Foam Finger: The Wild, Wild West Reels in Some Replacements
The Wichita State Shockers made it to the Final Four, Shaquille O’Neal retired his Lakers jersey last night, and the Dodgers are off to a not-too-shabby 1-1 start (as are the Giants, unfortunately). But surely the biggest sports news in town came out of Galen Center and Pauley Pavilion: Our down-and-out L.A. college teams have new skippers.
In The Land of Troy
USC’s “We Play to Rise” and Cantu Spirit campaigns are done. A new moniker/catch-phrase is in town. Florida Gulf Coast, a.k.a. Dunk City, was one of the biggest stories of the NCAA tournament. Now that school’s humble coach, Andy Enfield, is taking his talents to South Los Angeles. Enfield has said he already knows what it feels like to coach basketball at a football school, where shooting hoops is a second-rate pastime (or worse). He likes exciting, loose basketball, and he’s already working to piece together a re-realized Dunk City USC.
Over in Westwood
Former New Mexico coach Steve Alford will take the top spot for the Bruins squad and has pledged a more up-tempo style of basketball and a more defensively-sound playbook. His hiring comes on the heels of former UCLA coach Ben Howland getting the boot after the West Coast school failed to make enough noise in the NCAA tournament. Howland’s firing was an aggressive move for UCLA, but some are already calling Alford a downgrade. And the season hasn’t even begun.
Roughly seven months before either team’s next season begins, here’s how the rival coaches stack up:
Alma mater: Johns Hopkins
Cred: Division III Academic All-American; Division III All-American
NBA experience: coached shooting four seasons (Milwaukee, Boston)
Coaching record: 41-28 (overall)
Past: Milwaukee Bucks*, Boston Celtics*, Florida State*, Florida Gulf Coast
*—not head coaching roles
Alma mater: Indiana U.
Cred: 1987 NCAA champ (playing with Hoosiers); 1984 Olympic gold medal
NBA experience: played four seasons (Dallas, Golden State)
Coaching record: 463-235 (overall)
Past: Manchester, Southwest Missouri State, Iowa, New Mexico