Tag Archives: Galen Center

USC Trojans Basketball Preview: Andy got a Point Guard

Well we’re not in El Paso any more, Amanda. Ok, so the Enfields never were in El Paso but I still haven’t come down from Andy’s jab at the guy who used to have his job, Tim Floyd. Nevertheless, getting this Trojan program up to par is going to take a little more than tapping heels and repeating a wishful determination. It’s also going to take more than Katin Reinhardt. But with Byron Wesley returning…wait, he’s in Spokane playing for a national title contender? Well shit. So let’s be serious: Year 2 of the Galen Dunk Center is probably going to be a little rough. Not quite two-conference wins rough, but not a ton better.

Why I Love Them:

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The Galen Dunk Center

As the new basketball coach at USC, Andy Enfield will give stiff competition to Lane Kiffin for hottest spouse in the Athletic Department.



Layla Kiffin



Amanda Marcum

OK, so now that that’s out of the way, I love this hire. But it’s on pure potential, speculation, and magic stemming from his run to the Sweet Sixteen.

Looking at the numbers we can’t say a ton about Enfield. After all, there are only two season’s worth of data to determine much about his coaching abilities. He got this year’s team – which included the conference’s POY, Sherwood Brown – to play at a top-50 tempo (last season, Enfield’s first, they were closer to average, coming in as the 101st fastest squad). They shot 52.3% of their shots from 2pt distance (Dunk City) this season. America got to see them play a fun, energetic, exciting, root-for-able brand of ball. He, like cross town rival Steve Alford, has been to one Sweet Sixteen.

He assisted at at Florida State beginning in 2006. During that time, the Seminoles had four Top-25 recruiting classes. Is this enough to say he’s cut his recruiting teeth? Maybe. But note: did you see the spouse he recruited? Have I mentioned that?

Because ultimately, most of what we know is anecdotal. It’s surface. It’s fluff. Like a Maxim model, it’s shiny and pretty and wonderful on the outside; but we’re going to have to date her to find out if there’s any depth.

Further fact finding, however, suggests that this guy has been wildly successful in just about every endeavor he’s undertook: HS valedictorian, All-American basketball player (and All-Academic), entrepreneur (TractManager, All Net Shooting), NBA shooting coach, FGCU head coach (.594 win %, Sweet Sixteen), dating (perhaps NSFW).

Pat Haden has made a risky hire but an exciting one.

Of course the merits of such a hire will be evaluated on the eventual wins and losses accumulated by Enfield and the program he’s about to build. One must adhere to rule #12 in Surviving Your Coaching Hunt. Believe.

And Haden – by “winning the press conference” – has made it a lot easier to believe.

In January, I called this coaching hunt the Battle for Los Angeles following the firing of O’Neill. The respective regimes in Pauley and the Galen Center were failing to bring in local talent which had been central to each of their previous success.

So now the battle begins – Alford v. Enfield – and I love what Haden has done. He’s taken the completely polar opposite pick to that of his rival. Alford is a good hire, a guy with a proven track record of sound success and should continue to do such. Enfield has an HC track record of two years. Both are wildcards.

But my favorite part of this is the contrasting styles.

Alford has the bigger name job. His arena has 11 banners dangling in it and there is little doubt that he should be able to capture most blue chippers out of the LA area. He’ll have to fight for them, but UCLA will always have clout and a leg up on these recruitments. But his style could be limiting. Some players might not fit well and that’s where Enfield can swoop in, garner some of the premium athletes, and build the budding legend of The Galen Dunk Center.

This contrast propagates the Battle for Los Angeles, a fresh take on a classic rivalry.

Ultimately, however, comparing these hires is to compare apples and oranges. The parallels end at “vacant position.” Haden had the drawing board. Guerrero had the gauntlet. Time will tell whether these are “good hires” or not for their respective situations.

Alas, I like the Enfield hire for the excitement it garners which is the best it can do when no games are being played. Did you see the Galen stands as the season came to a close? This program needed an injection of joy. Haden delivered.


