by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
The Hudson boys basketball team expects to contend for the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division title this season.
But that will be easier said than done, according to seventh-year Explorers head coach Jeff Brink.
“The River Division should be tough as always again this year,” he said. “[Cuyahoga] Falls may be the surprise team with a couple of key transfers added to a strong returning class. Twinsburg also has key returners as does Brush.
“With Dave Close coaching at Stow, you can never count the Bulldogs out, while Solon is a question mark with a new coach. It’s a tough schedule this year and our league is one of the toughest around.”
Nevertheless, the Explorers certainly don’t plan on being a pushover. Hudson (13-9, 4-6) has nine returning letterwinners and four starters back this season.
Senior guard Zack Brandy leads the way. The 6-foot co-captain has been the team’s leading scorer during the last two seasons.
He averaged 16.6 points per game and has 608 career points. Brandy is a two-time All-NOC selection and was a third-team Northeast Ohio Inland District choice. He led Hudson with a 70.3 free-throw shooting percentage and made 48 three-pointers.
“Zack is the consummate team leader,” Brink said. “He makes everybody on the team better. He makes great decisions with the ball, does a great job defensively and is just a great all-around player. He has had a great career. He is one of those guys that you build a program around.”
Senior 6-4 post Ben Gedeon returns after averaging 10.6 points per game last season. The three-year letterwinner has led the team in rebounding the past two seasons (349 during that span) and is a two-time All-NOC selection.
“Ben led us in double doubles last year [seven],” Brink said. “He gives us a physical presence inside. What he lacks in height, he makes up for with physical strength. He is dominating on the boards and is a tremendous athlete.”
Senior 6-2 guard Steven Boslet, a captain, scored 87 points and had 75 rebounds as a starter.
“Steven’s strength is his versatility,” Brink said. “He played a lot of post for us in the summer when Ben wasn’t available. He has played inside, he has played point and he has played on the wing. He gives us another three-point shooter and is a very good rebounder for his size.”
Senior Alex Mushock (6-2) will see time in the post. He was third on the team in scoring (8.4 points per game) and second in rebounding with 160. He converted 76 of 125 two-pointers.
“Mush is a tweener size-wise, making him an undersized post player, but he makes up for that by being fundamentally sound,” Brink said. “He has had a great career.”
The lone junior expected to start is 5-10 guard John Zuccaro, who scored 72 points and dished out 33 assists last season.
“Johnny had a tremendous summer,” Brink said. “He gives us a ball-handler who can play the point but can also score. He is a very good finisher going to the rim off the dribble.”
Sophomore guard Mitch Guadagni (6-2) led the junior varsity team with 151 points.
“Mitch is probably our best player in transition,” Brink said. “He is probably one of the best kids I’ve seen over the last 20 years at finishing on the fast break. He gives us a shutdown-type defender.”
Two other guards contributed to the varsity team last season.
Alex Albright, a 5-11 senior, scored 86 points and was second on the team with 22 three-pointers. Kevin Zullo, a 6-foot junior guard, had four three-pointers during Hudson’s 72-53 sectional win over Walsh Jesuit.
“Kevin Zullo and Alex Albright are our three-point shooting specialists,” Brink said.
Colin Hogan, a 6-5 senior post, gave the Explorers some quality minutes off the bench late in the season.
“Hogan progressed as the season went,” Brink said. “He had a great football season and I hope that carries over into basketball season.”
Derek Schwarz, a 6-5 junior post, saw his 2011-12 season cut short because of a broken had.
“Derek is a kid who is not only an important player this season, but a cornerstone player for the following year,” Brink said.
Sam Wolanske, a 6-1 senior post, hasn’t played basketball since his freshman year.
“Sam is a pleasant addition that adds depth to the post,” Brink said. “Missing two years is very difficult to make up for, but Sam has come in with a tremendous attitude. He has made huge strides.”
Rounding out the squad are juniors Chris Koscho (5-9 guard) and Ian Laver (6-2 forward) and sophomores Matt Rightnour (5-9 guard) and Trevor Colazzo (6-3 forward).
Assisting Brink will once again be Ken Bauza (Director of Basketball Operations), Grant Spaite (JV coach), Jeremy Tawney (freshman coach), Skip Henninger and Barney Marousch (eighth grade) and Marc Zustin (seventh grade). New to the staff is Bruce Thomas, who formerly was the head coach at Streetsboro.
Brink is excited about the upcoming season.
“We want to have a business-like approach going day to day and try to improve day to day” he said. “Our chemistry last year was tremendous and we are looking forward to the season.”