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Sports Terps

Florida Gulf Coast, Maryland's next opponent, has many local ties

As a fledgling coach fresh out of graduate school at Maryland, Andy Enfield worked with Keith Booth at Cole Field House on his 3-point shooting right before the former Terps star was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bulls in 1997.

As an assistant coach the past five years at Florida State, Enfield returned here for games with the Seminoles.

It will be a little different Friday night when Enfield, who starred at Johns Hopkins from 1987 through 1991 and remains the school's all-time scoring leader, brings his own team — Florida Gulf Coast — to Comcast Center to play the Terps.

But Enfield will not be the only member of Florida Gulf Coast's traveling party with local ties.

Assistant coach Kevin Norris, whose friends back in Baltimore still call him "Stink," and freshman guard Dante Holmes, who starred at St. Frances as a senior two years ago, will also be making something of a homecoming trip, which concludes with a game Sunday at Loyola.

The Eagles will take a 2-3 record into Comcast Center, with two of the losses coming by one point each at Texas Christian and Southern Methodist. Florida Gulf Coast lost at Miami, where Norris played, on Tuesday night, 60-50. Both the one-point losses came down to the last 30 seconds.

"I'm proud of our effort. It'd be nice to win a game like that on the road," Enfield, 42, said in a telephone interview this week. "As far as our program, we're looking not only the short-term … but we're building for the future with a lot of young players."

Holmes is one of six freshmen Enfield brought in after getting the job last April. Holmes, a 6-3, 185-pound guard, has played in four of the team's five games and is averaging five points in 16 minutes a game. Though shooting a respectable 8-for-17 from the field, Holmes has struggled with turnovers (11) and fouls (12).

"I'm proud of him. He worked hard to get where he is now," Maryland senior captain Sean Mosley, a former teammate at St. Frances, said of Holmes.

Enfield can relate a little to what first-year coach Mark Turgeon is going through at Maryland (2-2). The Terps are coming off an up-and-down performance in Puerto Rico, where they sandwiched a 20-point loss to Alabama and a 26-point loss to Iona with a seven-point point win over Colorado.

"Any time you take over a new program, there's going to be things you need to change immediately based on your personality and your coaching style to fit what you want in terms of the culture of the program, the personalities and the type of recruiting," said Enfield, who started his coaching career as a shooting coach for the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. "It's about winning, going to class and getting involved in the community, taking pride in being a Division I athlete."

As for team he inherited, Enfield added, "I've been really impressed with the quality of our kids. They've really bought into everything we're trying to develop, and I'm excited about the future."

One of them is Holmes, who knew Norris as a friend of the family in Baltimore and was aware of Enfield's reputation for developing guards at Florida State and in the NBA.

Holmes said his post-grad year at Oldsmar (Fla.) Christian Academy "was a lot of fun. It got me ready for college." Holmes said that his familiarity with Norris played a part in his decision.

"Having him here with me is a big help," Holmes said Thursday morning before the team flew up for the game.

Norris, who starred at Lake Clifton, hopes that Holmes is the first of many players from Baltimore who wind up at the Atlantic Sun school.

"Coming from Baltimore, it's a scuffle growing up there. So my thing is, I want a kid to be able to go to school, get a degree and putting them in a situation where they have a choice not to go back home," Norris said. "You always come home first and if it don't work out at home, that's when you branch out."

Norris has visions of helping Enfield turn the 10-year old Division I program into the Butler or VCU of the South.

"It's a rising Division I program," Norris said. "Duke was at the bottom of the barrel before Duke became Duke. Players make programs, programs don't make players. That's why you get your Butlers and your VCUs."'

Said Holmes, "I just wanted to be a part of something new."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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