Cinderella's Coach Takes Slippers to Left Coast
It would be all too easy to say that Florida Gulf Coast University's rise to prominence was just a week of whimsical wonder on the biggest stage in college basketball.
It would be just as effortless to conclude that USC was seduced by a week of bewitching and fascinating play that caused them to look to Andy Enfield.
Something enticed the Trojans to roll the dice on an an enchanting but virtually unknown to take over the reins of their drifting hoops program
Is it a good match? He's definitely not a sure thing. But from the evidence on display, what do we know so far?
Well, we know what he's not. Andy Enfield is not a bootlicker or minion that is the norm in Southern California. He isn't and probably never will be John Calipari or Mike Krzyzewski. He isn't going to blow you away with his personality or temperament like most great college coaches do.
Enfield knows the ropes. He still holds the career scoring record at Division III Johns Hopkins
, where he also set the NCAA record for career free-throw percentage. It was lacrosse, of all things, that gave Enfield his first taste of coaching. Johns Hopkins is a power in college lacrosse, and Enfield even made a few dollars on the side by helping coach lacrosse clinics. Once he established his rep as a solid shooter, he transferred his coaching and consulting to hoops. This ulitimately took him to the NBA level, where he served as a shooting coach for the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics.
This set the stage for his five-year stint as an actual game coach, taking an assistant's job under Leonard Hamilton
at Florida State. While he was there, the Seminoles went dancing three times. Perhaps that fact was icing on the résumé, as he was soon hired to be the second coach of FGCU's fledgeling basketball program.
But what will you get? He's earnest, honest, intelligent, and hardworking. Enfield could afford to live on an under-coach's salary in his early career. He'd taken a quick break to become an early employee of TractManager
, a healthcare software company. Its shares
have since risen in value as the company recapitalized, making his holdings worth a few million smackeroonies.
This dude has put together a solid life already!
And yet, Enfield is well-grounded. His associates and players say he's still someone you can sit down and talk with. He's showing himself to be a great coach, he develops talent -- remember, schools like FGCU get the players the big schools don't want -- and he gets the best out of his team. He gives 100% and expects no less; as a result, he develops great players who play hard and improve each year.
Did USC take a gamble? Yes!
Will it pay off?
Time will tell whether Enfield will continue to sprinkle fairy dust or turn into a pumpkin on a bigger stage. So far, the spell he cast over the hoops world has served him well.