Will Andy Enfield work out at USC? I have my doubts
Andy Enfield's quick courtship and hire at USC isn't necessarily a harbinger of good things to come.
Andy Enfield could be the next Brad Stevens, the next Shaka Smart or maybe even the next Coach K.
Or he could be the next Keno Davis. Davis led Drake to 28 victories in 2007-08, his lone year at the helm of the Missouri Valley Conference school. He was even the AP National Coach of the Year.
Davis was subsequently snapped up by Providence, where he was fired with a 46-50 record three years later.
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But make no mistake, Providence athletic director Bob Driscoll won the news conference that day five years ago. He had hired a young up-and-comer who had just led a downtrodden program to the NCAA tournament. But Davis didn't win enough games. He went to the NIT in year one but ended up 18-36 in conference play and with fiinishes of 15th and 14th in the Big East in his final two seasons.
Now he's trying to turn around the program at Central Michigan like he once did at Drake. The Chippewas went 11-20 in 2012-13.
I've known Enfield for a while. He was on Rick Pitino's staff with the Boston Celtics and spent five seasons under Leonard Hamilton as an assistant at Florida State. He did a remarkable job this past season at Florida Gulf Coast, beating Miami early in the season and then becoming the first No. 15 seed in history to advance to the Sweet 16. He gives his players freedom and has obviously done a nice job recruiting guys who fit his wide-open, up-tempo system.
I like Enfield, but I'm not sold. Maybe at Old Dominion, but not out west in the Pac-12.
USC athletic director Pat Haden fired Kevin O'Neill way back in mid-January. He's had almost three months to do his due diligence and find someone who fit at the Galen Center. Instead, he got a coach whom he had probably never even heard of two weeks ago.
Enfield grew up in Shippensburg, Pa. He played at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. He spent a couple of years in Milwaukee as the Bucks' shooting coach and then was in Boston for a couple of years. For the past seven seasons, he has been in the Sunshine State -- five in Tallahassee and the last two in Fort Myers with Florida Gulf Coast. No, he wasn't the one who brought Michael Snaer to FSU from the West Coast -- that was Hamilton. Enfield wasn't the one who landed Chris Singleton from Georgia, either.
He was the lead recruiter, according to one source, for Okaro White, Deividas Dulkys, Luke Loucks and Julian Vaughn. All solid players, but none of whom speak to Enfield's ability to recruit the Pac-12.
Listen, I'm not saying Enfield will fail. We obviously don't know yet, but Enfield is one of those outside-the-box hires that makes you shake your head. He got hot for a couple of weeks. He has virtually no West Coast connections. Florida Gulf Coast was 15-17 in his rookie campaign of 2011-12, and the Eagles didn't even win the Atlantic Sun regular-season title this year. Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson owned Enfield this past season, sweeping a pair of league contests. Sanderson apparently did not get a call from Pat Haden.
The difference was Enfield got hot when the entire country -- Haden included -- was watching.
"It's ridiculous," former Villanova coach and current SiriusXM analyst Steve Lappas told me. "I think Andy Enfield's going to be a heck of a coach, but this is ridiculous."
You think new UCLA coach Steve Alford is licking his chops right now? Of course, he is. Same with Arizona's Sean Miller, who has made a living lately out of bringing talent from California to Tucson. It'll take time for Enfield to make headway and create relationships with the key players, and I'm not talking about high school kids. Etop Udo-Ema, who runs arguably the best program on the West Coast, the Compton Magic, hadn't even heard of Enfield until two weeks ago.
"The only thing I knew about the school was that Marty Richter, the old ESPN recruiting guy, was there," Udo-Ema told CBSSports.com. "I never knew who the head coach was until they beat Georgetown."
Dinos Trigonis, who runs the AAU power Belmont Shore program, told me: "I saw him one time recruiting in Los Angeles but have not seen or talked to him in a few years."
These days, you don't get much time to turn a program around. Davis only got three years at Providence, which hadn't won an NCAA tournament game in 11 years when he arrived. He didn't have the relationships with the AAU coaches to be able to get enough talent in quickly, and -- even without being in the shadow of a crosstown rival, as Enfield's program will be -- was gone before his first recruiting class entered its senior season.
The same could happen with Enfield.
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