Gabby Cooper grows into her role ahead late in the season

first_img Published on March 7, 2017 at 12:10 am Contact Matt: Gabby Cooper spoke with Brittney Sykes and Alexis Peterson the night before the biggest game of her life. The team was out for dinner and the next day it was set to match up with then-No. 7 Notre Dame in a game that would eventually shatter the attendance record.The discussion wasn’t about Cooper’s 10-percent shooting performance from 3 against North Carolina six days prior. It wasn’t about whether the freshman had the confidence to perform against a Top 10 team. Those were conversations of the past.Instead, the three discussed the antics that they would be pulling when they hit shots and run the score up on the Fighting Irish. Peterson and Sykes — the top two scorers in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the leaders of this year’s teams — told the freshman shooter that they needed her.“I felt like I had to step it up even more,” Cooper said, clapping her hands together as she recounted the interaction between the three teammates. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to come out here tomorrow and shoot all the 3s and make them.’ We were hype.”Some nights, Cooper thrives. Other nights, she doesn’t. Her role as 3-point specialist for No. 21 Syracuse (21-10, 11-5 Atlantic Coast) hasn’t changed — she’s started in every game she’s played in — but her performances have. She’s learned through 30 games that to succeed beyond the arc, she has to put bad performances behind her. It’s led to four of her five best scoring performances coming since the start of February.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCooper said she wasn’t expecting as a big role as she ended up getting to start the year. Through her first seven games, she shot 72 3-pointers, notching 61 points, but she made just 23.6 percent of her shots from 3.SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said Cooper’s struggles were part of her growth process as a freshman. But then he gave her only 20 minutes of playing time in a Nov. 27 loss to DePaul, after Cooper had shot only 4-of-15 from 3 the night before. She rediscovered her stroke at the Florida Sunshine Classic, shooting 5-of-12 from 3 against Old Dominion for a season-high 19 points. But she remained largely inconsistent.The UNC game on Feb. 12 marked the second time in a month that she had shot 1-of-10 from downtown. After her already-shaky start to the season, Cooper’s role as 3-point specialist looked unstable.Then, “the game happened,” Cooper said. Cooper torched the Fighting Irish defense, scoring 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, nearly leading the Orange to a momentous upset in front of a record 11,021 fans. When Cooper walked off the court, the UNC game was a blip in her distant memory. The debate regarding her ability to perform beyond the arc in a big game ended.The good games stick in your memory, and the bad games leave quickly, Cooper said.“When she’s struggling, she remains aggressive,” Hillsman said. “And that’s important for us. She adds a dimension to our game.”Last Friday against No. 13 Duke, the Blue Devils’ defense swallowed up Peterson and Sykes, holding the All-ACC duo to only 22 combined points. The ball thrust into Cooper’s hands most of the night and the freshman threw up 16 shots from 3, six of which fell for 18 points to pace the Orange. On her fourth 3-pointer of the game, Cooper became SU’s all-time freshman leader in 3-pointers made, with 68.It didn’t matter that Cooper had been on a two-game cold streak entering Friday. What mattered was Cooper found her stroke again.“It’s easy to be confident when you’re playing great, but how confident can you be when you’re struggling some?” Hillsman said. “I always thought she was confident no matter what, and that’s what we need her to do.”Cooper is now 878 minutes into her collegiate career. She said matter-of-factly she’s comfortable in her role and is used to being a mainstay on the court. She averages 29.3 minutes per game for SU and has taken 263 3-pointers on the season, averaging 8.8 points per game – the fourth-best mark on the team.Cooper didn’t expect to play nearly three-quarters of games and make more 3-pointers than any freshman in the ACC. But she’s not complaining, because the same freshman who once carried doubt is poised to help lead the Orange into the NCAA tournament.She’ll be stationed where she always is. Behind the thickly painted semi-circle that sits 20-feet-9-inches from the hoop. Behind the line that has been both make and break for Cooper dozens of times in her first season at SU. Behind the line that has been her best friend, and worst enemy, since November. It’s the one place Cooper has come to know best and the only place from which she sees herself fit.“That’s my spot,” Cooper said. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more


Dodgers win 1-0 pitchers’ duel with Yasmani Grandal’s 13th inning home run

first_imgPedro Baez, Adam Liberatore and Yimi Garcia pitched a scoreless seventh, eighth and ninth innings for the Dodgers. Oliver Perez, Randall Delgado and Andrew Chafin did the same for Arizona.Both teams had chances to score late.In the ninth inning, Howie Kendrick hit a line drive that dribbled to the wall in right-center field, only to be thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple. Leadoff doubles by Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt in the top of the 10th, and the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier in the bottom of the 10th, both went to waste.The Diamondbacks used two-out singles by Jordan Pacheco and Aaron Hill to put runners on first and third in the 13th inning against J.P. Howell. Pacheco attempted to score on a wild pitch that skipped a few feet away from Grandal, but the catcher underhanded the ball to Howell, who reached blindly behind his back to tag out Pacheco.Grandal — who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning — led off the bottom of the 13th and came through, belting the third pitch he saw from Marshall for his second home run of the season. “You don’t expect to go 13 innings, but our pitching staff did a great job today,” Grandal said. “A.J. (Ellis) called a great game. … You don’t expect to get into the game.”The Dodgers used all 12 of their position players and seven of their eight relievers. It was their first scoreless extra-innings game since July 28, 2013 against the Cincinnati Reds, a game that ended on a solo home run by Yasiel Puig.Juan Uribe extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in the fifth inning.The Dodgers (16-8) swept the three-game series and lead the second-place San Diego Padres (14-12) by three games in the NL West. They are 13-2 at home this season. Up next: A seven-game road trip through Milwaukee and Denver.While Anderson leaves with a start he can be proud of, the Dodgers have a stat they can be proud of as a team: They’ve won three games in their final at-bat this season, and a different player has scored and driven in the winning run each time.“The new guys, they’re really setting the tone,” Howell said. “They’re really bringing their character. It really, genuinely is each guy is pulling on the rope here. It’s not easy to do. We’ve seen it in L.A. here for years … it’s tough to do. When you get that, you just want to keep moving forward.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Before Sunday, the most important thing Brett Anderson had done for the Dodgers this season was stay healthy. In the long term, a clean MRI means more to the chronically injured pitcher than one clean inning.On a day the Dodgers needed him to be nearly perfect, Anderson pitched six innings without allowing a run Sunday in a 1-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. His fifth start in a Dodgers uniform was undoubtedly his best.Neither team scored until the 13th inning, when Yasmani Grandal hit a solo home run to left-center field off Evan Marshall to end the game.“You throw six innings, you don’t expect to participate in less than half the game,” Anderson said. “It was kind of a war of attrition. … You play however long as long as we win.”center_img The Diamondbacks mustered just five singles and no runs in six innings against Anderson. Six balls left the infield against him in total. The left-hander lowered his ERA from 5.49 to 4.21.“I got in a better rhythm than I had the previous handful of starts,” he said. “I was able to make some pitches with runners on, limit the damage with runners on. … It was definitely a step in the right direction.”Yet Anderson wasn’t the most difficult pitcher to hit Sunday. He wasn’t even the most difficult Anderson to hit.Diamondbacks starter Chase Anderson — no relation — took a no-hitter into the fourth inning and allowed only one other single to match his namesake zero for zero for six innings.The net result: A good game for the announced crowd of 48,136 at Dodger Stadium — so long as they were fans of pitching.last_img read more