Springfield Central principal Tad Tokarz told ESPNBoston.com this afternoon that Darryl Denson, assistant coach of the two-time Division 1 state champion Putnam Beavers, has been hired as the Golden Eagles' new head basketball coach.
Denson, 37, a Central alum, takes over for Jack O'Brien, who resigned after one disappointing 9-11 campaign. The Eagles are just two years removed from capturing the MIAA Division 1 State Championship, the program's third overall and first since 1991.
Over at Putnam, Denson has been part of a program that has evolved into a defensive juggernaut, capturing the last two Division 1 state titles with an intense system of full court, man-to-man pressure defense implemented by head coach William Shepard. Since the start of the 2012-13 season, the Beavers have gone 49-1, including 34 straight after beating Central Catholic this past March for the D1 state title.
"He's done it. He's learned under who I believe to be the best coach in Massachusetts in coach [William] Shepard, and hes done it," Tokarz said. "He came into the interviews and talked about things he's already done, and things he's already implemented -- not things he will do and will implement. He looked favorably with the panel with that."
"We've seen it. Putnam is a half-mile down the road from us. We know what kind of program they're running and what they're doing. He just put everything down on the plate in front of us, and it was exactly what we were looking for."
The legendary O'Brien, in his first foray back on the sidelines in seven years, installed a similar system to Putnam's, to lesser success. But where O'Brien had high praise at Central was for his work with his players off the court. a trait Tokarz sees in Denson.
"He's gonna be able to relate well to the players and be the coach they can come to with academic questions, social questions and athletic questions," Tokarz said. "It takes a village to raise a child, and that's just another member of village we can count on to intervene with something if there needs to be intervention."