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First year is kind to Densmore

Easy-going coach Tom Densmore successfully takes the reins at Citrus.

By DAWN REISS
Published March 20, 2005


INVERNESS - If you're in a room with Tom Densmore, it doesn't take long to hear the Citrus coach laughing.

His voice echoing off walls is as familiar as a basketball bouncing on the court.

Densmore spent 16 years as an assistant at Citrus before being promoted this season to his first head coaching position.

Densmore's jovial demeanor is a stark contrast to the more structured style of past coaches.

Densmore, 41, spent 10 years under Jimmy Thomas' reign and his first six on Glen Sykes' teams.

"It's been an easy transition," senior Brad Lattin said. "We've all grown up around him, and the greatest thing about him is that we've all developed relationships with him off the court."

"You feel more comfortable," senior J.D. Hoglund added. "Because he's just easy to play for."

His laid-back manner gave way to free-styling basketball.

"He's a father figure," senior R.J. Cobb said. "He gave us reasons to do what he wanted, but he also gave us freedom to shoot and play how we wanted."

Expectations were high for this senior-laden squad that included 10 returners from last year. Densmore didn't disappoint and coached the 'Canes to a 21-7 record and their third district title in four years (2002, '03, '05).

"It was great having him coach," Lattin said.

"He's always cool, calm and collected, which helped the team settle down in practice and games."

Densmore's superstitious nature also was good for a laugh. His Freshen Up gel-filled gum wouldn't be changed until the 'Canes had a loss. After the 'Canes won against South Lake, he wore the same clothing combination for the next game.

During the region playoffs, senior Donnie Ross sported pigtails twice and didn't play well either game. Densmore decided to remedy the situation.

"I asked one of my assistants how Donnie was wearing his hair," Densmore said. "I'm pretty superstitious so if a guy isn't playing his best, I'll explain to him how I feel."

Densmore guided the 'Canes to success, as they won eight in a row to start out the season. A 5-6 slump in the middle gave way to another 8-0 run before the 'Canes ended the season with a region semifinal loss.

"He never needs to look at the scoreboard to tell us if the game is over or not," Lattin said. "Whether we're 40 points ahead or 40 points behind, the score always seems to be 0-0 in his mind."

[Last modified March 20, 2005, 01:07:24]


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