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Daily Dribble | Message Board  | Kevin McNeill Archive

By Kevin McNeill

January 25th, 2006

First Impressions: Matt Doherty

This 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. 



This 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.







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