Special Delivery

by Tyler Dolph

After watching a couple of Northeastern men’s basketball games, one thing becomes clear: Jordan Roland is a nightmare to guard. 

Whether it’s sprinting along the baseline rubbing off a down screen, or slashing back door for an easy layup, he’s always moving. He can score at every level, keeps even the very best defenders looking over their shoulders and doesn’t need more than a few inches of space to swing the momentum of a game.

Players with his type of game-changing offensive talent are typically keen on letting everybody know how good they are. But when asked about the source of his offensive abilities, Roland was quick to answer, “It’s all because of the great system I’m in and guys finding me open looks.”

The six-foot-1 guard is a redshirt junior and transferred to Northeastern in 2017. But you wouldn’t know it was Roland’s first full year playing with the Huskies. His synergy with his teammates on both ends of the floor made it seem like he’s been around for a couple of seasons. 

MAR. 20, 2017 Jordan Roland plays in what would be his last game as a member of George Washington. He finishes with five points on 2-6 shooting as the Colonials are bounced out of the 10th annual College Basketball Invitational by the University of Illinois-Chicago. 

Roland, a Syracuse, N.Y. native, began his collegiate career at George Washington University. But after two years with the Colonials, he decided it was time for something new. 

“There was a coaching change and a lot of guys were leaving,” Roland said. “I had talked with Northeastern during the first round of recruiting and when it was time for me to transfer I was sold on the school. I saw what they had done for T.J. Williams and thought they did a great job developing their guards.”

NCAA rules require transfer students to spend an academic year in residence at the school to which they’re transferring before competing. This meant Roland had to spend the entire 2017-18 season on the sidelines. 

Transfer students aren’t allowed to travel with their team to away games, which can be hard on players trying to assimilate into a new team culture. But for Roland, it provided a unique opportunity to recharge and get ahead of schoolwork.

“It was really relaxing actually. I had two weeks off for Christmas, when normally I would’ve only had four days. It was nice to go home on weekends during the season and allowed to me focus on school too.”

But when the 2018-19 season rolled around, he was ready to show his new team, and the rest of the country, just how prepared he was.

NOV. 9, 2018 Jordan Roland sprints up the left side of the floor late in the first half against Harvard. Point guard Vasa Pusica finds him with an outlet pass up the court. Roland corrals the ball with two hands, feints to the corner and puts down one powerful right-handed dribble towards the basket. With his defender now off balance, Roland steps back and sinks a wide open three to give the Huskies their first lead since the opening two points of the game. 

Roland’s performance propels the team to their first win of the season. He finishes his second-ever Northeastern appearance with 35 points, tied sixth most for points in a game in school history, on 9-13 shooting from the field, 7-10 from three and a cool 10-11 from the free throw line.

In just his second career game as a Husky, Roland showed everyone just how capable of a player he is: he erupted for 35 points on 69 percent shooting. In a performance that came to typify Roland’s ability to efficiently dominate any given matchup, he focused not on his more-than-respectable accomplishments, but instead on how he could improve.

“I actually remember having two early turnovers in that game,” he said. “I came off the bench and don’t even think I scored in the first ten minutes or so.”

Roland’s first basket in the game was a three that came with 5:12 left in the first half. The bucket gave the Huskies their first lead of the game since the opening bucket. They never trailed the rest of the way.

“It speaks, first and foremost, to his personality,” said head coach Bill Coen. “When he did score that 35, he came off the bench. There are a lot of guys that would let their egos get the best of them and limit their own production because they feel they’re being slighted. But Jordan is the type of guy who just wants to help the team anyway he can.”

After setting a program record with 101 three-pointers this season, Roland ranked in the top ten in the CAA in 3-pt percentage, free throw percentage, +/- and true shooting percentage. He was also second on the team in points produced. 

“In my opinion, Jordan Roland is one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball,” iterated Coen. “He’s an outstanding shooter and he combines that shooting ability and shooting range with elite quickness, which is a very rare combination.”

Roland’s tremendous offensive efficiency wasn’t just the opinion of his coach, however. For much of the season, Synergy Sports reported Roland’s offensive efficiency at around 1.22 points per game, just behind players like Zion Williamson of Duke and Brandon Clarke of Gonzaga.

Even more extraordinary is the performance level while Northeastern dealt with key injuries. Players like reigning CAA Defensive Player of the Year Shawn Occeus and First-Team All-CAA member Vasa Pusica missed big stretches this past year.

“When guys can’t play, of course you think you have to raise your play. But it’s more about how everyone on the team raises their play, not just one person,” highlighted Roland.

MAR. 2, 2019 In the final came of the regular season, Roland opens up the contest with 16 points in the first nine minutes of play, giving the Huskies a 22-9 cushion on the road. Roland concludes the outing with 26 points on 52% shooting as Northeastern cruise to victory over CAA rival Drexel, solidifying the number two seed ahead of the conference tournament in Charleston.

Moving forward, Roland echoed his same mindset of self-improvement and placing the team first. 

“My goal is to obviously go as far as possible. For me personally, it’s just to bring whatever I can to the team.”

With the year freshly in the books, Roland already has certain aspects of his game he’d like to work on before next year. 

“I want to improve as a ball handler and be able to find open guys better. I think that’ll really round out my game.”

Coen elaborated a similar attitude on Roland’s future.

“Going forward into next year, even greater things are in store for him,” he said. “We’ve asked him to handle the ball, to get into ball screens and to dribble, pass and shoot. I think he has accepted the challenge and excelled in his development.”