new article in the miami herald
new article in the miami herald
It's a lot easier to turn a basketball team around than a football team. Our division is a disgrace and it good were outta there after this year. It does give a great chance to get to the NCAA tourney. I'm hoping for twenty plus wins…..
Wins over south florida/northwestern/college of charlseton should give us a top 80 rpi if we dominate our confernce.
I think were all in for a surprise. Were going to be allright. Plus we will set up legitamit recruiting class for next year.
As always the dome will be the biggest factor.
Finding Matt Doherty at Florida Atlantic University is a little like finding Mahatma Gandhi at the Pentagon, but there he is – Michael Jordan's former teammate, Roy Williams' former prot?g? and the man who was going to fill Dean Smith's shoes, coaching the team whose mascot is a burrowing owl.
Forgive Doherty if he has asked himself, ``What am I doing here?''
From the Dean Dome, always full with 21,800 fans, to FAU Arena, where average attendance last season was 523.
From the classic, sports-mad college towns of Chapel Hill, N.C.; South Bend, Ind.; and Lawrence, Kan., to suburban shopping mecca Boca Raton.
From games against Duke, Connecticut and Kentucky to opponents like Gardner-Webb, Campbell and Lipscomb.
Doherty used to coach NBA prospects. Now his roster includes nine transfers from such schools as Vermilion Community College, Triton College and Frank Phillips College. He spent a recent practice teaching them the ABCs of setting a screen.
Hurricane Wilma only added to Doherty's sense of displacement. Before the storm hit, he and his players fled to Orlando, where they shared a high school gym with its team. A roof leak warped FAU's arena floor, and while it is being fixed, the nomadic Owls have practiced alongside the Lynn University women's volleyball team.
''What am I doing here? Yes, I've had those moments,'' Doherty said. ``When I go recruiting, I'm staying at Holiday Inns instead of Marriotts. I'm eating at Denny's. I'm flying commercial instead of in a booster's private jet.
``I'm not coaching Sean May or Raymond Felton or Troy Murphy. My power forward will tell you he's 6-5 although he's really 6-3.
``But you know what? It's basketball. The beauty for me now is the stripped-down simplicity of the game.''
Two years after he was told to resign at North Carolina, his alma mater, Doherty is grateful to be coaching. He is relieved to know his passion for the job has not soured, despite the ugly business in Chapel Hill. The latest entry on his r?sum? forces a double take, but he believes FAU is as good a place as any to start fresh. He envisions fashioning a St. John's or DePaul out of this 41-year old commuter school situated off I-95.
'People say, `Oh, you won't get 20,000 fans at FAU,' '' he said. ``If I'm coaching for that or the TV exposure or the money I'm doing it for the wrong reasons.
``There are plenty of doubters – it's easy to doubt. But people who play and coach sports are dreamers.''
Doherty's precipitous fall from the heights of college basketball could have crushed his capacity to dream and turned him into a cynic. Cynics can't coach 6-3 power forward transfers from Chipola College at a school ranked 238 in Division I.
Spend five minutes with Doherty and you don't doubt that he will rise again. He pushed too hard at North Carolina, and rubbed people the wrong way. But there's plenty of room for pushing at FAU, with no icons or traditions to impede him.
Doherty, 43, has not lost the sense of humor that ignites his smile and piercing eyes in a chain reaction that will have recruits and their mothers hanging on his every word. His punchy Long Island accent has a way of making him sound brutally honest.
At FAU, Doherty is building a program and rebuilding his image. Football coach Howard Schnellenberger was instrumental in convincing him to take the job.
''I see this as an opportunity,'' Doherty said. ``Coach Schnellenberger told me about the satisfaction of putting your fingerprints on something, whereas at North Carolina it was always going to be Dean or Frank McGuire's program.''
Doherty played alongside, recruited and coached the creme de la creme of his sport. The NCAA Final Four wasn't a fantasy. It was an annual goal. He snipped the championship nets in the Superdome in 1982 as a Tar Heel. He helped Williams lead Kansas to the 1993 Final Four. He coached Notre Dame to a 22-15 record and the NIT championship game. He coached North Carolina to the ACC regular season co-championship.
In 2001, he was named Coach of the Year.
In 2003, facing mutinous players, disgruntled fans and unsupportive administrators, he left Chapel Hill a thoroughly humbled and disillusioned man.
WHAT WENT WRONG
''I've been to the mountaintop and the view isn't always better,'' Doherty said.
Doherty sees now what he did wrong at North Carolina. After one year as a head coach, ``I was handed the keys to IBM, and I needed more guidance than I got.''
After Williams turned the job down, Doherty took over for Bill Guthridge. He aggressively implemented change at a program that was cemented in its methods. He made the mistake of firing assistant Phil Ford, a North Carolina treasure.
''I succeeded a calm, stately coach and shook up the apple cart,'' Doherty said. ``At Notre Dame they wanted a hard-charging guy but at Carolina I should have gone slower.''
