- Garry Paskwietz, Publisher, WeAreSC.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Pat Haden got his man.
At Wednesday's introductory news conference for USC basketball coach Andy Enfield, the Trojans' athletic director laid out what appealed to him when making the first major coaching hire of his tenure.
"Andy Enfield has a lifetime of achievement in different areas," Haden said. "He's a teacher. He can develop talent. Academics are important to him. And his teams play with an up-tempo style of play."
Like most people, Haden didn't know of Enfield until the magical Sweet 16 run by Florida Gulf Coast during the NCAA tournament. What he saw, however, was enough to convince him that Enfield had what it took to bring the USC program back to relevance.
"One of the big things that impressed me was the turnaround they saw at Florida Gulf Coast in his two years at the school," Haden said. "That's what we want at USC. We want to reset the basketball culture, and that starts today."
Enfield certainly brings some unique qualifications to the table. He's the son of two teachers and the valedictorian of his high school class. He was an academic All-American in college and got an MBA. He worked with two start-up companies in private business and spent time as an assistant at the NBA and college levels.
All of that experience combined to make Enfield the choice to lead the Trojans.
"This is a dream come true," Enfield said. "My father was a ninth-grade coach for 27 years, so for me to be in a position like this is something I still can't believe. To be at a school like USC that has such tradition, resources and support is just outstanding. It's also a top academic school, and I don't mess around when it comes to academics because I know what it did for me."
Enfield arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday night after a whirlwind period that saw his team become the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16.
"They say the NCAA tournament is the place to make a name for yourself, and that's what happened here," Enfield said. "I was most happy to see the way it benefited Florida Gulf Coast University and the players there. It was also the most heartbreaking few moments of my life when I had to tell those players I was leaving."
Enfield takes over a USC program in need of stability after the midseason departure of Kevin O'Neill and a history of playing second fiddle in basketball to UCLA.
"I'm not worried about any other teams," Enfield said. "I am focused on the USC Trojans, and I can't wait to get started on making our players better. I had a chance to meet with the team this morning, and we will get on the court next week. I'll also spend the next week to 10 days working on filling out my staff, which will include assistant coaches with local recruiting experience. USC is located in the top Los Angeles recruiting market, and we will look to take advantage of that."
The focus on player development is a theme you hear often about Enfield.
His expertise in the area of shooting earned him the moniker "the shot doctor" early in his coaching career, and he said developing players is critical at the college level.
"Players don't come out of high school ready to play at the college level," Enfield said. "They may have certain skills to contribute, but the body maturity and skill development is something that comes with time.
"I've watched film of the USC players, and I'm excited to see them develop.
"We like to score in the first seven seconds of a possession. We were among the top teams in steals at Florida Gulf Coast, and we will emphasize that at USC as well. We will play fast, we will lob the ball and get dunks. To play at that level, you need to practice that way, too, and we will do that."
Enfield is ready to get to work for his AD.
"I would like to thank Pat Haden for believing in me," Enfield said. "The one thing you can know is that I'm going to show up every day to make this place better than it was before."
For Haden, that is exactly what he wanted to hear.