PHILADELPHIA -- Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield is in the running for the most interesting man in the college basketball world.
His players are not so shabby either.
Most of the country receives their first glimpse of the Atlantic Sun tournament champion starting Friday night at 6:50 p.m. against Georgetown, the two-seed in the South Region. Meanwhile Enfield and his players engaged with the national media covering the Philadelphia pod, soaking in the rare limelight.
Enfield's story became a national one after directing the Eagles to the conference's automatic bid in the program's second year of postseason DI eligibility. Besides being a head coach:
* Enfield set the NCAA record for best career free throw percentage (92.3%) while playing at Johns Hopkins
* He coached in the NBA as a member of Rick Pitino's staff with the Boston Celtics.
*Was a shooting coach to over 100 NBA players, including Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce and Gilbert Arenas.
* Enfield has three kids - and is married to her.
That's a lot of positivity going on. No wonder a reporter asked Enfield if he stops to reflect on that has apparently gone his way.
" Well, there's a sign above my door in my office says 'you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take,'" said Enfield, who was an assistant at Florida Stage before getting the FGCU job. "A friend of mine at FGCU gave me that... and I realized that was true to 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 appreciate the compliments. I don't look at my life as charmed.
With his wife, former model Amanda Marcum, Enfield has three children.
I do feel very blessed to have a wonderful wife as you mentioned and three children and be in a position where I have a good job, and I'm having a lot of fun," said Enfield, who directed the Eagles to a 24-10 record including a victory over Miami.
"This is what I wanted to do, be a Division I basketball coach. My wife Amanda has been very supportive. She gave up her career to be a coach's wife and have a family, and so we're in a place now where it's a lot of fun, and I feel very fortunate."
Because the players are college kids and college kids are bound to discuss or at least ponder their coach's unique background, they were about such thoughts.
"I don't joke around with him about his wife. He does control my play time," forward Chase Fieler deadpanned. "We try and take his background. He's the shooting percentage leader so we know he's a great shooting coach. He has the background in the NBA. So just taking that experience that he's had, even being on Wall Street, being a business major, he's helped us a lot with what the schooling can do for us."
Speaking about that shooting prowess, have you ever challenged coach to a contest?
"No, we try to keep our confidence up.," Fieler cracked, cutting up the enchanted media room in the process.
*On the Fort Myers, Florida school's modest start, having opened in the early 1990's with a solo building in the woods.
"It was actually pretty strange," senior and Florida native Eddie Murray said. "There was a couple of dorm rooms, but there was wild animals crossing the road you would see back there." Asked to specify the animals, Murray said, "I've seen everything from wild boar, bobcats, alligators." And yet the school mascot is the Eagle. Anyway...
*On how much they are aware of Georgetown's history
Fieler: :I never really liked them kind of being a West Virginia fan. I guess it helps now I get to play against them."
One of the Eagles three double-digit scorers, Fieler (12.2 ppg) continued with the funnies from inside Wells Fargo Center, home of the NBA's 76ers and the NHL's Flyers. Asked if the extra attention and playing on the big stage ramped up the nerves, he said, "I'm not really nervous other than we are from Florida and they are putting us inside hockey rink against a team that's from up north. Just kidding."
Even though the media session had a "Night at the Improv" kind of vibe, Enfield and his team are serious about this opportunity.
"We're really loose. We're confident," said Fieler, who will be among the Eagle tasked with slowing down Georgetown small forward and leading scorer Otto Porter. "We're trying to stay focused but we realize that we are in the NCAA Tournament, so the pressure we have is what we put on ourselves because I'm sure a lot of people aren't putting much in us to win. We know we can win. We know we have the ability and we're just trying to stay focused on that.