2019-20 CWRU Men’s Basketball Season Recap

2019-20 CWRU Men's Basketball Team Photo

The Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team recorded one of its best seasons in recent history in 2019-20, notching a winning record for the first time in the last five seasons, and matching the program record for the most conference wins in a 14-game University Athletic Association schedule.

The Spartans ended the season with a 13-12 overall record, and placed sixth in the final conference standings with a 6-8 UAA record. CWRU was an impressive 3-3 against teams that would go on to make the NCAA Division III Championships, with wins over Emory, Centre and Adrian, and picked up a pair of victories against nationally-ranked teams at the time of the game, with wins against then no. 8 Emory and no. 25 Brandeis. CWRU went 9-2 at home during the season, including a 4-0 mark in non-conference games at Horsburgh Gymnasium.

Key to Case Western Reserve's success in 2019-20 was the emergence of forward Cole Frilling as one of the top first-year players in all of Division III. He became the first player in program history to be named the D3hoops.com Great Lakes Region Rookie of the Year, and the fourth Spartan to be selected as the UAA Rookie of the Year. In addition, he earned a spot on the All-UAA First Team (the only first-year player in program history to be named to the all-conference first team) after leading all UAA players with 17.9 points per game in league play. Overall, Frilling led all Spartan players in 2019-20 with 14.9 points per game (the fifth-highest mark in the UAA), while also pacing qualifying players on the team in shooting percentage (50.6%), three-point shooting percentage (42.9%) and free throw shooting percentage (86.2%). He added 6.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks per game during the campaign.

Two other Spartans averaged double figure point totals during the year. Despite seeing his season shortened by injury, senior guard Monty Khela tallied 11.2 points per game over his 12 games played, including nine starts. Junior guard Antonio Ionadi, who was the only CWRU player to start all 25 games during the season, averaged 10.8 points per game, while his 63 made three pointers during the year were the fourth-most ever in a single season in team history.

Sophomore guard Robert Faller added a spark off the bench for the Spartans, averaging 9.9 points per game and leading the team with 63 assists, while placing second among all Spartan players with 23 blocks and third with 21 steals. Sophomore forward Ryan Newton added 8.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, while senior forward Michael Hollis scored 7.0 points and collected a team-high 8.6 rebounds per contest. Hollis ended his career at CWRU with 643 rebounds, the fifth-most ever by a player in program history.

As a team, the Spartans averaged 75.4 points per game during the year, while shooting 43.3% overall from the floor and 37.0% from three-point range. The team's 1,886 points scored were the seventh-most in program history and the most under fourth-year Head Coach Todd McGuinness. The team also registered the fifth-most three-pointers made (232) and blocked shots (108) in a single season in program history. CWRU led the UAA and finished 40th among all NCAA Division III teams with 4.3 blocks per game.

The Spartans opened the 2019-20 season with two wins to clinch the title at the 2019 Bill Sudeck Tournament. After opening play at the tournament with a 96-94 win over Central (Iowa), the Spartans clinched the tournament championship with a 79-75 triumph over Centre, the eventual SAA Champions. Ionadi was named the Most Valuable Player of the Sudeck Tournament, while Newton also earned a place on the all-tournament team. It marked the third-straight season that the Spartans have won the Bill Sudeck Tournament.

After three-straight road losses, the Spartans bounced back with a season-long five game winning streak. CWRU picked up wins at home over Denison and Adrian with a road victory at Thiel sandwiched in between. The Spartans then traveled to the Hoop MIA D3 Holiday Shootout in Miami, Florida, where they topped Alvernia and UMass-Dartmouth to cap-off the winning streak. A loss at Albion on January 4 gave the Spartans a 7-4 record heading into UAA play.

The Spartans opened their conference schedule at home with an 88-81 win over Carnegie Mellon, behind a 27-point outburst from Frilling in his first career start, earning him UAA Athlete of the Week accolades. However, the Spartans suffered a five-game losing streak (with three of the losses coming against nationally-ranked teams) after the win against the Tartans, dropping to 1-5 in the UAA and 8-9 overall.

CWRU bounced back in a positive fashion, going on to finish its season strong with wins in five of its last eight contests. The stretch of strong play began with a road win at NYU, 85-77, the team's second win at NYU in the last three years, after having not won on the road against the Violets since the 1999-00 campaign previously. Frilling scored a career-high 30 points in the win, helping to get the Spartans back to .500 for the season. CWRU then returned home for Throwback Weekend at Adelbert Gymnasium, claiming an 84-76 win over then 25th-ranked Brandeis and a dominating 90-60 win over NYU.

After back-to-back road losses at Washington and Chicago, the Spartans returned home to Horsburgh Gymnasium for one of the most successful weekends in the program's history. On Friday night, CWRU claimed a thrilling 88-87 win in overtime against Rochester, overcoming a 14-point deficit en route to the victory. On Sunday, the Spartans topped eighth-ranked Emory 83-78 on 'Senior Day' with Khela registering a career-high 30 points during the game. It was CWRU's first win over an opponent ranked in the top-10 nationally since the 2016-17 season.

Following the weekend, the Spartans were named the NCAA Division III Team of the Week by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, while Khela earned UAA Athlete of the Week honors after averaging 25.0 points over the two contests.

The two wins on the team's final home weekend put the Spartans' record at 13-11, clinching the team's first winning season under McGuinness, and matched the 2009-10, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2017-18 teams for the most UAA victories in a 14-game conference schedule in program history.

In addition to the team's success on the court, a number of Spartans were recognized for their academic achievements as well. Ionadi was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District Team, becoming the first Spartan player to earn the honor since David Thompson during the 2013-14 season. Ionadi, along with Faller, senior guard Sam Hansen, Hollis, Khela, junior guard Ignas Masiulionis, sophomore guard Jack Vaselaney, junior guard Michael Volkening, and sophomore forward Solomon Wells each received UAA Winter All-Academic honors.

The Spartans earned the following awards during the 2019-20 season:

 

D3hoops.com Great Lakes Region Rookie of the Year

Cole Frilling

First-year

Forward

 

UAA Rookie of the Year

Cole Frilling

First-year

Forward

 

All-UAA

Cole Frilling

First-year

Forward

First Team

 

Bill Sudeck Tournament Most Valuable Player

Antonio Ionadi

Junior

Guard

 

Bill Sudeck All-Tournament Team

Antonio Ionadi

Junior

Guard

Ryan Newton

Sophomore

Forward

 

CoSIDA Academic All-District

Antonio Ionadi

Junior

Guard

 

UAA Athlete of the Week

Cole Frilling

First-year

Forward

Jan. 13

Monty Khela

Senior

Guard

Feb. 24


The following were the CWRU team leaders in 2019-20:

 

Points per game

Cole Frilling

14.9

Rebounds per game

Michael Hollis

8.6

Assists per game

Michael Hollis

2.6

Blocks per game

Ryan Newton

1.2

Steals per game

Michael Hollis

1.4

Field Goal % (min. 15 attempts)

Cole Frilling

50.6%

3-pt % (min. 15 attempts)

Cole Frilling

42.9%