By Ashley Walls
After last year’s NIT fiasco, any UK fan will tell you that pre-season polls are not always the most accurate depictions of how well – or how poorly – a team will do when it comes time for tournaments.
But the KIAC may have gotten it right this season. After pegging Asbury’s men’s basketball team as the No. 2 team in the KIAC pre-season poll in late October, the Eagles are now accurately resting at the No. 2 spot behind Indiana University Southeast.
Men’s basketball head coach Will Shouse realizes the role that experience and veteran leadership plays for this team. “This team has a lot of upperclassmen,” he said. “So they understand the journey of a long season. They know we need to win the games at home and steal a few on the road.”
This will be a crucial aspect to remember in the next few weeks. Between now and Feb. 18, the team will travel to three different states – Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio – and two other schools in Kentucky, for their next nine games. Out of those nine, only one of them is at home.
For now, Shouse is having the team focus on two aspects of the game in preparation of their next nine games, all of which are against conference teams. “We are emphasizing defense and rebounding,” Shouse said. “If we can hold our opponent to a low field goal percentage and combine that with outrebounding them, we feel we have a chance to win.”
And win they have. Now 12-5 and 5-2 in conference play, the Eagles have proven their ability to come together as a team and win games. At the moment, the Eagles are averaging 6.2 steals, 7.9 field goals and 79 points a game against their opponents – and they don’t seem to be stopping there.
“We continue to chase our goal of getting to the NAIA Division 2 National Tournament,” Shouse said. “Each game we are getting a step closer.”