Sunday, March 17, 2019

3-point loving Northeastern to meet KU in Round 1

Northeastern head coach Bill Coen, second from right in front, celebrates with his team after defeating Hofstra 82-74, in an NCAA college basketball game to win the Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball championship, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

Northeastern head coach Bill Coen, second from right in front, celebrates with his team after defeating Hofstra 82-74, in an NCAA college basketball game to win the Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball championship, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)


The Colonial Athletic Association’s postseason champions, the Northeastern Huskies, didn’t have to sweat out Selection Sunday wondering whether their team’s name would appear before the broadcast concluded.

Their automatic bid at least rid head coach Bill Coen of that drama as the NCAA Tournament field was unveiled.

But the program’s 13-year coach admitted the element of the unknown associated with the whole process came into play as the Huskies (23-10) learned their draw.

“For us everybody here is just so excited to see your name pop up on Selection Sunday that I think the first emotion is just pure elation,” Coen said in a phone interview with the Journal-World Sunday night. “And then the second emotion is, ‘Oh, no. We’ve got to play Kansas.’”

The Midwest’s No. 13 seed, Northeastern enters the Big Dance on a seven-game winning streak, but the Huskies haven’t played against a team from a marquee league since November, when they beat Alabama and lost to Virginia Tech.

Ranked No. 78 in the NET rankings, Northeastern went 0-4 versus quadrant 1 opponents.

Therein lay some of the coach’s concerns when Coen found out his Huskies will take on KU (25-9) in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Thursday (3 p.m., TNT).

He called the Jayhawks an “unbelievable quality opponent with a great coach who has tournament experience.” As the underdogs, Coen wants his group in the proper state of mind as much as he wants them prepared for the X’s and O’s required to pull off an upset against one of college basketball’s storied programs.

“Really, from our perspective, make sure that we don’t come into the tournament without a positive attitude and make sure we believe in what we do and how we got here,” Coen said of the team’s approach. “And we just have to be at our best when our best is required here. I think the teams that go into the tournament with that attitude somehow find a way to catch the magic.”

Many times, nothing does the trick during March Madness like draining 3-pointers. And that skill set falls directly into Northeastern’s wheelhouse.

The Huskies play a four-guard lineup and all four members of their starting backcourt enter the NCAA Tournament having already hit at least 50 3-pointers this season:

• Jordan Roland: 97 for 238 (.408)

• Vasa Pusica: 57 for 142 (.401)

• Bolden Brace: 56 for 135 (.415)

• Donnell Gresham Jr.: 55 for 140 (.393)

“We’re like most mid-majors, it’s hard to get quality bigs,” Coen said of Northeastern’s style. “We play a little bit of a ball-screen motion offense. We share the ball, and obviously the 3-point shot is a big part of what we do.”

As the coach began preparing for KU, though, his mind took him to a potential advantage the Jayhawks might have.

“We’re hoping that we’ll have just enough size not to get dominated up front,” Coen shared.

The Huskies hope they have the 3-point firepower to offset KU’s frontcourt.

“You know, that’s what worked for us at our level,” Coen said. “We’ll see what happens at the next level.”


Steve Zimmerman 10 months, 1 week ago

It'll be interesting to see what HCBS would do if NE throws bodies on Dedric, closing lane for Dotson or other guards to drive. Will we keep trying 3pt shots? Zone will most likely kill us. Marcus is the only one who can take over Vick's spot in the middle. Vick can at least hit pull-up jumpers or floaters. Marcus will have to drive layup which is hit or miss - mostly the later. Whatever the outcome is, this team, has proven they can compete with just about anybody, without Dok, Vick, and Sousa. Rock Chalk!!

Matthew Coleman 10 months, 1 week ago

My hopes for the game:

  1. Come out with a fire on D!

  2. Team Rebounding! Lots of three attempts = lots of long rebounds.

  3. Make our layups! Pound it inside to Dedrick, DMac & Lightfoot

  4. Post-up Marcus & Quentin against their smaller guards (against man-d).

  5. Nice interior passing (hi/low, drive & dish, mini-oop) instead of drawing charges.

  6. Quality officiating

Len Shaffer 10 months, 1 week ago

I really like the idea of posting up our guards. If Q or others get hot from 3-point range, great, but if not, our best move is to do what their coach fears: dominate inside.

Edward Daub 10 months, 1 week ago

Looking at KU's situation from a meteorology perspective:

  1. The Hawks were soundly defeated by a "Bomb Cyclone".

  2. The Hawks will next be challenged by a "Nor'Easter".

Weather or not you agree with me is an individual decision. "If two people agree on everything one of them isn't needed" (old corporate saying).

Tony Bandle 10 months, 1 week ago

Recipe for Northeastern game:

Pound the ball inside and draw fouls...and make the foul shots. Play tough perimeter man on man and contest every three. Push the ball in transition utilizing superior physical talent [this means you, Mr. Dotson] before the zone can be established. Hit a three pointer at least once in a while!!

Michael Maris 10 months, 1 week ago

Making their free throws will be crucial. With the exception of Dok, I thought that the team would be good free throw shooting team. But, it seems like crucial games, the team (overall) don't really focus on free throw shooting.

Chad Smith 10 months, 1 week ago

They are a less talented version of Iowa State. This is where McCormack needs to kill them inside. They play 4 guards and shoot lots of threes, we literally just played against that configuration. We should have no excuse for not being prepared. We know teams are going to try and stop the middle and lawson. Which is why dumping it to Dmac, drives to the basket from all over the court mixed with good passing can win this for us. Dont underestimate and play as hard as possible, KU can do this. Rock Chalk.

Craig Carson 10 months, 1 week ago

This is the kind of team that can beat KU..all these offensive strategies go out the door if they can't limit NE 3pt attempts..because we know and they know that they will need a high number of makes to win...maybe this is the game Grimes and Ojai discover their 3pt stroke

Mark Wooden 10 months, 1 week ago

Lets hope it ends in a positive cause its all downhill from here.

Dirk Medema 10 months, 1 week ago

The problem with posting Q or Ochai is that they're not necessarily bigger than their Gs and that's not something we seem practice.

They only have 2 bigs that see significant minutes but that doesn't mean that all our players are bigger.

The challenge with playing DMac is that one of their bigs is also one of their best 3 pt shooters. Can DMac defend in space at the arc? And Dedric against the other G as well? We might be able to dominate inside but you can't win trading 2s for 3s (See Villanova 2018).

Brian Wilson 10 months, 1 week ago

My hope is we work on defending the three. It's great that players try real hard to help out on the weakside but first responsibility on defense is to guard your own man. All year long we have left our backside open. We collapse and by the time we react to the pass they're taking their shot. I would think that KU would be better off guarding closer and forcing the other team inside and then let Lightfoot, Mac and D block, alter shots, take charges and rebound rather than being to late to defend.

Barry Weiss 10 months, 1 week ago

I hope we stay with two bigs. Our four guard defense was shredded by Iowa State. We simply could not stay in front of their guards and then there was no rim protector.

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