DB's NU Preview

districtballer

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Northeastern University is a private research University in Boston with almost 21,000 students. It was established in 1898 and boasts an endowment of over 700 million dollars. Northeastern is most known for its co-op programs, which are among the first of its kind in the world and ranked #1 in the country in that regard. Notable NU alumni include the late Boston Celtics-captain Reggie Lewis (he still holds the career scoring record at NU), 2008 AL-Gold Glove winner Carlos Pena of the Tampa Devil Rays, Dallas Mavericks point guard Jose Juan Barea, and the late Dan Ross, who played 7 years in the NFL and still shares the records for most receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns by a tight end in Super Bowl history.

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The NU Basketball Tradition:

While the Huskies have been in the CAA for the last couple of years, they were a member of the America East conference until 2005. The Huskies play in Matthews Arena, which was opened in 1910 and known as the Boston Arena. The arena is the original home of the NBA's Boston Celtics and the NHL's Bruins. It serves as the home to not only the basketball team, but the hockey team as well. Hockey is far and away the marquee sport at Northeastern.

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Late NU great Reggie Lewis

However, the Huskies also boast a solid tradition on the basketball court as well. They have gone to the NCAA tournament 7 times, trailing only VCU and ODU (who have 9 appearances each) among CAA teams. The NU glory years, like VCU, were in the 80's led by the great late Reggie Lewis and coached by current UConn coach Jim Calhoun. 6 of their 7 NCAA appearances were during this decade (their last appearance was in 1991). They managed to win 3 NCAA first-round games in 1981, 1982, and 1984.

1984 would be a year that many Ram fans will remember, as the 11th-seeded Huskies played 6th-seeded VCU in East Rutherford, NJ on March 16th. The Rams and Huskies went down to the wire, and Rolando Lamb hit a shot at the buzzer to give VCU the win. It is forever cemented in history as one of VCU's 'Great Moments in Rams' History'. To reminisce or discover this game for the first time, watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_2XgAtXf6c&feature=channel

Head to head, the Rams lead the overall series 5-3. However the latest game between the 2 teams was a bad memory for most Ram fans as the Huskies were the lone team to beat the Rams at the Siegel Center in a highly physical and emotionally-charged 68-63 contest last January. The Rams will look to avenge that loss tomorrow at the Stu.

The 2009-2010 Huskies:

Preseason prognosticators had high hopes for Northeastern this season after a strong 2008-2009 campaign. The Huskies were at the top of the CAA for a large part of the season before collapsing towards the end. With the Huskies returning everyone in the starting lineup but Eugene Spates, and other teams like VCU losing bigger pieces, Northeastern was predicted to finish 2nd in the CAA this season. However a slow start has tempered those expectations a bit as Northeastern suffered a 5 game losing streak, dropping 4 games in the non-conference portion of the schedule sandwiched around a a 2-point loss to Drexel to open up the CAA conference schedule. The Huskies seemed to have turned the corner, winning the Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara and then beating JMU yesterday to open up 2010. The Huskies are currently 6-7 and on a 4-game winning streak.

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Huskies star Matt Janning

The Huskies have arguably the best backcourt in the league led once again by 6'4 senior guard Matt Janning. The Minnesota native is leading the Huskies in scoring (16.7 ppg) and minutes (36.9 mpg). He is one the best all-around guards in the CAA, with deceptive quickness and athleticism to go along with a deadly outside shooting stroke. Chiasson Allen (13 ppg) is second in scoring on the team. He has blossomed over the last couple of seasons and as a junior is one of the better point guards in the league. At 6'4, he has great size and gets on the glass averaging 4.9 boards a game (good for second on the team). He has also developed a good 3-point stroke (37.7%), an aspect of the game he has worked very hard on since coming to Northeastern. 5'10 Frenchman Baptiste Bataille rounds out the backcourt and is a glue guy that does the little things and knocks down the open 3 when given the opportunity.

The Huskies also have a good frontcourt tandem in 6'9 Nkem Ojougboh and 6'8 Manny Adako. Both average 9.7 points a game while Ojougboh, who transferred as a freshman from UT-San Antonio, leads the team in rebounding at 8.1 per game and blocked shots at 2 per game. While Ojougboh is offensively proficient, he is more known for hard-nosed defense and shot-blocking. Manny Adako is more of an offensive weapon and has a wide-array of nice post moves and a smooth touch for his size. Both are very good CAA big men and will be another good test for VCU's impressive frontcourt. International freshmen Alwayne Bigby (Canada) and Mathiang Muo (Australia) are generally the first players off the bench and provide decent minutes in relief of the starters. After that, the depth falls off a bit as no player averages more than 7 minutes a game.

