Minnesota Morris head men's basketball coach Paul Grove has seen some great scoring combos during his 16 years at the helm of the Cougar program. The duo of senior CD Douglas and junior Noah Grove may be at the top of that list following their accomplishments from the 2017-18 season.
"I think the fact they those guys played together for three years, with their numbers, I'm sure they're the best combo at least since I've been here," said Coach Grove.
Douglas and Grove set personal and program milestones late in the season. In the regular season finale at Northland February 17, Douglas set the program's all-time scoring record surpassing Todd Hanson's total 1,904 points set in 1997. Ten days prior, in a home game against Martin Luther, Grove became the eighth player in program history to surpass 1,000 career points.
Douglas surged past Hanson's mark by scoring 45 points over two Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) tournament games to set a new standard of 1,960 career points.
That point total does not come close to what Douglas brought to the basketball program. He ends his Cougar career second in assists (455), third in rebounds (538), first in made free throws (476), and second in free throws attempted (608), field goals made (721), and field goals attempted (1,293). He was very good on the defensive end also amassing 199 career steals and 42 blocks.
In 2017-18, Douglas led the UMAC in both scoring with 599 points (22.2/game) and steals with 46. He was named UMAC Player of the Year and selected as an All-UMAC First-Team selection for the third straight season. He was also a member of the UMAC All-Defensive Team as a freshman and a sophomore.
Through all of his accomplishments, there is one that stands out for Douglas.
"Probably the all-time leading scorer, because that record was there for 20-some years," he said. "Who knows when it will get broken again, which I hope it does; records are meant to be broken."
When he came to Morris from Marshall (Minn.) High School, Douglas had no visions of having his name all over the Cougar record books. He started for just one season for the Tigers and was seen more as a role player for teams that reached the state tournament in 2013 and 2014.
"I wasn't coming here to break any records," said Douglas. "I just wanted to play basketball for another four years. Coming here showed me I can do a lot more than just be a role player."
Coach Grove saw Douglas as a player with potential in his first days in a Cougar uniform. He worked hard on his game over his four-year career and the progress he made is evident in his career numbers.
"He was just starting to figure out the college game during his first season," said Coach Grove. "He was raw and skinny and he worked really hard on the basics of basketball. He got so good at it with his God-given ability. He has more ability than anybody that has come through these doors."
Douglas' skills could make his teammates look foolish in practice.
"I remember coming in as a freshman and I would have to guard him in practice," said Noah Grove. "He could make you look silly whenever he wanted. You would just have to guess on defense which way he'd go. If you guessed right, you would just celebrate, but then his second move was so fast, he'd get right by you anyway. He's one of the best basketball players I've ever played with."
In time, teammates and opponents would become amazed at what Grove could be able to do.
The Morris native has seen steady improvement in his scoring over his three years in a Cougar uniform. He went from 210 points as a freshman to 367 as a sophomore then poured in 521 points this season to put his career total at 1,098. His 19.3 scoring average this season was good for third in the UMAC and helped make him an All-UMAC Second-Team selection in 2018.
Grove thinks the progress that was evident his junior season was attributed to everything he learned over his previous two seasons.
"The freshman year, I was terrible," he said. "There was a lot of growth over those first two years with understanding the game better, growing physically and mentally. I understand the game more and I'm a better all-around player. It took those first two years for sure."
He has had his dad, who was also a 1,000-point scorer at Grey Eagle (Minn.) High School, as his collegiate coach for three years and the progression he has made is not lost on his father.
"He's added so much to his game," said Coach Grove. "He came in as a three-point shooter then he was able to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. This year, all of a sudden, we're posting him up all the time. I had coaches telling me 'we don't know who to put on your son.' He's turned himself into a matchup nightmare."
Grove led all players in UMAC Player of the Week nods this season with three, one more than his teammate, Douglas, who is very proud of Grove's accomplishments.
"Once (Tyler) Ukkelberg left, I knew somebody was going to have to step up and Noah definitely did that," he said. "Each game you knew one of us was going to have a big game scoring or rebounding or assist-wise and he really did that throughout this whole year."
Aside from their basketball accomplishments, Douglas and Grove have been respected members of the campus and Morris communities.
"CD and Noah are well liked and respected by their teammates and coaches, do a great job in the classroom and at their on-campus jobs and are very active in community service spending time at Feed My Starving Children, Special Olympics, Cougar Connection, community meals and reading at the elementary school," said Coach Grove. "I am proud to have them representing our university and basketball program."
Even though Douglas' UMM career is over, his time at Morris is not done. He will be finishing up his degree in Sports Management and Financial so he will get plenty of chances to see Grove and the Cougars in action next season.