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It must be the shoes: Northeastern extends streak with 71-51 win over George Mason

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff  January 28, 2013 12:51 AM

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Michael Vega/Globe Staff

NU assistant coach Tom Murphy, an old-school coach, sported a well-worn classic with his Chuck Taylors in Sunday's "Suits and Sneakers" victory over George Mason.

The Northeastern men's basketball team extended its conference winning streak to eight consecutive games after the Huskies defeated George Mason, 71-51, in a Colonial Athletic Association contest Sunday night before a Matthews Arena crowd of 1,971.

NU (13-7 overall, 8-0 CAA) recorded a number of superlatives during the game, not to mention:

  1. It was the Huskies' largest margin of victory and lowest opponent total of the season.
  2. It marked the second time in 16 CAA contests against George Mason that NU had swept the regular-season series against the Patriots.
  3. The eight-game conference winning streak, NU's best start since joining the CAA in 2005-06, was the Huskies' longest since stringing together 11 consecutive wins from Dec. 25, 2009, to Jan. 23, 2010.
  4. It marked the 7th time in 8 CAA contests the Huskies had 15 or more assists and more points off turnovers than its opponent (18-15 vs. George Mason).
But there was one other superlative that was not to be overlooked: NU's streak in "Suits and Sneakers" games.

The victory over George Mason enabled the Huskies to remain unbeaten in seven consecutive "Suits and Sneakers'' games under head coach Bill Coen. As part of the Coaches vs. Cancer initiative started a decade ago, Coen and his staff were among the 4,000 college and high school coaches across the US who made the unusual fashion statement by wearing basketball sneakers with their game attire in support of Coaches vs. Cancer program.

While most coaches from NU and George Mason Sunday night were decked out in the latest and greatest sneaker technology, no one made more of a bold fashion statement than venerable NU assistant Tom Murphy, Coen's old Hamilton College basketball coach who now serves as director of advancement for the NU men's basketball team.

While Murphy's title may be all-encompassing, it does allow him to sit alongside his protege on NU's bench. Even though NU is a Nike team, Murphy stood out when he went retro and walked out on the court at Matthews Arena Sunday night before the George Mason game decked out in a well-worn classic: a pair gray canvas Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers.

It was definitely an old-school look for an old-school coach.

"I've worn them every year for 'Suits and Sneakers' games, and we're 7-0 in them now,'' Murphy said. "People laugh at them when they see them, but I tell them, 'Hey, they were good enough for Bill Russell when he was winning 10 [NBA] championships.'"

Of course, it had to be the shoes.

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