It was a milestone of minor importance to most of the college basketball world and when it happened not even Billy Coen put it on the top of his list of memorable moments.
What is more important to Coen, who is now in his sixth season running the Northeastern men’s basketball program, was the big picture. Or at least the picture that is on his flat screen right now: 4-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association, 9-7 overall and ready to take on the rest of the season.
The milestone for Coen was his 100th career victory as a head coach and that came on Saturday with the Huskies’ 70-59 win over Towsend. Coen and Northeastern will go after victory No. 101 on Wednesday night against Hofstra, which would be the Huskies’ 5th win in succession.
Coen has evolved as a head coach since he came across town from Al Skinner’s staff at Boston College seven years ago. There have been good moments and bad moments and some inbetween times as the Huskies evolved into a decent mid-major New England program playing in a southern dominated conference.
This season has been a microcosm of what Northeastern basketball has been over the last few years. After winning four of their first six games, the Huskies dropped 5 games in succession before picking up the pace again on January 3 with a solid road win at George Mason. They haven’t lost in this calendar year. Led led by a veteran backcourt of Jonathan Lee (13.0 ppg, 4.3 assists) and Joel Smith (13 ppg and 2.9 assists) , the Huskies are playing like a team which won 20 games a few years ago and was a force in the CAA throughout the regular season.
When asked about the 100 wins, Coen just laughed, “I guess it means I’ve been around while.” he said.
For this season, the inconsistency is more easily explainable. Lee missed the first month of the season with a broken foot.
Not surprisingly, since his return in mid-December, the Huskies have been playing at a much more consistent level, particularly on the road.
“”We have been very good on the road and senior guards will help you do that,” said Coen. “The confidence level and communication level is very high. During any game, everybody is going to make a run at you. The maturity level that you have determines how you respond and we have been able to do that fairly well. That’s been the biggest difference.”
Part II of our mid-season look at how the contenders and pretenders are doing.
11. Colonial Athletic Association. The Pre-season leaders were: Drexel, Delaware and George Mason.
The mid-season leaders: Northeastern, which was a solid fourth place pick is on top. Delaware is in the mix and James Madison are also factors. George Mason at 2-2 and 9-7 is just off the pace.
12. Conference USA The Pre-season leaders were: Memphis, Marshall and UTEP.
The mid-season leaders: Memphis is a cut above everyone else. UTEP has been up and down, as has been Marshall.
13. Horizon League The Pre-season leaders were: Valparaiso, Detroit and Green Bay.
The mid-season leaders: Valpo is right in the mix. So is Detroit. But Green Bay is struggling and Wright State, picked last in pre-season is on top with a 4-0 conference and 13-4 overall record. The 13 wins already matches the total the Raiders total of last season.
14 Ivy League The Pre-season leaders were: Princeton, Harvard and Columbia.
The mid-season leaders: Princeton, Harvard and Columbia.
15. Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference The Pre-season leaders were: Loyola (Maryland), Manhattan ad Iona.
The mid-season leaders: Iona and Loyola are right at the top. Manhattan has been horrible with a 5-11 overall record and 3-3 in the conference. Rider (4-2, 9-9) has done better than many people expected.
16. Mid-American Conference The Pre-season leaders were: Akron, Toledo and Ohio.
The mid-season leaders: Akron and Ohio are on top in the East and Toledo is leading the West.
17. MEAC The Pre-season leaders were: Savannah State, Delaware State and Morgan State.
The mid-season leaders: Norfolk State, North Carolina Central (the only team above .500 in the conference) and Hampton. Delaware State and Morgan State are also in play in a conference that will be wide open all year.
18. Missouri Valley The Pre season leaders were: Creighton, Northern Iowa and Wichita State.
The mid-season leaders: Creighton and Wichita State are the front runners. Northern Iowa has struggled to stay above .500.
19. Mountain West. The Pre-season leaders were: UNLV, San Diego State and New Mexico.
The mid-season leaders: New Mexico and San Diego State are the front runners, and UNLV is just off the pace. Boise State (picked 7th in the pre season) is a sizzling 13-2.
20. Northeast Conference The pre-season leaders were: Robert Morris, LIU and Wagner.
The mid-season leaders: Bryant (11th) has been the surprise team of the year. Wagner is very much in the mix. Robert Morris has been up and down and LIU has tumbled with a 1-3 conference and 6-10 overall record.
© 2013, Mark. All rights reserved.