BALTIMORE – When Northeastern finished its first season in the Colonial Athletic Association, there were plenty of doubters. That might seem surprising when you consider they had the Player of the Year (Jose Juan Barea) and Defensive Player of the Year (Shawn James) and reached the semifinals of the conference tournament. They finished fifth, so they had to win two games to get there. But some were not impressed despite the challenges involved in switching conferences.
The thought from some was that if they had two award winners and finished fifth, how in the world would they ever win in the CAA? That first year, by the way, was the year George Mason made its legendary Final Four run. It was the CAA’s best year until a couple of years ago; the Patriots didn’t even win the conference tournament, losing to Hofstra in a semifinal game best remembered for a player who earned a one-game suspension.