USC head basketball coach Andy Enfield is from Florida Gulf Coast University.
(Credit: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)
Both the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans made new head coaching hires for their respective men’s basketball program. UCLA named Steve Alford as its new head coach, while USC selected Andy Enfield.
The hires were finalized after each school’s Director of Athletics implemented a national search.
Steve Alford signed a seven-year, $18.2-million contract to become the head coach of the UCLA Bruins. Alford replaces Ben Howland, who was fired in March. Though Howland struggled late in his coaching career at UCLA, Alford still has some shoes to fill.
UCLA athletics director Dan Guerrero said Alford respects UCLA.
“We found a coach who not only represents and honors and respects the treasured history of college basketball and UCLA’s place in it, but also a coach who can bring a brand of exciting basketball with unselfish and talented student athletes,” he said.
Alford is ready for the next chapter in his life, one that he also called “a great, humbling, honorable position.”
“This is a challenge that I think I’ve been patiently waiting for and now that the opportunity has come my way, I’m ready,” said Alford. “At the age of 48, and 22 years into coaching, I think I’m as prepared as I’m ever going to be prepared.”
Prepared or not, Alford knows what’s expected of him and the program.
“You walk around and you get to see what’s expected here. You get to see the high level of excellence that comes with this basketball job,” he said.
In order for Alford and the Bruins to excel, he really needs to take care of recruiting on a local basis. Los Angeles has a lot of talent, but some don’t even consider UCLA as a top program anymore. Alford has some work to do, but Guerrero considers the coach’s recent gig at New Mexico as a positive.
“Steve was successful bringing in some guys at New Mexico,” said Guerrero. “And I feel as he puts the rest of his staff together, knowing full well there’s obviously excellent talent in Southern California, that the emphasis will be on keeping quality players who can make the grade here at home.”
Alford, who is known to let his players just play on the court, suggests that he will focus on recruiting locals.
“Everywhere I’ve gone, connecting to high school coaches and programs has been instrumental to what we’ve done,” he said. “We’re going to try to do that here as well. You visit high schools, you get on the phone and you let them know how important they are, whether they have players or not. And of course, if they have a player, that gives it a little more urgency.”
In Alford, UCLA hired a figure to lead its program for years to come. Will it be successful? That remains to be seen, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Simply put, Pat Haden and the Trojans made a fabulous hire in Andy Enfield. After an extremely disappointing season that saw the team registered a record of 14-18 overall and 9-9 in conference play, Enfield is the right guy for the job.
He’s young (43 years old), outgoing and a rather articulate man – that proves to be an essential package of tools when it comes to recruiting talent while rebuilding the Trojan program. During his introductory press conference, Enfield made two things clear.
First, he plans on transforming the program into a “national brand.” USC, an institution that sports a rich history in athletics, deserves just that. Last time I recall, the Trojans last received true national exposure when Tim Floyd was the head coach. Floyd guided the team to a 25-12 mark in the 2006-07 campaign and an appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16.
Enfield, however, also said he wants his players to enjoy playing the game.
“My coaching style, I like to enjoy my team and I want my players to have fun,” he said. “I know that word – fun – is kind of a generic term sometimes, but I really mean that. We enjoy ourselves.”
During the 2012-13 season, Enfield lifted the Florida Gulf Coast University program into national exposure. FGCU compiled a 26-11 overall record and reached the NCAA Sweet 16.
Can Enfield do the same at USC?
“We really need to, and want to, make basketball relevant at USC,” said Haden, acknowledging his desire and vision. “We’ve had starts of good programs, but never really had a sustained program for a long period of time, which is what we’re trying to build here. We’re trying to build a very credible basketball program.”
While at FGCU, Enfield installed an up-tempo pace of basketball. It was known as “Dunk City.”
“I think it is an added bonus,” said Haden. “I think his style of play was certainly attractive to me and to us, as long as it’s a winning style.”
Enfield is also a preacher of academia, as seen in his scholarly work; this is always a plus. He earned a degree in economics at Johns Hopkins (where he played college basketball) and went on to complete his MBA at the University of Maryland.
Enfield is very happy to be at USC.
“This is an opportunity to build something special,” he said. “It doesn’t get any better for me. USC is, I think, one of the best basketball jobs in the country.”
Those are the right words from the person who is the right man for USC.
Article posted on 4/11/2013
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