The Ashland University men's hoops team welcomes Seton Hill to Kates Gymnasium as part of a five-game homestand on Wednesday (Nov. 21) at 4 p.m.
PRE-TURKEY MATCHUP: The Ashland University men's basketball team will play in-region opponent Seton Hill on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Kates Gymnasium. The Eagles come into the matchup with an unblemished record, having earned wins over Lake Erie, Ohio Dominican and Ohio Christian.
HOME COOKING: Before the Eagles head to their various hometowns for Thanksgiving dinner, they will get their own version of home cooking inside Kates Gymnasium. Ashland is in the midst of a five-game homestand, which matches its longest of the season. The Eagles will play just two road games from Nov. 11 - Jan. 5.
LAST LOOK AT LAST WEEK: The Eagles overwhelmed Ohio Christian in the second half last Thursday and beat the Trailblazers, 89-57. Ashland outscored OCU by a 55-23 count after the teams were even at 34 going into halftime. The Eagles shot 50 percent (35-70) from the field in the game, including a 59 percent (20-34) mark in the second half. Ashland also dominated on the glass by a 46-24 margin and finished with 19 offensive rebounds. Four players scored in double figures, led by sophomore forward Derek Koch, who finished with a career-high 22 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. He shot 10-13 from the field and hit both his 3-point attempts. Koch also snared seven offensive rebounds as the Eagles held a 19-3 edge in second chance points. Redshirt-sophomore wing Aaron Thompson also posted his second career double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.
D-FENCE: For the third straight time, the Eagles relied on their defensive prowess to unravel the Trailblazers. It was the first time an opponent has shot at least 40 percent (40.7) from the field, but the Eagles forced 20 turnovers, leading to 22 points. Ashland also blocked five shots and had 11 steals.
LOCKED DOWN: The Eagles are holding their opponents to a 37.5 field goal percentage, which ranks 20th in the nation. AU's opponents are also scoring just 58 points per game, which is the seventh-best mark in Division II. Last season, the Eagles ranked 18th in scoring defense.
KOCH'S BREAKOUT PARTY: Koch, the Eagles' sophomore transfer, posted one of the best statistical games of his career and his best game as an Eagle in last Thursday's win over Ohio Christian. He filled the stat sheet with a career-high 22 points, including 15 in the first half as the Eagles struggled to find a rhythm offensively. For the season, Koch is averaging 14 points, 8.3 rebounds and two assists per game, while shooting 63 percent (20-32) from the field.
A.T.'S DEVELOPMENT: Last season, head coach John Ellenwood relied on Thompson to provide defense on the perimeter, usually tasking him with the toughest assignment among the opponent's wings and guards. He has continued that this season. But now, it is Thompson's offensive game that is beginning to flourish. He is shooting 60 percent (12-20) from the field and averaging 11 points per game. He has scored in double figures in all three games after having just six outputs of 10-plus points last season. Thompson has two assists and at least six rebounds in all three games, as well, while averaging 35.7 minutes.
US VS. SETON HILL: Ashland and Seton Hill have only a brief history despite being separated by just 185 miles. Seton Hill is in the greater Pittsburgh area and competes in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. The Eagles and Griffins have met just once before, on Nov. 26, 2013, with the Eagles taking an 80-75 decision at Kates Gymnasium. DaWuan Thomas was Ashland's leading scorer with 22 points while current AU assistant coach Brook Turson scored 14.
CALDWELL LEADING SCORER: Junior guard Rodrick Caldwell has steadied the Ashland offense as the team's leading scorer. He is averaging 15.3 points per game as one of five players averaging at least 9.7 points. Caldwell is tied with redshirt-junior Jay Slone for the team lead with four 3-pointers and has made 14-16 (88 percent) free throws.
LIMITING MISCUES: The Eagles enter the game against the Griffins averaging just 9.3 turnovers per game, while forcing 14.7. Ashland's turnover margin leads the GLIAC and ranks 21st nationally. The Eagles have turned the ball over just nine, nine and 10 times, respectively, in their three games and carry an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.46. As a result, the Eagles have allowed just 12 fast-break points on the season.
DREW THE DISTRIBUTOR: Junior center Drew Noble remains a focal point of the AU offense from his position in the post. Last season, he worked on an outside game to complement his presence on the inside. Now, it is his ability in the high post that is exposing defenses. Noble leads the team with 3.3 assists per game. He had a career-high six assists in a 66-60 win over Ohio Dominican on Nov. 11 and had three more against Ohio Christian. He is still averaging 12 points and seven rebounds per game as well.
PEN TO PAPER: The AU coaching staff announced this week the addition of two players who will join the program beginning in the 2019-20 season – Ethan Conley (Franklin Monroe HS) and Brandon Haraway (Norwalk HS). Both players were All-Ohio standouts as juniors with Conley earning first team honors and Haraway being selected to the third team. Haraway is the younger brother of current AU senior guard Ben Haraway.
PICKED FIRST: The Eagles were picked to win the GLIAC South by the league's coaches, earning 10 of the 12 first-place votes in the division. Grand Valley State was picked second and Davenport third. Defending national champion Ferris State was picked to defend its GLIAC North crown with nine of the 12 first-place votes. Northern Michigan had the other three.
RECEIVING VOTES: For the second straight time, Ashland is receiving votes in the NABC Division II Coaches' Poll, sitting just outside the Top 25 with 28 points. It is the first regular season poll release from the NABC. Ashland was also receiving votes in the preseason edition. The Eagles were last in the Top 25 of the coaches' poll in the final release of the 2015-16 season when they were No. 17.