It's that time of year when there's not that much to talk about in the college basketball world. When stories do happen, bloggers jump on them because they're happy to have something to cover. So there aren't as many stories, but they're well covered. The only people reading this time of year are basketball junkies. Not much news - but they can immerse. It's a good system.
What bloggers/national sites do to fill this space is create meaningless way-too-early predictions, and of course they include the caveat in the text self-describing their work as "way-too-early," as if the reader didn't already know that.
So in that vein I'm offering up this, which is a way-too-early prediction at who the next no-name coach will be to hit the big time.
Remember this name: Andy Enfield.
1. He's young, and seemingly has the chops. Enfield, 42, just completed his first season as a head coach at Florida Gulf Coast University. The school has only been around since 1997, and they've fielded a basketball team for ten years. This was the first year in which they were eligible for post-season play. Not that it matters, because they've always been horrible. Plus, the best two players on the team transferred following the coaching change. Enfield began with seven new players.
The best pre-season basketball guide - the Blue Ribbon Yearbook - stated that "it's hard to imagine anything but a rough start to the Enfield era."
In the ten team Atlantic Sun, only the top-8 make the post-season tournament, and the Eagles were no lock. Then, with a starting lineup featuring only one returning starter, Enfield led FGCU to their best ever record - both overall, and in the Atlantic Sun. And in their inagural post-season tournament they did the improbable by advancing to the A-Sun finals. There, they were knocked off by Belmont for the conferences automatic bid.
2. Enfield has been an assistant to two of the great defensive minds in the college game: Rick Pitino and Leonard Hamilton. His most recent stint was five seasons on Ham's bench at Florida State. And like coach Hamilton, he seems to covet size. His biggest starter this season was 6-8 Eddie Murray. But since he landed in Fort Myers, Enfield has brought in 6-9 Filip Cvjeticanin, 6-10 Leonard Livingston, and 6-9 Eric McKnight (a transfer from Iowa State) and 6-10 Nate Hicks (a transfer from Georgia Tech).
Enfield has also stated that he's going to bring the same defensive principles he learned under coach Hamilton to his new team. This will be a important part of his recruiting pitch.
3. He has an NBA pedigree. He began his coaching career as the shooting coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, and then transitioned into an assistant for Rick Pitino's Celtics. More importantly, once he left the NBA, be started his own consulting business (All Net Basketball) in which he tutored NBA players in the off-season in order to help them develop their shots.
It's no surprise that Florida State's recruiting elevated a couple levels while Enfield was on the staff. It's a compelling story to be able to tell recruits - come play for Coach Enfield and learn (for free) the same things that established NBA players were paying him for.
With the departure of Belmont from the Atlantic Sun (replaced by Northern Kentucky), competing in the conference will be easier. And with so many new faces around the FGCU program, Enfiled should have few roadblocks in implementing his system. How successful will that system be? Who knows, but don't be surprised in two or three years to hear his name tossed around for job openings.
Love it! Andy will be successful no matter what he does with the rest of his career. His parents did a fantastic job raising Andy and his siblings, all of whom are very successful! He is a great father and husband. FGCU made a fantastic hire and I would imagine that Andy will continue to make the program more successful, both in wins and academics. What was missed in this article was that as good as he was on the court (All-time NCAA career free-throw percentage record making 431-466, still holds nine career records at Johns Hopkins, led the team in scoring in all four seasons en route to a program record 2,025 career points) he was just as sharp in the classroom, as the economics major earned GTE Academic All-America first team honors as a senior and second team honors as a junior. He was the first basketball player at Johns Hopkins to earn an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and was named the NABC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1991. After receiving his Master’s Degree from the University of Maryland his coaching career began... No one knows what the final chapter in this kid’s life will be but between now and then I bet there will be an NCAA Championship and a high percentage of college graduates. Isn't that what it is about anyway?