The 19th-ranked Ashland University men's basketball program will play host to Ohio-Chillicothe and Alderson Broaddus this week.
HOME FOR TWO: The Ashland University men's basketball team is at Kates Gymnasium for two games this week, taking on Ohio University-Chillicothe on Tuesday and Alderson Broaddus on Sunday. The Eagles were originally supposed to play Ohio State-Mansfield on Tuesday, but will now play Ohio-Chillicothe.
LAST LOOK AT LAST WEEK: The Eagles were off last week and have not played since Nov. 10. They started the season with a 73-55 win over Lake Erie on Nov. 8 at Kates Gymnasium. Ashland followed that up with a tight, 85-82 win at Ohio Dominican.
DEFENSE'S BIG NIGHT: The Eagles held Lake Erie to just 55 points and 30 percent shooting in the opener. Ashland held Lake Erie to just 18 percent (6-34) from 3-point range. AU also collected 45 rebounds in the game with four players gathering at least seven boards. The Eagles drew 24 fouls in the game and attempted 31 free throws, making just 17 of them.
ROAD COMEBACK: On Saturday, Ashland roared back from a 16-point deficit in the first half against Ohio Dominican to trail by just one, 42-41, at halftime. The Eagles finally took their first lead of the game with 10:55 remaining. The game was tied at 82 with a minute left, but senior center Drew Noble hit a bucket with 57 seconds left. The Eagles forced a turnover and a missed 3-pointer on ODU's final two possessions to hang on for an early season in-region victory.
ALL BALANCE: The Eagles have benefited from their depth so far this season with five players scoring in double figures in each of their first two games. Noble, redshirt-junior wing Aaron Thompson and freshman guard Ethan Conley scored at least 10 points in both games. Nine players have already scored at least 10 points in a game. Last season, the Eagles had just three games with five players scoring in double figures.
DOUBLE-DOUBLES: The Eagles had two players post double-doubles in the win over Lake Erie with Thompson scoring 12 points and collecting 11 rebounds, while junior forward Derek Koch had 11 points and 10 rebounds. It was the 13th career double-double for Thompson, who led the GLIAC in that category last season. Koch now has three in his career.
BEAUGARD'S BREAKOUT: Sophomore guard Dylan Beaugard played a terrific floor game in last Sunday's win over the Panthers. He recorded career highs in points (14) and assists (six) and matched a career high in rebounds (four). The Eagles outscored the Panthers by 22 in the 26 minutes with Beaugard on the floor. He committed just two turnovers and shot 6-8 from the field. Last season, he averaged 7.4 assists per 40 minutes.
THE NOBLE GAME PLAN: As was the case last season, the Eagles are running their offense through their versatile big man, Noble. The 6-foot-8 Louisville, Ohio native has shown hs ability to score and distribute in the first two games, averaging 19 points and four assists. He is shooting 61 percent from the floor.
WHERE HE LEFT OFF: Last season, Thompson led the GLIAC in rebounding at 9.4 per game. He is doing it again this season after grabbing 20 boards in the first two games. Nine of those rebounds have been offensive. He has also averaged 17 points and is shooting 54 percent from the field.
FRESHMAN DEBUT, PART 1: AU fans got their first look at freshman guard Ethan Conley last week and the rookie impressed in the two games. He knocked down three 3-pointers in his debut against the Storm, finishing with 12 points in 24 minutes off the bench. He added 11 points, hitting three more treys, against Ohio Dominican. The Englewood, Ohio product has the pedigree of a scorer after earning All-Ohio first team honors as a high school senior at Franklin Monroe High School.
FRESHMAN DEBUT, PART 2: Another true freshman made his debut in the opener, but AU fans are already familiar with his surname as guard Brandon Haraway averaged 6.5 points in the first two games. The brother of former Eagle, Ben Haraway, Brandon went for 11 points, four rebounds and two blocks in the win at hio Dominican.
DREWS DEBUTS TOO: Redshirt-freshman Bryce Drews also saw his first action as an Eagle and scored six points, hitting two triples in the opening win against Lake Erie.
SECOND HALF SCORING: Senior guard Rodrick Caldwell got off to a slow start against Lake Erie, then turned it on in the second half, scoring all 12 of his points after halftime, including two 3-pointers.
SERIES VS. HILLTOPPERS: The Eagles are 1-0 all-time aginst the Hilltoppers after beating OU-Chillicothe last season, 80-48 (see page 8).
SERIES VS. BATTLERS: The Eagles are 4-0 all-time against Alderson Broaddus, winning in the first matchup, 120-96, on Dec. 18, 1971. AU scored 138 points against ABU the following season – the third-highest scoring total in AU program history. Ellenwood is 2-0 against Alderson Broaddus, earning early season wins in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Ashland could play ABU again on Nov. 30 at the Gary Miller Classic in Erie, Pa.
POSTSEASON HONORS: Noble was named to the National Basketball Coaches Association All-Midwest District first team following the season as one of the top six players in the region. He averaged 17.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 81 percent from the line. He was just the second player in program history, after Wendell Davis, to earn all-district first team honors from the NABC. He is also a two-time All-GLIAC selection, including a first Team selection last year. This season, Noble was picked as the GLIAC Preseason Player of the Year by the league's coaches.
TOURNEY RETURN: The Eagles are looking to make a return to the NCAA Tournament in 2019-20 after earning the No. 5 seed in the Midwest Region last year as the squad finished second overall in the GLIAC South with a 15-5 record in conference play. Ashland was 23-7 overall last season, the second-highest win total under Ellenwood. The only higher total was in 2015-16 when Ashland went 25-6 and qualified for its first NCAA postseason since 1991.
WAVE OF EXCELLENCE: The Eagles are in the midst of one of the best periods of success in program history, having won at least 19 games in their last five seasons. Ashland has averaged 21.2 wins per season in that stretch and advanced to the GLIAC Tournament semifinals three straight times from 2016-18. The only sustained period of success for the program that rivals the current one was the five-season stretch from 1966-71 when Ashland won at least 21 games each season under head coach Bill Musselman.
100 SEASONS: This season, the men's basketball program is celebrating 100 years at Ashland University. The Eagles are wearing a custom jersey patch to commemorate the occasion.
ALUMNI WEEKEND: The Eagles will welcome back their alumni for a special weekend Jan. 23-25 to celebrate their 100th season. Ashland will play Northwood and Saginaw Valley at Kates Gymnasium with several festivities surrounding those dates, including the release of a mini-documentary with interviews of several former players, coaches and community members.