In a development as shocking as a <bleep> on the Iron Chef, the we’ve got Nor’easter slotted at #2 this year.
Blue Ribbon Open
LAST SEASON: 19-13 (.594)
CONFERENCE RECORD: 12-6 (t-3rd)
STARTERS RETURNING: 4
HOMECOURT: Mathews Arena (6,000)
COACH: Bill Coen (Hamilton College ‘83)
RECORD AT SCHOOL: 46-49 (3 years)
CAREER RECORD: 46-49 (3 years)
ASSISTANTS: Jim McCarthy, Thomas Murphy, Antonio Reynolds-Dean
TEAM WINS (last 5 yrs.): 21-19-13-14-19
RPI (last 5 yrs.): 50-88-184-169-84
2008-09 FINISH: Lost in CAA Quarterfinals
Key for Northeastern: Energy, and managing the rigor of the season. We’ve spoken of the massive frequent flier miles Bill Coen and the team will accumulate by the time the second week of January rolls around. More importantly is the ability for the Huskies to not let that impact their February.
All the new players—seven of them—will greatly help. There’s nothing like an 18-year old freshman who is too stupid to realize he’s dead tired. Granted, a big part of that is contributing, and that may be the key to open it all up. One of the freshmen starts contributing, and there will be a fresh feeling that will pay off in March.
Guy You Think Is Important, and He Is: Matt Janning. This is the biggest “no duh” choice besides Charles Jenkins. Janning finished in the top 10 in the CAA in scoring, field goal shooting, steals and minutes played. He’s in his third year as captain. What do they need? See: The Janning Plateau.
Guy Who Is Actually More Important: Vinny Lima. This was the most difficult selection of any I made during the entire preview exercise. Nkem Ojougboh was there (post scoring presence), so was Chase Allen and any one of the freshmen wings (need perimeter threat other than Janning). Manny Adako was close—if he drinks a few cups of nasty and becomes a 17/8 guy that is feared, the way you defend NU is different.
But I settled on Lima because a big step forward gives the team a HUGE dimension not previously calculated. Lima shot 53% last year, made five threes and carries an athletic frame on a 6-10 body. That’s difficult to defend. He’s shown flashes—Lima was a perfect 6-6 from the field and tallied a career-high 14 points against Rhode Island.
Guy Who Could Play On My Team: Chase Allen. Yes, Baptiste Bataille is in there for all these reasons. But Allen reeks of studness: he has played and started all 63 NU games since his freshman season, led last year’s team in steals and assists and finished in the top 10 in the CAA in assists, free throw shooting, steals, assist/turnover ratio and minutes played and was named to the CAA All-Defensive team.
Guy I’m Not Sold On: Nkem Ojougboh. The 6-9 center had 16 points and seven rebounds against ODU to close the regular season, and added 11 points and nine rebounds against Wyoming and scored 13 points against UTEP in the CBI tournament. But where was he for the other 29 games? Plus, he was outrebounded by his point guard. Eesh.
Coach Seems To Like: Konstadin Marchlevski. The freshman is 6-10 and 250 pounds, and I can imagine Coen squinting his eyes and rubbing his chin all mad scientist-like when he says of the kid: “Very intriguing.”
Games I Will Not Miss: at Siena on 11/17–opens the season on ESPN against a mid major with top 25 notoriety. Love it. Also, hosting Delaware on 1/13 after the four-in-seven travelapalooza screams F-L-A-T. Honorable mention to 2/13 @W&M–if you win, how do you celebrate your first ever win in the Burg?
The Blue Hens check in at #10, but I’m also willing to admit the number was better prior to Brian Johnson’s knee injury. Yes, they have time to overcome it, but for Pete’s sake that is a big loss. (Who exactly is Pete, by the way?)
Blue Ribbon Open
LAST SEASON: 13-19 (.406)
CONFERENCE RECORD: 6-12 (9th)
STARTERS RETURNING: 2
HOMECOURT: Bob Carpenter Center (5,000)
COACH: Monte` Ross (Winston Salem State ‘92)
RECORD AT SCHOOL: 32-62 (3 years)
CAREER RECORD: 32-62 (3 years)
ASSISTANTS: Jeff Rafferty, RC Kehoe, Stephen Stewart
TEAM WINS (LAST 5 YRS.): 11-9-5-14-13
RPI (LAST 5 YRS.): 237-236-306-181-222
2008-09 FINISH: Lost in CAA first round
Key for Delaware: Picture Eddie Money signing “baby, hold on to me…whatever will be will be…” There you go. Mr. Everything Marc Egerson is gone, and Mr. Program Brian Johnson blew out his knee this summer.
Ross knows depth is more about playing than rest, and he will have to go to new players for production until the Hens figure it all out. Last season players listed as forwards or centers took 164 of 1,778 shots (9.2%). That number should increase dramatically and it will take awhile for the tactics to play out smoothly.
Guy You Think Is Important, and He Is: Fonzie Dawson. The guy is a pure scorer and they will need the points plus the leadership with Johnson gone. Dawson made 50 threes, but is one of the conference’s best from midrange to the rim. He is also an active defender and posted laudable aggression stats: blocks (19), steals (27), offensive rebounds (60), and fouls (82). A big part of the leadership is trust from players and coaches—Dawson’s 34-54 assist-to-turnover ratio needs some work.
Guy Who Is Actually More Important: Hakim McCullar. He’s a 6-8, 240 beefeater who transferred from Rhode Island. He will give Delaware a presence on the block, and help with offensive rebounding and stickbacks—paths to easy baskets. McCullar can also face up and moves well for a man his size. They need him to be no worse than the third best player on the team.
Guy Who Could Play On My Team: DJ Boney. The 6-5 junior is a do-all kind of guard and solid shooter (78% from the line and 31% threes). Boney will get after it and maximize his floor time—he snared more offensive rebounds (30) than defensive (29). He is the perfect sixth man, because you never know he is on the floor until he does something to hurt you. Then he goes out of the game and the rested starter is back.
Guy I’m Not Sold On: Edwin Santiago. He’s decent offensively and gives effort, but Santiago gets killed on the defensive end. He just cannot match up physically with the bigger wing guards in the CAA. I just don’t see him ever breaking out of the spot minutes role.
Coach Seems To Like: Malcom Hawkins. Size (6-6) plus skill gives a coach lineup options. Huge for Ross to have this.
Games I Will Not Miss: Villanova on 12/23–two days before Christmas is a trap waiting to happen; In conference, 2/13 at Drexel is a rivalry game between two teams who will have interesting seasons.