The Ashland University men's basketball team will travel to Michigan this week for its final road games of the 2018-19 regular season.
LAST ROAD TRIP: The AU men's basketball team is on the road for the final time in the regular season when they travel to Northwood and Saginaw Valley this weekend as they look to sweep the season series against both teams.
THREE TO GO: With a season that started over four months ago in Painesville, Ohio, the Eagles are down to just three regular season games to play with all of their goals still in front of them. They will need some help to achieve the first goal, which is to win the GLIAC regular season title. AU is a game behind Davenport in the conference standings. The Panthers' remaining games include home contests against Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan and the season finale at Grand Valley State. Davenport – in its third and final season transitioning to full-time status as a member of NCAA Division II – is ineligible for the NCAA Tournament and the GLIAC's automatic bid.
LAST LOOK AT LAST WEEK: The Eagles rebounded from a tough loss at Lake Superior State by earning a couple home wins against visiting Purdue Northwest and Parkside. The Eagles suffocated the Pride last Thursday, 84-56, holding them to just 34 percent shooting and forcing 15 turnovers. On Saturday, the Eagles never trailed, but held off a strong Parkside team in the final minutes, 68-64. The Eagles led by just one possession on multiple occassions in the closing minutes after the Rangers tied the game at 55 with six minutes remaining.
20-WIN MARK: With their win over Purdue Northwest, the Eagles reached the 20-win mark for the 15th time in program history and the third time under head coach John Ellenwood. It is the first time since the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons the Eagles have won 20 games in back-to-back seasons. In 2015-16, the Eagles won 25 games – the second-most in program history. Ashland went to the NCAA Tournament that season for the first time since 1991.
NOBLE GLIAC SOUTH POTW: Junior center Drew Noble became the fourth AU player this season to earn GLIAC South Player of the Week honors, winning the award for his standout performances last week. The 6-foot-8 Louisville, Ohio native was a bruiser in the post and efficient from outside as he averaged 24.5 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one block in the two games last week. He shot 59 percent (19-32) from the field, and was 4-7 from 3-point range and 7-9 from the free throw line. Noble scored 24 points and had eight rebounds and four assists against the Pride. He followed it up with 25 points and eight rebounds against the Rangers on Saturday, playing 37 grueling minutes. He matched a career high with 11 field goals in the game. Noble ranks eighth in the GLIAC in scoring (17.0) and is fourth in the league in field goals (156) and free throws (100). He joined redshirt-senior guard Ben Haraway (Jan. 21), junior guard Rodrick Caldwell (Dec. 10) and redshirt-sophomore guard Aaron Thompson (Dec. 3) as the AU players to win GLIAC weekly honors.
PHIL'S BREAKOUT: Senior forward Phil Frentsos has been a model of consistency all season as Ellenwood's first man off the bench. Now, inserted in the starting lineup four games in a row, Frentsos has expanded his role further and posted a career night on Thursday. The 6-foot-7 Delaware, Ohio product scored a career-high 23 points on 9-13 shooting to go with seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in 33 minutes. He hit two 3-pointers and was 9-9 from 2-point range in the game. He followed it up with another clutch performance on Saturday, pouring in 14 points on 5-8 shooting with three boards, three assists, two steals and a block. He also hit two treys in that game and is now shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor on the season. Frentsos has scored at least six points in 21 of his 24 games played this season and has at least two rebounds in 22 games on the year.
ALL-TIME IRON MAN: Despite starting just eight games in his career, Frentsos is reaching hallowed ground when it comes to games played. He has played in 114 games in his career as an Eagle, which is currently three shy of Ashland's all-time record currently held by Marsalis Hamilton, who graduated after last season.
ANOTHER DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Redshirt-sophomore Aaron Thompson recorded his third double-double in four games with a 10-point, 12-rebound performance against Parkside on Saturday. The 6-foot-3 Toledo, Ohio native now has nine career double-doubles and is averaging 10.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game on the season. He leads the GLIAC in rebounding and is eighth in the conference with a 54.5 field goal percentage.
HANDS OFF: The Eagles deploy the fourth-best scoring defense in the nation, giving up just 62.2 points per game. They do that by limiting teams at the 3-point line and the free throw line. Opponents shoot just 30.4 percent from 3-point range against the Eagles, the ninth-best mark in Division II. Additionally, the Eagles also commit just 12.9 fouls per game, which ranks second in the nation (and first among non-independent schools). Opponents take just 12.7 free throws per game. The Rangers shot just 4-9 from the line against AU on Saturday, a crucial piece in a four-point Ashland win.
SERIES VS. 'WOLVES: The Eagles are 19-11 all-time against Northwood and have won four of the last five contests, including a 75-60 decision last month at Kates Gymnasium. Ashland lost on its last trip to Midland, which came last season, 74-64. The last AU win in Midland came Dec. 3, 2016, 64-63. Ellenwood is 7-5 all-time against the Timberwolves.
SERIES VS. CARDINALS: The Eagles are 14-13 all-time against Saginaw Valley having taken control of the series in the last meeting in January, 83-61, at Kates Gymnasium. The Eagles' successes, though, have mostly come at home as Ashland has not won in University Center, Mich. since a 65-64 contest on Feb. 9, 2008. AU has lost six straight on the road in the series.
BEN STAYS HOT: Redshirt-senior guard Ben Haraway, who scored his 1,000th point in just three years at Ashland on Feb. 9 at Lake Superior State, was effective last week, averaging 14.5 points per game on 8-18 shooting. He was 4-7 from 3-point range in the two games and got to the free throw line 16 times. Haraway is Ashland's second-leading scorer this season, averaging 13.6 points per game while leading the team in minutes (33.8 per game). Haraway also takes great care of the basketball with a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio. He has 66 assists on the season against 29 turnovers in 844 minutes.
FIRST REGIONAL RANKINGS: The first official Midwest Regional rankings will be released on Wednesday, Feb. 20. The top eight teams in the region, including the GLIAC, GLVC and GMAC Tournament winners will qualify for the NCAA Tournament.