Northeastern Basketball Preview: #102
Overall Rank: #102
Conference Rank: #4 Colonial Athletic Association
2008-09: 19-13, 12-6
2008-09 postseason: CBI
Coach: Bill Coen (46-46 at Northeastern, 46-46 overall)
Whether you want to believe the beginning of the year was luck, or that Northeastern simply lacked the depth to finish strong, the Huskies ended the 2008-2009 campaign in disappointment. They looked like the best team in the league by far until February when everything started going wrong. The team lost four of their last five conference games and was knocked out of the conference tournament in their first game.
Key Losses: F Chris Alvarez, G Matt Smith, F Eugene Spates
With the loss of one starter and a couple key contributors off the bench, Northeastern must find much of their depth among the group of newcomers. Kostadin Marchlevski, a 6-10, 240 pound forward, is the most highly touted of the bunch. Marchlevski is not the most physical player around, but he can hit the outside shot and do some damage around the basket. Fellow forward Kauri Black is another option. In the backcourt Alwayne Bigby leads a group that also includes Joel Smith and Jonathan Lee.
Northeastern has one of the best backcourt duos in the nation in Chaisson Allen and Matt Janning. Allen is the point guard who can also score and hit the glass like he’s a seven-footer; yet, it is Janning who is the star of this team. The 6-4 wing led the team with 14.3 points per game and added 2.7 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals during his junior campaign. His senior season should be even better. The problem is those two each played at least 34.6 minutes per game. Baptiste Bataille can fill in some minutes when necessary, but Coach Bill Coen will need him to be more productive or the backcourt will be worn out by February once again.
Janning and Allen get most of the headlines, but Manny Adako and Nkem Ojougboh are a formidable duo in the frontcourt. Adako is the better scorer and he could put up over 15 points per game if he was more aggressive around the basket and got to the charity stripe more than 2.2 times per contest. Ojougboh is the best shot blocker on the team, but he still averaged less than one per game. Heading into the 2008-2009 season it looked like Ojougboh could average a double-double, but instead he averaged just 7.4 points and 4.6 rebounds. He will still be a very valuable player due to his defensive skills, but it would be beneficial if he could turn into a more consistent scorer with his back to the basket.
Who to Watch:
Vinny Lima averaged a mere 8.8 minutes per game last year, but he could be the most important player on this team. Eugene Spates was the most prolific outside shooter on the team last year from the small forward position and totaled 7.4 points and 4.6 rebounds and it will be up to Lima to continue where Spates left off. Lima has the ability to hit the outside shot, but he is 6-10 and certainly cannot defend most small forwards in the CAA. That would move Adako to the three spot and that could cause some problems as well on the defensive end.
The other option would be to put the more experienced Bataille in the starting lineup and move Janning to the wing. Not only would that give the team two ballhandlers on the floor, but it puts the team’s five most experienced players in the starting lineup. But no matter who starts, this Northeastern team looks a lot like they did last year and that means the entire team could be tired by the end of the season. While the starting five might be the best in the league, Northeastern will have to rely on unproven newcomers to fill in the gaps.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Chaisson Allen, Junior, Guard, 10.4 points per game
Baptiste Bataille, Senior, Guard, 3.5 points per game
Matt Janning, Senior, Guard, 14.3 points per game
Manny Adako, Senior, Forward, 11.3 points per game
Nkem Ojougboh, Senior, Forward, 7.4 points per game