Looking ahead at the 2018-19 men’s basketball season

Junior+guard+Donnell+Gresham+puts+up+a+shot+in+a+prior+game+against+BU.+%2F+File+photo+by+Brian+Bae.
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Looking ahead at the 2018-19 men’s basketball season

Junior guard Donnell Gresham puts up a shot in a prior game against BU. / File photo by Brian Bae.

Junior guard Donnell Gresham puts up a shot in a prior game against BU. / File photo by Brian Bae.

Brian Bae

Junior guard Donnell Gresham puts up a shot in a prior game against BU. / File photo by Brian Bae.

Brian Bae

Brian Bae

Junior guard Donnell Gresham puts up a shot in a prior game against BU. / File photo by Brian Bae.

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By Brittany Mendez, news staff

Northeastern men’s basketball continues to make a name for itself, being named the Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Favorite. The team received 35 first place votes which beat out last year’s conference champions the University of Charleston.

“It’s an honor to be picked and I think our team will have to get comfortable in that role of being the team that people get excited to play against,” said head coach Bill Coen. “We’re a big game on everybody’s schedule now which wasn’t the case last year. It’s a different mindset and a different approach.

The players are equally excited to begin the season. Being the preseason favorite intensified the team’s reputation, but preseason honorable mention junior guard Shawn Occeus isn’t letting the high expectations and pressure get to his head.

“For us as a collective group that means absolutely nothing,” Occeus said, who was also named preseason honorable mention. “We were picked sixth last year and we ended up in the championship game so that preseason stuff doesn’t really mean anything.”

The Huskies are returning 90 percent of their offense, which is 13th best in the country, including several award-winning players who will have to build on their high level play if the team is to reach even greater heights this upcoming season. Both redshirt senior guard Vasa Pusica and Occeus are returning double-digit scorers expected to lead the team to success this season.

“It feels different, it feels weird. I never thought of myself as the most vocal guy out there or most experienced one but I just feel like I gotta embrace that role and accept it and try to lead these guys and help everyone get better,” Pusica said.

The team had an impressive 23-10 overall record and 14-4 in the CAA last season. Coen said they have the potential to do even better this upcoming season.

Each and every year we commit to a large vision goal of winning the CAA championship both for the regular season and CAA tournament,” Coen said.

He noted their overall team goal is to build on their offensive and defensive efficiency from last season in the hopes of winning eight out of nine conference games.

The Huskies didn’t pick up any first-year rookies but gained three transfers. London native Shaquille Walters and Nigerian native Greg Eboigbodin are two international transfer players. The team also picked up Jordan Roland, a George Washington University transfer. Roland redshirted last year and this will be the first season he is eligible to play for the Huskies.

I think with [Roland] we are adding a lot to our team, especially with shooting and scoring ability,” said the team’s leading scorer Pusica.

Pusica was awarded with the CAA Preseason All-Conference First Team title, recognizing him as a key player in the conference. He mentioned that the team brings the same intensity against every competitor, no matter the size their school.

“We still have to go out there and prove it and it’s gonna be even harder now knowing that we are number one and the teams are gonna bring their best against us every time,” Pusica said. “So it’s gonna be hard, but we have to stay focused and hopefully everything works out.”

The Huskies played an outstanding season opener but unfortunately did not get the result. The team will travel to Harvard University on November 9th looking to bounce back from a 77-74 loss to Boston University.