LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The announcement came on April Fools Day, but it’s no joke -- USC is getting serious about putting its basketball program on the map (or perhaps more realistically, just letting the nation know it has one) -- and the Trojans have signed Andy Enfield to be the coach to do it.
Enfield burst onto the college basketball scene just two weeks ago when he led his No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast team past No. 2 seed Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Lightning struck twice when his Eagles went on to beat No. 7 seed San Diego State in round two. Florida Gulf Coast became the first No. 15 seed to ever advance to the round of 16.
Needless to say, Enfield’s team captured America’s attention and quickly became this season’s Cinderella.
Though the 2013 tournament fairytale run came to an end when FGCU fell to No. 3 Florida, the real story for Enfield only seems to be getting started.
“Andy's success this season at Florida Gulf Coast was not a flash in the pan,” said USC athletic director Pat Haden in a statement released by the school. “He has a consistent and proven record of success for more than 15 years in college and the NBA.”
Enfield, 43, spent five years as an assistant at Florida State. He also spent time in the NBA, serving as the shooting coach for the Milwaukee Bucks for two years and as an assistant for the Boston Celtics for two years.
The former John Hopkins player, who still holds the NCAA free-throw percentage record, has no known ties to Los Angeles -- or even the West Coast -- but says he is thrilled to now be a part of the “Trojan Family”.
“In meeting with Pat Haden, I was very impressed with his vision for the men’s basketball program,” Enfield said in a statement released by USC.
Part of that vision undoubtedly includes the brand of basketball Enfield is now known for, “Dunk City”.
“I am looking forward to bringing an exciting, up-tempo style of play to USC,” Enfield said, “and building the men's basketball brand into one that the fans and basketball community will enjoy and respect.”
So herein lies the challenge.
Can Enfield take his two-game win streak that garnered national attention -- and ultimately a multi-million dollar contract -- and turn a down-trodden USC program around?
Haden certainly thinks so.
But it will only be after the initial buzz dies and Enfield gets to work with his inherited Trojan roster and the recruits he has yet to find, that USC will find out if he really was just a flash in the pan -- or the coach that will finally create a basketball culture at a school that’s really never had one.