Listen to Florida Gulf Coast University coach Andy Enfield and his free-wheeling players for a few minutes, and you can’t help but wonder if second-seeded Georgetown (25-6) stands a chance against the 15th-seeded Eagles (24-10) in a second-round NCAA Tournament game Friday night at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. If there’s a tense nerve in their bodies, it was impossible to tell from their bravado in Thursday’s media session.
The NCAA Tournament has a way of taking unknown schools and bathing them in their 15 minutes of fame, and Enfield and his players lit up for the cameras when they got the chance to explain who they are and what they’re doing here. FGCU is a school that was founded in 1991 and just moved up to Division I six years ago and became eligible for tournament play the past two seasons when it hired Enfield.
Senior forward Eddie Murray grew up in nearby Fort Myers, so, he saw the school rise out of 700 acres of reclaimed swampland. “It was pretty strange,” he said of what began as an extremely small campus. “There were a couple of dormitories, but there were wild animals crossing the road back there. I’ve seen everything from wild boar to bobcats and alligators.”
That’s interesting enough, but what really is driving the FGCU search trend is Enfield’s wife, Amanda Marcum Enfield, a former model who has appeared on the covers of Maxim, Vogue and Elle, as well as in commercials for Victoria’s Secret and Armani. Asked if he kids around with his live-wire coach about playing second fiddle to his wife, junior forward Chase Fieler said, “I don’t joke around with him about his wife. He does control my playing time.”
Enfield once was a shooting specialty coach for the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, and his player development skills are a major lure in attracting a solid group of future recruits he has coming in. Fieler was asked if the players ever challenge their coach to shooting contests. “No,” he said. “We try to keep our confidence up.”
This is a team that doesn’t lack for confidence after playing a schedule that included games against Miami, Duke, St. John’s and Iowa State. They actually beat the Hurricanes who are a No. 2 seed in the East Region. After upsetting conference regular-season champ Mercer on its home court to earn the automatic bid, the Eagles aren’t awed by Georgetown.
As you might imagine, the players are a direct reflection of their coach. Enfield spent the past five seasons as an assistant at Florida State, where he was a top recruiter and player development coach. When he was in the NBA, Enfield worked for Mike Dunleavy in Milwaukee and Rick Pitino with the Celtics.
In addition to his basketball prowess, Enfield was an economics major in college at Johns Hopkins. He also founded a document imaging and contract management company called TractManager that he turned into a $100 million enterprise, and he still is a consultant.
Asked to explain his remarkable success on so many fronts, Enfield said, “Well, there’s a sign above the door in my office that says, ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.’ I realized that was true in my life. I’ve never been one to not try to do things and look for opportunities.
“I take those shots. I’ve failed numerous times. I don’t look at my life as charmed, but I do feel very blessed to have a wonderful wife and three children and be in a position where I have a good job and am having a lot of fun.”
Enfield believes in his team and his high-scoring system even though he’s going up against a Georgetown team that holds opponents to 56 points per game. “We’re confident in our system,” Enfield said. “We scored 88 points against a Mercer team that was top 10 in the nation in defense in the conference championship. We understand how great defensively Georgetown is, but we are in the top 20 in the nation in steals.”
So, believe it when FGCU’s coach and players say they are going to take their best shot against the Hoyas. The Eagles are in a good mood. As Fieler said before departing, “I’ve enjoyed it. The questions have all been fun to answer, and you guys have been a pleasure to play with.”
Sure can’t say Enfield and his team don’t have game.