Carter-Williams will spell Jardine as he continues to develop into a point guard, but his experience as a scoring guard makes him a viable option to give Triche breathers as well. If things go smoothly with Dion Waiters, he’ll get 10 or so minutes per game. Everyone is sure to get some run during cupcake season – even Mookie Jones – but when Boeheim conducts the annual December ritual of shortening his rotation, Cooney’s situation is the cloudiest. An appropriate analogy to draw is to liken the backcourt depth chart to a compact sedan, with Scoop in the driver’s seat (playing Chicken with every oncoming car), Triche sitting shotgun, and Cooney squeezing in the backseat between Waiters and Carter-Williams. As for Mookie… well, maybe it’s not a perfect analogy, but if he’s in the car at all, he’s sitting uncomfortably on someone’s lap. But back to Cooney.

Though it’s tough to see a situation where he plays meaningful minutes, he’s considered one of the best pure shooters entering college hoops this fall. On a team that struggled to fill the outside shooting void left by Andy Rautins’ departure last season, there may be a small window for him to squeeze through. However, since Cooney lacks a highly-developed all-around arsenal, it may be a safer bet for fans to hope that Jardine, Triche and Kris Joseph all took steps to improve their perimeter shooting in the offseason and for that trio to transform the Orange into a more collective three-point threat.

Reading the tea leaves, that may be a recipe that would typically lead to a redshirt year for Cooney, but Jim Boeheim isn’t known for redshirting a player who hasn’t been forced to sit with an injury. Cooney figures to cut his teeth against the Albanys, Northeasterns and Colgates of the schedule, but on the off chance that Carter-Williams struggles early or there’s another issue with the mercurial Waiters, he’ll have to be ready to jump at the opportunity.

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