Coach Andy Enfield brings new style to USC
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andy Enfield is the face of change at Southern California.
The coach who guided tiny Florida Gulf Coast on a surprise run to the final 16 of the NCAA tournament last season has relocated Dunk City to the West Coast.
Enfield is overseeing a major overhaul of the basketball program at a school where the Trojans’ nationally prominent football team has always dominated. He’ll be doing it with a few returning players and a bunch of newcomers, his gap-toothed grin being the center of it all.
The Trojans are just two seasons removed from a school-record 26 losses under Kevin O’Neill, who was fired in mid-January. Former assistant Bob Cantu replaced him and went 7-8, including losses in the team’s final three games. Overall, the Trojans were 14-18 last season.
The massive turnover means USC will be counting on early contributions from the veterans and other returnees who didn’t play as much under O’Neill as Enfield works to build a foundation for his high-flying offense.
USC was picked by the media to finish 11th in the Pac-12. The Trojans tied for sixth last season.
“We think we have enough talent on our roster to compete with any team in the Pac-12,” Enfield said. “There’s nothing better than to overachieve in the media’s eyes or to win some games that people think you’re not supposed to win. We’re looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity.”
The Trojans open the season at Utah State on Nov. 8.
Here are five things to watch for with USC this season:
STYLE OF PLAY: No more grind-it-out ball at Galen Center. The plodding, deliberate game O’Neill was forced to play the last couple of years because of the lack of size and depth is history. These Trojans will be running, gunning and dunking in Enfield’s high-octane offense. His FGCU teams scored 70-plus points 42 times in his two seasons there. The Trojans topped 70 points just 11 times in the same span. The Clippers have established Lob City just up Figueroa Street, and USC wants to set up Dunk City at the south end. “We’re going to be a lot more up-tempo, a lot more exciting and really playing with no limits,” J.T. Terrell said.
BACKCOURT: This is the Trojans’ strong suit, with guards Terrell and Byron Wesley as the team’s top two returning scorers. Terrell, a senior, is a tough outside shooter when he’s hitting consistently. Wesley, a junior, is more versatile, with the ability to shoot from outside or drive to the basket. Pe’Shon Howard was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA after transferring from Maryland, where he started 36 games in two seasons with the Terrapins. He will be the starting point guard, although he will dish off more than he’ll score.
BIG MAN: The Trojans lost 7-foot Dewayne Dedmon to the NBA draft, but they’ve got 7-2 Omar Oraby. He was forced into bigger minutes late last season, when he shot 61 percent from the field, so he brings experience to the center position. D.J. Haley, a fifth-year senior transfer from VCU, is a 7-footer. The front court figures to get a boost from freshmen Roschon Prince and 6-10 Nikola Jovanovic of Serbia depending on how quickly they adjust. Prince averaged 20.3 points as a high school senior in Long Beach. “I’m very high on him,” Enfield said of Prince. “He’s got a ton of potential.” Jovanovic was signed by O’Neill and has international experience.
ATMOSPHERE: The friendly Enfield is a stark contrast to the fiery O’Neill, whose practices were littered with expletives. O’Neill was quick with the hook if someone made a mistake. Enfield likes to joke and be sarcastic with his players. “He’s brought a lot of fun,” Wesley said. “He holds guys accountable but at the same time he lets us play through mistakes.”
FUTURE FOCUS: The future is brighter than the present. Enfield may need a couple of seasons to get established before he can become a strong recruiter of local talent. The Trojans would be thrilled to earn any type of postseason bid in his rookie year, which will be a work in progress. Next season, UNLV transfer Katin Reinhardt and Charlotte transfer Darion Clark will both become eligible.