Team preview: Northeastern

Blue Ribbon Yearbook previews the 2006-07 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 24, 2006, 1:07 PM ET
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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

COACH AND PROGRAM

If fans of the Northeastern Huskies thought their team's move to the CAA brought about a tremendous amount of change, then they were thrilled at the team's performance in its first time through.

The Huskies rode the swift feet of all-everything point guard Jose Juan Barea to a surprising fourth-place finish during last year's regular season. Barea led the CAA in scoring (21.0) and assists (8.4), and fittingly was chosen the league's player of the year. He signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks in May.

Northeastern was also fueled by defensive stalwart Shawn James, who led the NCAA in blocked shots with 6.4 per game. James' prowess was summed up best by former VCU and current Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel: "We knew how good Barea was by watching him on tape," said Capel after James posted a double-double against his team.

"But Shawn James was much better than he plays on tape."

However, even those most prepared for all that was new were shocked at the upheaval after their initial, successful CAA campaign.

Though Northeastern was prepared for the senior Barea to depart, the program unexpectedly also faced the loss of its coach, Ron Everhart, who moved to take over Duquesne this season. A few weeks later, James announced he would be transferring to, not surprisingly, Duquesne.

When you factor in the lost production and leadership of four-year players Aaron Davis and Janon Cole, there resides an inordinate amount of unrest surrounding the program this season.

None of that, however, daunts new head coach Bill Coen.

"I've learned that it's not helpful in life to look backwards," he said. "My job is to figure out how we get this done."

Coen was Al Skinner's associate head coach at Boston College and was also with Skinner for eight years at Rhode Island. He is a bit of a throwback, which is an ideal makeup for a program with so much newness surrounding it.

"It's the fundamentals," Coen says of his No. 1 priority coming into the season, his first as a head coach. "We want to be committed to them on a daily basis. At some point you hope that converts to wins, but [those] will take care of themselves."


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