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PAC-12 BASKETBALL

USC's Andy Enfield takes shot at UCLA

New coach says his remark in practice, 'If you want to play slow, go to UCLA,' was meant to stay on court.

October 17, 2013|By Diane Pucin
  • UCLA sophomore Kyle Anderson fields questions during the the Pac-12 Conference basketball media day in San Francisco on Thursday.
UCLA sophomore Kyle Anderson fields questions during the the Pac-12 Conference… (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)

SAN FRANCISCO — The buzz around the Pac-12 Conference's basketball media day Thursday was that the conference will be better, perhaps good enough to produce five or six NCAA tournament teams, and that Arizona might be good enough to make a Final Four or even bring home a national championship.

The buzz about Los Angeles' teams was mostly supplied by something new USC Coach Andy Enfield said during a recent practice, as quoted in a Bay Area newspaper: "We play up-tempo basketball here," Enfield reportedly barked at his players. "If you want to play slow, go to UCLA."

Enfield, who came to USC from fast-paced Florida Gulf Coast, where his team was nicknamed "Dunk City," didn't try to deny his bit of practice trash talk. But he said it hadn't been meant for public consumption.

"I said something like that in practice last week," Enfield said. "What I say in practice on the court and to the team is meant to stay on the court.

"I have a very sarcastic personality. I don't use profanity, I use sarcasm. I blew my whistle, yelled a little bit, and that's what came out of my mouth."

Enfield said he meant no disrespect to UCLA or its new coach, Steve Alford. "I understand the UCLA-USC rivalry is great for the city," Enfield said.

Alford was measured when asked about the incident.

"I've got great respect for Andy," Alford said. "I wish him all the best. We're just concerned with building a model program. That's my job, my undertaking. To develop young men on the basketball court, in the classroom."

Sitting next to Alford was guard Kyle Anderson and Alford quipped, "We haven't nicknamed Kyle 'Turbo.' We've labeled Kyle 'Slo-Mo.'"

More seriously, Alford said that UCLA would rely heavily on Anderson and senior twins David and Travis Wear. "We've got the talent, the pieces, to have a very good year," Alford said.

Alford was also asked about the coach he replaced, Ben Howland, who took three UCLA teams to Final Fours but was fired after the Bruins won last season's Pac-12 regular-season title.

"Ben had tremendous success," Alford said. "It doesn't mean we're the same or different. It doesn't make one way right or wrong. It's all new, our systems, our styles. We communicate with players a lot differently. It's not good one way or bad the other. There are just so many different ways to get to success."

Accompanying Enfield was senior guard J.T. Terrell, who said he was "hoping for better games with UCLA" and predicted he would get 50 dunks this season.

UCLA, ranked No 23 nationally in a coaches' poll released Thursday, was chosen to finish second in the conference behind Arizona, which was No. 5 in the coaches' poll. USC was voted 11th in the conference, ahead of only Washington State.

Rim shots

Arizona Coach Sean Miller, in his fifth season with the Wildcats, said the conference was the strongest top to bottom as he'd seen it. "One of the things often overlooked is not who's at the top but at the bottom half of the league," Miller said. "We've never had more depth as a conference, and some of those teams picked at the bottom might finish at the top." … Oregon, at No. 18, joined Arizona and UCLA in the coaches' top 25. California, Arizona State and Colorado also received votes. … Commissioner Larry Scott said there were no expectations that DirecTV would carry the Pac-12 Networks during this basketball season.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

Twitter: @mepucin

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