Andy Enfield is the head coach of Florida Gulf Coast University. In just its second year as a Division I program, Florida Gulf Coast earned its inaugural NCAA tournament berth by winning the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament. Enfield’s Eagles, who beat Miami early in the season, earned the No. 15 seed in the South region. Florida Gulf Coast (24-10) plays No. 2 seed Georgetown on Friday in Philadelphia.
It’s exciting that we have made it here so quickly. It’s only our second year with the program at Florida Gulf Coast. We never had a timetable as a coaching staff. When I first got the job in April 2011, I just told my staff I have a five-year contract and there’s no pressure to win right away, but we need to make improvements in this program quickly. I expect our staff to show up every day and every week just trying to make this program a better place, whether that’s with recruiting, academics, getting involved with the community or the student body, player development on the court or our team development.
This week will be special. None of our players have been to the NCAA tournament so we’ll try to get them ready mentally, but when we get there, I want them to have fun and enjoy the experience whether we win or lose. However far we advance or don’t advance, it’s something I want them to remember for the rest of their lives and take with them.
We have a great challenge in front of us on Friday when we go up against Georgetown, but I believe our players are prepared.
We had a challenging schedule early in the year. We played VCU, Miami, Duke, Iowa State and St. John’s. Georgetown is a tremendous basketball team. They have great players and an excellent coach. We understand how good the Hoyas are, but we’ve also played against teams just like Georgetown early in the season.
I think the way we played in the Atlantic Sun Tournament gives us confidence. We won 12 out of our last 14 games, played exceptionally well down the stretch. The Miami win, which many people will talk about with our team, was a long time ago. It seems like years ago even though it was a couple months ago; however, we understand we can beat a top-tier team in the country if we play well and Georgetown is no exception.
We were fortunate enough to play a team very similar to the Hoyas in our conference championship. Both Mercer and Georgetown are top 10-15 in the nation in scoring defense. Their styles are similar with their defense and their offensive execution.
Georgetown likes to slow the game down and we’ll try to push it, but the Hoyas are great at what they do. Only four teams all season have topped 70 points against them. Mercer gave up 57 points a game and we scored 88. If we can speed the tempo up and run at opportune times, that will be very important for our chance to win the game.
In the half court, we don’t have any back-to-the-basket big men like an Indiana or Duke. Our big men are tall, athletic, they’re fast, they jump, they have long arms, but we’re not a physical back-you-down team that’s going to score in the paint over people. We’re going to use our speed and our athleticism kind of like a Tyson Chandler mode. We’re looking to run our style and we’re not going to change. This is who we are. We’re built for an up-tempo style of play. If it takes us a little longer to get a good shot off, that’s okay as long as we get open shots.
The one player I’ve been asked about lot this week is Otto Porter, and it’s hard to prep for Otto Porter. He’s the Big East player of the year. He’s a potential lottery pick in the NBA Draft. We just have to understand that they have four other guys on the court who are pretty good too. You can’t just concentrate on one player. You have to look at their whole team and try to play team defense.
We are ready for the moment. We didn’t know how long it would take for us to be successful. The fact that it happened in two seasons I’m ecstatic about for our players and our university, but our staff hasn’t changed. We’ll continue to have the same mentality going forward.