Tom Zomanski is journalism major at Temple University. Also a credentialed media member for both Delaware and Drexel Basketball programs, Zomanski is the CAA columnist for CityOfBasketballLove.com. Zomanski asked RantSports.com’s own CAA columnist, Jake Fischer, 5 questions via email about Northeastern men’s basketball entering Saturday’s game at Delaware.
Tom: Northeastern has one of the best guard tandems in the Colonial Athletic Association with Joel Smith and Jonathon Lee. How can Delaware contain the two?
Jake: You are correct in saying that Joel Smith and Jonathan Lee are perhaps the best guard tandem in the CAA. This year, the team’s co-captains are collectively averaging 28.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 3.0 steals per game. In order to contain them, Delaware must play a man-to-man defense and throw relentless pressure on these ball-handlers, even outside the three-point arc.
Tom: Northeastern is in the bottom of the conference in rebounding and near the bottom of the CAA in field goal percentage defense, how much does the Huskies defense rely on the ability to create turnovers?
Jake: Their defense relies on turnovers and rotations more than any other aspect of that side of the ball. Head coach Bill Coen knows that his team is small and is susceptible to rebounding struggles. The way to prevent rebounding struggles is being super-aggressive on the perimeter and forcing turnovers before the ball enters the paint. Expect a lot of 1-2-2 three-quarter-court and 3-2 zone half-court defensive looks from the Huskies in this one.
Tom: The Huskies are 6-2 in the 8 games since Lee’s return, how much better has Northeastern been since the senior has returned to the lineup?
Jake: Northeastern is clearly playing more confidently with Lee back. As a senior and co-captain, Lee provides tremendous ability and leadership on the floor. Having that figure on the court not only makes teammates more comfortable, but also more confident that the overall team can be successful. That morale undoubtedly leads to a more natural flow on offense.
Tom: Besides Joel Smith and Jonathon Lee, who is a player to keep an eye on in Saturday’s game?
Jake: In this game, keep an eye on Quincy Ford. The sophomore out of St. Petersburg, Fla. is coming off a 24-point game against Hofstra on Friday in which he made a career-high 11 field goals. While Ford is 6-8, he has inside moves like a forward but guard skills that allow him to thrive on the wing. As Jamelle Hagins will most likely Reggie Spencer down low, look for Ford to constantly force a mismatch offensively with either the smaller Josh Brinkley or bigger Carl Baptiste defending him.
Tom: Northeastern is undefeated in the CAA and has road wins at Towson, George Mason, and Drexel, what has been the key to their success especially on the road?
Jake: The key to their success on the road has definitely been coaching and defense. While on some nights shots might not fall, defense always travels and so does coaching. Northeastern has been able to defend and force turnovers and make with ease on the road. Against George Mason, Drexel and Towson, the Huskies were vicious on the defensive attack and it showed as Sherrod Wright, Drexel as a team and the Tigers’ shooters all struggled mightily. Coen has been doing an excellent job preparing his players to know their role on the road and has made terrific in-game adjustments to help his team succeed.
Click here for Tom’s answers to Jake’s questions about Delaware.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.