In a telephone interview conducted last week by Chase Vergari for USCHoops.com, new USC Trojans men’s basketball head coach Andy Enfield discussed some unique topics and encouraged USC alumni and fans to get hooked right now, at the beginning of the new era.
On the talent level of the current team:
Coach Enfield was highly complimentary of Kevin O’Neill and his staff for scouting, recruiting and signing the current players on the roster. Coach Enfield noted that several of the players, including a couple of the freshmen, are very talented, and gave the credit to KO and his staff.
On the Power Forward position:
Coach Enfield said that there is currently a three-way battle for the starting Power Forward position between sophomore Strahinja Gavrilovic (Kragujevac, Serbia, by way of San Diego) and freshmen newcomers Nikola Jovanovic (Belgrade, Serbia by way of Jacksonville, Florida) and Roschon Prince (Long Beach Poly). Coach Enfield stressed that he prefers to play a 4-Out, 1-In offensive, meaning that the 4-Man (i.e., power forward) will need to be a threat from the perimeter. Coach Enfield also said that senior VCU transfer D.J. Haley was a 5-man (i.e., center), but that was not to say that Haley and senior Omar Oraby would not play at the same time, as Coach Enfield intends to experiment with different lineups.
On the playing rotation and when lineups would be set:
While Coach Enfield tended to use a 9-man rotation last season at Florida Gulf-Coast. When asked if he intended to do the same this season SC, Coach Enfield was non-committal, but his response indicated that (in all likelihood) a minimum of 9 players would be in the rotation; Coach Enfield indicated the rotation could be as many as 10 or even 11 players, but that he will continue to evaluate his personnel during the preseason practices, and won’t be making any decisions on player rotation at least for the next week, while players continue to compete.
On the team adjusting to the speed Enfield likes to play:
Coach Enfield stressed that playing fast causes teams to make more errors — both mental and physical — and that was a big reason for the pace he prefers. Enfield said the team is improving in terms of the number of turnovers the players are committing during practice, but that more improvement was needed when the games actually begin. Coach Enfield likes reiterated that by speeding up the pace of play, he hopes not only to force opposing teams into mistakes, but also to limit the exhibition of their skills during the game, as fatigue sets in. In that regard, ball pressure will be key for the Trojans’ defense. Coach Enfield was again complimentary of the work KO and his staff had put in to instill defensive fundamentals on the returning players. Finally, Coach Enfield said that his team will play both man-to-man and zone defenses during the season.
On the hand-checking point of emphasis:
When asked for his thoughts on the Pac-12 scrutinizing defensive hand-checking on the ball more closely, Coach Enfield pointed out that it was national point of emphasis, and that he is completely in favor of rules/points of emphasis to reduce hand-checking and promote freedom of movement. Coach Enfield believes hand-checking interferes with the pace and enjoyment of the game, and that emphasizing foul calls for hand-checking will open things up.
On what USC fans can do to help:
When asked if he had one thing to say to USC alumni and fans, Coach Enfield’s message was clear: he would love to see all of us in the stands at the Galen Center. Coach Enfield wants fans to get excited — not only for the future, but right away for this year’s team. Coach Enfield pitched it as getting in early: “If we do win and go to a Final Four or win a National Championship one day, you can say that you were there from the beginning of this new era, supporting this team.”
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