First-Year Coaches Find Themselves In Different Situations
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 | by by Craig Threlkeld (Atlantic Sun)

Midway through their first season as head coaches, Stetson’s Casey Alexander, FGCU’s Andy Enfield and Kennesaw State’s Lewis Preston already have their own unique story to tell.

The first thing Alexander will tell you about his first season as a head coach is that he “loves coming to work.”

“I have encountered no surprises in my first year as a head coach,” Alexander says. “I appreciate the opportunities and responsibilities that come with the job. I think as a first-year head coach it has been important to remember to start with the big picture, and to stay focused on what we want to establish in the program. I think it is easy to lose track of that and begin to focus on standings, seedings and wins and losses.”

The former Belmont assistant calls this opportunity the right place that came at the right time. “I was at one school for a long time and was ready for something new. More and more I felt ready to run my own program,” he says. “I got to the point that I knew it was time for a change. I didn’t want to go just anywhere just to be a head coach, but to go somewhere where the philosophy in which I believed could transfer. I believe this is a good place for that.”

Alexander refers to the Hatters (7-13, 4-5) as a team who is more offensive-focused, as evidenced by the fact that eight of the 11 statistical categories in which they rank in the top half of the A-Sun are offensive. However, Stetson also leads the conference in rebounding offense, defensive rebounds and defensive rebounding percentage. Stetson also has three of the top 10 scorers in the conference, led by Adam Pegg (15.1 ppg), Chris Perez (13.3 ppg) and Aaron Graham (12.9 ppg).

So what will it take for the Hatters to find themselves in the mix in late February? Stetson is last in the A-Sun in scoring defense and in turnover margin, two areas of emphasis for Alexander moving forward. “Our nemesis all season has been taking care of the ball,” he says. “There are a lot of reasons we have struggled to do that, but that is the bottom line. In the big picture we are an offensive-minded team, and we have not been as committed to defense as much as we need to be.”

Enfield, whose FGCU team (9-10, 5-4) currently sits in a three-way tie for fourth in the conference, admits that he entered his first season with the Eagles with tempered expectations of the A-Sun.

“Coming from another conference, I really didn’t know what to expect from the A-Sun. I am pleasantly surprised with that I have seen halfway through my first year,” Enfield says. “There is a lot of talent in this league. You expect every team to have a good player or two, but there are talented players from top to bottom. Plus, the level of coaching is excellent.”