The Ashland University men's basketball team opens the 2017-18 season on Friday at 7 p.m. against Lake Erie at Kates Gymnasium before playing its next two games on the road.
2017-18 TIP-OFF: The AU men's basketball team tips off on Friday against Lake Erie at Kates Gymnasium to open its 98th season. The Eagles are playing in the GLIAC/G-MAC Challenge that also features a trip to Ohio Dominican on Sunday. Tiffin will also play both LEC and ODU.
SEASON OPENERS: This will be Ashland's ninth season opener under head coach John Ellenwood. The Eagles have never lost a season-opener in his first eight years. The last time AU started the season with an 0-1 record came in the 2003-04 season when Lincoln Memorial beat the Eagles, 75-74.
PRESEASON FAVORITE: The Eagles were picked by the GLIAC coaches to win GLIAC South in the preseason poll. Ashland received eight of the 12 first-place votes in the South with Wayne State picking up the other four. The Eagles won the GLIAC South outright in 2015-16, going 18-4 in conference play and 24-4 in the regular season.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN: Fifth-year senior forward Wendell Davis was named a preseason All-American by Street & Smith's and The Basketball Times despite missing all of last season with an injury. In 2015-16, Davis led the Eagles in scoring (17.4), rebounding (7.7) and assists (3.3), helping Ashland reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years. He was a first team NABC and Daktronics/D2CCA all-region selection.
SCORING LIST: The return of Davis means the return of one of the program's all-time leading scorers. He ranks 13th on AU's all-time scoring list with 1,331 points, while shooting 54 percent for his career. The 6-foot-6 forward is one of just three players in program history to score 500 points in two individual seasons.
PRESEASON ALL-GLIAC: Joining Davis on the Preseason All-GLIAC team is his senior frontcourt-mate Marsalis Hamilton. The 6-foot-4 Hamilton put up impressive all-around numbers last season, averaging 9.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 53 percent from the field. He also showed modest range, hitting six 3-pointers, and led the team in rebounding.
RETURNING PG: The Eagles also bring back starting point guard Ben Haraway, who averaged 10.6 points and 3.3 assists last season. He is the top returning scorer from last season's squad that went 19-10 overall and advanced to the GLIAC Tournament title game for the first time in school history.
TOUGH STRETCH: The Eagles start the season with a difficult stretch of five in-region games heading into the Thanksgiving break. After the opening swing against Lake Erie and Ohio Dominican, the Eagles embark on a trek east to play California (PA) in a rematch of a game last season that AU won, 80-67, at Kates Gymnasium.
THANKSGIVING CLASSIC: The Eagles finish that opening stretch hosting the AU Thanksgiving Classic, presented by Hampton Inn & Suites on Nov. 21-22 at Kates Gymnasium. The Eagles will play Indianapolis at 5 p.m. Tuesday with Tiffin and Kentucky State to follow. The following day, Tiffin and UIndy will lock horns before Ashland and Kentucky State close the event. GLIAC play will open the following week when Ashland travels to play Lake Superior State and Ferris State.
HOT HANDS: The Eagles were the top overall shooting team in the GLIAC last season, hitting on 50.2 percent of their shots last season. Ashland was also the most lethal team from 3-point range in the conference last year, hitting 41.6 percent from beyond the arc. The Eagles are looking to replace four shooters who connected at a 40-percent rate last season – Adrian Cook, Torin Wetzel, Boo Osborne and Nick Bapst.