As of Monday night, the two major colleges in Los Angeles now have new head men’s basketball coaches. UCLA already hired former New Mexico coach Steve Alford, while USC made the hire that grabbed the headlines, snatching up former Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield.
Appreciate this, SoCal. Because this could be fun.
Alford brings his name — the one that was an Indiana legend and helped New Mexico dominate the Mountain West Conference, making inroads in the California recruiting scene (Kendall Williams, Tony Snell, Drew Gordon). Enfield brings the “Dunk City” persona. The image he helped cultivate in his two seasons as the head coach at FGCU. He did something no one else has done in the history of the NCAA Tournament in taking a 15 seed to the Sweet 16. And he did it in dominant fashion.
When you really look at it, the differences between these two make for an incredible dynamic.
Alford is as “grind-it-out” as anyone. His teams slow it down on offense and hound the opposition on defense. The Lobos were never ranked higher than 122nd in KenPom.com’s adjusted tempo ratings. Though they finished 19th or better in adjusted defense the past two seasons. It’s a carbon copy of former coach Ben Howland’s style, with better recent results.
Enfield is the creator of Dunk City. His teams, in his brief career, play above the rim. They go up with little regard for themselves or for the defender. Block, charge or no-call. The Eagles ran, flicked no-look passes effortlessly and tossed lobs with aplomb. They were fast (69.1 possessions per game, per KenPom.com, good for 42nd in the country), they played loose (as their 21 turnovers per game suggested). They were the opposite of any team Alford has ever coached. Enfield even brings his own splash of Hollywood with his supermodel wife.
Even in terms of career path, the two aren’t anywhere near similar. Alford worked his way up coaching from Division III to Southeast Missouri State to Iowa, New Mexico and now UCLA. Enfield parlayed two seasons of collegiate head coaching into a head job in the Pac-12. A grinder against a fast-riser. Just like the way their teams play.
These two coaches couldn’t be any different in a lot of areas. With that, enjoy it, SoCal, for as long as it lasts. If Enfield is able to revive the USC program and Alford is able to provide stability, you could be in for some of the best collective basketball that area has seen in awhile.
Follow David Harten on Twitter @David_Harten