For Comparison’s Sake: Nothing

A comparative analysis is a problem solving methodology used to minimize subjectivity and maximize objectivity. Exhibit A vs. Exhibit B. In the instance I was trying to use it last night – a circumstance in which I was trying to find some silver lining, some reason that it was OK for Arizona to have lost to the conference’s seventh place team by allowing them to shoot greater than 60% afield.

I present to you, Exhibit Michigan.

Wow losing to Penn State is bad and while it isn’t quite TCU, it sure ain’t good. And so you see you what I did there? In Arizona losing, I rationalized it – analyzed it comparatively, if you will – to other high major upsets. As if somehow Michigan’s loss from earlier in the night could vindicate the Wildcats.

Well that lasted less than a minute (s/o to my first) and I was brought back to thinking, picking, ignoring, lamenting, and generally agonizing over USC’s victory. On my mind was:

  • 89 points – Most points yielded this season by Arizona
  • -9 – Rebounding margin
  • 61.1% – USC’s shooting percentage, the highest of all-time
  • Cab or Ale – Wasn’t sure if it’d be Red Wine or Beer
  • 1.17 – Trojan points per possession

Over and over again I looked at the box score but couldn’t find much to make the confusion go away. For comparison’s sake, I was lost, and remain lost.

But the fact of the matter is, until that group of men and women sit inside a hotel conference room and pick a handful of teams to dance, comparison does no good. Arizona has got to do Arizona and they haven’t done that. Why has Sean Miller had to discuss defensive effort in his past umpteen pressers? Themes outside of winning are bad and, what’s worse, effort is a completely controllable component of one’s game.

Effort, in fact, has been a central cog to what we’ve seen Arizona face as the Pac-12’s most hunted team since the season began. And we knew that would be the case. They arrived as the hyped team and then won 14 straight, rising to third in the nation, and everyone wants a piece of that. It’s no surprise that teams show up with their best effort to play Arizona.

I’m just wondering when will Arizona show up with theirs?

The Battle for LA in Pat Haden’s Office

Please let me know if you have not heard of the following basketball players. I’ll be happy to tell you all about them:

But odds are you have heard of these players who never played a single minute for a university in their home city of Los Angeles. They played as Longhorns, Wildcats, Aztecs, even Sun Devils; but not one was a Bruin or Trojan.

So in the wake of Kevin O’Neill’s dismal at USC, the collective eyes of West Coast basketball settle onto the administrative offices of Pat Haden. Here is a man with the potential to restructure Pac-12 hoops with ripple effects across every conference on this coast; his own conference not withstanding. It’s no secret that Los Angeles produces talent and that the Pac-12 is a down conference today. Such a combination would appear to make a seat in the Galen Center a desirable one. Should that coach begin to garner the talent that has seemingly “fallen through the cracks” (Jamaal Franklin, Kendall Williams, all of the above), well then there are games to be won.

Of course there is the case of the cross-town and mighty Bruins. Owners of a pyramid and infinitesimal championships, it’s assumed they snatch up the major talent and leave pittance for the rest. Not true.

Ben Howland has burnt just about every possible bridge in what is to be considered his breadbasket. Don’t believe me? Of Howland’s recruiting classes since 2008, he has secured eleven commitments from Californians. Of these Golden Staters, just two (Norman Powell and Jerime Anderson) are on the roster or remained four years and one was a first round one-and-done (Jrue Holiday). These three cases we can argue are successful. Beyond that is where it gets ugly: two left shockingly early to be second round picks (Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee); two were dismissed from the team (Anthony Stover and Reeves Nelson); and four have transferred (Brendon Lane, De’End Paker, Drew Gordon, and Tyler Lamb). Howland’s potentially program altering 2012 class? Zero Californians. I could put the same critique to KO and his recruiting at USC but when you run the unsustainable model of accepting oodles of transfers, losing six games, and playing under NCAA sanctions, recruiting become a bit of an afterthought.

