by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
What is the one word that best describes the 2012-13 edition of the Hudson High School boys basketball team?
Or it could be experience.
Versatility might work.
How about talent?
Actually, the best answer might be this: all of the above.
Two years ago, the Explorers ended an injury-riddled season with a 7-14 record as sophomores Zack Brandy and Ben Gedeon led the way.
Wait until next season was the cry.
Last season, the duo again topped Hudson scorers. Brandy averaged 16.6 points per game and Gedeon averaged 10.6 points as the Explorers is improved to 13-9 overall and 4-6 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division.
Other teams in the River Division are defending champion Brush, Cuyahoga Falls, Solon, Stow-Munroe Falls and Twinsburg.
With seven seniors and loads of returning talent, Hudson is gearing up for the longest season in school history — literally.
With the expansion of the high school basketball season from 20 to 22 games (the first increase since the 1979-80 school year when it increased from an 18-to-20-game regular season), the Explorers are preparing to open the campaign Nov. 30 when they are scheduled to host defending Suburban League champion Nordonia. Varsity time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Knights (18-4) handed Hudson a 62-57 loss in the opener last season and ended the Explorers’ season in round two of the sectionals by a 69-65 count.
Seventh-year head coach Jeff Brink, who is 60-68 at Hudson, lost only two seniors to graduation.
They are (starting point guard) Randall Berkley and first-year reserve Grady Forkin and returns 87 percent of the scoring from a team that averaged 56.7 points per game last season.
Back are nine returning letterwinners.
“We return four starters,” Brink said. “One advantage we have this year is we not only have returning starters, but we also have returning depth.
“We can go a lot deeper than we have in the past few years. We have experienced players who saw varsity action last year and a couple of newcomers that are ready to step in also.”
With all the returning talent, the goals are high.
“As always our goal is to win the league,” Brink said. “We would like to win a district title.
“To achieve long-term goals we have to be successful with short-term goals. “There are four big areas for the short term.
“We have to win the turnover battle, we want to make more free throws than the other team shoots, we want to win the rebound battle and the fourth area is field goal percentage and that comes down to shot selection.”
While the goals are high, Brink knows this season’s team may be slow coming out of the gates once again due to the postseason run of the football team.
In six seasons, Brink’s teams have gone 23-37 through 10 games and 35-25 in the second half of the regular season. Football may be one of the biggest reasons for the slower starts.
“You want the football kids to go as far as possible,” Brink said. “The confidence factor is definitely a positive that we can build upon.
“We have about 80 percent of our kids in football.
“You can’t put a price tag on the value of the experience playing in pressure situations.”
With this season’s team, having many of the same faces as a year ago the strategy will be very much the same.
“We want to play fast and get after people, but we still have to execute in the half court game,” Brink said. “We will take threes when they present themselves. We are versatile enough to take what other teams give us.”