Last season, the men’s bas­ket­ball team won its first-​​ever Colo­nial Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion regular-​​season title and came within one game of reaching the NCAA Tournament.

Get­ting that close and coming up short, it fuels you and makes you that much more hungry,” said junior Quincy Ford.

Ford described him­self as “a quiet kid at heart,” but it’s clearly evi­dent in his voice that he and his team­mates are chomping at the bit to get this season underway. Gone are last season’s senior co-​​captains Joel Smith and Jonathan Lee, along with their lead­er­ship and sharp perimeter shooting. Now, Ford is one of eight returning Huskies who plan to share the load, from offen­sive pro­duc­tion to on-​​court leadership.

Versatile sophomore guard David Walker is one of several Huskies will get the opportunity to emerge make a key impact this season.

Ver­sa­tile sopho­more guard David Walker is one of sev­eral Huskies will get the oppor­tu­nity to emerge make a key impact this season.

That group includes pow­erful junior rebounder Reggie Spencer, sharp­shooting sopho­more guard Demetrius Pol­lard, and ver­sa­tile sopho­mores David Walker and Zach Stahl. North­eastern also wel­comes junior transfer Scott Eatherton to its front­court. Overall, this blend of talent will allow eighth-​​year head coach Bill Coen to take advan­tage of matchups and pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for all players to contribute.

This season, the 6-​​foot-​​8-​​inch Ford will shift from power for­ward to small for­ward. To com­ple­ment his size and quick­ness, Ford has been hard at work devel­oping his low-​​post game. “It’s going to be a big help to my game,” said Ford, who aver­aged 12.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game a season ago. “I’m get­ting more com­fort­able and more deci­sive with every practice.”

Coen noted sev­eral key points of emphasis, including lim­iting turnovers, improving team defense and rebounding, and making consistent—and successful—trips to the foul line.

North­eastern opens its season on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. against crosstown rival Boston Uni­ver­sity. The game will be played at TD Garden in Boston as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Triple­header. The Huskies have defeated the Ter­riers in each of the last three season openers; last season, Pollard’s buzzer-​​beating three-​​pointer at Matthews Arena sent fans into a frenzy.

Those late-​​game heroics set the tone for a season chock full of late-​​game sus­pense and excitement—23 of the Huskies’ 33 season games were decided by seven points or fewer. While the steady dose of drama cer­tainly kept fans on the edge of their seats, Ford said those tight games pro­vided the returning players with invalu­able expe­ri­ence han­dling pressure-​​packed, late-​​game scenarios.

There’s a lot that goes into those games—free throws, fouls, who’s going to take the last shot,” Ford said. “I was in sev­eral of those sit­u­a­tions, and there’s a feeling you get, a rush.” Then he paused, chuckled softly, and said, “This year, we don’t want it to be close.”

Fol­lowing Sunday’s opener against BU, the Huskies will travel to Stony Brook on Wednesday, Nov. 13, and then return for their home opener against Cen­tral Con­necticut on Sat­urday, Nov. 16. The Huskies will then head south to par­tic­i­pate in the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-​​Off on Nov. 21–24, with North­eastern slated to take on George­town in its first game. The tournament’s elite eight-​​team field also includes Michigan, Florida State, Kansas State, and Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth University.

Northeastern’s pres­ence in the tour­na­ment aligns Coen’s emphasis on sched­uling com­pet­i­tive non-​​conference matchups, par­tic­u­larly in tour­na­ments out­side the region in places such as Cancun, Alaska, Florida, and Cal­i­fornia. Later this season, the Huskies will also com­pete in the Tulane Classic in New Orleans.

The team kicks off Colo­nial Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion play on Jan. 8 with a home matchup against the Uni­ver­sity of North Car­olina Wilm­ington. Throughout the season, North­eastern will make at least nine tele­vi­sion appear­ances, while home games will be streamed for free in high def­i­n­i­tion at GoNU​.com/​x​s​t​r​eam.

Single-​​game tickets for both men’s and women’s bas­ket­ball home games are on sale now at GoNU​.com/​t​i​c​k​ets.