Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Tested Huskies: KU ‘Just Another School’

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Tested Huskies: KU ‘Just Another School’

Article excerpt

SALT LAKE CITY — The trials and tribulations of the Kansas Jayhawks in 2018-19 have been well documented.

No Silvio De Sousa for the season. No Udoka Azubuike for the final 21 games. No Lagerald Vick for the last 11. There's also the Adidas scandal and FBI investigation — enough to wear down any team.

But, the opponent the Jayhawks face Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Regional — the Northeastern Huskies — has seen its own share of adversity.

It actually started a year ago in the championship game of the 2018 Colonial Athletic Association when the Huskies blew a 17-point second-half lead against Charleston, losing an 83-76 decision and seeing their dream of the berth in the NCAA Tournament go up in flames.

Northeastern coach Bill Coen called it an emotional time for his team and an emotional loss.

The 2018-19 season didn't start much better. Junior swingman Maxime Boursiquot, who was in the starting lineup for all but one game last season, went down with a season-ending injury during the offseason.

Senior guard Vasa Pusica missed seven games with an injury and defensive leader Shawn Occeus was gone for 19 games.

"I just think it pulled us closer together," junior guard Donnell Gresham said. "Guys go down, other teammates pick each other up and see that how much you love this game. When you have it taken away, it makes you even more determined not to let things slide. It made other guys just step up even more.

"We had a goal at the beginning of the season to get to this point. I think (the adversity) really helped us."

It eventually helped, but there were struggles early on.

After the ninth game of the season — a humbling 72-49 loss at Syracuse — Northeastern was 4-5. Two games later, the Huskies were 5-6, but that is when the tide turned.

The Huskies are 18-4 in their last 22 games,; their losses by 3, 3 and 2 points, and the other in overtime. …

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