Hudson brings 'hustle' to boost Breakers' game
On the surface, Will Hudson has made a pretty unassuming start to his New Zealand Breakers career.
However, scratch a little deeper and you will find a contribution from the American big man that is almost - but not quite - what the back-to-back Aussie NBL champions want.
Hudson's numbers in the first five games are unspectacular. He's averaging 7.8 points (at a 50 per cent clip), 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals in a little over 15 minutes a game, coming off the bench as a reliever for Alex Pledger.
However, as the Breakers cross the Tasman today for the Sunshine Swing double against the Townsville Crocodiles (tomorrow night) and Cairns Taipans (Saturday), coach Andrej Lemanis is largely satisfied with his latest import's contribution.
Granted, Gary Wilkinson he ain't. Then again, that's not the role the Breakers have in mind for their latest addition.
"He comes in and gives us an energy and ability to change the energy in the game," said Lemanis, whose team is on a four-game winning streak. "He's been great at the defensive end, he can get down and slide and switch on to smaller people, he boxes out well, and rebounds well."
Lemanis also likes Hudson's offensive skills and footwork, if not his final touches.
"He's very good at sealing his man, and Alex has been able to learn from that, dealing with it every day at practice," the coach said. "He's doing all the right things, he's just got to finish a couple more round the rim.
"We've spoken about it and it's why we love him, the fact that he cares. But because he cares so much, he's getting a little anxious.
"He just needs to enjoy himself at the offensive end and it will flow for him."
Hudson said it was about adapting to his team-mates and adjusting to a new role off the bench.
"I'm just taking a day at a time and getting better each day and trying to make the adjustments I need to help this team win."
His role, he said, was about bringing "energy" and "a spark" off the bench.
"I take pride in making a hustle or energy play and seeing the guy next to me start to pick up his intensity."
In terms of his ability to bring the best out of Pledger in practice play, Hudson believes it is a two-way street.
"It's not only helping him but me, too. I'm learning how to play a good defender, a seven-footer who blocks shots and is also a pain to guard in the post. It's fun - we push each other and we're both getting better that way."
Hudson understands the Breakers are winning games with their defence, more than their ability to put the ball in the hoop.
However, that was not a bad starting point, the 23-year-old said.
"You want to execute on offence but you also want to be that team nobody wants to play against because they play so hard on defence. That's the type of culture the Breakers are about."