Secretaries complained about his abrasiveness, players complained about his harshness, and after the 8-20 disaster of 2002, Doherty went from favorite son to hiring mistake.
The Tar Heels improved the next season, but a few players, including star Rashad McCants threatened to transfer if Doherty stayed. North Carolina had the perfect excuse to go after Williams again. This time, Williams left Kansas and came to a team stocked by Doherty with the best talent in the country.
''I had warned them we wouldn't be very good until I got my recruits,'' Doherty said. ``I resent that I didn't get more patience and more leadership from above. I resent the way it was handled. You don't do what they did to a family member.
``I felt sorry for the kids because they were made to look bad.''
He signed the stars who won the 2005 championship, as Williams acknowledged at the Final Four last year.
''I was the interim coach without the official interim label,'' he said.
The experience was sobering but liberating. He quickly found out who his true friends were.
''I found out which people liked me and my wife because I was head coach at Carolina and not because I was Matt and because she was the wife of the head coach and not Kelly,'' he said. ``I was able to weed out my Rolodex.''
Doherty stayed out of coaching for two years. He started a marketing company and a basketball academy and was a TV analyst. He talked to St. John's, James Madison, Tulsa and Massachusetts, but nothing worked out. He also took seminars on leadership.
''I'm mellower now,'' he said. ``I wanted to prove I'm a better coach than I was two years ago.
Rex Walters, a former Kansas and Heat player, asked Doherty for a recommendation when he applied for the FAU job, vacated by Sidney Green after a 10-17 season. But when Walters was told FAU wanted someone with head coaching experience, Doherty became intrigued. He was impressed by the school's president and athletic director and by the program's potential. FAU was thrilled to hire Doherty, who received a congratulatory letter from Dean Smith.
''There is more talent in South Florida than in the entire state of Kansas,'' said Walters, who is Doherty's associate coach. 'Coach Doherty has been e-mailing me at 2 a.m. about how we can out-work and out-think the competition. He's been so excited to see the light bulbs going on above our kids' heads.''
Still: ''What am I doing here?'' It's a fair question. And it was a perplexing one.
But Doherty insists he has stopped asking it. He won't let pride or bitterness prevent him from moving forward. The past is to be learned from, not dwelled upon. Curiously, he wears his 2001 ACC ring despite his ''awkward'' relationship with North Carolina.
'I don't like rings, but Coach Schnellenberger told me, `Matt, you've got to wear one because it impresses recruits,' '' Doherty said, doing his impersonation of Schnellenberger's gravelly bass voice.
He's sitting inside FAU's steamy athletic department; the air conditioning hasn't worked right since Wilma. He's not sure which gym he will have to share for practice. And he knows Boca is a long way from Indianapolis, site of the 2006 Final Four.
But Doherty is smiling, then he's laughing, and his optimism fills the room.
new article in the miami herald
FAU is changing there is no doubt about it and the addition of Doherty just helps push it along that much quicker.
new article in the miami herald
Here's an article from Sunday's Palm Beach Post that's written more from his wife's perspective but still has some interesting tid-bits.
Matt Doherty returns from the basketball coaching abyss
By Hal Habib
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 13, 2005
BOCA RATON ? The road to resurrecting a career can be longer and stranger than you think. Matt Doherty is the coach whose team won a national championship without him, the one who wasn't sure how to react when he was fielding congratulatory calls while stuck in a TV studio, staring at a monitor as the team he built, the North Carolina Tar Heels, cut down the nets.
One of the callers, Matt's wife, Kelly, knew their lives changed that night. She figured she'd better start packing boxes because this was the spark that would make Matt return to coaching after a two-year hiatus.
So they traded in Tobacco Road for Glades Road, a hallowed basketball arena for a hollowed one. Thank Katrina and Wilma for that. Emerging after the most recent welcome-to-Florida hurricane, Matt discovered the only window blown out in his new gym was the one right over the desk in his office. Worse, the gym was unusable.
Imagine: The man who won a national championship as a player alongside Michael Jordan and who four years ago was voted the best college basketball coach in America is sweating out whether he can borrow the gym at Lynn, Broward Community College or Palm Beach Community College for his next practice. Provided, of course, he doesn't just round up everybody for another trip to Orlando to work out.
"In terms of perspective, our life is great," Doherty, 43, nevertheless says. "We've turned a negative into a positive."
He's talking about the bond his Owls have formed, but he might as well be talking about his own career. What kind of coach is FAU getting? Not the same one whose dream gig at his alma mater spiraled so badly that, at the end, it seemed like… the end.
"It totally shut down any life in our house," Kelly says of those first few days after Matt was forced out at North Carolina. "It was almost like a funeral. We had friends flying in to check on us…. I know his heart was broken."
Today, both the heart and home are mended. Kelly sensed it even before Matt accepted the job, when he talked about the feeling he got passing through the Owls' locker rooms and gym before Wilma did.
