Home » Columns »Your Phil of Hoops » Currently Reading:

Northeastern hopes to ride senior backcourt and other key players into CAA contention

October 18, 2012 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments
northeastern

BOSTON – The Colonial Athletic Association will have a little different look this season, but that isn’t true only because one team is gone and two more teams will be gone after this season. Look near the top of the standings and there will likely be a team or two that hasn’t been a traditional contender in the mix. Northeastern hopes to be one of those teams, and there is reason to believe the Huskies can be there.

Northeastern returns four key players from last season’s team that will be the foundation of this season’s team. The last time the Huskies contended in the CAA, it was similar – four core guys and role players that surrounded them. Potentially, this team will have more depth than that team, and the four core players might collectively match the ones from that team.

They will be led by the senior backcourt of Jonathan Lee and Joel Smith. Lee has come a long way since arriving on Huntington Ave, going from a player who simply wasn’t good enough to play a lot of minutes (and was behind excellent upperclassmen) to the unquestioned leader and a potential first team All-CAA player this year. He was also the Homecoming King last weekend, a tribute to the fact that the native of Flint, Michigan is more than just a good basketball player. Smith is known for his shooting but at his best does much more than that. When he is also rebounding and getting assists, Smith is playing the kind of basketball that makes this team better.

Quincy Ford has as much potential as anyone on the roster and showed that during a stellar freshman campaign. As last season went along, Ford got more confident and ultimately better, and he’s only scratched the surface of what he can do. Although he’ll play in the frontcourt, don’t be surprised if he’s occasionally guarding a ball handler on the perimeter and using his length to get deflections and steals. Now he has to adjust to the rest of the conference better than they adjust to him, as the conference knows a lot more about him now.

The X-factor among the team’s starters will be sophomore Reggie Spencer, who showed potential but also some limits last season. Spencer opened his career with a big game against cross-town rival Boston University, but was relatively inconsistent, as is the case with many freshmen. He also showed offensive limitations, and while those remain the Huskies will probably be content with a 12-rebound effort that includes no points.

“Reggie had a very productive freshman campaign,” said head coach Bill Coen. “If he can build on that, I think that will go a long way into settling our frontcourt down. He’s a guy who, I think, scored opportunistically last year, and we’re hoping he can develop a more consistent back-to-the-basket game and extend his range.”

After those four is where the questions begin. The fifth starter might be Dinko Marshavelski, who returns after redshirting last season. Now with a mature body, Marshavelski is skilled and tougher than when he first arrived on campus and was missed last season. Although he is playing again, Marshavelski is still not all the way back from a conditioning standpoint or in terms of trusting his body.

The backcourt is where a lack of depth was a big problem last year, as Lee and Smith played a lot of minutes because neither Marco Banegas-Flores nor Demetrius Pollard did enough to earn consistent minutes. Now, with them and newcomers like Zach Stahl, David Walker and Derrico Peck, Coen said the key will be one or two of those guards separating themselves from the pack to be the first guard off the bench. For his part, Banegas-Flores, the only Boston native on the roster, looks more focused and into the game than he was last year. Stahl looks to be the freshman most ready to contribute immediately and had a good trip to Canada back in August.

There aren’t many proven options up front thanks to a couple of transfers, but if Marshavelski starts on the bench he is joined by freshman Kwesi Abakah, who is long and athletic but needs to gain strength. Scott Eatherton will sit out the year after transferring in from St. Francis (Pa.) and looks like he’ll push all of the regulars in practice. With that, don’t be surprised if the Huskies go with three true perimeter players most of the time.

“That role player that comes in and gives you 10-12 quality minutes, you can’t win without him,” said Coen. “We have opportunities up and down our lineup for guys to contribute, and the thing I feel good about is that we have high character guys who put winning above everything else.”

Northeastern has had some very difficult non-conference slates during Coen’s tenure, and while this one is hardly a cake walk it’s not as loaded as before. In fact, they have more home games (six) than road games (three), although they break even when you add in three neutral site games at the Great Alaska Shootout. They open with cross-town rival Boston University at home, head to Ivy League favorite Princeton and host America East contender Vermont before heading to Alaska. After that, four straight home games await, including visits from UMass and La Salle, and they close out the slate at UAB. In conference play, they start with three of the first four and four of the first six on the road, including George Mason, Drexel and Delaware.

The Huskies have a lot going for them this season. They will need to cut down on turnovers from last season, as that was a major problem, and with better guard depth that should be less of an issue this time around. There is a solid core group, good experience in the backcourt and some freshmen who are ready to play. They will have to develop depth, but if they do that they should be among the contenders when March rolls around.

Comment on this Article:







Advertisement


Your Phil of Hoops

What Kentucky gave us will be forgotten, and that’s too bad

April 5, 2015 by

kentucky

Most people are going to remember Kentucky in 2014-15 more for the one loss than the 38 wins and the journey that came with it. That’s the most unfortunate thing of all.

A happy resolution comes in Delaware

April 1, 2015 by

delaware

There has finally been a resolution to Monte Ross’ contract situation, and it’s a happy one for the Blue Hens’ head coach and his staff after the work they have done to rebuild the program.

Fran Dunphy deals with bubble uncertainty for the first time

March 15, 2015 by

temple

Temple is firmly on the bubble after losing in the American Athletic Conference Tournament to SMU. It’s the first time in head coach Fran Dunphy’s storied career that his team has been in this situation.

Hoopville Archives

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed listening to COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT, a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, joined by former St. John's and George Washington head coach Mike Jarvis, former Fairfield head coach Terry O'Connor and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

Here are links to the shows:

March 15, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 22, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 29, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

April 5, 2015 - First hour | Second hour | Third hour

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis – Sunday notes

April 29, 2015 by

adidasuprising

Sunday was the conclusion of the adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis, and we take a look at some of the players who shined on a day that saw a few games that weren’t very competitive.

adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis – Saturday notes

April 28, 2015 by

adidasuprising

Saturday was a full day of action in the adidas Gauntlet near Indianapolis, and here’s a look at some of the talent that stood out on the day as college coaches checked out the action.

adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis – Friday notes

April 25, 2015 by

hoopguy-yellow

Friday night got the adidas Gauntlet in Indianapolis going, and we take a look at a few players who stood out before a full day of action comes to us on Saturday.

Notes from the 2015 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 20, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

Sunday was time for a trip to Hanover for late action in the Northeast Hoops Festival, and we have a look at some prospects who stood out on the day.

2015 EYBL Hampton – Saturday & Sunday notes

April 14, 2015 by

nikeeybl

Saturday was a full day of action at EYBL Hampton, and Sunday capped it off with a brief slate. We look at some of the talent that was on hand each day to close out the first live weekend.