CAA Preview: Northeastern University Huskies

Coach Bill Coen and the Northeastern Huskies want to accomplish what they were one game away from last year: a CAA tournament championship.

“My expectation[s] are the same each and every year, I expect for our teams to compete for a CAA championship,” coach Bill Coen said. “I expect us to go out and play the very best competition in non-conference, and that’s to prepare us for CAA play.”

The Huskies return all but three of last year’s players, two of whom were starters. Jon Lee and Joel Smith both graduated from the team while former redshirt junior Dinko Marshavelski inked a professional contract with the Cocinas.com Logrono of Spain’s LEB Gold league.

The co-captains carried a hefty load when it came to scoring for the team; Smith averaged 16.1 points per game and Lee 13.8. When the clock was dwindling and Northeastern needed a big play, most could assume either of those two would have the ball in their hands, such as Lee’s game winning drive against George Mason University in the CAA tournament semi-finals.

“The right guy to have the ball is the open guy,” Coen said. “This year we have a number of candidates, we have a strong core returning group and we have a transfer who’s eligible that we’re excited about and some exciting freshman.”

To go along with returning starters Quincy Ford, Reggie Spencer and David Walker, Northeastern’s transfer from St. Francis Penn., Scott Eatherton, is now eligible. The 6-foot-8-inch forward/center should help Northeastern on the boards, which the Huskies struggled mightily with last season. They were ninth in the league in offensive rebounds and last in defensive rebounds.

“He’s capable of scoring in the low block and he can step away and hit a jump-shot,” Coen said. “He’s a decent shot blocker and he’ll certainly help us on the backboards where we struggled a lot last year.”

Northeastern added three freshman this fall in T.J. Williams, C.J. Hill and Jimmy Marshall. The Husky’s also recently added a walk-on to their roster, Caleb Donnelly.

The head coach said he realized it would be a little bit of a challenge without senior guard play, especially with a non-conference schedule that features Virginua Commonwealth University, Harvard University, Georgetown University and maybe Kansas State or Charlotte with a win in the ESPN-televised Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

“You can count all those points and assists and things Jon and Joel did for us last year but I realized the biggest thing we lost from graduation is leadership and we’ll be looking to develop that as the season goes along,” Coen said.

He noted forwards Ford and Spencer have already showed signs of filling the void, as well as key contributions from guards Walker and Demetrius Pollard.

Pollard of course got the season off to an epic start last year with his buzzer-beating three over Boston University. The coach said this Sunday once again won’t disappoint, as the Huskies take on the Terriers on the TD Garden court in the Coaches vs. Cancer Massachusetts Tripleheader.

“I’m hoping they come out and support us,” Coen said. “We have a great schedule, in my opinion one of the top-20 schedules in the country or conference. The Garden is going to be really, really special and I’m hoping everyone comes out to support that.”

This article can also be found in The Huntington News.