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An Evolutionary Effort : Grant Forward Enowitz Gives the 'Big E' New Meaning

February 17, 1988|CHRIS J. PARKER | Times Staff Writer

A thin, ghost-white player runs out on the court as Grant High's public-address announcer brings the near-capacity crowd to its feet.

"And for Grant," he yells, "Danny, E for effort, EEEE-nowitz!!!"

Enowitz exchanges lackadaisical mid-fives with his teammates and the nonchalant expression on his face never changes. His demeanor contrasts sharply with that of the emotional crowd. He looks bored.

E for effort? More like E for easygoing.

Enowitz is anything but flashy. A 6-foot, 3-inch, 170-pound forward, Enowitz is not even fleshy. Instead, he looks like a classic underachiever with Droopy-the-Dog eyes, a slow gait and a casual manner on the basketball court.

Yet, Enowitz has hustled and scrapped his way to impressive numbers: He averages a team-high 17.7 points a game and is second in rebounds (8.4) and assists (2.7). Grant, which tied North Hollywood for the East Valley League title, is 17-3 overall heading into the first round of the City Section 3-A Division playoffs Friday.

"Danny makes believe that he doesn't work very hard," Grant Coach Howard Levine said. "But Danny's a phony when he says he doesn't work hard. He works harder than anyone else."

It just looks weird when he's doing it. Enowitz's favorite shots are a herky-jerky jump shot and a loping left-handed hook, last seen in popular use while Truman was still president.

"I don't know how it goes in," teammate Sean Watkins said, "but it goes in."

Two years ago, Levine coached Grant's B team to a 14-0 record and Enowitz was named the league's player of the year. Enowitz and Levine moved to the varsity the next season, but Enowitz and his running hooks produced mixed results. Grant sputtered through an 11-11 season and Enowitz struggled.

"Last year was really tough. It was the toughest I've ever had it," Enowitz said. "It was the most adjustments I've made, the most pressure I've handled."

Part of the problem was learning a new position. Enowitz was a small forward and off-guard for Grant's B team but a point guard for the varsity. "Danny was the best player I had," Levine said. "I wanted Danny with the ball so he became our point guard."

Although he requested the position, Enowitz realized his shortcomings were basic. "It's not easy to have a point guard that can't dribble," he said.

Ballhandling was another skill Enowitz worked overtime to develop.

While playing for the B team, Enowitz practiced long after Grant's practices were over. It worked well over a two-month schedule, but when he tried to work as hard over the longer varsity season, he ran out of steam.

"As hard as he goes, I think he burned himself out," Levine said.

At first, it seemed Enowitz would excel at his new position. In Grant's first scrimmage, he outscored Taft's Kevin Franklin in a head-to-head matchup. The accolades poured in even though Enowitz had yet to play a varsity game.

"I thought I was more ready to play than I was," he said.

Franklin went on to lead the Valley-area players in scoring with a 31.6 average. Enowitz averaged 11.2 points and 3.6 assists.

"I felt like I let a lot of people down," Enowitz said. "I couldn't handle the pressure and it didn't seem as fun. Last year was a real long season for me."

This season Enowitz calls it quits when Levine does, acknowledging that lighter workouts have saved his strength for the playoffs. "I learned what you need to do," Enowitz said.

The combination of playing on a better team this season and back at forward also has helped.

"Last year, if we fell just an inch, we got our butts kicked. . . . This year, we were going for the league title. It's a level above and whatever pressure there is, we want it," he said.

The Lancers have been buoyed by the addition of three talented juniors. Center Troy Mcleod is averaging 9.8 rebounds and 9.1 points a game, Watkins is averaging 12.4 points and guard Nate Conner was averaging 17 points a game before an ankle injury sidelined him two months ago.

"I didn't feel that he was their best player," Sylmar Coach Billy Reed said after Enowitz scored a game-high 26 points against the Spartans. "Without Mcleod getting their rebounds, they wouldn't be anywhere. I felt Watkins and Mcleod were the two best players. He just happened to be there at the right spot. I didn't feel that he was the kid who beat us."

Enowitz has said that Conner is the team's best player, but Levine said Enowitz is just selling himself--and his contributions--short.

"He's a great leader," Levine said. "It's not only stats, it's doing a lot of little things. He's invaluable when it comes to those things."

And he can still do the big things--like score. Enowitz has averaged 22 points a game in his past four games and scored 41 points in the Lancers' 90-86 overtime loss to Granada Hills earlier this season.

But Enowitz is self-conscious about shooting so much. "I scored 41 points and we lost," he said. "Everyone wants to score, but I'm more concerned with winning. I'd like to score 30 points, but I don't think we would win too many games."

Levine disagrees, insisting that Enowitz should stop worrying about missing shots and instead concentrate on taking shots. "He's striving for perfection and he's harder on himself than anyone else," Levine said.

Enowitz might be the only one to give himself an E for effort.

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