2008-09 Northeastern Basketball Preview: #69
Overall Rank: #69
Conference Rank: #2 Colonial
2007-08: 14-17, 9-9, 6th
2007-08 postseason: none
Northeastern was nothing special during the 2007-2008 season. They failed to capture a big non-conference win and were simply average in CAA play. Now the average Huskies have just about everybody back and have the players and the experience to be anything but average. And it all starts with the development of Chaisson Allen. The point guard started off his collegiate career tallying 11 points and 10 rebounds against Illinois and followed that performance up a few weeks later with nine points, nine assists and eight rebounds against Connecticut. That is a great way to start off a career. And this year should be even better.
The lone loss is big man Mark Washington. He played an important role grabbing some rebounds off the bench, but his 1.0 points per game will certainly be replaceable.
A couple newcomers will help provide some depth in the paint. Ben Felix, a 6-11 center, redshirted last season and has the size to at least make an impact on the defensive side of the ball. Erik Etherly, the lone incoming freshman, will not be asked to do much of anything this year. If the 6-7 forward does see significant playing time, that would be a good sign for the Huskies because Etherly would have to surpass some pretty talented and experienced players in the frontcourt.
Who to Watch:
In all likelihood the newcomers will spend the year behind Manny Adako, Nkem Ojougboh, Chris Alvarez and Eugene Spates. Adako and Ojougboh are the scorers around the basket and both averaged about ten points per game last year. Ojougboh is also the team’s best rebounder and should rack up quite a few double-doubles as an upperclassman. For a 6-9 center, Ojougboh is also a surprisingly good passer and will find his teammates slashing to the basket or beyond the three-point arc when he does not have a clean shot himself. Seniors Eugene Spates and Chris Alvarez are not as explosive as Adako Ojougboh, but the 6-8 forwards give Northeastern plenty of size and experience. Spates is a decent shooter, although he takes way too many three-point shots. The moving back of the line should fix that little problem. Either way Spates is a player who can stretch out the defense and cause mismatches on the offensive side of the floor. Alvarez will not score as much as Spates, but he is the prototypical glue guy who will do the dirty work and help out the team however he can.
With Alvarez, at 6-8, likely starting at the small forward spot, the Huskies have a ton of size that most teams in the CAA cannot match. Allen is 6-4 and so is shooting guard Matt Janning. Janning is also the team’s top scorer and averaged 16.1 points per game as a sophomore last season. Not only will the Watertown, Minnesota native take all the big shots for the Huskies, but he also ranked second on the team in assists, fourth in rebounding and second in steals. Janning is a solid outside shooter, but the Huskies could use another guard who can come in off the bench and be a threat to hit the long ball. Baptiste Bataille and Matt Smith are pretty much the only options. Both shot under 28 percent from three-point territory last year and were limited in their playing time in part because of their inconsistent shooting. Janning will have to play just about the entire game again this year unless Bataille or Smith can step up. If they do, the Huskies have the talent and experience to win the CAA. Otherwise, Janning will get tired sooner or later and having tired legs in March is never a good thing.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Chaisson Allen, Sophomore, Guard, 9.2 points per game
Matt Janning, Junior, Guard, 16.1 points per game
Chris Alvarez, Senior, Forward, 3.1 points per game
Manny Adako, Junior, Forward, 10.6 points per game
Nkem Ojougboh, Junior, Center, 9.9 points per game