The 11th-ranked Ashland University men's basketball team heads to Erie, Pa. following Thanksgiving for the Gary Miller Classic, hosted by Gannon University.
TOURNAMENT TIME: The Ashland University men's basketball team knows the stakes are high any time it takes the court, especially with in-region wins and postseason rankings at stake nearly every time out. But this weekend, there's a little more on the line. The Eagles will be playing for a midseason trophy at the 36th Annual Gary Miller Classic in Erie, Pa., hosted by Gannon University. The Eagles will play Le Moyne on Friday at 5:30 p.m. with the winner playing the winner between Alderson Broaddus and Gannon Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The loser in each of Friday's games will play Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
LAST TIME AT GARY MILLER: The Eagles have played in the Gary Miller Classic before, and that came in 2015. The Eagles won that event at the Hammermill Center, beating Alderson Broaddus, 70-62, then toppling host Gannon, 75-59.
ELLENWOOD ON TOURNAMENT: "I'm excited because we have a chance to play for something big. It's not just another game. You're in a tournament. Whenever you play an event like that where you see the finish line, our guys will play a little harder."
LAST LOOK AT LAST WEEK: The Eagles were 2-0 last week in a couple routs at Kates Gymnasium. Ashland hammered Ohio Chillicothe last Tuesday, 108-39, then beat Alderson Broaddus by a 98-74 count on Sunday. The Eagles remain the only team in the GLIAC without a loss.
LOW NUMBER: The Eagles held Ohio Chillicothe to just 39 points on Tuesday – the lowest point total for an AU opponent in the shot clock era, and the fewest since a 20-14 win over Fredonia State on Feb. 17, 1973. Ashland held Ohio Chillicothe to just 30 percent (17-56) shooting, including a 2-23 (9 percent) mark from 3-point range. The Hilltoppers had nearly as many turnovers (16) as field goals (17). Ashland led the game, 68-14, at halftime and still maintained a 15-point advantage in the second half.
NO TROUBLE SUNDAY: Ashland turned in a balanced effort on Sunday against Alderson Broaddus with seven players scoring in double figures as the Eagles outscored the Battlers by a dozen points in each half. Ashland led on the glasss, 39-28, and maintained a 14:9 assist-turnover ratio.
FIVE TIMES 10: The Eagles have five players averaging in double figures and they have had at least five players score in double figures in all five games. Last season, the Eagles had just three such games.
LEAD THE NATION: Ashland finds itself as the top 3-point shooting team in the country, hitting at a 48.9 percent clip from long distance through the first four games. Just last week, the Eagles shot 58.3 percent (28-48) from 3-point range. Last season, the Eagles finished 10th in the GLAIC in 3-point accuracy. Their 16 triples against Ohio Chillicothe were the most for the Eagles since they hit 20 in a GLIAC Tournament semifinal against Findlay in 2017.
FRESHMAN FIREPOWER: Freshman guard Ethan Conley has been electric in his first four collegiate games. The Englewood, Ohio product ranks second in the country in 3-point percentage, hitting at a 73.7 percent clip. He was 8-for-9 last week from long range and is 14-for-19 on the season. Conley is second on the team in scoring at 14 points per game.
SERIES VS. LE MOYNE: Ashland and Le Moyne have a long and short history. The schools have met on the hardwood just one time and that came on Dec. 30, 1998 in Ashland's second game of the Amerihost Holiday Classic at Kates Gymnasium. The Eagles came away with a 60-56 win on that day.
SERIES VS. BATTLERS: The Eagles are 5-0 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 3-0 against Alderson Broaddus, earning early season wins in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. The teams haven't met since Sunday's 98-74 Ashland win at Kates Gymnasium. AU's win over ABU in the 2015-16 season came in the Gary Miller Classic.
SERIES VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS: The Eagles and Golden Knights truly do have a long and storied history with each other as both played in the GLIAC from 1995-2008. Gannon now plays in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. The Golden Knights hold a 28-14 all-time series lead against Ashland. The series dates back to Jan. 18, 1951 when the Knights claimed a 58-49 victory. The teams did not meet again until Ashland's 75-53 win on Feb. 10, 1971. Their last meeting was at the 2015 Gary Miller Classic, which the Eagles won, 75-59.
A NOBLE START: The GLIAC's Preseason Player of the Year and an NABC All-District first team selection last season, senior center Drew Noble has picked up right where he left off. The Louisville, Ohio native is averaging 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 62 percent (26-42) from the floor. He has scored in double figures in all four games this season.
KOCH'S COOKIN': Junior forward Derek Koch is finding his footing in the early-season offense. He ranks fourth in the GLIAC in 3-point shooting (7-13). Koch scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the first half against Alderson Broaddus.
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.