Q&A Enfield optimistic about second year with USC

first_imgAfter a rough first season, USC men’s basketball head coach Andy Enfield feels optimistic about the future of his team. USC was able to land some exciting prospects that could help the team compete immediately in the difficult Pac-12 conference. Daily Trojan staff writer Nick Barbarino recently had the chance to sit down with the second-year coach to get his thoughts on the upcoming season.Dunk City LA · Head coach Andy Enfield led USC to an overall record of 11-21 in his first season, with just two wins in Pac-12 play. Enfield guided Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament in 2013. – Ralf Cheung | Daily Trojan DT: Last season, Byron Wesley led the team in scoring with points per game. After losing him, who do you expect to step up this season?AE: We have a very talented freshman class, along with some sophomores that have experience. We have two new sophomores that were transfers that sat out (last season). So the bulk of our team is freshmen and sophomores. The advantage we have is that it’s a balanced group, meaning that we’re not relying on one player to score 20-something points a night for us. We have a lot of players capable of scoring in double figures, and we need everyone to step up in a different night. I think we have enough depth and enough potential scorers [that] it’ll be harder for opposing teams to design defenses just to stop one player.DT: Speaking of the incoming freshman class, this was the first time since 2010 that USC had brought in a top 100 recruit. Can you talk about that?AE: Well we have four guys who are top 100 players. Jordan McLaughlin, the point guard, was ranked No. 36 in the country. Shooting guard Elijah Stewart was ranked as high as 40th in one scouting service. Forward Malik Marquetti was in the 60s in one scouting service. And forward Malik Martin was in the top-100 in one scouting service. So we really have four guys that were in the top 100 in different scouting services. So to answer your last question, the advantage is bringing in talented players. Disadvantages, we’re going to rely upon our sophomores, the two transfers and the two players, Nikola [Jovanovich] and Julian Jacobs that played a lot last year, as well as Kahlil Dukes. And we have our juniors that provide leadership and depth at certain positions.DT: Speaking of the young team, how are you planning on keeping them focused throughout a long season that has many obstacles?AE: Well this is college basketball, they are here for a reason and that’s to be student athletes and have the opportunity of a lifetime. So if they’re not focused or ready to play, well then they need to be.DT: You were really famous for Dunk City two seasons ago in the NCAA Tournament. Are we going to see that type of play this year or is that in the past?AE: Dunk City was a name that someone else gave our team at Florida Gulf Coast. I was fortunate to coach a terrific group of young players that developed quickly and were able to execute a system in a very effective way on both ends of the floor. They were an excellent defensive and offensive team. There are particular parts of that system that I believe in and it starts on the defensive end and there are things that we want to do on the offensive end here at USC. Give our assistant coaches a ton of credit because those two transfers and the four freshmen that we’ve recruited and brought in as a staff are excellent players and they are able to fit what we’re trying to do on both ends of the floor. We also plan on bringing players in from the 2015 class that are able to do what we would like to do on the offense and defensive end.DT: With such a young team, what are you expecting to see this season? A lot of growth among the players or is this team ready to compete with the Arizona’s and UCLA’s of the Pac-12 conference?AE: We’re expecting to compete every game and every night out on the floor. I don’t set goals as far as wins and losses as a coach. And our coaching staff, our goal is to develop our players and make them better every week. As we go through the season, our young players need to mature and develop quickly because we don’t have any seniors. Our goal is to compete, get better and, if we do the things that we’re capable of doing on the offensive and defensive end, we should have a successful season.DT: You were able to bring in Jordan McLaughlin over many rival schools. What do you attribute that to?AE: We recruit for USC and what we’re trying to do. We recruited Jordan [McLaughlin] because we loved him as a player and he’s also a great kid. He comes from a wonderful family, and we think he has potential to be a big-time leader and just a terrific player at USC for the near future. We’re extremely excited about having Jordan [McLaughlin], and at the same time, we understand that he’s a freshman and it’s a great opportunity for him to come to a young team and develop quickly.USC kicks off their preseason schedule next Saturday, Nov. 15, against the Portland State Vikings. The game will be at the Galen Center with a tip-off time of 7:30 PST.last_img