Jamaal Galloway this, Jamaal Galloway that.
When one thinks about Citrus, Galloway's name is the first that comes to mind. He has earned it.
But the truth is the Hurricanes didn't go 26-3, win a second straight district title and reach a region semifinal because of the junior guard alone. He had help, and plenty of it.
Forward Joel Miller was second on the team in scoring, forward Greg Covino averaged 10 points, center Brandon Green was a force inside, sixth man Mike Bass was among the area's best defenders and backup point guard Mitch Holderness was a sure ball-handler.
Galloway returns next season, as does starting point guard R.J. Cobb. But Miller, Covino, Green, Bass and Holderness are done. They won't easily be replaced.
"They were all really unselfish," Citrus coach Jimmy Thomas said. "That makes all the difference in the world. I really speak highly of those guys."
No player will be missed more than Miller.
The three-year starter not only averaged 16.5 points and five rebounds, but was considered by some coaches to be the area's best defender. Miller could shoot 3-pointers or take his defender to the basket. Inside the paint, he played like he was 6-foot-7, not 6-2.
"I really think people underrated him," Thomas said. "We just got great leadership from him."
Covino wasn't as flashy as Miller but did all the little things.
The 6-8 Green, despite splitting time in the middle with two other members, took over games. Bass and Holderness were steady role players who made the most of their opportunities.
Mike Brown, a 6-foot senior-to-be, should take over for Miller.
In limited playing time, the athletic Brown, also a football standout, averaged two points. But toward the end of the season, Thomas said, Brown showed steady improvement at practice.
"We're hoping that will continue," Thomas said.
In the paint, Citrus will be more athletic next season. The 'Canes will miss Green's height. But in Donnie Ross (6-2), Andrew Dupree (6-3) and Ryan Dowell (6-4), they have a group that has a high upside, Thomas said.
Ross and Dupree were key contributors this season. Both are excellent rebounders and have the offensive skills to score inside. Dowell spent most of the winter on the junior varsity but should compete for a starting spot.
Combination guard Chris Ramirez also showed promise.
With so many new faces in the starting lineup, Galloway and Cobb will be asked to carry much of the load. No problem there.
As Cobb grew into his position, he became one of the area's top point guards. Galloway, who led the squad in scoring, figures to only improve.
"We're going to be pretty guard heavy," Thomas said.
Because of that, and added depth, Citrus should have a different look on defense. Thomas said he likely will adjust his coaching to fit the Hurricanes' strengths. And with an athletic group, the 'Canes could install a full-court pressure defense.
"We're going to focus on our defense," he said.
It appears another 20-win season and district championship are possible.
"I think we'll be competitive," Thomas said.
Keith Niebuhr can be reached at 860-7337 or niebuhrsptimes.com.
CITRUS BOYS BASKETBALL
2002-03 STARTING LINEUP
POS. NAME/GRADE HEIGHT STATS
PG R.J. Cobb, So. 5-9 10 pts., 4 asts.
SG Jamaal Galloway, Jr. 5-11 22 pts., 4 asts.
SF Joel Miller, Sr. 6-2 16.5 pts., 5 rebs.
PF Greg Covino, Sr. 6-2 10 pts.
C Brandon Green, Sr. 6-8 7.9 pts., 7 rebs.
2003-04 PROJECTED LINEUP
POS. NAME HEIGHT STATS
PG R.J. Cobb 5-9 10 pts., 4 asts.
SG Jamaal Galloway 5-11 22 pts., 4 asts.
SF Mike Brown 6-0 2 pts.
PF Donnie Ross 6-2 6 pts., 5 rebs.
C Andrew Dupree 6-3 6 pts., 5 rebs.
or Ryan Dowell 6-4 Late-season JV call-up
_ Compiled by Keith Niebuhr.