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Syracuse starts 3 shooters, and defenses will need to make a choice

first_imgIt took two scrimmage wins, both over Division II opponents, for Trevor Cooney to decide that Syracuse’s offense is going to make opposing defenses choose how to fail.“They have to guard someone,” Cooney said after the Orange beat Florida Southern, 96-54, on Monday. “They’re going to leave somebody open and we’ll make them pay.”Cooney was referring to Michael Gbinije, Malachi Richardson and himself, which seems to be the three-headed monster at the head of Syracuse’s perimeter-focused offense. They are expected to start with Tyler Roberson and Dajuan Coleman when SU hosts Lehigh for its regular-season opener at 7 p.m. on Friday. That will be the first full look at what, by their estimation, is a trio of shooters that will space the floor effectively and help each other drive.Gbinije, a fifth-year senior, is the point guard but all three of them can push the ball in transition and get the Orange into its half-court sets. Cooney, also a fifth-year senior, carries the pedigree of a sharpshooter and draws attention just by standing on the court. Richardson, already looking like a precocious freshman, has stroked it from deep in Syracuse’s exhibition wins and has no problem creating his own space off the dribble.Put the three together, and you get an intriguing blend of experience more than capable of leading an offense.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“He’s definitely getting opportunities based off of me and Trev, which is a good thing,” Gbinije said of Richardson. “He’s capitalizing on it as well, and I hope he continues to do that because it will open up things for me and Trev, as well.”The Orange took 61 total 3s in its two exhibition games, which is just above the average of 25-to-30 that SU head coach Jim Boeheim said he wants to take per game. Gbinije shot 7-for-15 from deep in the two contests, Richardson went 7-for-14 and Cooney finished the worst at 2-for-10. But with Cooney’s history as a reliable spot-up shooter, it’s clear that these are the best three shooters on a team that can feasibly roll out five perimeter threats in the same lineup.Against Florida Southern, Cooney felt the effects of playing next to two other shooters. As the Orange’s only legitimate threat from deep last season, Cooney faced unrelenting pressure and was met by helping defenders whenever he came around screens. But when he came off a high-ball screen against the Mocs, there were no defenders obstructing his path toward the rim.Instead they opted to stay glued to Gbinije and Richardson on the perimeter. Cooney collected nine of his 15 points by hitting two 2-pointers and shooting 5-for-7 from the foul line.“Definitely there’s a difference when you have those guys out there with me. And I think they could say the same with me, so that’s good,” Cooney said. “We just need to continue to play off each other and continue to get wide-open looks.”While addressing the media after beating Florida Southern, Cooney said “wide-open” four times in two minutes. It’s a fitting phrase for an offense predicating itself on ball movement and outside shooting. And starting with Syracuse’s three versatile scorers, it seems like there will be enough good looks to go around.“I think we’re all going to reap the benefits of all of us out on the floor being able to make shots and make plays. We saw today we were able to get wide-open looks,” Cooney said. “Times we did get to the basket we were able to get right to the basket because you can’t come off of the shooters.“And hopefully we just continue to play like that, and space the floor and make the right 3s.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 9, 2015 at 9:11 pm Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesselast_img

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