Keys to the Game:

1. Impose Tempo:

Northeastern plays essentially a 7-man rotation with Bigby and Muo coming off the bench. The starters play the vast majority of the minutes. This should play into VCU's hands as we can rotate 12-13 players pretty liberally. That said, Northeastern was in a similar situation last year and they still pulled out the win in a hostile Siegel Center. Northeastern will want to play at a slow, deliberate pace and this is reflected by their 64.1 points per game. VCU averages 11 more points per game at 75.5 and will want a much faster, more chaotic tempo. The Huskies take care of the ball and don't really turn it over that much, averaging 13.5 turnovers a game. VCU will need to make Northeastern play faster than it wants to in order to get those numbers up to the 20-turnover target set for each game. The team that imposes its tempo on the other looks to have a good shot at pulling out the win. NU will want the game in the 50's to 60's while VCU will want it in the 70's to 80's.

2. Guard the perimeter:

Going into the UNCW game, VCU ranked 3rd in the nation in 3-point field goal defense. This will have to continue against the Huskies. While Northeastern is not an especially good 3-point shooting team, much of their offense comes off of the 3-point shot. Janning, Allen, and Bataille are all proficient 3-point shooters and must be accounted for. Don't let the 33% 3-point team shooting fool you. The 3-point shot is a large part of the Husky offense.

3. Stop dribble penetration:

Janning and Allen at 6'4 are tall, quick, and athletic guards that can and will take the ball to the rack. VCU has to prevent their guards from breaking down their defenses with dribble penetration and opening up their big men for easy baskets. This has been an issue in the past and VCU has to continue with their strong play from the UNCW game and clamp down. Expect the Rams to throw different looks on defense with a mix of matchup zones, man-to-man, and perhaps even a box-and-one if Janning starts to get hot. Our offense should be predicated off of our defense.

DB's Prediction:

Tomorrow's matchup is a battle between 2 CAA clubs going for their 5th straight win. One team will be disappointed. The Rams avenge last season's home loss and continue their strong play with a stifling defensive performance. The Huskies keep it close, but VCU pulls away at the end as the NU starters tire down the stretch. VCU by 9.

GO RAMS!
 
A few things DB. Bigby has been the starter,although I'd argue Bap plays more significant minutes.

The one major criticism I'd have of your preview is that you do glance over the difficulty of this schedule. The only game I'm truly disapointed in losing is the BU game, but that's a rivalry game and in those games you tend to throw out the records.

However I think the difficulty of the schedule not withstanding there are tangible basketball reasons why they struggled early. The first is NU has 7 freshman learning a truly complex offensive system in the flex. I think the kids are now starting to get it during this last winning streak which we've seen the freshman play "smarter" within the system. As a result we've seen much more playing time for the kids.

Second during that losing streak they were giving up WAY too many offensive rebounds and missing the front end of one and ones. When most of your losses are by 6 points or less you need to take care of the little things. You absolutely cannot give up second chance opportunities and not hit your FT"s. The FT issue is interesting because generally Coach Coen teams shoot exceptionally well from the line.

Finally, losing Spates and Alverez and smith hurt more then people would have thought. Spates was great in the 3-2 zone NU plays so his size and length were definitely factors defensively despite being a OK defender. Plus spates could shoot the 3 well which is really what this team needs. It really needs a guy who can step up and shoot the 3 to free up janning and Chase.

The winning streak has been nice but it's been against OK competition. A note on the JMU game Bowles did NOT play so NU was able to have their way with JMU. They were able to rest starters so fatigue won't be a major factor despite the insane travel schedule(DHC in hawaii to Santa clara to Boston and then down to VA a day later).

I'll tell you this they are going to be pumped heading into this game. T
 
Hey redsoxn2004, thanks for the critiques. You certainly know your team better than I do so I will defer to your judgement there.

As for your schedule, it's solid with a lot of good mid-majors. Siena, Utah St., Boston U, Wright St., URI, St. Mary's and we both know about Western Michigan. :evil: You also had a pretty weak Providence team at home which you failed to win. You lost to Siena, Utah State was a good win, Boston U was a bad loss, Wright St. was a good win, URI you lost to, St. Mary's you lost to, and got blown out by Western Michigan. The Cable Car classic was mediocre talent-wise. Kent State was the best win but they haven't beaten anyone good aside from UAB. JMU was without their best player in Denzel Bowles. So while you played a strong schedule, you didn't really capitalize on it.

I would argue that VCU had a very comparable schedule and did much better, I would argue the same for William and Mary and ODU as well. Being ranked as the #2 preseason team, NU was expected to do much better than they have, even against that schedule. That said, I think the Huskies are still a great team, just one that has underacheived. They are fully capable of beating us if they play their game. If anything last years game at the Stu garnered a lot of respect for NU among VCU fans and I'm sure among CAA fans as a whole.
 
