night against BU, Northeastern senior guard Jordan Roland scored 39 points,
just shy of the school record of 41 held by Husky legends J.J. Barea and Reggie
Lewis. Northeastern needed every one of those points, as they edged BU out in
the closing seconds.
Tonight, the Harvard
Crimson, a team that has received votes in the AP Top 25 rankings, strolled
into Matthews Arena. The Jordan Roland Experience awaited them.
Roland dropped 42 spectacular points, setting a school record and leading the Huskies (2–0) to an 84–79 win over the Crimson in their home opener. Roland bumped his per game scoring average to 40.5, still the best in college basketball.
Roland got his offense going early, netting the Huskies’ first 11 points in an outburst that included three three-pointers. The Matthews Arena crowd was rocking as Northeastern leapt out to a 13–2 advantage within the game’s first four minutes. Roland’s hot hand was complemented by 10 first-half points from freshman point guard Tyson Walker, and Northeastern took a 44–27 lead into the halftime locker room.
The tide changed in the
second half as Harvard’s offense kicked into high gear. Sophomore guard Noah
Kirkwood and senior forward Chris Lewis led the charge for the Crimson (1–1),
who cut the Husky lead to as little as three points on two separate
Northeastern head coach Bill Coen said of the Crimson’s second half performance, “It looked for a while we were never gonna get a rebound. But, you gotta give them credit; they’re a good team, they’re an experienced team, they’re a tournament-tested team.”
But it was Roland’s night. Every
time Northeastern needed a key bucket to stop a Harvard run, they turned to
their budding superstar to make it happen. Roland dropped an efficient 23
points in the second half, and his most important bucket came with three minutes
remaining and his team clinging to a three-point advantage. After catching the
ball at the top of the key, Roland rose into his jump shot while being bumped
by Harvard guard Rio Haskett. Roland buried the three anyway. The Huskies
regained the momentum and rode out the last few minutes thanks to clutch free
throw shooting and ball security.
Roland was humble as ever
following his record-breaking night, saying of the record, “It means a lot. More importantly we got the win, but
breaking records obviously is something that feels kinda good.”
complimentary of Roland, saying “I can’t say enough about his approach in the
offseason. He’s been so professional and consistent every day — getting extra
shots, getting into the gym, taking care of his body, doing all the right
returns to action on Tuesday night at 7 PM against UMass Amherst.
When the 2019–20 season ends and the CAA releases its all-conference
teams, it’s entirely possible that Jordan Roland’s left hand will make the
Roland is right-handed, not that you could tell from
watching Tuesday night’s game. The 6’1” senior guard, who usually feasts on a
steady diet of long-distance bombs, spent his 36 minutes of court time taking a
carving knife to Boston University’s interior defense.
He used off-ball curl screens and pindowns to get half a
step on his defender, put them in jail, and finish over the Terrier big men
with lefty layups and floaters from every conceivable angle. His shots hit the
rim, lost all momentum, and bounced gently around the cylinder before falling
through the net.
“I’ve always been kinda naturally ambidextrous,” he said
after the game. “I work on that all the time, trying to finish with both hands.
I have a tendency to go left.”
“My grandpa always says I never make [lefty shots],” he laughed.
“So I have to give him a call tonight.”
His grandpa won’t have much of a retort. Roland’s midrange
exploits yielded 39 points and powered the Northeastern Huskies to a 72–67 win
over their crosstown rival, tying the all-time series at 74 wins apiece. Northeastern
has won eight of the last eleven meetings.
“We were excited to get out there and play,” Northeastern
head coach Bill Coen said. “This is a rivalry that goes back to the beginning
“It always comes down to this.”
The first half was frantic. BU took a short lead within the
first few minutes and retained it, though they never pulled ahead by more than
seven. Sophomore Walter Whyte keyed the run for the Terriers, cooking the
Huskies with perimeter shooting, active rebounding, and consuming defense. Sophomore
Alex Vilarino was a bouncing ball of energy, jawing at the Northeastern guards
on defense and darting to the basket on offense. The two finished with a
combined 40 points on 16-for-25 shooting on the night.
Both teams played a bit sloppy to start, fumbling the ball
on drives and passes in the way you’d expect in a season opener when the teams
are a bit rusty. The small miscues didn’t yield a ton of transition basketball,
but, when combined with the close score, they gave the game a sense of urgency.
BU took a one-point lead into the halftime break.
Northeastern emerged from the locker room with fresh energy.
They gained the lead several minutes into the half and, though the game would
see numerous ties, BU never led again.
Roland’s play was consistently spectacular across both
halves, but it was particularly apparent in the game’s last ten minutes. He had
committed three fouls in 14 seconds and gone to the bench, but Coen quickly inserted
him back into the game.
“I was obviously pretty upset with myself,” Roland said. “I
just wanted to be able to go sit down and take a second . . . I thought I was
gonna have to take a little bit more time on the bench.”
“He just put us on his back and carried us right when we
needed him,” Coen remarked. “I couldn’t be more proud of him and the rest of
Roland wasn’t the only Husky who played a stellar game.
Junior Max Boursiquot chipped in 10 points, four rebounds, and three steals in
his first game back after missing last season with a hip injury. But with eight
minutes to play in the second half, he took a hard fall and watched the rest of
the game from the bench.
