The victory marked Enfield’s first win against a nationally ranked UCLA team, a moment he’s been building towards ever since infamously telling his players back in 2013, “If you want to play slow, go to UCLA.”
That comment was made just months after Enfield rose to fame at Florida Gulf Coast and Dunk City, leading the Eagles to a Sweet 16 trip before being hired away by the Trojans.
He took some criticism for the quote (that first USC team finished 11-21, while the Bruins went to the Sweet 16), but the reasoning behind it was sound. Enfield wanted the rivalry to be as competitive as it used to be, and after four years, it finally is.
The fourth-year coach has been a force on the recruiting trail, bringing in four-star prospects like Boatwright, Jordan McLaughlin, Elijah Stewart, and Chimezie Metu. He has also made the school an attractive place for high-profile transfers, welcoming in former Duke point guard Derryck Thornton Jr. and Louisville small forward Shaqquan Aaron.
As I expected, the Redbirds got passed after Wichita State pounded them in their rubber match in the Arch Madness final. Dan Muller’s squad still has just one Top-50 win in three tries and a 2-4 record against the Top 100. That simply might not be enough in a season where quality wins seem to be the Selection Committee’s currency. On the flip side, a 12-6 record away from Normal is a factor that will work in Illinois State’s favor.
But the Rams haven’t had one quarterback start an entire season since Sam Bradford was healthy enough to do so in 2012. Since then, the Rams have featured dynamos such as Kellen Clemens, Austin Davis and Shaun Hill behind center.