New coach Enfield’s dream comes true

New coach Enfield’s dream comes true

first_imgThe first question posed to new USC men’s basketball head coach Andy Enfield during his introductory press conference on Wednesday carried a bit of local flavor.On the map · After vaulting little-known FGCU onto the national stage, Athletic Director Pat Haden (left) hopes Enfield can do the same at USC. — Ralf Cheung | Daily Trojan“What are your initial thoughts on the crosstown rivalry with UCLA?” he was asked.Enfield stood tall. Without much hesitation, he respectfully acknowledged the Bruins’ history of success on the hardwood. And before long, he changed the subject.“I’m focused on the future of USC basketball and no one else,” he said.Enfield’s focus on USC’s future is hardly surprising, if only because the Trojans’ past, particularly their recent past, has been marked by a number of difficulties on the court. Over the last two seasons, USC has gone 20-44, including a school-worst 26 losses during the 2011-12 season. In short, Enfield has his work cut out for him.“USC basketball should be relevant, but let’s be honest, it has not been relevant,” Athletic Director Pat Haden said Wednesday. “We’re about to change that, we believe.”Haden believes that in part because of Enfield’s recent success at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he guided the Eagles to a Sweet 16 appearance in just their second season of Division I eligibility. They also became the first-ever 15th seed to advance past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.FGCU’s run in the NCAA tournament helped launch the 43-year-old Enfield, a former assistant at Florida State and in the NBA, onto the national stage, as he employed an entertaining, above-the-rim style of play affectionately referred to as “Dunk City.” In its two tournament wins, FGCU averaged 80 points per game.“Basketball is entertainment,” Enfield said. “So is every sport. You have to entertain the fans and make them want to come. If you play a slow down style and you don’t win, they’re not going to show up.”USC knows that all too well. Under former coach Kevin O’Neill, who was fired in mid-January, it ranked last in points per game among schools from the “power six” conferences, which includes the ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, according to ESPN. And though that figure increased over the final two months of the season under interim head coach Bob Cantu, the Trojans still averaged just 65.7 points per game, good for 217th nationally.Under Enfield’s fast-paced, up-tempo style, that will hopefully change.“It’s exciting,” junior guard Byron Wesley said. “It’s going to be able to draw a lot of fans here. L.A. is the perfect place for it. And it can definitely be a huge boost for our team and our community.”Though Haden maintains realistic expectations for the team moving forward, USC is hoping the transition isn’t a long one.“One of the big things that impressed me was the turnaround they saw at Florida Gulf Coast in his two years at the school,” Haden said. “That’s what we want at USC. We want to reset the basketball culture, and that starts today.”Time will tell if that works.For now, Enfield will need to finalize the rest of his coaching staff, a process he said he hopes to finish within the next seven to 10 days.Enfield met with Cantu, assistant coaches Dieter Horton and Tony Miller and players Wednesday morning. All three coaches could be retained by Enfield, but there is no certainty that they will be.NotesWhen USC formally announced the hiring of Enfield on Monday night via Twitter and on its website, the school used the hashtag #DunkCityUSC, a play off his old team’s nickname. FGCU officials, though, weren’t pleased. “There is only one Dunk City, USA: It’s here in Southwest Florida,” Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh said in a press conference on Tuesday. Haden said USC would in fact stop using the moniker. … A police investigation into the March incident involving USC players Dewayne Dedmon and James Blasczyk remains ongoing. When asked about Dedmon’s status with the team, Haden declined to comment. Dedmon was in attendance at Wednesday’s team meeting with Enfield, sources said.last_img

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