Bill Coen’s long journey to the top of Northeastern basketball

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

How do you become the winningest coach of a 101-year-old men’s basketball program at a major university?

For Bill Coen, who on Sunday earned his 251st career victory to surpass Jim Calhoun as the all-time leader of Northeastern men’s basketball, the answer is based on a system of seasonal rhythms.

The Huskies’ season ended earlier than they had hoped Monday when they were upset in the Colonial Athletic Association semifinal by No. 6 Drexel. It was the result, in part, of COVID-19 postponements and disruptions that had limited No. 2 Northeastern to three games in 40 days prior to the tournament.

When Northeastern hired him in 2006 (after he had served for nine years as a lead assistant at Boston College), Coen set out to schedule difficult opponents in the early weeks of each season—with the understanding that those matchups, win or lose, would strengthen his teams for the long run. The strategy has paid off: The Huskies have tended to peak at the end of the season, earning them four straight CAA regular-season titles and five championship game appearances in the CAA tournament since 2013. Coen (18-13 in CAA tournaments) is one victory away from breaking the record for CAA postseason wins.

“You can’t really make a major impact unless you stay and build something,” Coen says of his 15 years at Northeastern. “If you’re going to be true, if you’re going to tell your players to stay in the fight and persevere and be resilient, you have to be willing to stay in there and fight with them.”

You can take a deeper look at every game from Coen’s time with the Huskies below. Hover over or click each box to see the opponent and score for each game.

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