Archive for Monday, November 25, 2002

to play mentor Williams

November 25, 2002

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Roy Williams doesnâÂÂt want to play North Carolina on Wednesday night.

Turns out Matt Doherty isnâÂÂt crazy about playing Kansas University, either.

âÂÂNo. 1, itâÂÂs awkward, awkward coaching against coach Williams and his staff,â said Doherty, UNCâÂÂs third-year head coach, who worked on Roy Williamsâ KU staff from 1992 to âÂÂ99.

âÂÂThereâÂÂs some kids you helped recruit, like Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison, and you know if we lose, coach will feel bad for us. If we win, IâÂÂll feel bad. ItâÂÂs that kind of thing. YouâÂÂd rather not play friends, but itâÂÂs something heâÂÂs dealt with before with (former UNC) coach (Dean) Smith.âÂÂ

Williams has a 1-1 record against his and DohertyâÂÂs alma mater, beating Carolina, 79-73, in the 1991 Final Four, and falling, 78-68, in the âÂÂ93 Final Four.

Doherty, who coached at Notre Dame a year before replacing Bill Guthridge at UNC, has never coached against KU.

âÂÂI am always a Jayhawker,â said Doherty, who went 26-7 in his first year at Carolina and 8-20 last year.

He will take a 3-0 record into WednesdayâÂÂs NIT semifinal battle against KU at 8:30 p.m. CST at Madison Square Garden.

âÂÂItâÂÂs great to be part of a great tradition of Kansas, great people, great experiences,â added Doherty, who made a five-day trip to Lawrence with his wife and two children to visit friends in October.

His relationship with KU coach Williams goes back a long way.

âÂÂCoach has really been a big brother to me. IâÂÂd say father, but I donâÂÂt want to age him. I have more gray hair than he does,â the 40-year-old Doherty said of Williams, 52. âÂÂHe took me in first to the University of North Carolina.

âÂÂHe recruited me as a player, then took me into Lawrence, Kan. He and (wife) Wanda really guided myself and my wife through seven great years in Lawrence. Great experiences on the court, great friends. Our son Tucker was born at Lawrence Memorial. Coach put me in a position to go on and grow as a head coach.âÂÂ

Williams shares the same fond feelings for his ex-pupil, who was known as a good recruiter at KU and has proven it at North Carolina, bringing in six freshmen this season, including McDonaldâÂÂs All-Americans Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and Sean May, who are slated to start Wednesday.

âÂÂI recruited Matt as a player. He was fantastic for us on the national championship team of 1982,â Williams said of Doherty, who played at UNC from 1980 to âÂÂ84. âÂÂHe was one of those players you have to have. Every team needs one of them to be the best team you can be.

âÂÂHe was intelligent, had savvy. He proved his intelligence by passing the ball to guys named (James) Worthy and (Michael) Jordan. He kept passing the ball there.

âÂÂI remember talking to him in Indianapolis at the Final Four about being my assistant. There was no doubt in my mind heâÂÂd be a successful head coach at Notre Dame or wherever he decided to coach because he had the whole package.âÂÂ

An Irish Catholic who was born and reared in East Meadow, N.Y., Doherty went 22-15 in his one year at Notre Dame and was wildly popular in his short stay in South Bend, Ind.

âÂÂI enjoyed my year at Notre Dame. I thought I was going to be there forever, then coach Williams screwed it up and turned down the North Carolina job,â Doherty said of the summer of 2000, when Williams declined a job offer from his alma mater. Carolina made overtures to former Smith assistants and UNC grads Eddie Fogler, Larry Brown, George Karl and Randy Wiel, but ultimately turned to Doherty.

âÂÂWe went back home to where I went to school and where my wife is from,â Doherty said. âÂÂItâÂÂs been a challenging couple of years. WeâÂÂve had some great moments and some tough moments, but I think the groundwork is laid for a great future.âÂÂ

Doherty expects his young team - North Carolina has no juniors and two seniors on the roster - to have some ups and some downs this season.

UNCâÂÂs 8-20 mark last year was, by far, the worst record in school history. The Tar Heels started 0-3, losing at home to Winthrop, Davidson and Indiana.

It was UNCâÂÂs worst start in 73 years.

Lose and lose often the Tar Heels did as they suffered the schoolâÂÂs first losing record in 40 seasons. UNC failed to win 20 games for the first time in 32 years, failed to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 28 years and failed to finish in the ACCâÂÂs top three for the first time in the 38 years.

âÂÂIâÂÂll never forget last year. I do not like to lose,â Doherty said.

âÂÂBefore last season started, Sept. 11 put a lot of perspective for myself and many other Americans,â Doherty told the Greensboro News and Record. âÂÂAfter I left Carolina and before I started coaching, I worked not far from those World Trade Center buildings. And having grown up on Long Island, I knew a few people who were lost. ThereâÂÂd be times last season when IâÂÂd be driving home after a loss to my wife and two kids and IâÂÂd think, âÂÂ'It could be worse. IâÂÂm fortunate to have a very good life.â So last year didnâÂÂt shake me as much as people thought it did. It wasnâÂÂt doomsday.âÂÂ

â¢


Off to Big Apple: The Jayhawks will leave for New York after todayâÂÂs practice. The team will practice Tuesday at the New Jersey Netsâ training facility. Reporters in New York will find Williams is burned out discussing his decision to stay at KU in the summer of 2000.

âÂÂI donâÂÂt want to live this whole frickinâ thing over again,â Williams said. âÂÂIâÂÂm so tired of this stuff, itâÂÂs ridiculous. I think itâÂÂs old news. IâÂÂve even had a hole-in-one since that time. ItâÂÂs old news.âÂÂ

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