Florida Gulf Coast v Florida

Andy Enfield makes a huge hire, bringing Tony Bland to USC

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Andy Enfield did what he had to do if he wanted a chance to succeed at USC.

He went out and he hired the two best west coast recruiters that he could.

Over the weekend, it was Jason Hart that was hired, an LA native and a former Syracuse guard that spent last season as an assistant at Pepperdine. He’s well-respected, he’s got west coast ties and he’s generally regarded as a good hire.

The bigger deal, however, is today’s hire of former San Diego State assistant coach Tony Bland. Bland, like Hart, is a former Syracuse player and the kind of recruiter that can bring in talent. He’s credited with recruiting both Skylar Spencer and Winston Shepard to the Aztecs, and he’ll be getting more than $300,000 a year by Enfield, which should give you an idea of just how valuable of an asset he is.

In fact, if you want an idea of just how big of a deal this hire is, there was more scuttlebutt around whether or not Bland would go to USC than any other coaching move during Final Four weekend.

All of a sudden, USC looks like the program on the rise out west.

“Tony Bland is the best young recruiter on the West Coast, and is extremely visible,” CBSSports.com recruiting analyst Jeff Borzello said. “He’s everywhere, and kids know who he is. Bland alone makes USC’s staff a force. Throw in Jason Hart, another California native, and you’ve got plenty of ties in Los Angeles.”

That is precisely what Enfield needed to do with his coaching staff.

He’s the guy that brings in an entertaining system. He’s the guy that will make USC fun to watch. He will help them win basketball games and put butts in seats at the Galen Center. But that can only happen if the Trojans bring in talented players that can thrive playing in Dunk City West. So Enfield went out and hired the guys that will get him the players.

Why did anyone doubt that Enfield would make the right move when putting together his staff?

Think about this: the guys has been awesome at everything that he’s done in life. He scored 2,000 points in college and became a shot doctor that worked with NBA players despite being a Division III athlete. He’s not a terribly good looking dude and he managed to get a Maxim cover model to marry him. He was one of the first people in at a firm that’s now worth billions. Florida State was good when he coached there. Florida Gulf Coast won 41 games in their first two seasons as a full-time Division I member, which may be the most impressive thing that he’s done in his life.

He’s really smart. He works really hard. And he’s never failed at anything that he’s ever done.

Winning basketball games at USC is never a guarantee.

But Enfield is just one of those guys that you don’t want to bet against. He gets things done. Why would this be any different?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 5 Xavier stumbles at Creighton, lose 70-54

Creighton's Cole Huff (13) and Toby Hegner, left, guard Xavier's Jalen Reynolds (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Mo Watson went for a career-high 32 points, seven boards and five assists as Creighton jumped out to an early 21-4 lead and never looked back, beating No. 5 Xavier, 70-54, in Omaha on Tuesday night.

 

It was a massive win for the Bluejays, who still have an outside shot at earning an at-large bid this season. (We wrote all about that here.)

As well as Creighton played, the bigger story here may actually be Xavier, who lost for just the third time this season; they had been the only top ten team with just two losses to their name.

The issue for the Musketeers tonight was two-fold, but they both are a symptom of what could be an issue down the road for this team: Xavier doesn’t really have a true point guard.

They certainly didn’t have anyone to stop Watson. By the second half, they had essentially asked Reynolds, who was playing the middle of their 1-3-1 zone to matchup with Watson. It was weird but was actually somewhat effective.

The Musketeers also started out ice cold from the floor, missing 11 of their first 13 shots, and those misses led to leak outs from Bluejays, who got layups and open threes in transition to build that 17 point lead. Once Xavier got behind, it turned into scramble mode for Xavier. They forced shots early in the clock and didn’t start pounding the ball into the paint until it was too late. What they needed was someone to be able to settle things, to ensure that offensive would get initiated and sets would get executed when they were able to get the lead down to single digits.

That 1-for-19 shooting performance from beyond the arc certainly didn’t help matters, and neither did the fact that they got just nine field goals all game from players not named James Farr or Jalen Reynolds. The most frustrating part for head coach Chris Mack? They had good shots. It wasn’t like Creighton took away everything that Xavier wanted to do.

The kids just had one of those nights where nothing went down.

Those happen.

And when you combine them with a total inability to contain the opposing team’s point guard, what you get is a 16 point loss on the road against a team that was desperate to get a good win.

Gill’s 16, ‘D’ lead No. 7 Virginia past Virginia Tech, 67-49

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AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Anthony Gill scored 16 points and No. 7 Virginia turned the tables on state rival Virginia Tech with a 67-49 victory Tuesday night, the Cavaliers’ seventh straight.

Isaiah Wilkins added a career-best 14 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 12 for the Cavaliers (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Virginia avenged a 70-68 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg on Jan. 4 in what rates as their worst performance of the season, and extended their winning streak at John Paul Jones Arena to 17 games.

Freshman Justin Robinson scored 16 points and classmate Chris Clarke had 11 in his first action for the Hokies (13-12, 5-7) since breaking his right foot in late December. Virginia Tech’s top two scorers, Zach LeDay (16.0 ppg) and Seth Allen (14.5), were limited to seven and six points, respectively, in part because of foul trouble.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said his team wasn’t ready to play when it lost to the Hokies earlier, but they have been surging of late and were focused from the outset. They were credited with assists and 14 of their first 15 baskets and forced 10 turnovers in the first half; they forced just eight in the last meeting of the teams.

For most of the game, the Hokies had more turnovers than field goals.

The Cavaliers led 32-20 at halftime and extended their advantage to 47-29 on a three-point play by Mike Tobey with 12:11 remaining. It capped an 11-4 run for Virginia, during which LeDay was whistled for his fourth foul. On Virginia’s next trip down court, it got the ball to Gill inside and LeDay basically backed off and let him score, quickly earning a spot on the bench.

The Cavaliers’ lead never dipped into single digits again.

The Hokies had just eight turnovers and outscored Virginia 26-6 off turnovers in their first meeting. This time, Virginia Tech had 10 turnovers by halftime and the Cavaliers had already turned them into 15 points. Virginia Tech finished with 16 field goals and 15 turnovers.

Already leading 9-6, Virginia got scoring from eight players in a 23-8 run that spanned about 8 1/2 minutes.

Gill started it with a dunk, Brogdon hit a 3-pointer, London Perrantes had a four-point play and Wilkins finished it with two free throws, giving the Cavaliers a 32-14 lead with 2:06 left in the half. They didn’t score again, and the Hokies closed within 32-20 by halftime.

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: The Hokies shot 57.1 percent (15 of 26) from the field in the second half of their 70-68 victory against Virginia on Jan. 4. … Virginia Tech’s starting five totaled four points in the first half.

Virginia: The Cavaliers have held four consecutive opponents to 50 points or fewer.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech plays at No. 12 Miami next Wednesday.

Virginia plays at Duke on Saturday.

Follow Hank on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr

The AP’s college basketball page: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org