Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
To call newest USC Men’s Basketball head coach Andy Enfield’s rise from Florida Gulf Coast anything short of a roller coaster ride would be foolish.
The trials and tribulations of coaching have landed Enfield in Southern California, and we now have heard a better pitch of what lies ahead on the court for the Trojans following an online chat with fans, boosters, alumni and the rest on Tuesday.
“We expect Pac-12 to be amongst the best conferences in the nation in the next two or three years,” said head coach Andy Enfield about the future of his new conference.
Apr 3, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Andy Enfield at a press conference to announce his hiring as Southern California Trojans mens basketball coach at the Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The endearing process began when Enfield was officially announced as head coach late into the night on April 1st. All jokes aside, Enfield has hit the ground running in Troy, beginning by working to lure in the top prospects close to home.
Enter assistants Tony Bland, Jason Hart and long-time friend Kevin Norris to supply the Trojans brand names to attract young talent to the vast array of facilities, talents and network here available.
Top high school players have already visited the Galen Center in large numbers, with USC in contention for the likes of top prospects forward Stanley Johnson of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, forward Malik Pope of Elk Grove, and center Thomas Walsh of Loyola High School just to scratch the surface.
“Our goal is to recruit Southern California players,” Enfield said, he added that “We love California kids, see what the new USC basketball program is all about. “I think we can make the Final Four with all Southern California kids”
That master plan Enfield mentions rests in an up-tempo style of basketball. The one that captivated millions during Florida Gulf Coasts unprecedented run to the Sweet 16.
This brand of basketball is unique, but can certainly attracts the attention amongst a mecca of basketball powers in Los Angeles. Competing with the Lakers, Clippers and Bruins, coach Enfield recognizes the challenges of pleasing an LA fan base desperate for high-quality and highlight reel basketball.
“We are trying to provide a big-time entertainment package,” Enfield also said. “We want our fans to have lots of fun watching USC basketball.”
Now with a full roster intact for his disposal, Enfield can begin to craft his club into winning bunch. While the mood around campus may be shifting towards opening kickoff against Hawaii for the football slate, the Trojans continue to put the building blocks in place for a New Era of men’s basketball; one filled with plenty of fireworks.
“They have made huge improvements,” Enfield said of the first few months under his system. “Hardest thing is that players have to get to know you, what you are demanding and what you are teaching.”
These lessons are focused in tremendous ball pressure, with efficiency in the fast break and a ball-hawking mentality, to make things difficult for an opponent all 40 minutes long. As excitement begins to surface surrounding the style of play USC will utilize, a chilling reminder strike the recently-released schedule which begins with a challenging road test against Utah State on November 8th.
While the clock is officially ticking, Enfield has seen vast improvements from many of his players. According to Enfield, the biggest transformation has come from the Trojans largest player, 7’2″ center Omar Oraby. When active on the court, the Trojans projected starting center can dramatically affect the floor with his size and footwork, most notably his five-block performance against top-ten ranked Arizona late last season.
These are the type of transformations that smell good fortunes for the Trojans traditionally sluggish starts over the last five season. Strangely enough, the Trojans have not held a winning record after their first eight games of the season since 2008-2009, a year which ended in a second-round loss to Michigan State.
March 2, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans center Omar Oraby (55) blocks a shot against Arizona State Sun Devils forward Eric Jacobsen (3) during the first half at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
“[I’m] Very surprised, in positive manner with how willing to work and taking to coaching they are,” Enfield explained about his players’ reception towards learning a new high-tempo program this summer. “[We] walk into a very energetic and existing roster that wants to get better by putting in time in class and on the court.”
For a program searching for their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2010, the squad will need to implore a rigorous work ethic, and dedication to the craft unparalleled with more talented rosters.
“I don’t measure success just on wins and losses. I measure success on what our players are doing on and off the court.” Enfield added about the direction of his program.
With transfers Darion Clark and Katin Reinhardt providing help in the not too distant future, the Trojans can focus their sights on sustaining success for the near future.
The Trojans received in bits and pieces of an exciting brand of basketball under interim head coach Bob Cantu. Including impressive victories over UCLA, Arizona along with a four-game winning streak in late January.
This brand new staff under Enfield wants to develop its top talent into elite-level players, all in the time span of one simple step at a time.
“We don’t try to get that complicated,” said Enfield about teaching his players. “Neither coaching nor the game is that complication. We have the basics. we emphasize and then we go play.”