Pat Haden is hoping this court will be the stage for the most exciting basketball USC has ever seen (Flickr/Han Shot First)
Pat Haden has made his first big hire, and now Dunk City is coming to Troy.
Andy Enfield has just parlayed his Sweet 16 run with Florida Gulf Coast University into a six-year contract with the Trojans that will pay more than $6 million, according to ESPN’s Andy Katz.
I’d respect the hell out of Pat Haden if he busted out an “April Fools!” right about now.
— Rich Hammond (@RegisterUSC) April 2, 2013
Before FGCU stunned Georgetown and San Diego State, Enfield was completely off the radar. Names like Jamie Dixon, Mike Hopkins, and — once he was fired — Ben Howland were at the top of the rumor mill. But then the Eagles became the Cinderellas of the tournament, using an up-tempo, dunk-filled offense to become the first 15-seed to advance past the first weekend, and suddenly phones were ringing. For USC, such a energized playing style may be just what the basketball program needs to fill the seats of the Galen Center after years of Kevin O’Neill’s boring, unproductive offensive style. As the Clippers have shown, Los Angeles has a lust for highlight-reel-style basketball.
— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) April 2, 2013
Of course, there is also the nagging feeling that this hire was based entirely off of one good weekend of basketball. Enfield has a 41-28 record in two years at FGCU and zero conference titles. Granted, those two years were the Eagles’ first in Division I play, but it’s still a very small sample size. USC fans should not expect a quick fix, either. The Trojans will be without their team captain and tempo-setter, Jio Fontan, their top scorer, Eric Wise, and — if the allegations of drunk fighting in Spokane prove true — their top dunker, Dewayne Dedmon. If USC is going to successfully implement Enfield’s scheme and catch the attention of local recruits, the Trojans will need their most experienced players, Byron Wesley and J.T. Terrell, to hit the ground running and find a way to keep the team’s pace high without making reckless turnovers like they did last season.
— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) March 31, 2013
— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) April 2, 2013
Enfield will also have to prove his reputation of taking control of the team when the situation demands it. This season, the Trojans frequently got off to hot starts only to choke away big leads in the second half, the prime example being their road defeat to Cal in February after leading by as many as 15 points. Hopefully, Enfield will be able to put an end to such collapses.
At the very least, this hire will give the basketball program a publicity jolt. At the time this article was being written, USC was the top trending topic on Twitter and the top story on SportsCenter, something that is usually reserved for the football team. Enfield will also have the advantage of lower expectations. USC has the lowest winning percentage of any Pac-12 team in the last two years, and it would be safe to assume that many SC fans will be satisfied with a team that can be a contender in a parity-filled conference and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The same can’t be said for the other big coaching hire in Los Angeles this week, Steve Alford. He will be coaching a UCLA program that just fired a coach who was just one win away from an outright Pac-12 championship and whose fans demand nothing less than Final Four-contending teams.
Regardless, the last two weeks for Andy Enfield have changed his life forever. According to Katz, Enfield was making around $157,000 a year at FGCU. Now, his salary has exploded into the seven-digit range. That’s the power of March Madness for you.
Andy Enfield has been to the Sweet 16 as many times as Steve Alford. Only one has been there in the 21st century.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 2, 2013
Andy Enfield’s hiring has had more buzz in the last five minutes than Steve Alford had in the last 3 days.
— Jim Rome (@jimrome) April 2, 2013
USC is NOT the new Dunk City. Our boys made us Dunk City. Not Enfield. #fgcu #eagles #shameonenfield
— | Jake | (@jake4eva7) April 2, 2013
— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) April 1, 2013
I love coach Enfield to the end. I was his first recruit and he made me the player I am today. #GoodLuckAtUSC twitter.com/BrettComer0/st…
— Brett Comer (@BrettComer0) April 2, 2013