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August 22, 2008


Head coach: Bill Coen
Last season: 14-17 overall, 9-9 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Postseason: None.
Breakdown: Probable starters | Backcourt | Frontcourt | Offense | Defense | Outlook

BACKCOURT

The duo of Matt Janning and Chaisson Allen is a major reason we expect Northeastern to challenge for an NCAA Tournament bid. Janning was the Colonial Athletic Association rookie of the year two seasons ago and followed that up by earning second-team all-conference honors last season. He commands such respect that he was named a team co-captain as a sophomore. Janning scored in double-digits in the final 19 games of the 2007-08 season on his way to ranking third in the league in scoring (16.1), free-throw percentage (.774) and minutes (36.3 per game).

Forward Manny Adako made big strides as a sophomore last season.

PROBABLE STARTING FIVE
G Chaisson Allen, 6-4/Soph.
9.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.5 apg
G/F Matt Janning, 6-4/Jr.
16.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.4 apg
F Chris Alvarez, 6-8/Sr.
3.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg
F Manny Adako, 6-8/Jr.
10.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg
C Nkem Ojougboh, 6-9/Jr.
9.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg
TOP RESERVES
G Baptiste Bataille, 5-10/Jr.
2.8 ppg, 1.2 apg
F Eugene Spates, 6-8/Sr.
6.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg
F Erik Etherly, 6-7/Fr.
True freshman
If Allen has a similarly successful sophomore season, Northeastern could have reason to celebrate in March. Allen started all 31 games as a true freshman and ranked second in the conference in steals (63) while leading Northeastern in assists (3.5 per game). While he did a good job of distributing for a true freshman, Allen needs to improve his shot. He made only 38.5 percent of his attempts last season and was a non-factor from 3-point range, where he shot 17-of-72.

Baptiste Bataille, a junior from France, is the Huskies' top guard off the bench. He won't provide much of a scoring threat; he averaged 2.8 points in 10.1 minutes per game and shot 27.9 percent.

FRONTCOURT

The backcourt tandem of Janning and Allen is Northeastern's strength, but the Huskies also return three starters who are at least 6 feet 8. The best of that bunch may be 6-9 center Nkem Ojougboh, a Texas-San Antonio transfer who ranked ninth in the CAA in rebounding in his first season at Northeastern.

Manny Adako showed tremendous improvement as a sophomore last season, doubling his scoring average and shooting 56.8 percent from the field to rank fourth in the league in that category. Adako could stand to improve his consistency. His scoring production varied widely from game to game last season.

Chris Alvarez started 16 of Northeastern's 31 games last season, his first after transferring from Dayton. He scored in double-figures in a couple of early-season games against Maine and James Madison, but he wasn't much of a factor on offense the rest of the season.

True freshman Erik Etherly, a 6-7 forward from Alexandria, Va., should work his way into the frontcourt rotation and could win a starting job.

Although Ojougboh is the Huskies' tallest starter, Northeastern has two big men who can come off the bench. Vinny Lima is a 6-10 forward who averaged nine minutes per game last season. Ben Felix is a 6-11 redshirt freshman who has a chance to make a contribution. There's also Eugene Spates, a 6-8 junior who averaged 6.8 points per game last season and made four starts.

OFFENSE

Northeastern likes to slow the tempo and use most of the shot clock while waiting to see who has an open look, which helps explain why the Huskies averaged only 63.4 points per game. Northeastern doesn't make much use of the 3-point shot. The Huskies ranked 11th out of 12 Colonial teams in 3-pointers made (162) and were tied for last in the conference in 3-point percentage (.313).

DEFENSE

Northeastern alternates between man-to-man and zone. The Huskies typically use a 3-2 when they switch to the zone.

SHOES TO FILL

None. The major reason for optimism around Northeastern's campus is that there aren't any major shoes to fill. The Huskies return their top nine scorers from last season.

MUST STEP UP

Ojougboh: After getting his Northeastern career off to a nice start, he ran out of gas toward the end of the season. Ojougboh scored in double-figures in 10 consecutive games from Dec. 6-Jan. 19, but he reached that mark just once in his last eight games. In fact, he averaged just 5.5 points per game during those final eight contests. The Huskies won't reach the postseason unless Ojougboh delivers all season long.

IMPACT NEWCOMER

Etherly. Even though Northeastern returns its nucleus, this true freshman still ought to earn plenty of playing time. Etherly gives the Huskies another quality frontcourt player and could challenge Alvarez for a spot in the starting lineup. Etherly is the lone true freshman on the roster.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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