The Eagles will welcome longtime GLIAC rival Wayne State and conference newcomer Davenport to Kates Gymnasium to open the home GLIAC schedule this week.
BACK HOME: The Eagles will open the home portion of their GLIAC schedule this weekend with games against South Division counterparts, Wayne State and Davenport. The Warriors and Panthers are the only teams that are 2-0 in conference play in the GLIAC South having each swept Grand Valley State and Purdue Northwest last week.
LONG-STANDING SERIES: The Eagles and Warriors have matched up 54 times in the all-time series with Ashland holding a 24-30 record against Wayne State. Last season, the Eagles dropped a 61-56 decision to the Warriors at Kates Gymnasium in the teams' only matchup. WSU wound up as the No. 5 seed in last year's GLIAC Tournament, falling int he first round.
THE FIRST TIME: Davenport made its GLIAC debut last week and knocked off fellow confernence-newcomer Purdue Northwest, 98-58, in the opener before beating visiting Grand Valley State, 66-55, in Grand Rapids. The Panthers reached the NAIA Tournament in each of the last eight seasons, including Fab Four appearances in 2015 and 2016. This will be the first time Ashland and Davenport will square off.
LAST LOOK AT LAST WEEK: The Eagles are coming off a pair of defeats at Lake Superior State and No. 5 Ferris State last week in what should be the team's toughest road trip of the season. LSSU moved up to No. 24 in the NABC national coaches' poll after its two wins over the Eagles and Tiffin last week. AU trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half to the Lakers before rallying to tie the game in the second, but the Eagles could never get over the hump as LSSU triumphed, 82-73. Against Ferris State, Ashland could not overcome a 20-3 disparity in turnovers and the Bulldogs also hit 12 3-pointers in beating the Eagles, 91-57.
LEADING WENDELL: Fifth-year senior Wendell Davis started right where he left off at the end of the 2015-16 season when he led the Eagles in points, rebounds and assists. The 6-foot-6 forward is putting up impressive numbers yet again, averaging 23.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists this season. He is second in the GLIAC and 13th in the country in scoring. Davis has also been extremely efficient in his scoring, shooting 55 percent (66-120) from the field, 50 percent (26-52) from 3-point range and 79.5 percent (31-39) from the charity stripe. All those numbers rank in the top 10 in the GLIAC, where he also sits second overall in 3-pointers made (26). Davis has scored at least 19 points in seven of the eight games this season.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Davis has a chance to get to fifth on AU's all-time scoring list, needing just 47 points in the next two games to pass four players on AU's scoring list. Against Ferris State, Davis surpassed Rob Wininger, who last played in 1997.
CONTINUED OUTSIDE THREAT: Sophomore center Drew Noble continued his growth as a versatile player who can be as effective on the perimeter as he is in the post. After not attempting a 3-pointer last season, Noble has drained nine this season, including five (5-11) in last week's road games. Noble is second on the team in scoring, averaging 15.4 points per game, while leading the squad in rebounds (7.8). He is shooting 48.5 percent (49-101) from the field.
SIXTH MAN: As the first player off the bench for head coach John Ellenwood, junior forward Phil Frentsos' role is to bring energy to the team on the defensive side of the fllor. Despite averaging just 22.3 minutes per game, Frentsos ranks second on the team in steals (9) and blocks (4). While struggling from the 3-point line early this season, Frentsos may have found his stroke on the road, knocking down four treys, going 3-for-3 at LSSU.
HARAWAY AT THE POINT: Redshirt-junior point guard Ben Haraway ranks third on the team in scoring (13.8) and is shooting 47.9 percent (45-94) from the field. He has developed a terrific mid-range game, while also showing the ability to get to the rim and knock down 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip (12-30). He also has a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio and dished out a season-high five helpers at LSSU last Thursday.
ROUNDING INTO FORM: Senior forward Marsalis Hamilton is getting back into the flow of the Eagles after missing some time in the preseason and early in the year with an injury. On the recent road trip, Hamilton averaged nine points, four rebounds and 3.5 assists. For the season, he is shooting 50 percent (19-38) from the field.
WING D: Redshirt-freshman wing Aaron Thompson routinely draws the assignment of guarding the opposing team's best wing player, excelling in that role in his first season of competition with the Eagles. Thompson also ranks second on the team in rebounding (6.5). He scored a career-best 11 points and collected seven rebounds in the defeat at LSSU, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers in the game.
POUNDING THE GLASS: The Eagles have been terrific in the early portions of the season at collecting rebounds. AU has been out-rebounded just twice in eight games and have a plus-5.6 rebounding margin per game. That figure ranks second in the GLIAC, behind only GVSU.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN: Davis was named a preseason All-American by Street & Smith's and The Basketball Times despite missing all of last season with an injury. In 2015-16, Davis led the Eagles in scoring (17.4), rebounding (7.7) and assists (3.3), helping Ashland reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years. He was a first team NABC and Daktronics/D2CCA all-region selection.