September 3, 2013 by Ryan MacDougall
This is Galen Central’s second profile on new head coach Andy Enfield. The first story introduced USC basketball fans to Enfield off the court. This profile focuses on Enfield’s on-the-court philosophy.
By Ryan MacDougall
Scoring was at its lowest point in 61 years in college basketball last season. Overall, teams averaged 67.5 points per game. So when Andy Enfield and his Florida Gulf Coast’s squad entered the national picture in March, their high-scoring, fast-paced offense turned heads.
In the regular season, Florida Gulf Coast averaged 73 points and over four dunks per game. In the NCAA tournament, FGCU scored 78 on Georgetown and 81 on San Diego State in their first two games, becoming the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16.
Enfield plans on bringing the same up-tempo style to the Galen Center this year, and when he accepted the USC job, said that he would like his team to shoot in the first seven seconds of the shot clock.
Although his offensive system is explosive, he feels it is sometimes a little misconstrued.
“Some people, I think, mistake our system to think that every time we touch the ball we are just running and throwing up a shot or a lob,” Enfield said in early August in an interview in his office with Galen Central. “That is not the case. We have a very structured offensive game plan. Short transition baskets are great and we run on opportune times, but a big part of the game is half-court offense. I was very proud of our team in the NCAA tournament for executing in the half court because we were able to set screens for each other, move without the ball, come off ball screens, spread the floor, and make plays.”
One player Enfield has constantly mentioned this offseason is Omar Oraby. Enfield said that he believes Oraby has the potential to be one of the best centers in the nation. Last season, Oraby established himself an excellent low post threat with great footwork on the offensive end. People have questioned how Oraby’s low post play and mediocre athleticism will fit in Enfield’s running and dunking style of play, but Enfield disagrees with that notion.
“You don’t need five guys running the floor on every possession, you need someone rebounding the ball,” Enfield said. “If he can rebound the ball and get a quick outlet and be the trailer, that’s great. And if Omar does not get the rebound, he is fast enough to run the floor. If Omar ever wants to play in the NBA, we play a very NBA type oriented system. You see (that the) San Antonio Spurs have Tim Duncan, and they have transition offense.”
Oraby has the potential to be great. There is no doubt. Last season, Oraby shot by far the best field goal percentage on the team at 61 percent. However, Oraby only averaged 14.6 minutes per game because he struggled with his defense and conditioning. Even with the addition of D.J. Haley, Enfield is well aware of what Oraby needs to do to be able to stay on the floor for long periods of time.
“Omar needs to learn how to guard ball screens,” Enfield said. “He needs to learn how to guard the post, whether it be fronting the post, three-quarter the post, or even playing behind in some cases if he gets caught. He has got to learn how to do that and then stay out of foul trouble. If he can do that, he should play significant minutes.”
After losing Dewayne Dedmon, Eric Wise, Aaron Fuller and James Blasczyk, the Trojans are very thin in the front court. Oraby is the only big to log significant minutes in Pac-12 play. Haley should help, but USC will still need help from their two inexperienced Serbian forwards, sophomore Strahinja Gavrilovic and freshman Nikola Jovanovic. Although the two played high school basketball in the U.S., much about their games still remains relatively unknown.
“Nikola and Strahinja are very smart players,” Enfield said. “They have the ability to stretch the defense. They both can shoot the ball from the perimeter, and can also score in the lane. For the way we play, that is important because we like to have our four man step out and have the defense spread the floor instead of having two low post players, we would rather have one post player like Omar and have 4 around 1. So I think they are very valuable in our system and we need them to keep improving because they are going to have their chance.”
Along with Jovanovic, USC added freshmen Roschon Prince, Julian Jacobs and Kahlil Dukes. Although he did not recruit them, Enfield seems to be pleased with what these freshmen bring to the table. With seven scholarship players no longer on the team from last year, those freshmen will need to contribute immediately.
“I am very excited about the freshmen,” Enfield said. “They have done an exceptional job in summer school with their study habits and their grades. They work hard on the court. We understand they need a lot of development, but they are talented to help us so we expect them to be contributors once the season starts.”
Since five of the seven departing players were seniors, someone will need to step up and take a leadership role. One candidate to do so is junior Byron Wesley. Although he is not the oldest player, Wesley is the longest-tenured player on the roster and has been one of USC’s most consistent players over the last two years. Like Oraby, Wesley is one of the main players USC is counting on this upcoming season. Enfield is hoping Wesley snags one of the leadership roles and works hard to lead by example.
“Byron has been terrific all spring and summer and I am very impressed with him,” Enfield said. “His work ethic has improved and his personality has been great along with his leadership. Players follow leaders by example like when they have a teammate that shows up every day, shows up early, works the hardest in practice, stays late to work on their game and gets in the weight room and puts effort there. Players and people in general gravitate towards the person that works the hardest.”
Another player that will be a huge factor in determining USC’s success this season is J.T. Terrell. Last season under Kevin O’Neill, Terrell averaged 9.2 points per game and shot 31 percent from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range. After the coaching change, Terrell averaged 15.5 points per game and shot 46 percent from the field and 38 percent behind the arc under interim Bob Cantu. It is safe to say Terrell seemed to thrive on Cantu’s faster and looser style of play. For this reason, many USC fans hope that Enfield’s up-tempo system will lead to a breakout year for Terrell.
Enfield knows about Terrell’s talent and knows what Terrell has to do to make that happen.
“He is one of the guys were going to rely on to score for us,” Enfield said. “He is that kind of talent, but as a coaching staff, we do not know who is going to be our leading scorer or go-to guy. In fact, I’d like to have three or four or five go-to guys at the end of the game. I would think J.T. would be one of the candidates to do that if he keeps improving.”
The 2013-14 USC basketball team certainly has some talent, but they also have a lot of question marks. Team expectations are varied, with most of the media predicting USC to finish at the very bottom of the Pac-12. As for Enfield, he has the team define their own goals in the fall and he’s hoping they’re “pretty lofty.”
Among the varying expectations, one thing is for certain: USC basketball will finally have an exciting and organized brand of basketball that the Trojan fans have been waiting for.