Ashland Men Prep For Rubber Match With Oilers

Ashland Men Prep For Rubber Match With Oilers

PDF VERSION OF GAME NOTES

Opening Tip

For the second consecutive season, Ashland University's men's basketball team is in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Final Four.

The Eagles (18-9) will take on Findlay (23-5) on March 4 at 5 p.m. at Ferris State University. Ashland and the Oilers split their two regular-season meetings in 2016-17, each winning at home - an 86-65 victory for the Eagles on Jan. 28 and an 85-65 win for the Oilers on Feb. 18.

In the other semifinal on March 4, the host Bulldogs (25-4) will take on Michigan Tech (16-13).

Ashland reached the conference tournament's Final Four thanks to an 84-81 win on Feb. 28 at Lake Superior State in a quarterfinal. It was the Eagles' second win at the Lakers this season, after having not won in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., since Dec. 1, 2005.

The quarterfinal win also was Ashland's second in as many seasons, and the Eagles will play in a GLIAC Tournament semifinal in back-to-back years for the first time since 1998-99.

 

Eagles On The Air

- Ashland's Final Four games will be aired live on WNCO-AM 1340, with Marty Bannister on the call.

- Head coach John Ellenwood appears on "The Early Bird's Word" on WRDL every Wednesday at 8:15 a.m. during the season.

 

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

After authoring the only "upset" in the opening round of the 2017 GLIAC Tournament, the Eagles are preparing to take on the Oilers for the third time.

"I was proud of our guys," Ellenwood said of the win against the Lakers. "That's a tough place to go up and win once, let alone twice. They're such a well-coached team. They've got really good talent. Their shooters are unbelievable.

"One through eight, anybody can win and anybody can get hot this time of year, so I feel very fortunate that we're moving on."

In Ashland's home win over Findlay earlier this season, both sophomore guard Ben Haraway (23) and senior guard Boo Osborne (20) scored at least 20 points, and Osborne was 5-of-6 from 3-point range. The Eagles shot 58.9 percent from the field, one of their top single-game showings of the season.

The Eagles' road loss to the Oilers will have been two weeks out from the semifinal rubber match. In that game, senior guard Adrian Cook scored 16 points to go past the 1,000-career-point mark, but Findlay had a decided 41-27 rebounding advantage.

"It's nice, because you know that not a lot changes from that last time we played them," said Ellenwood. "The scouting report is a little easier for us. You're very familiar, so you don't have to beat them up mentally on scouting reports and stuff like that. They know the stuff. That's the positive of this game."

Against the other two semifinalists during the regular season, Ashland lost at home to Michigan Tech, 80-71, and lost on the road to Ferris State, 82-77.

"They're all really good teams, and we got beat by all three of them this year," said Ellenwood of the Final Four field. "That's a huge task for us, but it's what's in front of us and we've got to find a way to do it. We have confidence.

"Findlay, neutral floor, that's a good game for us to play at this level. There's a lot riding on that game. We're fortunate to be where we're at, and it's going to be tough opponents from here on out."

The Final Four features all three of the 2016-17 GLIAC postseason special award winners - Ferris State sophomore center Zach Hankins (Player of the Year), Michigan Tech guard Tommy Lucca (Freshman of the Year) and Ferris State's Andy Bronkema (Coach of the Year).

 

Resilient Eagles Getting It Done

Ashland has faced its share of adversity in 2016-17 - from senior forward Wendell Davis missing the entire season due to injury to both junior forward Marsalis Hamilton and junior center Teddy Metzen missing games for the same reason.

The result has been a return trip to the GLIAC Tournament Final Four and an 11-3 record over the last 14 games. The Eagles will finish with three consecutive seasons of .600-plus ball for the first time since 1997-98 to 1999-00.

"I think we've developed a culture of winning here, and you win with the right type of people," Ellenwood said. "There's a lot of teams that are talented that are sitting at home right now, wishing they could be where we're at. And they may be as talented, maybe even more talented than us. But the bottom line is we've got guys who like to compete and like to win, and that's why we're where we're at.

"When you recruit the right type of people, you put yourself in these situations."

 

Spreading The Wealth Offensively

Without Davis for the season, the Eagles have emphasized balanced offense and more passing. So far this season, all nine of Ashland's regulars averaged at least 4.7 points per game, with three going for double figures per contest.

A breakdown of Ashland's double-digit scoring games this season follows:

 

NAME

10+-POINT GAMES

Adrian Cook

21

Boo Osborne

16

Ben Haraway

13

Marsalis Hamilton

9

Nick Bapst

6

Teddy Metzen

6

Phil Frentsos

5

Drew Noble

5

Torin Wetzel

2

 

Ashland is averaging 15.2 assists per game, 3.0 per game more than a season ago. The Eagles have recorded at least 15 helpers in a game 15 times this season, including four of the last five contests.

 

Finding A Way To Win Close On The Road

Of Ashland's eight wins away from Ashland this season, six have been by eight points or less and four have been by five points or less:

 

DATE

OPPONENT

FINAL SCORE

11/12

at Indianapolis

W, 70-64

11/15

at Shawnee State

W, 73-58

12/1

at Lake Superior State

W, 95-87

12/3

at Northwood

W, 64-63

1/19

at Lake Erie

W, 76-74

1/26

at Walsh

W, 76-71

1/30

at Tiffin

W, 85-74

2/28

at Lake Superior State

W, 84-81

 

This has been a carry-over from the 2015-16 campaign, in which the Eagles won 11 road/neutral-site games, and nine of those were by eight points or less.

 

More On The Road-Warrior Eagles

The Eagles are 8-6 in road/neutral-site games in 2016-17, assuring them of a third consecutive .500-or-better season away from Kates Gymnasium:

 

SEASON

W-L RECORD AWAY FROM HOME

2016-17

8-6

2015-16

11-3

2014-15

7-7

 

Ellenwood Cements Place In AU History

Now in his eighth season, Ellenwood resides among the most successful head coaches in Ashland men's basketball history:

 

NAME

WINS

Roger Lyons

246

Bill Musselman

129

John Ellenwood

127

 

NAME

GAMES COACHED

Roger Lyons

439

John Ellenwood

219

Bill Musselman

159

 

NAME

SEASONS COACHED

Roger Lyons

16

John Ellenwood

7½+

George Donges

 

A Tale Of Two Seasons

Halfway through the 2016-17 regular season, Ashland was 7-6 overall and 2-5 in the GLIAC. Since then, the Eagles are 11-3 and are two wins away from a GLIAC Tournament championship.

The differences between the first 13 games and the latest 14 games are subtle, but key:

 

CATEGORY

FIRST 13 GAMES

LAST 14 GAMES

Points per game

75.2

76.4

Field-goal percentage

48.6

50.1

3-point field-goal percentage

38.6

42.5

Turnovers per game

13.5

12.1

 

They Don't Live And Die By The 3, But…

Through March 1, the Eagles are ranked in a tie for 18th in NCAA Division II in 3-point field-goal percentage at 40.6 percent. Among the remaining GLIAC teams playing in the Final Four, that percentage is the best, slightly ahead of Findlay (40.3).

The breakdown of Ashland's 3-point percentage in wins and losses this season follows:

 

PERIOD

3FG

3FGA

3FG%

In 18 wins

150

361

41.6

In 9 losses

69

178

38.8

 
 

AU

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