Men’s Basketball: Barea ends Husky career in 69-54 loss

Men’s Basketball: Barea ends Husky career in 69-54 loss

An era ended Sunday, March 5 in Richmond, Va. With a 69-54 semi-final loss to UNC-Wilmington, the Huskies season officially came to a close, as did the collegiate career of Jose Juan Barea, Northeastern’s second all-time leading scorer.

While it wasn’t a blowout, the Huskies did not bounce back from a slow start that saw them trailing 42-29 at the break. Senior guard Aaron Davis helped the Huskies mount a 12-4 run that brought them within five at the start of the second half, but the ball kept bouncing in the Seahawks’ favor, as they answered with a run of their own and ended the Huskies six-game winning streak.

“They came out on fire,” Barea said. “I think we were tired from the previous games.”

Barea led all scorers with 17 points, followed by Shawn James, who dropped 13 while blocking eight shots, giving him 20 for the tournament, a new CAA record.

Despite having Barea, the CAA Player of the Year and Mid-Major Player of the Year and James, the CAA Defensive Player of the Year and the new NCAA Div. I record holder for blocks per game average, the Huskies did not receive an invitation to play in the National Invitational Tournament.

“We were sad,” Barea said. “We made it to the conference semifinals and I really thought we were going to get in.”

The 2005-06 season marks the first year in Everhart’s tenure at NU in which the Huskies failed to improve upon the previous year’s win total. However, a 19-11 overall record is still a winning record and the Huskies went 12-6 in the conference record – the CAA received two bids in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years.

The next phase for Everhart and Husky basketball is to reflect on their first season in the CAA, and the career of their diminutive point guard.

Having played his final game in a Northeastern jersey, Barea now finds his name comfortably nuzzled behind Husky great Reggie Lewis as one of the best players in the history of the university.

“I made a good decision to come to Northeastern and play for coach Everhart,” Barea said. “I haven’t really thought about all that I’ve done, but I feel proud and my family is proud of me.”

But the game isn’t over for No. 5. Barea’s journey may in fact just be getting under way, as he is slated for NBA Pre-Draft camps in the coming months. While the odds are against him being a first round selection – mainly due to his height – his distinctive court vision and desire to win will have many NBA scouts pondering a second round selection. Regardless of the draft, Barea has proven he is a player, and drafted or not, he’ll be on a basketball court somewhere next season.

As for the Huskies, they won’t be starting from scratch next season.

Already recognized as one of the most dynamic defenders in the country, James will most likely be leaned on more at the offensive end next season. His numbers got better as the season went on – 15 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game and 7.3 blocks per game since Feb. 2 – and his improved 3 point shooting (.453 on the season) and already solid mid-range game made him a tough out for opposing defenders. Add more shots and his numbers could potentially soar. With many of the Colonial’s big forwards graduating, James and forward Bennett Davis could form one of the best front courts in the league next season.

Getting them the ball will be the job of Adrian Martinez. He will be a fifth-year senior and will take over for Barea at the point. At times throughout the Barea era it seemed as though Northeastern’s offense depended on him being on the floor. However, Martinez showed on multiple occasions this season that he can handle the point guard responsibilities.

The Huskies will undoubtedly miss Barea and the rest of the seniors, but Everhart has proven time and again that he can recruit with the best of them.

The Huskies began the conference tournament on a good note, defeating No. 12 James Madison in the first round 74-56 behind 24 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks from James Friday, March 3.

The hot streak continued a day later when the Huskies beat defending CAA champions No. 4 Old Dominion, 71-63. Barea scored 20 points to go along with nine rebounds. The Huskies were down six with 4:33 left to play in the second half until Barea lead them on a 17-3 run to close the game. Barea connected on 3-of-4 free throws in the final minutes of the game help the Huskies upset ODU.

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