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Northeastern coach Bill Coen said of his team’s challenging non-conference schedule, which includes Ivy League favorite Harvard, a talented Davidson bunch and Saturday’s matchup with perennial Conference USA contender Old Dominion, presented the Huskies with a variety of challenges that will prepare them for the Colonial Athletic Association season.
Who: Old Dominion (2-1) at Northeastern (2-1)
When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Matthews Arena; Boston, Mass.
Watch: LIVE on FloHoops
In Old Dominion, Northeastern sees a grinding defensive style that will test what has been an exciting Huskies offense through the first three games.
Old Dominion Monarchs At A Glance
Last season, Monarchs coach Jeff Jones joined such noteworthy contemporaries as John Calipari and Cuonzo Martin in coaching three different programs to NCAA Tournament appearances. Old Dominion won at least 25 games for the fourth time in Jones’ first six seasons at the helm, and finally broke through into the Big Dance after knocking on the door a few times previously.
Jones, who previously coached Virginia and American University to Tournament bids, comes into Saturday’s matchup one win away from 500 in his career.
As with other teams in his nearly 30-year head coaching career, this Jones-coached squad leans on a stingy defense to dictate pace-of-play.
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Old Dominion lost two key figures from last season’s Tournament squad in the backcourt duo of BJ Stith and Ahmad Caver. Caver ranked fourth nationally in percentage of minutes played, and was No. 41 among all Div. I players in assist rate per KenPom.com advanced metrics.
Leading returner Xavier Green was the only Monarch tabbed for Preseason All-CUSA, and is thus far off to a strong start. His 14 points per game leads four Monarchs scoring in double-figures through the first three contests.
Jason Wade contributed with both scoring punch and defense off the bench a season ago, and continues to flourish in that role with 11 points and six rebounds per. Marquis Godwin, who missed much of last season, is back and has added 10 points and five rebounds in three games.
JUCO transfer Malik Curry has had immediate impact on the offense as both a scorer and distributor, and defensively generating turnovers.
Old Dominion has never had any hesitation about using the shot clock to look for the best possible shot. And while this season, the Monarchs average 17 seconds per possession – a downright torrid pace for them in recent years – their adjusted tempo remains at 296 among all Div. I teams.
Adding to the frustration opponents can expect defending Old Dominion, Jones’ teams regularly hit the offensive glass effectively. The 2019-20 enters Saturday’s contest ranked 78th nationally in percentage of missed shots they pull down on offense.
Defense defines Old Dominion under Jones. The Monarch boast top 50 national rankings in adjusted defensive efficiency (No. 49), percentage of defensive possessions with a blocked shot (No. 21), and percentage of defensive possessions that generate a steal (No. 15).
The Monarchs are hard-nosed and aggressive, picking up the moment crosses mid-court and getting into passing lanes well out from the basket.
Wade has been remarkable through three games, forcing 16 steals. Curry has six. With them leading the aggressiveness on the perimeter, 7-foot center Dajour Dickens provides a rim-protecting presence on the interior.
Northeastern Huskies At A Glance
Defending CAA Tournament champion Northeastern opened 2019-20 with a pair of statement wins against local, non-conference opponents Boston University and Harvard. And no one made a louder statement than Jordan Roland. His 81 combined points in those games stole the show.
The Huskies return home after a loss at UMass on Tuesday that showed, despite the defeat, there’s a dangerous balance to their offense.
Saturday marks their final home game until Dec. 4, with a road trip to Holy Cross and the Gulf Coast Showcase still to come.
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Jordan Roland kicked off the season scoring at a remarkable pace. After netting 14 at UMass, his average through three games is an incredible 31.7 per game.
Roland and Bolden Brace are the cornerstones returning from last season’s NCAA Tournament team. Brace scored 20 points at UMass. Veteran Tomas Murphy and newcomer Tyson Walker have provided additional punch, with Shaquille Waters and Greg Eboigbodin contributing on the glass.
Northeastern’s motion offense is designed to free up scorers anywhere on the floor, with all five in the lineup at a given time considered a threat. The result is typically a balanced distribution of points, which makes Roland’s early-season eruption something of an outlier.
Great win over Harvard tonight! Jordan Roland sets a new school record with 42 points, becoming the first player since @jjbareapr to score 30 points or more in consecutive games.— Northeastern Men’s Basketball (@GoNUmbasketball) November 9, 2019
Press Conference 📹 https://t.co/5TbbCABrW3#HowlinHuskies pic.twitter.com/FHkfzYjYnm
Coen said Roland excelled in attacking opportunities opened by the defense within the flow of the offense. How Old Dominion attempts to guard that will be a defining aspect of Saturday’s matchup, particularly if it allows more looks to Brace – a reliable 3-point shooter – and the talented youngster Walker.
In much the same vein that Old Dominion’s defense ranks in the top 50 across a variety of advanced metrics, so too does the Northeastern offense: No. 46 in 3-point shooting, No. 37 in field-goal shooting inside the arc, 32nd at the foul line. The Huskies are 73rd overall in adjusted offensive efficiency.
The high-scoring pace at which Northeastern’s played on offense has translated to defense. Harvard and UMass scored 79 and 80 points the last two times out. That contributes to the Huskies’ No. 247 adjusted defensive efficiency ranking.
Last season, they were at a strong 151 by season’s end – but also improved as the year progressed. To wit, five of their first six opponents scored at least 71 points.
Old Dominion’s poor shooting from inside the 3-point line – 44 percent – must be an attribute Northeastern exploits while picking up the scoring pace on the other end.