It’s this very local ineptitude that has me fascinated with this USC coaching a hunt. A home run here will put the heat on UCLA. Can the biggest program on the west coast –if not the country – really play second recruiting fiddle at home? I’m not questioning whether or not UCLA is a better job than USC – I’m taking the UCLA job seven days a week and twice on Sunday – but the Trojans have the opportunity to become LA’s team and to be regularly successful without having to do much work. Meanwhile in Westwood, a national recruiting hunt and association with the perceived dirtiest recruitments ever gets exhausting. It screams “no identity.” Wanna hear some names that played in those three Final Fours we still talk about? Afflalo, Shipp, Collison, Farmar, Roll, Mata-Real, Westbrook, Bozeman, Hollins. Some fun Trojan names from 06-09 with a 68-37 record? Young, Pruitt, Hackett, Jefferson, Derozan All of the aforementioned were contributing LA kids.

The last four Gatorade California HS Players of the year are all in college. None are in Los Angeles. This fact has Sean Miller, Tad Boyle, Steve Fisher, and every other coach in a less-than-talent-rich area salivating. There’s already significant questioning surrounding what’s happening behind Dan Guerrero’s door and I have to imagine he’s thinking hard about what to do.

So Pat Haden has a list and with that list I believe he will dictate a lot more than the bank account and real estate maneuvering of a man on that list. He has the opportunity to seismically shift Pac-12 basketball. But more finitely:

The battle for Los Angeles is on.

Pac-12 Week 2 Preview: BCS Titles and the Road

Damn this previews-due-on-Wednesday thing is a real quick turnaround but it ultimately just means we get to spread our watching out. I do love the routine of Thursday-Saturday but also appreciate the expansive television draw the league and network gain by not having games overlapped all Thursday night. Grinding out previews and reviews will be tough…

But unlike a Notre Dame defense, I’m up to the task.

I was hoping to get to attend my first Pac-12 game of the season Wednesday but it’s my pal’s birthday and so the two Bay Area games will likely be taken in peripherally. I don’t know what elements of mayhem this birthday celebration will get us in to but it can’t get much wilder than a monitor review in Tucson (still too soon?).

Anyhow, at the time of this writing (Tuesday night) I was tied with UCLA for number of road games played at zero. Yeah, you read that right. UCLA hasn’t played a single away game this season and while their trip to Houston to play Texas could be considered semi-road, the paltry 2,797 attendees barely qualifies it as a game, tree-noise-forest. Regardless, Ben’s Boys are winners of seven straight and somewhat surprisingly unranked after beating Missouri amidst that streak.

Enough fun facts. Some previews snippets and it:

Game of the Weekend: The nod easily goes to Arizona’s first trip into Matt Court. Indeed the Wildcats have never played upon the trees and are winless against the Ducks as members of the Pac-12. I even read a tweet that a Vegas book keeper thinks this will be Arizona’s first loss. That, my friends, is a recipe for intrigue. And then getting down to it, these are two teams that match up pretty interestingly. Both squads spread things out pretty evenly as Oregon has six players scoring 8 or more points per game and Arizona has five such stand outs. Both make a concerted effort on the defensive end and while Arizona finds their way to victories on the perimeter (38% of shots from three at a 38% make rate), the Ducks are going to come at the Cats in the paint (just 29% from deep at a 31% clip). STATS! This game is ultimately a battle for momentum in a Pac-12 battle that is Arizona’s to lose. And I’ll be damned if winning don’t matter for something. Following my discussion with ATQ’s Dave and Matt, I’m excited to see what a bumping Matt Knight experience looks like as those two ducks confirmed for me that this is the biggest game to hit that tree’d court since its inception and the since Dana donned the sidelines in Eugene.

