Men’s Basketball Preview: A Return to Normalcy, but Questions Remain


Riley Robinson

Qurin Emanga in a game last season

Nicholas Tesoriero, news staff

After a season marred by uncertainty, fans and players alike can take a collective breath of fresh air when Northeastern men’s basketball returns next week. The Huskies are set to open up the season Nov. 9 on the road at Colgate University. Fans will finally return to Matthews Arena when the team takes on Boston University Nov. 16, a night where head coach Bill Coen will be honored.

Despite the excitement of fans returning, many questions linger for the team after the recent departure of guard Tyson Walker, who transferred to Michigan State University. Walker, the 2021 CAA Defensive Player of the Year, was the team’s leading scorer and finished third in the CAA in points (18.8) and assists (4.8) per game in the 2020-2021 season.

The leadership of Coen and the returning Freshman All-American guard and CAA Sixth Man of the Year, Jahmyl Telfort, will be crucial in filling in the gaps.

Coen, the all-time winningest coach in NU history, surpassed Jim Calhoun with 251 wins last season and is entering his 16th year as head coach for the Huskies. He had nothing but positives to say about Telfort, highlighting his contributions both on and off the court.

“[Telfort] is an incredibly hard worker, elite teammate and always comes to practice with a smile on his face,” Coen said. “He dedicated himself all summer long, stayed on campus and trained.”

The team will rely on Telfort’s versatility. Coen said he’s a “two-way player, a multiple position player, a guy that can really impact the game.”

Telfort, a 2020-2021 Kyle Macy Award finalist, was one of the best freshmen in the nation last year, and fans will be excited to see him take his next steps as a player this season.

Telfort is not the only returning player in line for a significant role, as Coen noted the “huge part” junior center Chris Doherty will play this season.

“The only two games we lost in the regular season last year, Chris didn’t play in,” Coen said.  “[The team will] need him to play at a high level if we expect to compete for a championship.”

Doherty, a hometown kid from Marlborough, Massachusetts, will be expected to contribute in all columns of the box score this year. Coen said he is “a high motor player, he’s a guy that passes the ball very well, rebounds the ball very well [and is] scoring at a higher clip.”

Shaquille Walters, senior guard, will get an opportunity to start at the point in place of the departed Walker, assuming increased ball handling and scoring duties. Coen said that Walters has “shown ability in the past” and will exemplify the coach’s “next man up” mentality.

New Faces

In addition to the familiar faces returning for larger roles this season, the Huskies have also taken on four transfer players.

Junior guard Joe Pridgen is an inter-conference transfer from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and finished fourth in the CAA last year with 8.2 rebounds per game. 

There’s an element of familiarity in the transfer.

“Joe’s a Massachusetts kid, [we’ve] seen him for a number of years,” Coen said.

Nikola Djogo, a graduate student, played four years for Notre Dame (2017-2021) before transferring to NU. The experienced guard brings leadership expertise after being elected a team captain for the Irish in the 2020-2021 season.

Guards, sophomore Glen McClintok and graduate student Tyreek Scott-Grayson, round out the transfer class.

“Those guys bring in experience that should really help the team,” Coen said.

The new group is “getting up to speed” and ready to “play a huge role in determining success,” along with the foundation that “knows what it takes to compete for a championship,” makes for a winning combination, Coen said.

New Opportunities

The upcoming season bears many exciting opportunities for the Huskies, including two nationally televised games against the University of Delaware and James Madison University, Jan. 17 and Feb. 3 respectively. Both games will take place in Matthews. 

“Having a national broadcast on your campus is very exciting,” Coen said.

The team will also face off against four A-10 schools this season, including hosting both the historic program of Davidson College and St. Bonaventure University, a top-25 team in the nation. 

“It’s a great opportunity for our program to compete against the best and try to get better,”Coen said. 

The Huskies were bounced from the CAA Championship semi-final last year, losing 67-74 to eventual champion Drexel University. The challenge should be even greater this year, and NU isn’t backing down. 

“I’ve been around the CAA for a while, this is the most unknown there’s ever been in a positive way,” Coen remarked with a smile. “Every team in the league has a chance, the unknown will translate to a very exciting year.” 

In a year filled with uncertainty, the Huskies are up for the challenge.