Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield a rising star

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Sports,College,Craig Stouffer,Georgetown University

Known in area from days at Hopkins

Florida Gulf Coast is the least likely of the four No. 15 seeds to be overlooked when the NCAA tournament reaches full stride later this week because of its early season upset of eventual ACC champion Miami.

The Eagles (24-10) also could have a special and lesser known emotional spark on their side in their bid to upset second-seeded Georgetown (25-6). When the teams tip off at Wells Fargo Center on Friday, it also will be a homecoming game of sorts for rising star and second-year Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield.

His parents will make the trip two hours east from the hamlet of Shippensburg (population less than 6,000) along with the convergence of friends and teammates from his college days at Johns Hopkins, where the only person more famous in the athletic department could be men's lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala.

NCAA second round
No. 2 Georgetown vs. No. 15 FGC
When » Friday, 6:50 p.m.
Where » Wells Fargo Center,
Philadelphia
TV » TBS
Know your opponent
Florida Gulf Coast
Location » Fort Myers, Fla.
Enrollment » 11,291
Opened » 1997
Nickname » Eagles
Conference » Atlantic Sun
Notable alum » Chris Sale
(White Sox)

"We were 15-1 at home, so I'd rather play closer to home," said Enfield, who is comfortable with the advantages lavished on higher seeds rather than his own underdog squad. "We're playing at a high level. We won 12 of our last 14 games, and we had that tough early schedule, so I think we're prepared to go into this tournament."

While the Eagles, in their second year of Division I postseason eligibility, and the university itself, which first admitted students in 1997, don't have much history, the 43-year-old Enfield has been immersed in the game since a young age. He learned fundamentals from his father, Bill, a coach for more than 20 years at the middle and early high school levels. Andy Enfield was then part of current Johns Hopkins coach Bill Nelson's first recruiting class and left the Blue Jays in 1991 with a school-record 2,025 career points and NCAA-record 92.5 percent shooting (431-for-466) at the free throw line.

"He knows the game," Bill Enfield said. "He refined his stroke, which is very simple but hard to grasp by a lot of players."

Fittingly, Andy Enfield later spent nearly a decade as a player development and assistant coach in the NBA, including stints under Mike Dunleavy in Milwaukee -- where he picked up the transition offensive sets the Eagles often employ -- and Rick Pitino in Boston -- where he gained motivational skills.

He was a personal coach for former Hoyas star Alonzo Mourning in Miami. There, he met Leonard Hamilton and eventually joined the former Wizards coach's staff at Florida State in 2006. In Tallahassee, he helped develop Al Thornton, who played in Washington in 2010-11, and current Wizards forward Chris Singleton.

"I never met a player that didn't want to get better," Enfield said. "I think I learned what you needed was to have a relationship with them, learn to motivate and teach them. That's true for whatever level and age that they are."

It's translated into an Atlantic Sun championship and an Eagles team that doesn't expect to be overwhelmed by the NCAA tournament stage.

"One thing Andy doesn't do is sit back and hold the ball and try to keep the game necessarily close," Nelson said. "He's going to go right after them from the get-go."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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