Game to Avoid: Call me a Pac-12 homer but this is a tough one. I can derive story lines in just about every single game but that’s probably just because I’m the preeminent Pac-12 hoops blogger out there(?). Ha, that was arrogance stolen from Lost Angeles who’s moved on to Bachelor recaps (hilarious) after a disappointing USC football season. But seriously, eye balling the weekend there isn’t anything grossly abysmal but I can’t not (yes, double negative) look at USC’s visit to Salt Lake. These two teams combined for 12 wins last year and, for lack of a worse term, that’s god-awfully-tragically-rock-bottom. But a season removed from that crap, these two haven’t done too much to shift our thinking. Good on the Utes for already surpassing the six-win mark as well as their morally victorious trip to the Grand Canyon State. The Utes are on their way up from a really low, low. Meanwhile, the 6-9 Trojans have disappointed even though they’ve played the 10th toughest schedule in the nation. I can try and pump these two as formidable foes but until either one does something to boot the homer talk and get legit, there ain’t much to discuss.

Something to Prove: The California Golden Bears. Are they elite, average, or poor. It’s like Goldie Locks’ damn porridge bowls, and beds; I can’t tell if these guys are good, average, or bad. On the one hand, they have some tremendous talents in Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. On the other, they can’t hold home court against Harvard; who may be an up-and-up program but who should not beat a Mike Montgomery team on its home court. So this weekend, when the Cal Bears host arguably the easiest of any of the travel companions, anything less than a sweep would be time for panic and the start of a dialogue I’m keeping an eye on: What to make of the Monty-in-Berkeley-era? As I’ve said, we’re very early in the season and I could see Cal being remarkably competitive with a consistent Ty Wallace, but they’re not there yet and they really should be. This weekend will be their best opportunity to prove they mean business.

Something to Lose: This early in the season, I can’t say there is a ton at stake but the Stanford Cardinal have a lot to lose this weekend. I’ve long thought of them as a sleeping giant in this improving Pac-12 and they’ve done little to make me believe they’re vastly improved from last season’s 26-win, NIT championship squad. Frankly, I think this team is a lot better than they’ve played to date and while they own competitive losses to Mizzou and NC State, they also wear losses to Belmont and USC; schools that have combined for two BCS victories including Stanford’s loss at USC. To this point, I’m too high on the Cardinal’s pieces to imagine they need to fight their way back into the mix but their 0-2 start doesn’t exactly instill confidence before they host a less than intimidating Washington faction. Anything less than a sweep for the Cardinal and I have to imagine the rest of the season’s games become must wins. Yeah, we drop “must win” in week 2 at PacHoops.

The YouTuber: I can’t get enough of this and maybe I’m late to the party on this but the Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach was, well…a big kid. Enjoy it:

Multiple Reasons for Optimism in the Galen Center

USC has a lot to look forward to this year and it has become somewhat of a national dialogue as they return a whole new look from last year’s injury debacle.

  1. Demon Deacons – The Trojans welcome two former Wake Foresters in JT Terrell and Ari Stewart. Terrell has the bigger upside with regards to immediate impact as he’ll be asked to light it up from distance; something he certainly can do.
  2. The Keck School – In case you’re unfamiliar, that’s USC’s medical school. A place that’s now nursed Jio Fontan, Dewayne Dedmon, and Aaron Fuller back to health. That’s a lot of injured talent the Trojans were missing last year and now regain.
  3. Sweat – KO has repeatedly called this the hardest working group he’s ever coached which is saying something considering the demanding nature of KO-ball. And, as we’ve learned from an early age, hard work usually translates into success!
  4. Shoulders – I’m not talking about Aaron Fuller’s now healthy ones. I’m talking about the chip on the collective Trojan shoulder. KO has referenced it and one has to believe that any group cast off as many times as this patchwork lineup has been, would likely have an axe to grind. Or a chip on their shoulder, pick your cliché.
  5. Two – That’s the number of conference games they’ll need to win to improve on last season’s total. Hey! Baby steps.
  6. Quack – Another shot at the Ducks! Too soon?
  7. Lottery – KO once called Dewayne Dedmon a future pick by a team on a Ping-Pong ball. His 2011-12 campaign was shortened by knee injury as the seven-footer continues to learn the game. If in his time off he’s pieced together a little more basketball acumen, look out, the Trojans just might live up to their rebuilt hype.