Roy Williams doesnÃ¢ÂÂt want to play North Carolina on Wednesday night.
Turns out Matt Doherty isnÃ¢ÂÂt crazy about playing Kansas University, either.
Ã¢ÂÂNo. 1, itÃ¢ÂÂs awkward, awkward coaching against coach Williams and his staff,Ã¢ÂÂ said Doherty, UNCÃ¢ÂÂs third-year head coach, who worked on Roy WilliamsÃ¢ÂÂ KU staff from 1992 to Ã¢ÂÂ99.
Ã¢ÂÂThereÃ¢ÂÂs 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, IÃ¢ÂÂll feel bad. ItÃ¢ÂÂs that kind of thing. YouÃ¢ÂÂd rather not play friends, but itÃ¢ÂÂs something heÃ¢ÂÂs dealt with before with (former UNC) coach (Dean) Smith.Ã¢ÂÂ
Williams has a 1-1 record against his and DohertyÃ¢ÂÂs alma mater, beating Carolina, 79-73, in the 1991 Final Four, and falling, 78-68, in the Ã¢ÂÂ93 Final Four.
Doherty, who coached at Notre Dame a year before replacing Bill Guthridge at UNC, has never coached against KU.
Ã¢ÂÂI am always a Jayhawker,Ã¢ÂÂ 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 WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs NIT semifinal battle against KU at 8:30 p.m. CST at Madison Square Garden.
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs great to be part of a great tradition of Kansas, great people, great experiences,Ã¢ÂÂ 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.
Ã¢ÂÂCoach has really been a big brother to me. IÃ¢ÂÂd say father, but I donÃ¢ÂÂt want to age him. I have more gray hair than he does,Ã¢ÂÂ the 40-year-old Doherty said of Williams, 52. Ã¢ÂÂHe took me in first to the University of North Carolina.
Ã¢ÂÂHe 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.Ã¢ÂÂ
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 McDonaldÃ¢ÂÂs All-Americans Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and Sean May, who are slated to start Wednesday.
Ã¢ÂÂI recruited Matt as a player. He was fantastic for us on the national championship team of 1982,Ã¢ÂÂ Williams said of Doherty, who played at UNC from 1980 to Ã¢ÂÂ84. Ã¢ÂÂHe was one of those players you have to have. Every team needs one of them to be the best team you can be.
Ã¢ÂÂHe 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.
Ã¢ÂÂI remember talking to him in Indianapolis at the Final Four about being my assistant. There was no doubt in my mind heÃ¢ÂÂd be a successful head coach at Notre Dame or wherever he decided to coach because he had the whole package.Ã¢ÂÂ
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.
Ã¢ÂÂI 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,Ã¢ÂÂ 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.
Ã¢ÂÂWe went back home to where I went to school and where my wife is from,Ã¢ÂÂ Doherty said. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs been a challenging couple of years. WeÃ¢ÂÂve had some great moments and some tough moments, but I think the groundwork is laid for a great future.Ã¢ÂÂ
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.
UNCÃ¢ÂÂs 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 UNCÃ¢ÂÂs worst start in 73 years.
Lose and lose often the Tar Heels did as they suffered the schoolÃ¢ÂÂs 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 ACCÃ¢ÂÂs top three for the first time in the 38 years.
Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂll never forget last year. I do not like to lose,Ã¢ÂÂ Doherty said.
Ã¢ÂÂBefore last season started, Sept. 11 put a lot of perspective for myself and many other Americans,Ã¢ÂÂ Doherty told the Greensboro News and Record. Ã¢ÂÂAfter 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. ThereÃ¢ÂÂd be times last season when IÃ¢ÂÂd be driving home after a loss to my wife and two kids and IÃ¢ÂÂd think, Ã¢ÂÂ'It could be worse. IÃ¢ÂÂm fortunate to have a very good life.Ã¢ÂÂ So last year didnÃ¢ÂÂt shake me as much as people thought it did. It wasnÃ¢ÂÂt doomsday.Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂ¢
Off to Big Apple: The Jayhawks will leave for New York after todayÃ¢ÂÂs practice. The team will practice Tuesday at the New Jersey NetsÃ¢ÂÂ training facility. Reporters in New York will find Williams is burned out discussing his decision to stay at KU in the summer of 2000.
Ã¢ÂÂI donÃ¢ÂÂt want to live this whole frickinÃ¢ÂÂ thing over again,Ã¢ÂÂ Williams said. Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm so tired of this stuff, itÃ¢ÂÂs ridiculous. I think itÃ¢ÂÂs old news. IÃ¢ÂÂve even had a hole-in-one since that time. ItÃ¢ÂÂs old news.Ã¢ÂÂ