Andy Enfield's California Dream
Credit: Photograph by Andrew Cutraro

But now it's October, and Enfield is confronted with a death-march season. Because he was hired after the end of recruiting, he enters the year with not a single player of his own design. The future already looks brighter with the signing of Jordan McLaughlin, a top 40 guard who will arrive in 2014. But right now Enfield sits at the PAC-12 poker table holding a foot more than a hand. His predecessor was a profane screamer whom few kids wanted to play for, so those who committed to USC were just desperate to play PAC-12 ball. Some are way out of their league.

On a Saturday morning, Enfield watches a simulated game. His guys play hard, but they're building a house out of bricks. Enfield shakes his head when Katin Reinhardt, a rooster-haired transfer from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, launches what seems like his 37th shot in a row. Enfield stares at his Nikes.

"Jeez, you get the ball seven times in a row, you'd think he'd pass it once, but no."

After a few minutes of desultory play, Enfield turns to me with a doleful smile.

"So what do you think of my guys?" he says. "Be honest."

I hem and haw, trying to say in a nice way that his gaggle of misfit toys seem to love their new coach. This is true. But before I can get the words out, Enfield is down the bench glad-handing with a couple of coaches and kids watching the scrimmage. I could catch only a few stray words: "fun," "up-tempo," "NBA style."

Andy Enfield believes it all. Outside, the palm trees are swaying and there isn't a cloud in the sky.