Northeastern became a standard bearer for the Colonial Athletic Association in a decade of change.
The Huskies earned two Postseason NIT berths in the 2010s under longtime coach Bill Coen, and last year made their second NCAA Tournament appearance of the decade.
Northeastern’s run through the CAA Tournament got a dramatic boost from George Washington transfer Jordan Roland, a new face last season who provides the veteran leadership this campaign.
Making another March push in 2020 will require some new Huskies stepping up like Roland a season ago. With the solid foundation Coen’s set, however, Northeastern should be in the thick of a wide-open CAA race once again.
Head Coach: Bill Coen (14th year at Northeastern, 35-62; 224-197 overall)
2018 Record: 23-11, 14-4 CAA
2019 Preseason Poll: 3rd, 291 points (4 first-place votes)
Of the teams picked in the half of the CAA preseason poll, Northeastern’s the only without a 1st Team All-Conference honoree. That is not a result of the Huskies roster being bereft of big-time, veteran talent, however.
Guard Jordan Roland returns, building from a campaign in which he connected on 40.2 percent of his 3-point attempts and averaged 14.6 points per game. Roland ranked No. 100 among all Div. I players in offensive rating, per KenPom.com advanced metrics, and 19th nationally in turnover rate. Roland’s steadiness sets the tone for a methodical offense that ranked fifth overall in Div. I in effective field-goal shooting.
He’s the lone returning double-figurer scorer, but Bolden Brace and Tomas Murphy were both in the neighborhood with 9.9 and 8.1 points per game.
Brace doubled as the Huskies’ leading rebounder with 6.1 per game.
Vasa Pusica handled a considerable portion of offensive responsibilities, leading Northeastern last season both in points per game (17.4) and assists (4.1). The versatile swingman headlines a considerable stable of players gone from the 2018-19 Tournament team.
Big man Anthony Green graduated. Guard Donnell Greshmam Jr., who averaged a shade below 10 points and five rebounds per game, transferred to Georgia.
Northeastern must also replace versatile wing Shawn Occeus, who opted for early entry into professional basketball. The Salt Lake City Stars of the G-League drafted Occeus in October.
Northeastern may have lost a key contributor to graduate transfer, but the Huskies add a promising one in guard Guilien Smith. Smith missed most of the 2017-18 season at Dartmouth due to injury, and played only 17 games a season ago. But in 2016-17, he averaged 12 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game for the Big Green.
Rangy forward Greg Eboigbodin gains eligibility this season to provide a frontcourt presence. Eboigbodin appeared in 30 games at Illinois in 2017-18 and averaged 2.4 rebounds in just 10.6 minutes per game.
Freshman guard Tyson Walker is a name to remember. Walker played at New York prep powerhouse Christ the King and New Hampshire prep school New Hampton. He comes to Northeastern with 3-star credentials from 247Sports.com.
Dates To Remember
Nov. 8 vs. Harvard: A prime opportunity to plant a flag in the local scene, Harvard’s tabbed as a preseason front-runner in the top-heavy Ivy League. Northeastern won last season’s meeting, 81-71.
Nov. 16 vs. Old Dominion: A defensive-minded challenge out of Conference USA, the Monarchs are always a threat to make the NCAA Tournament.
Dec. 7 vs. Davidson: Northeastern gets a home-game crack against a likely Top 25 opponent, and one of the best coaches in college basketball, Bob McKillop. The two played twice last season, in Charleston, South Carolina and at Davidson. The Wildcats won both in competitive matchups.
Dec. 28 at Towson: Last season’s meeting in Towson, 75-72. Bolden scored 18 points, a mark 2019-20 Preseason All-CAA 1st Team honoree Brian Fobbs matched. This one sets the tone for a competitive CAA race in the season to come.
Jan. 9 vs. Hofstra: Northeastern won the season series, including a CAA Championship Game rubber match. The Huskies proved a matchup nightmare for the 2018-19 regular champs; can they do so again with a Hofstra team tabbed atop the preseason poll?
Jan. 16 at Charleston: In a one-week turnaround, Northeastern draws the two CAA preseason favorites in back-to-back weeks. The Huskies won the series last year by virtue of a thriller in the Colonial semifinals.
Feb. 8 at Hofstra: Expect an electric atmosphere on Long Island in Northeastern’s first visit since spoiling the Pride’s March aspirations a year ago.
Feb. 20 at Delaware: The Fightin’ Blue Hens scored an overtime win in Northeastern’s visit to Newark a season ago.