Skip to content
Northeastern's huskies basketball Shaq Walters drives to the basket.

Basketball is back at Matthews Arena

Shaq Walters (24) will be among the Huskies leaders as the men’s and women’s team tip off their home schedules at Matthews Arena this week. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

While Bill Coen is starting the season with aims of extending his record as Northeastern’s winningest men’s coach, Bridgette Mitchell is making her head coaching debut with the women’s team.

The leaders of the two Huskies basketball programs are launching their home schedules this week from opposite ends of the coaching spectrum. What they share in common is a prevailing sense of optimism based on the depth and balance of their rosters.

The men’s home opener against Boston University on Tuesday at 7 p.m. EST at Matthews Arena will serve as “Bill Coen Night” to celebrate his achievement of surpassing the 250 Northeastern victories of Hall-of-Fame coach Jim Calhoun last season. On Wednesday, Mitchell will be introduced for the first time at Matthews when the women take on New Hampshire at 7 p.m. EST. The games will be televised by NESN.

Both teams expect to show improvement after being derailed last season in no small part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was definitely a tough year for everybody, mentally and physically, but you had to take it day by day because you never knew what was going to happen,” says redshirt junior Chris Doherty, a 6-foot-7-inch forward who was injured for much of last season. “It shows the kind of program we have here, that we don’t let adversity take control of us.”

Though the pandemic sidelined a number of players and forced the men’s team to go weeks at a time without playing or practicing, the Huskies (10-9 overall, 8-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association) nonetheless earned their fourth regular-season conference title in nine seasons. They’ve been picked to finish second in the CAA despite losing star point guard Tyson Walker, who transferred to Michigan State in the Big Ten.

Coen’s team comes home at 0-2 this season after losses last week at Colgate and Georgia State. The Huskies will be traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands for Paradise Jam, a three-game tournament that begins against Duquesne on Friday at 6:45 p.m. EST (streaming on ESPN).

“We have an experienced group,” says Coen (251-224 overall), who is seeking his third NCAA Tournament appearance in 16 seasons. “Now it’s a matter of blending it all together, and that’s what our non-conference schedule is for—to test us and stretch us and show us our blind spots so we can develop into the team we want to be when CAA play starts in late December.”

Key returnees include sophomores Coleman Stucke and Jahmyl Telfort, the reigning CAA sixth man of the year, and redshirt seniors Shaq Walters and Jason Strong. Four players have transferred to Northeastern, including junior Joe Pridgen from North Carolina Wilmington; Tyreek Scott-Grayson, a 6-foot-5-inch guard who started 49 games for Alabama Birmingham; and Nikola Djogo, a 6-8 guard who was team captain as a senior at Notre Dame. Doherty, another Notre Dame transfer who fought through injuries in his debut season at Northeastern last year, will provide a leading presence in the paint.

Several candidates will be attempting to replace Walker at the point—led by versatile 6-foot-6-inch Walters, who adds defense and rebounding, and sophomore Glen McClintock, a transfer from Air Force. 

While the men are celebrating the reliable leadership of Coen, the women are taking on a fresh identity around Mitchell, who as a player helped lead Duke to the Elite Eight in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. In previous jobs as an assistant, Mitchell recruited highly-ranked players to the struggling program in two seasons at Pitt before helping James Madison go 78-26 with back-to-back CAA regular-season championships. 

“She brings a tremendous amount of energy,” Coen says of Mitchell. “She was extremely accomplished as a player and as a young coach, she’s got a ton of enthusiasm, and I think her players will respond well to her.”

Mitchell, who was known as one of the top recruiters in women’s basketball as an assistant, takes over a program that has gone 20-36 since its 2019 appearance in the postseason Women’s NIT. The skills and mentality that her players develop on the court will define them throughout their lives, she believes.

“I want them to be intelligent, strong, impactful women of character who go on and change the world, and we’re using basketball as a resource to do that,” says Mitchell, whose Huskies are 1-1 after a win at Holy Cross and a tight loss at Yale. “We’re going to give our fans something to be excited about. You’re going to see us coach and play our butts off.”

Mitchell’s Huskies will play an uptempo style to take advantage of their strengths on the perimeter and in the paint. Senior guard Kendall Currence is the top returning scorer (10.7 points per game) from last season, when Northeastern went 7-13 overall and 6-10 in the CAA. Maddie Vizza shot a school-record 44% from the 3-point line last season as a freshman. Forward Emily Calabrese and guard Donna Ntambue transferred from St. Bonaventure and Utah, respectively. 

As a new coach, Mitchell has made a point of valuing her seniors, asking them to detail the legacies they wish to establish this season. Senior guard Katie May wrote that she wants to be “a reliable, smart, steady, trustworthy teammate … I’m committed to being a fighter, fighting through adversity and struggles.”

May was sidelined for all but one play last season by painful injuries to both legs that required surgeries. 

“It definitely made me hungrier. I thought that I wanted it before, but missing a season and being on the sidelines made me that much more excited to get back,” says May. “It’s a fresh start. It’s like a whole new team that I’m coming back to, it’s an awesome environment to be around, and I just think we’re going to kill it this year. I’m really excited for it.”

For media inquiries, please contact media@northeastern.edu.

Cookies on Northeastern sites

This website uses cookies and similar technologies to understand your use of our website and give you a better experience. By continuing to use the site or closing this banner without changing your cookie settings, you agree to our use of cookies and other technologies. To find out more about our use of cookies and how to change your settings, please go to our Privacy Statement.