Celtics Hire Shooting Coach
February 13, 1999
Andy Enfield only asks that you eliminate the word "shooting" from his job description. A simple, "coach" would do just fine.
That's what he is. That's what he does. The fact that his area of expertise happens to be shooting, and the Celtics need to shoot better, is, of course, utterly coincidental.
Enfield is 29. He's established a reputation in the biz as a shooting specialist. He was the man that Rick Pitino brought in last June for the voluntary workout that Antoine Walker blew off. He's also the latest addition to the ever-growing Celtics coaching staff, which now consists of a head coach, an associate coach, a coaching associate, and three assistants.
He's a coach's delight: the son of a coach. He played for dad in Shippensburg, Pa., scored 2,000 points while attending legendary hoop juggernaut Johns Hopkins, and has a masters degree in business from the University of Maryland. But his claim to fame is to be able to help shooters shoot better and, basically, that's why he's here.
"We're teaching him how to coach," says Pitino, "and we're teaching him to scout, to learn all the drills. He lends us the expertise of being a shot doctor. All players have flaws in their free throws and shots. Getting a guy to concentrate on that alone, all the time, would really add to this team. He's terrific at it. He's got a great way of teaching it."
Enfield was the Milwaukee Bucks' shooting coach from 1994-96 and, yes, he did contemplate strangling Todd Day. He then went out on his own, an independent contractor, while putting together a video with Glen Rice. He's also in demand as a speaker and teacher at clinics and, last year, also found he was in demand as a coach.
"I had a few opportunities," Enfield says, "but the chance to work for Rick Pitino and Jim O'Brien and the Boston Celtics was too good. How can you beat that?"
Says Pitino, "everyone was after him. The reason we got him was that he wasn't going to be just a shooting coach. He was going to learn to be a coach. He doesn't want to be a shot doctor. He wants to be a coach."
Yeah, but right now, his prime duties involve putting an end to the clanging. The Celtics still have not had a decent shooting game and pet project Walker continues to be mystifyingly and maddeningly inconsistent from the free throw line. But Pitino places a premium on individual work and he thinks Enfield can get to his shooters in a way that he, the coach, can't.
"I don't have the expertise in that area, to break it down and show it that way," Pitino says. "I'm more of a drill and get-the-technique-down, the footwork down. So we're taking it a little step further with him."
Enfield learned how to shoot from his father. At Johns Hopkins, he set a record for free throw percentage. He quickly figured out that the easiest entree into the NBA was to develop a specialty. He studied the mechanics of NBA players and found "a lot of common flaws that went unnoticed by players and coaches.
"I noticed that there were players quite in need of coaching. And I felt I had some credibility in that area because of the free throws," he said.
His first NBA client was Walt Williams, never known as a dead-eye. Word of mouth led to others. "I guess I filled a need," Enfield says. Then, Mike Dunleavy at Milwaukee called and offered him the job.
His first year on the job, the Bucks' shooting percentage went from 44.7 to 45.9 percent. Their free throw percentage went from 70.2 to 71.2 percent. There was an even bigger bump the next season.
The Celtics in general and Walker in particular present a similar challenge. Boston shot a woeful 43.4 percent from the field last season and a so-so 72.6 percent from the line. The Celtics are below both numbers so far this season, but it's way too early to draw any firm conclusions. Walker, too, is still bricking free throws (14 for 27) but has upgraded considerably in field goal percentage (46.3 compared to 42.3).
"I see a gradual progression for him," Enfield says of Walker. "He is extremely skilled and talented, and I don't know if people understand how hard he works. He wants to get there. But it's going to take work and time."
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