The 23rd-ranked Ashland University men's basketball team will take on visiting Wayne State in the final game of the regular season Thursday night.
The AU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will be collecting spare change in the lobby of Kates Gymnasium during Thursday's basketball doubleheader that will go toward the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Every two years, the AU SAAC grants a wish to a child suffering from a life-altering illness, and these funds will go toward that cause.
LAST ONE: The Ashland University men's basketball team will suit up for the final time in the regular season on Thursday against GLIAC South rival Wayne State.
SENIOR NIGHT: Prior to tip-off the Eagles will recognize seven members of the team who are in their final season with the Eagles, including manager Zach Read, student coach and former player Nick Bapst, and players Chase Brock, John Brady, Jay Slone, Phil Frentsos and Ben Haraway.
NOBLE SCORES 1,000: Junior center Drew Noble became the 28th member of the AU men's basketball 1,000-point club last week, hitting the mark with a 3-pointer against Saginaw Valley on Saturday. For his career, he has 361 field goals, including 43 3-pointers and 240 free throws. He is averaging 11.7 points in his 86 career games.
NOBLE GOOGLE CLOUD AAD: Noble also received a prestigious honor last week, being named to the Google Cloud Academic All-District team, becoming the first AU men's player to earn that distinction since Brett Bartlett in 2008. He is now eligible for the Google Cloud Academic All-America ballot. The Academic All-America program seeks to recognize the elite performers in competition and in the classroom. Noble ranks seventh in the GLIAC in scoring (17.3 per game) and also carries a 3.78 GPA as an accounting student.
LAST LOOK AT LAST WEEK: The Eagles played a pair of tight games last week, coming away with an 83-77 win at Northwood on Thursday before falling to Saginaw Valley, 59-56, at the buzzer on Saturday.
GLIAC 2-SEED: With their 1-1 weekend at Northwood and Saginaw, the Eagles had their fate sealed as the No. 2 seed in the upcoming GLIAC Tournament with Davenport winning the conference regular season title and overall No. 1 seed. The Eagles will host a GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal game on Tuesday, March 5 against an opponent to be determined. To host the remainder of the tournament, the Eagles will need to win the quarterfinal and hope for a Davenport loss Tuesday night. Wayne State is one game behind Northwood for the eighth and final spot in the GLIAC Tournament.
MIDWEST REGION RANKINGS: The Eagles were ranked No. 4 in the first edition of the NCAA Division II Midwest Region rankings, which were released last Wednesday (another edition will come out this Wednesday afternoon). The top eight teams in the region, including the GLIAC, GLVC and G-MAC Tournament champions will earn berths into the NCAA Tournament. The entire field will be announced at 10:30 p.m. on March 10. The Eagles are looking to advance to their first NCAA Tournament since 2016 and their second since 1991.
COMING UP CLUTCH: While the Eagles never trailed against Northwood, they were also never really able to fully put the Timberwolves away until the final moments. Junior guard Rodrick Caldwell buried a late shot clock isolation 3-pointer with 1:21 to play to give the Eagles a 77-72 lead. After Northwood got a field goal back, freshman guard Dylan Beaugard got into the lane and hit a short runner to again stretch the lead to five points before Caldwell stepped up and hit four free throws to ice the game.
LATE & CLOSE: The Eagles have been an efficient unit late in close games all season and last Thursday was no exception. Caldwell is 5-8 from 3-point range and 5-6 at the free throw line in situations with a margin of five points or less in the last five minutes. As a team in those situations, the Eagles are shooting 57.4 percent from the field, 45.4 percent (10-22) from 3-point range and 82.1 percent from the line. Noble is 15-15 from the line in those situations.
OUR HOME KATES: In 10 years under head coach John Ellenwood, the Eagles have made Kates Gymnasium one of the toughest places to play in the country. Ashland has won nearly 78 percent of its home games under Ellenwood and has not lost more than three games at home since the 2013-14 season.
MORE DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Redshirt-sophomore guard Aaron Thompson continues to add to his double-double total, going for 11 points and 11 rebounds at Saginaw Valley. He four double-doubles in his last six games, nine on the season and 10 in his career. He ranks fourth on the team in scoring at 10.8 points per game and also leads the GLIAC by a wide margin with 9.3 rebounds per game. He is shooting 53.9 percent (111-206) from the field this season, up from his 46.5 percent mark last year. He has also improved his free throw percentage from 57.4 to 67 percent this season.
PHIL'S CONSISTENCY: Every time senior guard Phil Frentsos comes into a game, Ellenwood knows what he's getting. An energy player, who can do a little bit of everything. The Delaware, Ohio product has scored at least six points in 23 of his 27 games this season and has grabbed at least two rebounds in 25 games. He has started each of the last six games as the Eagles have dealt with injuries and to help keep the rotation fresh. Prior to that Frentsos was the first man off the bench for Ellenwood. Last week, Frentsos averaged eight points and five rebounds per game. He also matched a career high with four steals at Saginaw Valley.
ALL-TIME IRON MAN: With two more games played this season, Frentsos will go down as the Eagles' all-time leader in games played. He is currently tied with former teammate Wendell Davis at 116 games and will tie another former teammate Marsalis Hamilton on Thursday. Of his 116 games played, Frentsos has made 10 starts.
SERIES VS. WARRIORS: The Eagles are 26-31 all-time against Wayne State and the teams have split 16 games since Ellenwood became AU's coach in 2009-10. Senior Ben Haraway hit a game-winner with 1.3 seconds left in Detroit for a 63-61 win last month. The Warriors last won in Kates Gymnasium on Dec. 10, 2016, 61-56.