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College Basketball Insider

New Faces, New Places: Andy Enfield, USC

Enfield at USC is creating buzz in SoCal that rivals what UCLA has done in bringing in Steve Alford. (USATSI)
Enfield at USC is creating buzz in SoCal that rivals what UCLA has done in bringing in Steve Alford. (USATSI)

This is the fifth installment in a three-week-long series taking a look at the biggest coaching changes this offseason. PREVIOUS: Joe Dooley, Florida Gulf Coast | Craig Neal, New Mexico | Eddie Jordan, Rutgers | Steve Alford, UCLA

Why he's here: Andy Enfield turned Florida Gulf Coast into the story of the 2013 NCAA tournament by leading the Eagles to upsets of Georgetown and San Diego State. He made the Sweet 16 with a fast-paced style that culminated with lots of dunks. It was fun. It was exciting. It was among the reasons USC -- after gauging the interest of Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon and Memphis' Josh Pastner, among others -- pulled the trigger on Enfield despite just two years of head-coaching experience.

What's gone: Enfield was always going to inherit a team down two of its top four scorers -- specifically Eric Wise and Jio Fontan, both of whom have exhausted their college eligibility. But a third significant loss came last month when Dewayne Dedmon decided to enter the NBA Draft even though the project big is unlikely to be selected in the NBA Draft. Consequently, USC will now be down three of its top five scorers and its top two rebounders from a team that finished with a 9-9 record in the Pac-12.

What's left: USC's top two guards -- J.T. Terrell and Byron Wesley -- will be back to help with the transition from Kevin O'Neill's deliberate brand of basketball to Enfield's exciting brand. Both averaged double-figures in points, and Wesley shot 40 percent from 3-point range. No other returning player averaged at least 15 minutes per game.

New faces: A coaching change typically costs a school a recruiting class, but that didn't happen with USC. The four prospects O'Neill had committed -- namely Kahlil Dukes, Roschon Prince, Nikola Jovanovic and Julian Jacobs -- all remained committed because, honestly, if you were set to play at USC anyway why wouldn't you still want to play at USC for a man who helped turn Fort Myers, Fla., into Dunk City, USA?

Staff:

  • Tony Bland: This Los Angeles native comes to USC from San Diego State, where he once played and subsequently coached. The chance to work for Enfield -- and become USC's associate head coach with a significant pay increase -- was too much for Bland to turn down. So he moved up the California coast.
  • Jason Hart: This Los Angeles native comes to USC from Pepperdine, where he spent one season. Hart played at Syracuse and in the NBA. He's a Taft High graduate with strong ties to the area, which is why Enfield wanted to hire him.
  • Kevin Norris: This Baltimore native is the lone assistant on staff who worked with Enfield at Florida Gulf Coast. He played college basketball at Miami and should serve as a familar face for Enfield to turn to as he gets comfortable in California.

How they'll play: Come on, man. You know how they'll play -- exactly how FGCU played, which should play well in the Los Angeles market. The Trojans will play fast, throw lobs and serve as a nice contrast from the O'Neill years, which featured tempos ranked in the 300s in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12. All Enfield needs to do is find a point guard capable of running his system the way Brett Comer ran it at FGCU. Then he'll be set.

Program resources: The lack of tradition at USC hurts, but athletic director Pat Haden has tried to offset that negative with positives in the form of resources. He gave Enfield the money to hire the staff he wanted, allowed the Trojans to spend more on assistants than ever before. Combine that with the Galen Center, which is still gorgeous, and the natural recruiting base, and everything necessary to succeed is in place.

Why it could work: It could work because, I mean, what hasn't worked for Enfield? He's been successful forever both personally and professionally, and there's no reason to think that'll change now. His style is attractive to recruits. So, provided Enfield gets the right ones, watch out. He could -- and I think he will -- have USC as a staple in the top half of the Pac-12 and regularly competing for NCAA tournament appearances.

Why it might not work: It might not work because, well, it's USC. The only recent success came in the Tim Floyd era, and that success landed the program on probation. Also: Arizona, led by Sean Miller, is already established in California, so Enfield is playing catchup in recruiting. What if he can't get the players to compete with Arizona, UCLA, Washington and California? That would be a problem. Because I don't care if you're a smart coach with a fun style, if you don't have high-major players then you're probably not going to win too many games at the high-major level.

Prognosis for success: If you read my column from last month on Enfield then you know I'm a believer, and that I'm predicting success for the new USC coach. He hired the right staff. He'll eventually get good-enough players. When he does, then all he'll have to do is coach them, and he proved, by making an off-the-radar school nationally relevant, that he can coach. And don't pay attention to those talking about how all Enfield's done is "win two games in the NCAA tournament." That's ridiculous. That's what he did to make people pay attention, but once people started paying attention what they saw is a man who's been a professional assistant (in the NBA), a high-major recruiter (at Florida State) and a program builder (at FGCU). Seriously, what's not to like about this hire? It's the best USC could've reasonably been expected to do, and, I think, it's going to work out OK.

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