USC coach Andy Enfield had only one reason to call an otherwise needless timeout with 21 seconds to go in the Trojans’ 70-58 victory over Colorado on Wednesday night.
This was Enfield’s way of prolonging the Buffaloes’ misery and sticking it to coach Tad Boyle for the incendiary comments he made four days earlier.
When Colorado upset Arizona last Saturday evening, Boyle was asked if he took any extra satisfaction in beating one of the two Pac-12 programs ensnared in the ongoing FBI investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball. The outspoken Boyle admitted that he “absolutely” enjoyed beating Arizona or USC more this season given the cheating allegations against both programs.
“I’ve got great respect for Sean [Miller],” Boyle said. “Hell of a coach. I’ve got great respect for Andy Enfield. But to answer your question, hell yes.”
Word of those comments had reached Enfield by the time he met with reporters after USC practiced on Tuesday in Los Angeles. The Orange County Register reported that Enfield removed a piece of paper from his pocket and read a brief statement when asked to react to Boyle’s postgame rant.
“We are disappointed in Tad Boyle’s comments and what they imply,” Enfield said Tuesday. “Not only is it unfair for someone to comment who doesn’t have all the facts, but those comments are unfair to those of us involved in the USC men’s basketball program, most importantly to our student-athletes and their families. They’re outstanding young men who chose USC to receive a world-class education and compete for championships.”
The late timeout on Wednesday was undoubtedly Enfield’s way of hammering home his point even if he has yet to openly admit that.
Andy Enfield on calling a timeout with 21 seconds left: "I just had some things to say to my team."
— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) January 11, 2018
Boyle’s response to Enfield’s timeout made it clear he received Enfield’s message and he is not happy about it.
— Mat Smith (@RealMatSmith) January 11, 2018
In case the timeout alone wasn’t proof enough of lingering tension between Boyle and Enfield, the scene at the final buzzer offered further evidence. Enfield grinned and clapped theatrically for his players as the final buzzer sounded before blowing through the postgame handshake line without a word for Boyle or his staff.
It’s understandable that Enfield would take offense to Boyle portraying USC as a dirty program, but the Trojans coach would have come across better here if he had just taken the high ground and put aside his desire for revenge. When your program is implicated in an FBI investigation, you have to expect some slings and arrows to come your way. You don’t get to play the victim.
USC’s Tony Bland was one of four assistant coaches across college basketball arrested by the FBI in September for accepting bribes in exchange for their influence on what agents or financial advisers top prospects on their teams pick. Standout sophomore guard DeAnthony Melton has not been cleared to play yet all season as a result of the FBI investigation because the school and the NCAA are still investigating whether he received extra benefits that could jeopardize his eligibility.
The one benefit of Boyle’s comments for Enfield is that they appeared to motivate his underachieving team. Point guard Jordan McLaughlin scored 20 points and forward Chimezie Metu put his stamp on the game at the defensive end with six blocks as USC pulled away in the second half to improve to 3-2 in the Pac-12 this season.
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