When USC fired Kevin O'Neill as its men's basketball coach this past January, I wrote the program needed new energy. Well, Trojan basketball just got the biggest energy boost it could imagine with the hiring of Andy Enfield from Florida Gulf Coast.
Enfield is a bold hire for USC, but it's one that I love, and it may very well make UCLA fans jealous. In its statement announcing the hiring of Steve Alford, UCLA claimed that Alford played an "up-tempo" style of basketball. While Alford may have an engaging personality, his style of play is remarkably similar to Ben Howland's. On the other hand, Enfield runs about the most up-tempo system in all of college basketball.
Coaching a 15-seed in the NCAA Tournament, Enfield's FGCU squad controlled the tempo against both Georgetown and San Dieo State, and helped establish Fort Myers as Dunk City, USA. Now, Dunk City has moved west to Galen Center.
Enfield is one of the most unique coaches in all of college sports. After being the all-time leading scorer in Johns Hopkins history and setting the NCAA career mark for free throw percentage, Enfield managed to become an ace shooting coach, helping dozens of NBA players. He was essentially a specialized shooting coach for the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics (working under Mike Dunleavy and Rick Pitino), before leaving basketball and making millions of dollars on a health care software startup called Tract Manager.
Along the way, Enfield met and married Amanda Marcum, a super model who once graced the cover of Maxim. Enfield wound up getting back into basketball as an assistant coach at Florida State.
Hiring Enfield does not come without risk. He's only been a head coach for two years, and he has just one winning season. While his team had big wins over Miami, Georgetown, and San Diego State, FGCU did lose to Lipscomb twice, and had several other embarrassing losses. Making the jump from Atlantic Sun head coach to the Pac-12 is a huge leap, especially for a coach who has zero west coast ties.
But Enfield has been successful at virtually everything he's done in his life. He has the personality, the compelling life story, and the style of play that will draw rare attention to a USC program that has been dormant since Tim Floyd was forced out. The Trojans have a terrific basketball venue in Galen Center that has drawn some of the most pathetic crowds in the Pac-12 for the past few years. With Enfield, USC basketball has the energy it sorely needed. Sure he's a risk, but given USC's lackluster hoops history, he's a risk worth taking.
LA Observed photo