Ashland University men's basketball head coach John Ellenwood announced Thursday (July 31) the promotion of Rob Gardiner to associate head coach.
Gardiner is entering his eighth season on the AU men's basketball staff. He joined the staff in 2012 as a graduate assistant, then spent the last five years as the program's lead assistant.
"I want to thank Coach Ellenwood and (director of athletics) Al King for putting their faith in me in this position," said Gardiner. "Coach Ellenwood and Ashland University have meant so much to me and I'm honored just to be a part of a program that has done so much on and off the floor. I couldn't be more excited about our future here together."
"Rob is the cornerstone of our program," said Ellenwood. "He's a tremendous hardworker. I've never had an assistant coach that has done all the things has for our program. I'm honored to coach with him every single day. He's not only a great coach, but a great friend, and I'm excited for him. It's well deserved."
The Eagles have reached the NCAA Tournament in two of the last four seasons and have won a least 19 games in each of the last five campaigns, dating to Gardiner's move to full-time assistant in the 2014-15 season.
"It says a lot about our culture and the type of expectations we've established," Gardiner said. "Every senior class passes down that culture of success, that culture of working. Competing and winning is now an expectation. We're no longer happy to be here as a program. That started five or six years ago with Brook Turson, then a group with Wendell Davis and Boo Osborne come through here. Now the Aaron Thompsons, Drew Nobles and Rod Caldwells have taken that torch and run with it. That's what's been satisfying is seeing each group take that torch and run with it."
While at Ashland, Gardiner has been tasked with the development of several All-GLIAC guards, Thompson, Davis, Osborne, Ben Haraway and Adrian Cook.
Gardiner also has been charged with coordinating a staunch AU defense that has become the calling card of the program. In four out of the last five seasons, the Eagles have ranked in the top 30 nationally in scoring defense. On their way to the NCAA Tournament last season, the Eagles were fourth in Division II, giving up just 63 points per game.
"It all stems from Coach Wood's program and his philosophies," said Gardiner. "Having great defense really takes having great players. Our guys are tremendous defensively and they hang their hat on our defense. Having great players like Drew Noble and Aaron Thompson makes us look smart as coaches."
"He really focuses on the defensive end and he takes a lot of pride in that," Ellenwood said. "Our defense has been one of the best in the country since he's been here and a lot of that has to do with his focus making sure our guys do their job on that end."
The Eagles are looking to build off a 23-7 season in 2018-19 when they soared to No. 7 in the NABC Division II coaches' poll in late January.