“Congratulations to your 2012-2013 Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year, Pat Skerry,” the voice of the CAA Awards Banquet video bellowed.
The first person in the packed ballroom at the Richmond Marriott to applaud was Northeastern Huskies head coach, Bill Coen.
Coen, the man that guided his club to the first CAA regular season championship in school history, received 19 votes for the CAA Coach of the Year, while Towson’s Skerry earned 25.
But, for Coen, a staple in the college basketball world since he played in 1979, the award meant nothing compared to his senior co-captain Joel Smith being selected to the All-CAA First Team, as well as senior co-captain Jonathan Lee and sophomore Quincy Ford earning spots on the All-CAA Third Team.
Most importantly, Coen relished the moment when Lee was named the 2013 recipient of the very prestigious Dean Ehler’s Leadership Award.
Coen also doesn’t need a piece mahogany plaque to prove how special this year was for his team and his coaching staff.
While his team excelled on the court to the tune of a 19-11, 14-4 season, Coen and his staff thrived on the sidelines, during practice and with his team on the road. With the help of a staff that is more like a brotherhood, Coen and company have created a family-like atmosphere in Boston that has his Huskies closer and more successful than ever.
“We’re here to help one another and it’s more than a job,” Coen said. “We’re trying to create that type of culture here. We care about one another on a very personal level.”
When you literally view the men sitting to your right and to your left as father figures and brothers, feeling like a family is almost a natural reflex.
“The players see that,” Coen said. “It carries over to the guys on the team when they see that level of care within the guys on the staff. I recruited [assistant coach] Antonio [Reynolds-Dean] out of high school when I was an assistant at University of Rhode Island. [Associate head coach] Pat Duquette and I coached together for nine years over at Boston College. And [director of basketball operations] Steve Scalzi was working as the manager for that staff at the time. So, there are a lot of ties.”
One tie within the staff, specifically, can be considered more of an ionic bond. The oldest member of Coen’s staff, Murphy, who serves as Northeastern’s Coordinator of Basketball Advancement, has been an intricate part of Coen’s life ever since he was a teenager.
“Coach Murphy recruited me when I was 17-years old,” Coen explains. “I haven’t really made a big decision in my life since then without at least calling him and getting his opinion on the subject. It’s a very personal environment and that’s by design. I hope our guys recognize the people here will care for them to develop not only as players but as people too.”
Lee’s award on Friday evening was a perfect example of how Coen’s players have recognized and thrived in the atmosphere Coen has created. His team has also reaped the benefits on the court as well.
Northeastern led the CAA in conference play this season with 14.9 assists per game. But, they didn’t just share the ball, they shared the spotlight as well. Throughout the season, all of the Northeastern players played and spoke with a “next-man-up” and “for the team” attitude.
Whether it’s Smith stepping up when Lee missed the first nine games of the season, or Ford dominating when Smith went down with a late-season ankle injury, or David Walker praising his teammates following his CAA title-clinching jumper, the Huskies are clearly a group and not a cast of individuals.
Thus, while Coen was not awarded with a piece of hardware to acknowledge his incredible accomplishments this season — it’s not necessary. All he has to do is look to his right and to his left and reflect on the success his players have had on and off the court to appreciate how special a season and program he has built.