CAA Preview- Northeastern University

By: David Kroopnick

images.duckduckgo.com_-272x300Coach: Bill Coen (9th season with Northeastern)

Last year: 23-12 Overall (12-6 CAA) T-1st in the CAA, CAA Tournament Champions, Lost to Notre Dame in the Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament

What Happened:  Northeastern had its ups and downs during the 2014-2015 campaign, but finished in a three-way tie for first place in the CAA. The Huskies put together a great run to win the CAA Tournament, beating a tough Delaware team 67-64, second seeded UNCW 78-71, and first seeded William and Mary 72-61. The Huskies then grabbed the nation’s attention in one of the first games of the NCAA Tournament, losing a heart breaker to ACC Champion Notre Dame 69-65.  Notre Dame eventually lost in the Elite Eight against first-ranked Kentucky.

Key Losses:

Scott Eatherton (F): Northeastern will be without arguably their most important player of the last two seasons. Scott Eatherton was a cornerstone for the Huskies offensively. Eatherton’s elite offensive post-game forced opposing defenses to give up open looks on the perimeter, which resulted in the Huskies finishing second in the CAA in 3FG%. Eatherton was a force on the defensive end as well, leading the team in rebounding (6.4RPG), and blocked shots (43).

Reggie Spencer (F):  Northeastern also lost Reggie Spencer to graduation – a player Coach Coen has referred to as the heart and soul of the team. Spencer started for the Huskies in his first three seasons in uniform, but in his senior season, he accepted a role off the bench. Spencer added a lot of production as a role player for the Huskies, averaging 5.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG in just under 19 minutes of action per game.

Key Returnees/Additions:

Quincy Ford (G/F):  The Most Outstanding Player of the 2015 CAA Tournament returns for his last season in a Northeastern uniform. Quincy Ford is a tremendous offensive talent who can play at the rim and on the perimeter. Ford set a career high for season 3FG%, shooting .374 from beyond the arc. Ford will probably have to score in greater volume this season, something he has done successfully in the past. Ford also provides a great defensive presence with his length – he finished second on the team in blocked shots with 37.

David Walker (G): David Walker is the Northeastern Huskies’ leading returning scorer, having averaged 13.4 PPG as a junior. Walker led the team in 3FG% (.392), FT% (.866), and assists/game (3.1), and steals (41). Walker is clearly an offensive threat, but he is also a defensive stopper on the perimeter. Walker finished the 2014-2015 with 41 steals, a figure that placed him in the top-ten for the CAA.

Zach Stahl (F): Zach Stahl is the epitome of a glue guy that every coach would want on his team. Stahl defends well in the post despite being listed at 6’5’’. He is extremely adept at reading opponents offenses and being in the right place at the right time. On the offensive end, Stahl is a great passer, especially out of the high post. The combination of him and Eatherton at the forward spot allowed the team to stretch the floor, and get the guards working of pick-and-roll actions. Stahl averaged 8.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG, and finished second on the team in FG% at .569.

Freshman Forwards: Northeastern added three freshman forwards in the offseason: Sajon Ford (6’11’’), Anthony Green (6’10’’), and Jeremy Miller (6’10’’). While this type of size is typical at a top-25 program, it is exceptionally rare at the mid-major level. One of these forwards will likely work their way into the starting lineup by the end of the season, and the rest will provide frontcourt depth for a team that has not had a lot of it in recent years.

Outlook:

Despite losing two great players in Scott Eatherton, and Reggie Spencer, Northeastern is in a position to repeat as CAA Champions. The Huskies are returning four of their top-five scorers, and have a recruiting class that provides a ton of size in the frontcourt. Expect the Huskies to experiment with lots of different lineup combinations early in the season, and trim their rotation as they get towards CAA play. The Huskies have the perimeter talent to match Hofstra — picked to finish first in the CAA Preseason Poll — and more frontcourt depth than any team in the league. After waiting 24 years between their last two NCAA bids, Northeastern should be considered a favorite to claim the CAA Crown, and dance late into March.

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