The Hazard Bulldogs are still in the midst of what fans hope will be another successful run in the 2012 football playoffs, but in the gym the Dawgs’ basketball team is quietly going about its business and getting ready for a new basketball season.
Though there are six or seven football players currently absent from Hazard’s basketball practices, Coach Al Holland said he’s “excited” about the possibilities for a team that he expects to be a contender come postseason play.
The Bulldogs are expected to return their core team from last season, including seniors Evan Whitaker and Tyler Triplett, along with junior Josh Hollon. They will also add 6-foot-5-inch junior transfer Chris Hudson, who last year led the Cordia Lions in scoring and should add some athleticism to the Bulldogs’ front court, and senior Jordan Olinger, who last year did not play but will also add some talent on the blocks.
“Hudson is going to be a major player for us,” Coach Holland said. “I think he and Olinger are going to take some heat off of Evan Whitaker in the paint. Last year people doubled up on Evan a little bit. We didn’t get very many put-backs last year, and I think this year it’s going to be one of our strong points.”
Hazard will also add some all-around depth this season, and could possibly play up to 10 experienced players in a regular rotation. The Bulldogs finished last season with a 20-12 record and a roster full of underclassman, scoring a runner-up in the 54th District tournament and advancing to regional play.
“We’re going to be able to play eight to 10 kids,” Holland added. “Our depth is going to be the biggest strong point for us. We’ve got a lot of juniors and seniors who are going to contribute.”
In the early going Holland has been running guard-oriented practices until the football players can join the team as well, which may be a few weeks yet. Hazard’s football team is defending the school’s first state title, and could make a deep run into the postseason that stretches into early December.
Hazard will begin the scrimmage portion of their schedule this weekend against Lafayette, and will scrimmage Letcher Central and Pikeville each for a half on Nov. 24 before beginning the regular season against Owsley County on Nov. 27 in Booneville.
The early season will likely be a challenge for Hazard as Holland will look to incorporate the remainder of the team following football season, but the coach is looking for his Bulldogs to contend for a district and regional title by the time the postseason rolls around.
“We’re excited about the season,” Holland said. “We’ve got some good kids and good backing. We feel like we’ll be a much better team the second part of the season that we were the first part.”
The 14th Region is again expected to offer some stiff competition. The 14th Region Coaches Association picked Hazard as the number four team in the region behind Breathitt County (1) , Knott Central (2), and Perry Central (3). Josh Hollon, Chris Hudson, and Evan Whitaker were also named among the top 14th Region players in the preseason.
“I feel like we’ve got a shot at winning this thing,” Holland added. “I know it’s a strong region, but we’ve got a shot.”
2012-13 Hazard Bulldogs Schedule
November 17 – Lafayette, @ PRP 6/7:30 p.m.
November 24 – Letcher County, Away 6/7:30 p.m.
November 27 – Owsley County, Away 6/7:30 p.m.
December 3 – Whitley County, Home 6/7:30 p.m.
December 6 – Lee County, Away 6/7:30 p.m.
December 9 – Breathitt County, Home 6/7:30 p.m.
December 10 – South Floyd, Away 6/7:30 p.m.
December 11 – Estill County, Home 6/7:30 p.m.
December 14 – Owsley County, Home 6/7:30 p.m.
December 18 – Prestonsburg, Home 6/7:30 p.m.
December 20 – Knott Central, Away 6/7:30 p.m.
December 26-30 – Las Vegas Holiday Tournament
January 3 – Pike Central, Home 6/7:30 p.m.
January 5 – Breathitt County, Away 6/7:30 p.m.
January 8-12 – WYMT Mountain Classic, @ Perry Central High School
January 14 – Owsley Co. “All A”, Home 6/7:30 p.m.
January 28 – Jackson City, Away 6/7:30 p.m.
February 2 – Johnson Central, Away 6/7:30 p.m.
February 4 – Shelby Valley, Home 6/7:30 p.m.
February 5 – Wolfe County, Home 6/7:30 p.m.
February 8 – Letcher Central, Away 6/7:30 p.m.
February 12 – Jenkins, Away 6/7:30 p.m.
February 15 – Powell County, Home 6/7:30 p.m.
February 18-23 54th District Tournament @ Perry Central High School