Star track

Star track

By Nate Owen

Jose Juan Barea – Husky basketball 2002-06

One of Northeastern’s most successful basketball players has quickly found success in his professional career.

Former Northeastern guard Jose Juan Barea who received multiple awards during his senior year, including the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year and AP All-American Honorable Mention, was also a two-time finalist for the Bob Cousy award, given to the top point guard in the nation.

During his final two years as a Husky, he ranked among the top 20 in the nation in both scoring and assists, becoming the first player since 1997-98 to do so. For his career, he averaged 20.3 points per game and had 721 assists.

While it was widely anticipated that he would be drafted, he was not and instead signed a two-year, $1.1 million contract with the defending Western Conference Champion Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs consider Barea their ‘point guard of the future,’ according to the alumni page of the Miami Tropics, Barea’s former club team.

He led his native Puerto Rico to a gold medal in the Central American and Caribbean Games in July, hitting a three-pointer with one second left to give Puerto Rico a 90-87 overtime victory over Panama July 30.

In addition, he has shined in summer league action for the Mavericks, tallying eight points and six assists in his first professional start July 17.

– Nate Owen, News Staff

Carlos Pena – Husky baseball 1997-98

Carlos Pena, a native of Haverhill, Mass., transferred to Northeastern University from Wright State University (OH) before the 1997 season and had an immediate impact on the baseball team. He garnered All-America East Conference honors in 1997 and 1998, leading the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament in his first year.

“It’s impossible to predict if a player is going to go to the majors,” coach Neil McPhee said, “but Carlos was a committed athlete and he had all of the psychological, as well as physical makeup every athlete needs.”

Pena played briefly for the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics before being dealt to the Detroit Tigers midway through 2002. His best season with Detroit was 2004, when he led the Tigers in home runs (27), walks (70), and games played (142).

The Tigers released Pena after the 2005 season and he signed a minor-league contract with the New York Yankees – a deal that allowed him an escape clause if he wished to sign with a major league club. On Aug. 17, 2006, after leading the Yankees’ AAA affiliate, the Columbus Clippers, with 19 home runs and 66 RBI, Pena activated his escape clause to sign with the injury-plagued Boston Red Sox. Pena was called up by Boston and hit his first home run Monday night, a game-winning shot in the 10th inning against the Chicago White Sox.

– Matt Nielsen, News Staff

Liam Ezekiel – Husky football 2001-04

After leaving Northeastern as one of the hardest hitters ever to play for the Huskies’ football program, linebacker Liam Ezekiel is now trying to establish his niche in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills.

During his tenure as a Husky, Ezekiel was a three-time All-American and four-time All-Conference honoree. He holds the school record for tackles, recording a total of 489 during his four years at Northeastern. Additionally, he had 13 sacks and six interceptions, including one for a touchdown.

Along with stuffing the stat sheet, Ezekiel earned a reputation as a tough and gritty player. He played the last five weeks of the 2002 season with a broken thumb.

With a linebacking corps featuring Takeo Spikes, London Fletcher and Angelo Crowell, Ezekiel has had a hard time cracking the lineup for the Bills.

However, an injury to Spikes last year gave Ezekiel the opportunity to be promoted to the active roster. He recorded his first tackle on special teams during a 19-7 loss to New Orleans Oct. 2. He played the next week, also recording a special teams tackle in a 20-14 victory over Miami, but did not see the field for the rest of the year. He was cut from this year’s squad Sept. 4.

– Nate Owen, News Staff

Adam Ottavino – Husky baseball 2004-06 After leaving Northeastern as one of the school’s most successful pitchers, Adam Ottavino continues to succeed as part of the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

Ottavino was a first team All-CAA selection in 2006, his senior year at Northeastern, striking out a school record 120 batters and compiling a 4-5 record with a 2.98 ERA in 14 games (13 starts), highlighted by a no-hitter against James Madison April 7. He was also named the 2005 America East Pitcher of the Year.

Since being selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round (30th pick) of the 2006 Major League Baseball amateur draft, Ottavino was assigned to Single-A State College, where he soon earned a promotion to the Class A Swing of the Quad Cities minor league team. Overall, he compiled a 4-5 record with a 3.41 ERA in 13 starts and 60 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings.

As for taking the step up to the professional level, Ottavino said it was just a matter of adjusting to playing more.

“I’m trying to fix the flaws in my mechanics, and [come back] and be ready for my first full season,” he said.

– Nate Owen, News Staff

Miro Kesic – Husky football 2002-2005

Former standout kicker Miro Kesic recently experienced a setback to his short professional career.

Kesic, who set Northeastern records for scoring and was the first NU kicker to earn all-conference honors, was cut Friday by the Atlanta Falcons just a week after signing a free agent contract.

During his time at Northeastern, he made 48 of 71 fields goals (67.5 percent), with the longest being a 57-yarder to beat Richmond with four seconds left on Nov. 2, 2002. He also holds the school record for most consecutive extra points (57) and most field goals made (48).

Kesic’s short experience with the Falcons wasn’t a big change from his time at Northeastern, he said.

“[Other] than the bigger crowds and more pressure, its not much different,” he said. In light of being cut, Kesic said he realized he needs to work to improve his game.

“I need to get better,” he said. “It’s a long journey to get into [the NFL].”

– Nate Owen, News Staff

Chanda Gunn – Husky hockey 2000-04

Former Northeastern goalie Chanda Gunn will return to Huntington Avenue this fall as an assistant women’s ice hockey coach.

Gunn will join head coach Laura Schuler as the goalie coach and assist in training, preparation and recruiting.

Gunn had quite a career as a Husky, setting two all-time records and four single-season records in four years at Northeastern. Gunn holds the school records for saves (2,447) and save percentage (.937). She is first in single-season wins with 23 and holds the top two spots for single-season save percentage at .950 and .938.

In December 2003, Gunn set a school record for saves in a game, stopping 53 shots against No. 4 Wisconsin saves in a period with 23 during the same contest.

In 2002 and 2004, Gunn was named All-America and was the first player from NU ever to be named a finalist for the Patty Kazmeier Award for the nation’s best women’s college hockey player and the Humanitarian Award for college hockey’s finest citizen.

Gunn was named to the Team USA roster for the 2003 World Championships and received numerous Hockey East Player of the Week honors. Since then, Gunn was named the top goaltender at the 2005 International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championship. She helped Team USA to its first gold medal at the tournament.

Gunn joined Team USA in Torino, Italy, for the 2006 Winter Olympics. She won a bronze medal, played close to 250 minutes and had 50 saves with a save percentage of .893.

– Jewel Della Valle, News Staff

Leave a Reply