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USC's Andy Enfield coaches basketball like nobody's business

Andy Enfield brings hoops know-how and also ample experience in the finance world to new job as USC coach. And principles he learned in business inform his coaching.

April 15, 2013|By David Wharton
  • Andy Enfield was introduced as the new USC men's basketball coach at a news conference on Wednesday.
Andy Enfield was introduced as the new USC men's basketball coach… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

There is something about the way Andy Enfield leans back in a big leather chair, phone pressed against one ear, doodling on a notepad as he talks. His shirt is pressed, his cuff monogrammed.

The new boss of the USC basketball team looks more like a businessman than a coach.

"To run a Division I program," he says, "you need to be the CEO."

On his first day with the Trojans — after the introductory news conference — he spends a hectic couple of hours in his office scanning paperwork, scheduling appointments and sneaking bites of a shrimp salad that has been placed before him. The telephone rings every 20 minutes with another radio interview.

Listen to Enfield, 43, talk about the woman he married, a former model. "If you question my recruiting ability," he says, "just look at my wife."

Listen to him talk about "Dunk City," the run-and-fun brand of basketball that propelled unknown Florida Gulf Coast deep into the NCAA tournament, the type of offense he promises to instill at his new school. "Do recruits want to go somewhere and play a slowdown style?" he asks. "Or do they want to enjoy themselves and win?"

Enfield is working it, marketing himself, pitching what he's got to curious Southern California basketball fans. His delivery is laid-back and friendly, a little self-deprecating, but with a purpose.

He comes at the game from a slightly different angle.

——

Basketball was his first love.

Hailing from tiny Shippensburg, Pa., Enfield grew up watching his father coach the local ninth-grade team. His father also picked, shoveled and raked their sloping backyard to build a half-court.

"Andy would come home from school, jump rope, do ball-handling skills and shoot baskets," his mother, Barb, says. "He's sort of a perfectionist."

Hard work turned him into a star at Shippensburg High, where he scored more than 1,000 points in his final two seasons. But basketball wasn't his only interest.

"I was always a math guy," Enfield says. "And I liked business."

When it came time for college, Enfield kept two priorities in mind. He chose Johns Hopkins knowing he could start right away for the Division III team. As Coach Bill Nelson puts it: "He wanted to be a big fish in a little pond."

Hopkins also offered a top-notch education. While Enfield excelled on court — setting a Division III record by making 92.5% of his free throws — he earned Academic All-American honors and a degree in economics.

And, just after graduation, the Baltimore school offered one more opportunity, the chance to capitalize on an idea that had stuck with him for years.

"He would go to basketball camps when he was in junior high and high school," his mother says. "He realized how much money they were making on these camps."

Enfield approached Dave Pietramala, a star on Hopkins' powerhouse lacrosse team. They had met playing pickup basketball on campus.

"Andy was always very serious about whatever he was doing, whether it was schoolwork or sports," Pietramala recalls. "I don't want to say he was nerdy because he wasn't, but the other guys were more free-spirited, they'd joke a little more."

Enfield suggested that he and Pietramala start a lacrosse camp together. Back in Shippensburg, his father, Bill, thought: A lacrosse camp? Andy knows nothing about lacrosse. But Pietramala had the name recognition to attract students and the knowledge to coach. Enfield promised to handle the business end.

"He had a plan," Pietramala says. "We did some very successful camps."

It was the first step for a young man hoping to combine his two passions.

——

Less than a year. That's all it took.

After about 10 months of working at a major consulting firm, Enfield realized the traditional corporate path wasn't for him. Returning to school for an MBA at Maryland, he imagined a different future.

"I thought about a lot of businesses but I kept coming back to what I love," he says. "I wanted to make basketball a career."

First came a business plan for a new company, All Net Basketball, which would specialize in clinics, camps and instructional videos. Then he wrote to every team in the NBA, offering his services as a shooting guru. Most did not respond, and the few that did told him thanks but no thanks.

Enfield remained positive. So did his professor, Charles Heller, who recalls: "We worked the numbers and the strategy and the marketing. Andy was the typical entrepreneur in that he was very driven."

The best way to develop a reputation was to hit the road, networking with coaches he had met as a player, giving one-hour presentations at colleges and high schools.

The process was long and frustrating but Enfield believed in his product, knowing that he had isolated each detail of the shooting stroke and developed a sound teaching method.

"I broke it all down," he says. "I was scientific about it."

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