With the Northeastern Huskies fighting through and up and down season, head coach Bill Coen still has seen a few bright spots amidst his team's erratic play. Sophomore guard David Walker has clearly taken a step forward in becoming a game-changer and junior forward Reggie Spencer has performed nicely playing more of a power forward role instead of starting as the team's center like he did in years past. The biggest bright spot of all has been Scott Eatherton, a 6-8 transfer from St. Francis (Pa.).
With Quincy Ford undergoing season-ending back surgery in December, Eatherton has become the face of the Northeastern basketball program. In the process, he's leading the team in scoring and rebounding and also is first in the nation in double-doubles on the season with 17.
Prior to his big matchup with Towson's Jerrelle Benimon on Thursday evening, Mid-Major Madness caught up with the Huskies big man after Wednesday's practice for the latest edition of the CAA Q+A.
Mid-Major Madness: You came to Northeastern and sat out last year, obviously you learned a lot about the program and the system from sitting out the season. But were you expecting to have this type of year and lead the nation in double-doubles?
Scott Eatherton: I wasn’t expecting to lead the nation in double-doubles, but I was expecting to be a big part of the rebounding and the scoring on the team. I was just lucky enough to have enough games to get up there.
MMM: One thing the team did lack last year was having that rim protector on the back line of the defense. It seems like you’ve slid into that role really nicely.
SE: Yea. I noticed that when I was watching the games last year. They got out-rebounded sometimes and I knew they just needed one more guy to rebound for them. I knew me and Reggie were a pretty good force down there for the rebounds.
MMM: You learned a lot watching from the sidelines last year, but what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from being on the court this year?
SE: I’ve learned how much effort goes into winning games, how much focus it takes. It’s really an every day thing if you want to win. That’s something that maybe we didn’t see in the beginning of the season, but something we’re starting to see now.
MMM: In the beginning of the season, it looked like the team was focusing on getting you a lot of post-ups on the left block but now you’re starting to do more screen-and-rolls at the top of the key. What does that do for your game and what does it open up for the team as a whole?
SE: In the beginning of the season, a lot of teams starting doubling me so I kind of have to move around more in the offense if I want to get open. So I do try to get involved in a lot of ball-screens. It’s kind of hard to guard in certain situations.
MMM: And you’ve been good at passing out of the double-team too.
SE: Yea. It’s something I’ve worked on with my assistant coaches since the beginning of the season. It’s helped a lot.
MMM: Coming off a big win at Charleston with that defensive effort, is that the way you guys are going to play moving forward, defense-first?
SE: Yea, that’s really the only way we’ve won games in the past. If we start out focusing on defense, the offense will proceed to follow.
MMM: The team just put in a lot of work defensively to prepare for Jerrelle Benimon. Is that who you’re focused on Thursday?
SE: He’s a really good player. He’s a senior. Last time we just ran a zone around him to try to stop him and it worked. We’re probably going to try and throw a lot of things at him and see how he handles it.
MMM: You two are considered the two premiere big men in the conference, what’s that mean to you to be compared to the guy who won CAA Player of the Year last year?
SE: It’s great. I mean, I look forward to every game. I take pride in being one of the better big men in the conference, but I’m excited for tomorrow and to try and get a win against a top team.
MMM: When you get down to Baltimore [for the CAA Tournament] the cliché that defense wins championships will definitely come into affect. What do you think your chances are now with the team’s overall philosophy?
SE: When our defense is working, it’s really been able to give some teams problems and it’s really created opportunities for us on offense. That’s why we were able to compete against bigger teams like Georgetown and Florida State and I feel like if we can play that way, with that effort, then we can make some noise in the conference tournament.