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Boys Basketball: Jacobs eyes turnaround in coach’s final season

Will Schwerdtmann

Will Schwerdtmann

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Updated: November 15, 2012 9:56PM

Jim Hinkle might be entering the final season of a coaching career that has spanned almost 40 years, but he doesn’t expect it to be one long walk down memory lane in the coming months.

“I’m approaching this season the same way I’ve approached every year,” Hinkle said. “I’ve always enjoyed it and I’m going to make sure I enjoy it this year, but I don’t think the impact of leaving will hit me until it is all over.”

Hinkle is in his 17th season at Jacobs, where he has tallied 253 of his 527 career victories. The Golden Eagles are coming off a 7-22 finish last year, but a marked improvement could be in store.

A big reason for the optimism surrounding the team is the return of seniors Nick Ledinsky (6-foot-4, F), Will Schwerdtmann (6-3, F) and Lake Ojo (6-4, F). Schwerdtmann averaged 8.8 points as a junior, Ledinsky pitched in 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds and Ojo started to come on toward the end of the season.

“Those three guys are the backbone of the team,” Hinkle said. “They’re not the same player because they do different things well, but they’re all in that 6-3, 6-4 range, they all run the floor well, they all rebound and they all handle the ball. All three of our big guys are extremely versatile.”

What Jacobs lacks in experience after those top three players it will make up for with depth.

Sophomore Chrishawn Orange (5-11, G) and senior Patrick Nerja (5-9, G) are in the mix for the starting point guard job. Meanwhile, junior Ben Murray (6-0, G) and senior Ryan Billings (6-3, F) are competing for the fifth starting spot.

Senior Blake Micel (6-3, C) will also be in the rotation for the Golden Eagles, who Hinkle thinks will be able to compete for the top spot in the Fox Valley Conference’s Valley Division.

“I can’t pick any one team that stands out (in the conference) because I think we’re as good as any of them,” Hinkle said. “We’ve looked good in practice and I’m really excited about this group.”

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