“We’ll get him checked out and see how he comes out of it
tomorrow morning,” Coen said. “It’s always an anxious moment to get back on the
floor and trust your body . . . I thought he [gave] us a really nice spark.”
Tyson Walker was a pleasant surprise for the Huskies in his
first college game. After an offensively quiet first half, the six-foot guard
spent the second half charging fearlessly to the basket, finishing, and opening
up chances for teammates. He finished with 11 points, second on the team after
“You can see the obvious talent,” Coen gushed. “He’s still
adjusting to college basketball . . . when you see him later on in January and
February I think you’re gonna be really excited about what he brings to the
But for all the deserved hype for Roland’s performance, the
joy of seeing Boursiquot return after a year sidelined, and the obvious
potential of Tyson Walker, the night’s biggest moment went to a player whose six-point
effort would otherwise vanish into the box score.
With less than one minute remaining and the game tied at 65,
Northeastern looked to separate themselves. They sought Roland, who had
maintained his hot hand all night. But the Terriers weren’t about to let Roland
beat them, and didn’t give him sufficient room to shoot. So with the game clock
showing 35 seconds, and the shot clock nearly exhausted, Bolden Brace nailed a
three to give Northeastern a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“Jordan gave it up unselfishly and Bo stepped in confidently,”
Coen said. “He’s a guy that’s played on championship teams and knows what this
is all about.”
It was hard to know what to make of this team heading into
the season. The graduations of Vasa Pusica and Anthony Green were expected, but
the premature exits of Donnell Gresham Jr. and Shawn Occeus cast doubt on whether
the team could defend its CAA title.
First-game rust notwithstanding, the Huskies made a statement
in tonight’s opener. Tyson Walker proved he’s for real. Max Boursiquot proved
his mobility and aggressiveness are back. Bolden Brace proved he’s not afraid
of the big shots. And Jordan Roland, with each tough shot he hit, proved he
belongs in the same sentence as the CAA’s best.
The Huskies take on the Harvard Crimson in their home opener
at 8 PM on Friday. Michael Petillo and Matt Neiser will have the call for WRBB.
Notwithstanding the clobbering from Kansas that sent the Huskies home, Northeastern had an superb 2018–19 season. They overcame injuries to key players as they battled through a challenging non-conference slate, then finished second in the conference standings behind a balanced offense and crippling perimeter defense.
Two-time CAA first-teamer Vasa Pusica graduated, as did bruising
center Anthony Green and backup big man Jeremy Miller. Northeastern also lost
two juniors. Savvy combo guard Donnell Gresham Jr. joined the Georgia Bulldogs
for his final college season. Lockdown perimeter defender Shawn Occeus turned
pro and was drafted 35th in the NBA G League Draft by the Salt Lake
City Stars, the G League affiliate of the Utah Jazz. He joins Jarrell Brantley
and Justin Wright-Foreman, both CAA first teamers, in the organization.
Sweet-shooting senior guard Jordan Roland figures to be the
Huskies’ biggest offensive threat. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last
season behind Pusica, with his school-record 99 three-pointers accounting for
60 percent of his points. He did most of his damage as a spot-up shooter,
letting Pusica and Gresham create in the pick-and-roll and benefitting from the
open looks their gravity created. Without them, Roland may have to create more
opportunities for himself through drives, floaters, and off-the-dribble
After two productive years coming off the bench — the second
one worthy of the CAA Sixth Man of the Year Award — Bolden Brace made the
starting lineup last year. He didn’t disappoint, starting all 34 games — the
only Husky to do so — and averaging ten points per game on 47 percent shooting
from the field and 41 percent from three. His six rebounds per contest led the team,
and his 6’6”, 225-pound frame let him slow speedy guards and hold firm against
bruising forwards. The Huskies will need every ounce of his versatility this
Redshirt junior Max Boursiquot can provide solid offensive
contributions and defensive flexibility, though the hip injury that sidelined
him last season may affect his mobility. Jason Strong, Myles Franklin, and
Shaquille Walters saw limited minutes off the bench last year, but will likely
be called on to score a bit and prop up the Huskies’ formidable three-point
defense. Redshirt sophomore Greg Eboigbodin, who practiced with the team last
season, will try to fill the hole the graduating Green left in the middle.
Quirin Emanga stands out among the new recruits. He’s an athletic 6’5’ guard/forward with a seven-foot wingspan and a burgeoning skill set. For a more detailed player profile of Emanga, click here.
Connor Braun is a mobile 6’8” forward with solid handles and driving ability. Vito Cubrilo’s speed and quickness earn him buckets on drives, he’s got a sweet-looking perimeter stroke, and, like Emanga, has played high-level European youth ball. Guilien Smith averaged 12 points per game his sophomore year at Dartmouth but missed almost all of the next season due to injury and saw his minutes — and numbers — drop when he returned. If he returns to form, he can mitigate the loss of Pusica at point guard. Tyson Walker, at just six feet and 162 pounds, will look to stand tall with his flashy drives and transition speed. Bill Coen, now the CAA’s longest-tenured coach after the firing of William & Mary’s Tony Shaver, is tasked with blending the new talent.
Bottom Line: This will likely be the first time in six seasons Northeastern doesn’t have an All-CAA first team player. This makes their balanced approach even more important. Unlike last year, they have a slew of new players whose production will prove necessary. How well Bill Coen incorporates the new players, and how well they perform, will determine whether Northeastern contends for a second straight CAA title or falls to the middle of the pack.