SMU’s Enfield Calls ACC Job ‘Dream Come True’

Andy Enfield | Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

SMU officially introduced its new men’s basketball head coach, Andy Enfield, during a press conference on the campus Tuesday afternoon, and he quickly conveyed his excitement about building a competitive program in the ACC.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the Mustangs will join the conference in all sports later this summer, and Enfield, who grew up an ACC fan but played at Johns Hopkins University, had dreamed of leading an ACC program ever since he joined the coaching ranks.

“When I walked in here yesterday, and I met a lot of people today, the incredible support and energy and their commitment to winning here and to go to the ACC … wow, that’s, that’s what drew me to this job,” Enfield told the crowd. “I grew up an ACC fan in Southern Pennsylvania, close to the Maryland border in Shippensburg, PA. I grew up dreaming about playing in the ACC but wasn’t quite good enough to play in the ACC.”

“Then when I got into coaching, I said, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great to be an assistant coach in the ACC?'” he continued. “… Then when I became a head coach at Florida Gulf Coast University, I said my dream would be to one day be a head coach in the ACC, and now, I’m here. This is a dream come true for me, to be at a premier institution university … [and] to go into the premier basketball conference in the nation. What a dream. So I want to thank you for making this happen and thank you for helping me be here today.”

Enfield began his coaching career as an assistant coach in the NBA but achieved his dream of becoming an assistant in the ACC as part of the staff at Florida State from 2006 through 2011, leading to his first head coaching job at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).

“What I learned when I was at Florida State, one of the best coaches in Leonard Hamilton, was how to build a program,” Enfield remarked. “You have to have great people working with you, and the staff is extremely important. You have to recruit talented players and develop them and then have a great energy and positivity around your program to keep getting better, and you try to get there and sustain it.”

At FGCU, he led the Eagles to the Sweet 16 as a No.15 seed behind a fast-paced tempo that developed the “Dunk City” national moniker.

Enfield emphasized that he will continue to use his up-tempo playing style at SMU, which will be a significant change of pace compared to recent seasons. However, a commitment to defensive excellence should remain.

“Defense is number one,” Enfield explained. “We do try to play an up-tempo offensive style. … We prefer to spread the court and play an NBA style system but play a team game, and we, as coaches, always try to realize what we have talent-wise with the strengths and weaknesses on our team that really cater to the strengths of our team every season.”

Of course, the ultimate goal for SMU is to get back to the NCAA Tournament, in which it has appeared just twice in the last 30 years. In the past 11 years as USC’s head coach, Enfield led the Trojans to five NCAA Tournament appearances and even reached the doorstep of the Final Four in 2021 before falling to Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.

“This is a premier institution and university in the country, academically,” Enfield said. “Athletically, we have to get to that point in the men’s basketball program. That’s a challenge to the coaching staff, a challenge to the players, and everyone within our program. We all have to do this together. I don’t do anything by myself. I have a great support staff — great coaches — and try to hire the best people to do that. We’re going to recruit players that want to be here and want to work to get this program to the national level.”

While the move to the ACC helped land Enfield, his hiring may just be a sign of things to come in the new era of SMU Athletics.

“We’ve never been in this position before,” SMU Athletic Director Rick Hart told the media. “The pool of people that were available to us [in previous years], realistically, never looked like Andy, they haven’t had the resume of Andy, and there’s no guarantees. So to go out and get USC’s coach, who’s had consistent, sustained success for a decade, we just couldn’t have done it. It’s a different thought process, it’s a different approach, and it’s a different mindset, but I feel like I’ve been really fortunate because I think every coach we’ve had has moved our program forward in a significant way to set up the next era of that program to take the next step, and I think that’s where we are today.”

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