Archive for Thursday, November 28, 2002

s awkward to beat mentor

November 28, 2002

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— Matt Doherty confided he really didnâÂÂt know what to do, not after his North Carolina basketball team had dissected No. 2-ranked Kansas and his former boss, Roy Williams.

âÂÂItâÂÂs uncomfortable after the game is over,â Doherty said. âÂÂYou donâÂÂt know what to say, how to act.âÂÂ

Then Doherty harked back to that NCAA Final Four semifinal back in 1991 in Indianapolis, when Williams had turned the tables on his mentor, Dean Smith.

âÂÂHis first game, he coached against coach Smith,â Doherty said, âÂÂand his team beat coach SmithâÂÂs team.âÂÂ

This wasnâÂÂt the Final Four. This was just the Preseason NIT Four, and itâÂÂs a long, long way from late November to early April.

âÂÂI know coach Williams is happy for me,â Doherty said. âÂÂAs we move forward, this will just be one game on that record âÂÂ: I think heâÂÂs just proud and happy for me. I know thatâÂÂs how he feels in his heart.âÂÂ

Williams did say he loved Doherty. At the same time, Williams was not loving how his players failed to respond to CarolinaâÂÂs attacking offense and withering defense.

Doherty praised his players, of course, but he knew his youthful team had the mental advantage on this night.

âÂÂI thought our defense was very good,â Doherty said, âÂÂand obviously it was not Kansasâ best night. I think they were a little out of synch.âÂÂ

Carolina had a big crowd Ãi¿½" the Tar Heelsâ basketball pep band was even on hand Ãi¿½" and the players responded to the home-like atmosphere. A 121âÂÂ2-point underdog, Carolina took it right to the Jayhawks.

âÂÂItâÂÂs easy to play when youâÂÂre the underdog,â Doherty said. âÂÂWhen you have that No. 2 tag on you, thatâÂÂs tough. Kansas is a great team and have great players. But they were a little out of synch.âÂÂ

Carolina caused most of the Jayhawksâ woes, but Doherty re-emphasized the mental factor.

âÂÂAgain, itâÂÂs an easy game for us to play because they are the ones that are No. 2 in the country,â the Tar Heelsâ third-year coach said. âÂÂThey are the ones with the expectations, and IâÂÂve been there as a player. IâÂÂve been there as a coach. ItâÂÂs easy to come in with nothing to lose.âÂÂ

North Carolina will meet Stanford in the title game at 8 p.m. Friday.

âÂÂThey didnâÂÂt hand out any championship rings tonight,â Doherty said. âÂÂWe are fortunate, very fortunate to beat a very, very talented, well-coached Kansas team. But now, if we donâÂÂt get our minds right for Stanford, weâÂÂll be saying, âÂÂ'Well, you didnâÂÂt play well against Stanford.âÂÂâÂÂ

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