By Zolan Kanno-Youngs
Head Coach – Bill Coen, 111-112 (9th season)
Last season- 11-21 (7-9 CAA)
Losses- F Chris Avenant, G Demetrius Pollard, G Marco Banegas-Flores, F Derrico Peck
Newcomers- G Devon Begley, G Alex Jordan.
It’s no surprise the Huskies have been picked to win the CAA title after returning their entire core from last season. Scott Eatherton will lead the Northeastern frontcourt (15.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg) after receiving national recognition last year. The 2014 CAA defensive player-of-the-year will also have help from the outside, which was a lagging problem for coach Bill Coen last season. After medically red-shirting practically all of last year with season-ending back surgery, forward Quincy Ford returns to the court with something to prove. Coen’s backcourt was inconsistent on the offensive end last year and often relied on the presence of Eatherton and Reggie Spencer. Ford’s offensive ability will surely take some of the pressure off the big men.
Don’t be misguided by Northeastern only recruiting one freshman for this season. Point guard TJ Williams was often the best player on the court as a freshman. He smoothly slipped in to the starting lineup and was a huge factor in the Huskies upset win against Georgetown in Puerto Rico. David Walker brings a nice balance to backcourt with his athleticism and his size will help Coen’s zone defense. The bench, led by forward Zach Stahl, should also be a huge asset.
Northeastern’s biggest competition will come from a re-vamped Hofstra and William & Mary. Player-of-the-year candidate Marcus Thornton has the ability to go off on any team but with Northeastern’s hard non-conference schedule, the Husky’s should be prepared when he comes around. Their biggest challenge will be injuries. For two straight years, injuries have plagued the contenders.
Bottom line- The pieces are all there for Northeastern to end its 23-year skid of missing the NCAA tournament. This is a better team than the 2013 regular season championship squad that featured Jon Lee and Joel Smith. Coach Bill Coen has the CAA’s best big man in Scott Eatherton and Quincy Ford is back. Don’t be surprised if the Husky’s have a lackluster record after non-conference play. They’re facing some challenging teams. When the CAA comes around, the expectations will be as high as they’ve ever been. It’s tournament or bust for Coen and Co.