Asbury University head coach Will Shouse is entering his 9th season in charge of the Eagles. He was an assistant from 2002-2006, and spent the previous four years before that as a player in the Asbury program. Heading into this season, Shouse has led the Eagles to 140-106 record in his tenure and won a conference season championship as well. After struggling for most of last season, the Eagles won three of their last four games bringing their overall record to 15-16.
This season, Asbury has already played two games, beating both Bob Jones University and Bluefield College in the Pikeville Classic last weekend. The Eagles put up 100+ points in both of those games, but their defense gave up 90+ in both games as well. Asbury was picked to finish 6th in the River States Conference in the preseason polls. Let’s take a look at the starters for Asbury through the first two games:
#33 Trenton Thompson, Sophomore Forward, 6’7″
Trenton Thompson has been the leading scorer through two games for Asbury this season, putting up 20 points per game, to go along with 3 rebounds and 2 steals per game. At 6’7″, Thompson is the tallest player on the roster, along with freshman Jared Farris. Thompson has been taking high quality shots this season, shooting over 60% from the field, as well as 36.4% from 3-point range. Thompson may have been able to capitalize as the best player on the floor in Asbury’s first two exhibitions, but he will definitely have his hands full guarding the plethora of bigs that Coach Cal with throw out there tonight.
#13 Bushe Ramabu, Freshman Forward, 6’6″
Bushe Ramabu is the only player on the Eagles’ roster that is not from the state of Kentucky. The true freshman from Philadelphia played his high school ball at heralded Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. In his first two games for the purple and white, he averaged 14 points, a team-leading 7.5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals. Ramabu has already attempted 15 free throws through two games this season, but has only made 7 of those. The forward is going to be joining Thompson in attempting to handle UK’s bigs.
#24 Tyler Smith, Senior Guard, 6’2″
Tyler Smith, the lone senior in the starting lineup for the Eagles, is the leader for this Asbury team. He has averaged 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals through the first two games of this season. Smith may not fill up the stat sheet as the leader in every statistical column, but after back to back seasons of averaging double digit scoring and over 7 rebounds per, Coach Shouse knows what he’s going to get out of him night in and night out. I think he’s the key to a lot of what the Eagles will try to do against the Cats tonight. He’ll be tasked, with help from Daulton Peters, Will Henderson, and 6th man Timmy Bradshaw, with guarding the trio of Briscoe, Fox, and Monk for Kentucky.
#3 Daulton Peters, Junior Forward, 6’4″
Daulton Peters plays the three spot for the Eagles, in what I believe will be the biggest mismatch of the game. If the Cats go to a bigger lineup like they did last weekend against Clarion, Smith will be forced to guard someone who is at least 6’9″. If the Cats go to a three-guard lineup, he gets pitted against freak athlete Malik Monk which isn’t an easy task for the best of defenders in the country. Peters put up 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds, putting him just shy of being the fifth Asbury player to be averaging double figures in scoring on the year.
#4 Will Henderson, Junior Guard, 5’11”
Will Henderson is the floor general for the Eagles and is the only player with more than 3 assists total through the first two games of the season. Henderson is averaging 2.5 points, 2 steals, and 6 assists per game. I’d say Henderson is the definition of a true point guard, who can set up the offense for his teammates. His career high in points at Asbury is only 8 points, but the most shots he’s taken in a game has only been 7. This is a guy who is going to have the ball in his hands a lot this season, so it bodes well for the Eagles that he only has one turnover so far this year.
One other player I think you should keep an eye on is Asbury 6th man, Timmy Bradshaw, who is averaging 11 points and 3 rebounds through the first two games this season. The Eagles are going to need big performances out of all of these guys if they want to make tonight a competitive matchup. These early season games are more about playing someone other than your teammates to prep for the upcoming slate. Kentucky has a brutal non-conference schedule this season, so I think these easy games should be appreciated for what they are. Just a chance to experiment with different lineups and defenses before the games are for real.
Go Cats. Beat Eagles.