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Tony Vasquez, a Hernando standout in the 1970s, is the new coach.

Energy, experience and history - that's what Brent Gaustad said Tony Vasquez will bring to Hernando's basketball program.

And it makes sense. Vasquez has plenty of all three.

Hernando hired the former Leopards star as its new boys coach, turning the program over to a man who finished his high school career as the all-time leader in points, assists and steals.

"I think I was ready for this job 10 years ago," said Vasquez, 47.

Vasquez played at Hernando from 1975-78 before moving on to Hillsborough Community College. He finished his career with 1,073 points, which at the time was first in school history. That total has since been eclipsed by Jason Sartor with 1,437 points.

Vasquez has been out of coaching the past year after a six-year career as girls coach at Pasco High ended with his suspension from the school in February 2006.

According to Vasquez's personnel file with the Pasco County school board, he was forced to take a six-week leave of absence and undergo anger counseling after two incidents in which he directed profanity at another school employee. In one instance, according to a written reprimand by superintendent Heather Fiorentino, he used insulting language in front of two students.

Vasquez said he underwent the required five anger-management sessions. He taught last year at Land O'Lakes High but did not coach.

"It was an incident that was handled by the school board," said Vasquez, who went 93-55 from 2000-06 at Pasco. "It's something that's been done, dealt with and as far as I am concerned, there's no reason to rehash it."

Gaustad said he was aware of the situation, but "all of his recommendations were good."

Both Gaustad and Vasquez said they are focused on the present. Vasquez, who takes over for Jeff Laing, said his goal is to restore a sense of tradition in the Hernando program.

"I'm going to encourage them to have a sense of pride every time they set foot on the court," he said.

David Murphy can be reached at or (352) 848-1407.