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Trevor Cooney Isn't Who You Want Him to Be, But That's Okay

The fifth-year senior hasn't been who Syracuse fans want him to be, but that's alright.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Before Trevor Cooney came to Syracuse he already had a label: He was to be the next great, white shooter on the hill. He was prematurely pigeonholed into the typical college basketball player with a jump shot, all before playing one collegiate basketball game. In the eyes of Syracuse fans, he was to do one thing extremely well -- shoot jumpers. He was to be the next Gerry McNamara, or the next Andy Rautins.

Five years later after his final conference game, he hasn't manifested into Gerry McNamara (heck, who has?) or Andy Rautins. His three that went awry in the waning seconds of the Florida State game on Saturday had fans furious.

Before we delve into that shot, let's start from the beginning. Cooney has never considered himself just a shooter. This is an excerpt from a piece done by Mike DeCourcy in 2010.

Cooney insists in some interviews that he considers himself a combo guard: some point, some shooting guard. He doesn't want to be typecast as a pure shooter no matter what his 3-point numbers say.

Jumping forward, in his Syracuse career he's 267-806 from three point range which places him 33.13 percent. That number certainly doesn't jump off the charts, but 33 percent from three isn't bad. It's very average. In context, shooting 33 percent from three is the same as shooting 50 percent from inside the arc. It translates to a point every time you shoot the ball.

Sure, Cooney does go cold at points during the season. Well, isn't that the life of a shooter? Study any shooter who has every played college basketball and I'll be you can't find one who didn't go through a shooting slump at some point throughout the season.

The frustration is warranted. Cooney is such an enigma; it vexes fans because they can't box him into a category. He isn't congruent with the quintessential shooter stereotype. You want Cooney to be a knock down shooter, but you can't peg him into that hole because he doesn't shoot it well enough.

The facts are the facts. He's an average in-game shooter. There are endless theories as to why he doesn't shoot a great percentage. Maybe he gets tired and doesn't have his legs. Maybe he's nervous (which I personally don't buy). Maybe it's a mental thing. It could be a combination of any of those things or maybe something that is unaccounted for, but at the end of the day the numbers are where they are. He's an average shooter in game situations.

But what Cooney is, is a fantastic teammate, a professional and a tremendously smart basketball player who gives it his all while playing tremendous defense. When you see a Syracuse player fall to the floor, Cooney is the first player there to help up his fallen comrade. He exudes leadership.

He's a professional in every sense of the word. Of course, fans will always grimace at this play. But to have the courage to stick around the locker room and answering questions from the media after missing a shot like that speaks volumes about his character. He did it after the Final Four loss as a freshman and he stuck around to answer questions again after the loss to Florida State.

Cooney is a smart, tremendous defender. He understands where to be at all times in the zone. You have a better chance seeing Jim Boeheim frequent a smile than seeing Trevor Cooney give up an uncontested three from his side of the floor. He's great at anticipating pass lanes too and there's data to back that. He sits tenth all time at Syracuse in steals with 197.

Trevor Cooney will never fit into the box you want him to be in. But if we frame Cooney into the player he is -- an average shooter with above average work ethic, leadership and defensive prowess -- the frustration might subside.