November 5, 2014 by Darian Nourian
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Darian Nourian wrote the following story after catching up with Dieter Horton last August. At the time, Horton was Andy Enfield’s right-hand man entering his fourth season at USC. Horton is now the head coach at Cal State L.A. Galen Central is publishing this story again with the Golden Eagles playing in an exhibition against USC on Saturday, November 8 at 1 PM ET.]
By Darian Nourian
There will still be a familiar face on the sidelines this season for USC men’s basketball players, both old and new, as assistant coach Dieter Horton enters his fourth season with the Trojans alongside new head coach Andy Enfield after spending his last three with Kevin O’Neill. Horton has been given the new title of special assistant to coach Enfield.
Like his head coach, Horton is very excited about the group of talent players that have been assembled on this upcoming season’s roster and agrees that the culture of the program is heading in a positive direction. Although the season hasn’t even started yet, Horton already has only great things to say about his new boss.
“Andy is a blast to be around and this has created a really fun energy with both the players and staff through the spring and the summer,” said Horton.
He also had good things to stay about his fellow assistant coaches, including Tony Bland, Jason Hart, Kevin Norris, Kurtis Shultz (strength and conditioning) and Chris Capko (Director of Basketball Operations).
“We all get along really well and there has been a lot of synergy among us, which I’m a big believer in, and I commend Andy on molding together a really solid group of coaches that love working with each other,” said Horton.
Before coming to USC, Horton was a head coach for 14 years, 10 years (1997-2006) at Fullerton College, and the other four (2007-10) at Antelope Valley College, where he previously left to come to USC. As a head coach, Horton holds an impressive 296-170 (.640) record en route to taking his teams to the post season every year. In 2011, he was recognized by Basketball Times Magazine as one of the best future NCAA Division 1 Head Coaches in America.
“While I was a head coach, the major focus of my program was always to help our players mature, learn accountability and graduate, which is the same here,” said Horton. “If we accomplish these things, the athletes will be better students, better players and better people. The major lessons we as coaches teach our kids have nothing to do with basketball…they have to do with life.”
After working with O’Neill for the previous three seasons, Horton claims that from a style standpoint, this team is going to be a lot different than that of year’s past. According to Horton coach Enfield is doing a lot of new things with the offense that is allowing players to get familiar with his system and right now, he is playing more of the role of a teacher, rather than a coach.
“Andy is very offensive minded and there is a heavy emphasis placed on player development and one-on-one breakdowns, which is something we hadn’t done in the past,” said Horton. “And the guys have really responded well to this style because they really like the one-on-one attention.”
Horton’s is going to be more “behind the scenes” as a special assistant. Under Horton’s new occupation, he can no longer recruit or coach on the floor, but what he does before and after the game with the coaching staff, and during practice with the players, ultimately dictates how the team is going to prepare for their next opponent.
“Most of my impact is going to come in the office with Andy and behind closed doors,” said Horton. “My greatest asset for the program right now is being a sounding board for Andy and the rest of the staff, using my experience here at USC, along with the 20 years under my belt at the collegiate level.”
When asked about the overall direction program, Horton stressed the fact that no program is transformed over night and that it could take a few years before we get to where we want to be, which is ultimately the Elite Eight or Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
“This transition is going to need to take place over a period of time and we could take a little bump here or there, but our hope is that by year two, three, and four [under Enfield], there will be an incremental increase as far as wins,” said Horton.