DB let's be honest tho. VCU and ODU have the ability to get some buy games. I mean NU doesn't play Bethune Cookman. Yes BU sucks(or as we like to say SUCKS TO B U)...But that's a massive rivalry game for both teams and as "bad" as a loss as that is, Other then that game I don't think we've had a truly bad loss. WMU was on the back end of a back to back after a long break(11 day break off the top of my head).

Given the schedule do I think we've underachieved? A little bit but not THAT much. As I mentioned your going to go through some bumps in the road with such a young bench.
 
DB:

Oustanding analysis - very thorough and spot on. I am thinking that Coach Smart may end up using your analysis as part of our scouting reports... :D

I would like to see a section of your analysis for each game called something like "If things go wrong." I see the NU game as a possible major letdown for us after just scrorching UNCW.

My perceived weakness of this team: We can be so up and down - we get crushed by WMU - and we crush OK. We crush W&M, only to lose it in the last 20 minutes. We crush Tulane - and they come back and almost win the game. ECU was almost a major loss, and then we come back and CRUSH UNCW.

With all that being said - I agree with your point that VCU wants this as a revenge game for last year - the guys should be fired up.

Thanks again - I love reading these analysis! :D

VCUBeatsduke

PS: Ram's Replay - its cool to catch the games on a Sunday afternoon...very well done!
 
redsoxn2004 said:
DB let's be honest tho. VCU and ODU have the ability to get some buy games. I mean NU doesn't play Bethune Cookman. Yes BU sucks(or as we like to say SUCKS TO B U)...But that's a massive rivalry game for both teams and as "bad" as a loss as that is, Other then that game I don't think we've had a truly bad loss. WMU was on the back end of a back to back after a long break(11 day break off the top of my head).

Given the schedule do I think we've underachieved? A little bit but not THAT much. As I mentioned your going to go through some bumps in the road with such a young bench.

Sure Bethune-Cookman was a buy-game...but other than that, I honestly think we have a stronger schedule than NU has had. Sure the bench is young, but that was still factored into preseason prognostications. You guys didn't have much contribution from your bench last year either. You guys were picked #2 in the CAA for a reason, and the #2 CAA team should have done better against that schedule. If you take away 4 games against very medicore mids in Southern Miss, Santa Clara, and even Kent St. (who is not nearly as good as their record indicates at 8-5), we're looking at a 2-7 Northeastern team. That's underacheiving when you have Matt Janning and Chiasson Allen in the backcourt and Nkem Ojougboh and Manny Adako in the frontcourt. I'm not sure what your expectations were going into the year, but I for one expected NU to be better than 6-7 at the beginning of 2010.

With all that said, Northeastern has the talent to beat us at the Stu again this year if they take VCU out of their game . They are that good. Whether they play to their ability or not remains to be seen.
 
Thanks for a great discussion between two opponents. I read no defensive behavior--just good discussions. This thread has to be one of the best ever posted on VCU Ram Nation. We need more like it.
 
Informative, point/counter-point and no arrogance or name calling. RamNation at it's best.
 
redsoxn2004 said:
However I think the difficulty of the schedule not withstanding there are tangible basketball reasons why they struggled early. The first is NU has 7 freshman learning a truly complex offensive system in the flex. I think the kids are now starting to get it during this last winning streak which we've seen the freshman play "smarter" within the system. As a result we've seen much more playing time for the kids.

This is a good point here. The flex offense can be pretty difficult to learn if you haven't encountered it before. I believe I've seen George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga employ the flex offense before as well.

For those who don't know what a flex offense is, it basically requires constant motion and relies on patterned cuts across the key ("flex" cuts) and down screens which continue throughout the posession to create openings on either side of the ball in a continuous cycle. All 5 players are interchangeable in a 2-3 set in which any player has an equal opportunity to score. Gary Williams from Maryland is one of the biggest proponents of the flex offense and employed it against us in the BB&T a couple of years ago as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqsDeZTFVjE

Here's a decent explanation of the flex offense and how it works. It is used primarily against man-to-man defenses, which is why I mentioned we need to mix up defensive looks to take them out of their offense. The Huskies are pretty good at the flex and we'll have to be good defensively to stop them. All 5 of their starters are pretty proficient scorers. Manny Adako can also make the elbow jumper out of the flex because of his smooth touch. Ojougboh is more likely to take the quick hit for a layup on a down screen.
 
Haha, after I read the first two sentences of that post I was asking myself "what the F is a flex?" and now I know. Great explanation.
 
districtballer said:
This is a good point here. The flex offense can be pretty difficult to learn if you haven't encountered it before. I believe I've seen George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga employ the flex offense before as well.
You are correct. They're the only CAA team I can remember running a true flex in the time I've been here.
 
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