January 25th, 2006
is part two in a six part series on the college basketball
coaches making the best impression with their new teams.
Matt Doherty knows a thing
or two about first impressions. He was named the AP Coach of the Year
following his first year as the coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels,
leading the team to 26 wins and a #1 national ranking. Before that, in his
first and only year as Notre Dame’s coach, he led the Irish to a .500
conference record in the Big East for the first time since they joined the
conference, and 22 wins – the most ever by a first year coach at Notre Dame.
However, we know what
happened next. The following year at UNC was a nightmare, compiling a
ghastly 8-20 record. That was followed by a 19-16 season and a trip to the
NIT, not something Tar Heel fans are used to. To make matters worse,
reports surfaced claiming widespread discord between his players and
himself, and UNC eventually forced his ouster to make room for Roy Williams.
Now he’s back in coaching,
and the FAU Owls couldn’t be happier.
After a 10-17 record last year, and only a .500 record in the Atlantic Sun
Conference, Coach Doherty has the Owls above .500 overall, and more
importantly, at 7-1 in conference play, giving them a real shot at going to
the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in their history. He has done
all this without the benefit of three starters from last year’s squad,
including Michael Bell - last season’s Atlantic Sun Player of the Year.
Doherty has also shown he
hasn’t lost his recruiting touch either. He has already landed a top
Florida recruit in Sanchez Hughley, with more expected soon.
It is a given that Doherty’s
ultimate goal is a national championship, and that he will at some point
more than likely jump to a major conference program when the opportunity
presents itself. However, the Owls will be grateful for the time they have
with him, however short it may be.
is #2 in a six part series on the college basketball
coaches making the best impression with their new team. Tomorrow
is Matt Doherty of Florida Atlantic.