CAA Preview: Northeastern Huskies

nuCoach: Bill Coen (11th season)

Last Season: 18-15 (6th in CAA)

Additions:

  • F Alex Murphy (Florida/Southborough, Mass.)
  • G Shawn Occeus (Grandview Prep/Boynton Beach, Fla.)
  • G Bolden Brace (Santa Barbara High/Santa Barbara Calif.)
  • G/F Maxime Boursiquot (Kent School/Ottawa, Ontario)

Losses:

  • G David Walker (17.9 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.6 rpg, First Team All-CAA)
  • F Quincy Ford (16.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, Second Team All-CAA)
  • F Zach Stahl (10.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
  • G Caleb Donnelly (4.6 ppg)
  • C Kwesi Abakah
  • G Brandon Kamga

No other team in the CAA lost as much talent and leadership as the Northeastern Huskies, who were picked 7th in the conference’s preseason media poll. Three thousand-point scorers graduated, leaving head coach Bill Coen with an inexperienced core that might struggle to fight for relevance in a crowded CAA.

Gone are the dynamic trio of G David Walker, F Quincy Ford and F Zach Stahl. Walker was the team’s leading scorer, and was relied on heavily to bail the Huskies out with his clutch shooting and impressive athleticism. Ford was the heart and soul: a fifth year senior who could do just about anything on a basketball court. No one would argue Stahl has the smoothest game, but his rebounding and interior scoring kept NU’s offense churning. Even the loss of Caleb Donnelly, a sharp shooting senior, stings.

In addition to the graduations, Northeastern lost two more players to transfer in C Kwesi Abakah and G Brandon Kamga, slicing away at the Huskies already thin stash of reserves.

Almost 70% of last year’s points are gone, but the Huskies caught a big break with the announcement that 6’8 F Alex Murphy would join the squad this fall. Murphy is a graduate transfer who played at both Duke and Florida, and his skillset appears to fill the void left by Ford: a playmaking combo forward who can take charge. Murphy averaged 5.1 ppg in his last full season at Florida, but his experience could make him a valuable weapon in the CAA. Staying healthy is key for the 23-year-old; injuries have followed him throughout his star-crossed journey.

Aiding Murphy will be sophomore C Jeremy Miller, who earned a preseason All-CAA Honorable Mention nod last month. A high-profile recruit coming out of high school, Miller struggled at times as a freshman, but averaged 8.3 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 37% from three-point land.

The knock on Miller, frankly, is his toughness in the interior. Too often, he was outmuscled for rebounds and looked lost on defense. For the 6’10 stretch five to capitalize on his tremendous potential, he’ll have to improve as an interior defender this season.

Point guard T.J. Williams (6.8 ppg, 2.7 apg) will be another key for Coen and the Huskies. When he’s on, Williams is a tremendous playmaker and slasher. Last year, injuries and off-court troubles kept Williams from making a huge impact, but there’s a need for a go-to scorer, and the Pflurgerville, Texas native has the skills to be one of the best floor generals in the conference.

Senior swingman Jimmy Marshall and junior G Devon Begley should be relied on heavily. Neither has seen a huge role to this point, and their development will say a lot about how the Huskies fair.

Coen will also need to rely on his second-year players to step up. G Donnell Gresham is a smooth shooter and nice off-the-ball guard next to Williams. The giant duo of Anthony Green and Sajon Ford (both 6’10 or above) didn’t see much time last year, but the graduation of Stahl and Quincy Ford means open minutes in the frontcourt.

A freshman might step into the fold, as Miller and Gresham did a year ago. Guards Bolden Brace, Maxime Boursiquot and Shawn Occeus will look to provide depth.

Bottom Line:

Coen will be tested this season. The Huskies struggled to get CAA wins last year with four seniors, and now the roster is even more inexperienced. There’s definitely some potential, especially if Murphy stays healthy and makes the impact he’s expected to. Miller and Williams will be key, and likely will determine how good Northeastern can be. Just don’t be surprised if the Huskies stay in the conference cellar.

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