"I could see that fire in his eyes and I was glad to see that," Kelly says. "I teased him. … I was using the old movie, Frankenstein. 'He's alive! He's alive!' That's how I feel with him. His electrodes lit up."
Intensity and Oreos
Getting charged up never was a problem. Ask some of the Tar Heels players who reportedly were ready to bolt if he did not after finishing 8-20 in 2001-02. Was he too tough? Which side was at fault? Who's to say, and who's to say if it even matters anymore?
"I think I'm a better leader," Matt says. "I'm a better manager and that comes through experience and learning from your mistakes."
Time heals. Endorsements arrive from all sorts of places. Including Chapel Hill.
"It was important for him to get back in and not stay out any longer," says Doherty's successor, Roy Williams, whom Doherty assisted for seven seasons at Kansas. "I think that FAU will be a great place for him. It's a very difficult job ? I'm not saying it's not. I think that the trials and tribulations that he has gone through have only made him stronger. There's still the hunger there. There's still the passion there."
If that intensity exacerbated problems at North Carolina, you search for signs Doherty may have eased up on the gas pedal. You find them in unlikely places.
Like the bottom of a bag of Oreos.
Dolphins coach Nick Saban is known for his addiction to Little Debbie cakes. Doherty has little Hattie. His 6-year-old daughter knows the best way to keep Daddy from eating all the Oreos is to hide them (son Tucker, 8, stashes Twizzlers).
"I have found Oreos and licorice in the bathroom cabinet," Kelly says. "Matt doesn't drink, and if he has any addiction, I say Oreos are his alcohol because he can sit down and kill a bag in one night with a gallon of milk."
That might be a difficult image to conjure for Tar Heels fans used to seeing Doherty jawing with referees. So is this:
"She totally owns her daddy," Kelly says of Hattie. "It's the best revenge I've ever had on a man."
When Matt envisioned a family, "I really do think in his mind it was going to be all boys," Kelly says. "When they said Hattie was a girl, I saw every Irish freckle fall off his face and I was almost angry because he was totally standing there, going, 'You're kidding. It's a girl? What am I going to do with a girl? I've got Kelly.' "
The Owls can thank Hattie and Tucker for helping them land a name coach who might have been untouchable. It was a professional move to Boca Raton, certainly, but lifestyle was a factor.
Stepping into a new role, Doherty doesn't want to fuel speculation FAU is a stepping stone. He says FAU is "a diamond in the rough" and "we want to go to the Sweet 16."
"I've never been in a more fertile area for basketball," Doherty says, comparing South Florida with Kansas, Indiana and North Carolina. "At North Carolina, the state had good players, but you have to drive or fly to a game. Here, one day about two or three weeks ago I got in the car and (assistant) Mike Balado and I went to three practices in nine hours."
Doherty, known for recruiting creativity, was creatively recruited by FAU. The assist goes to Rex Walters, who played under him at Kansas and whom Walters used as a reference while interviewing for FAU's opening. Walters received a surprising call from Doherty.
"Hey, they would like to talk to me," Doherty told Walters. "How do you feel about it?"
It could have been awkward. It wasn't.
"That's a no-brainer," Walters said. "You'd be great for the job. They'd be very lucky to have you."
Doherty: "If I do take it, I want you to come with me. Would you jump in?"
Walters: "Without hesitation."
Walters became associate head coach and, Kelly says, a "Mini-Me" version of her husband. Like Doherty, Walters has attached himself to a notebook, constantly writing reminders to himself. Walters never had a notebook before?
"I did, but I didn't use it very much," Walters says, laughing. "Now, it's pretty much filled."
Little things are big things. That's their credo and they're sticking to it.
"Our goal and our vision is, 'What was Gonzaga like 15 years ago?' " Walters says.
They'll go to extreme lengths to make FAU a power, even when they have no power. During Wilma, the Doherty and Walters families were holed up at the shuttered Jupiter townhome of Walters' in-laws.
"He and Rex are watching film on the computer and there's a hurricane going on outside," Kelly says. "I said, 'You blow my mind. For all we know there could be cows flying over the house.' "
The day cows can fly is when Doherty will let work slide, says ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, who calls it a "great" hire.
"His tenacity is unbelievable," Vitale says. "I think the simple problem at North Carolina was, one, expectations. They're so unbelievably high, the standard of excellence, it's almost like Notre Dame in football or the Yankees in baseball. It's all about winning and if you don't, it's a sad mentality. I think that was the only problem."
If Doherty wanted less pressure, he found the place. At his introductory news conference, Doherty said it doesn't matter if you're coaching in front of 20,000 fans or 2,000. Meeting the media last week, he revised the latter figure to 1,000. FAU averaged just 523 while going 10-17 last season. Making this a basketball school might be as tough as keeping Doherty if he does.
"He's going to do such a great job that people are going to see this guy's got star ability," Vitale says. "He got great results at Kansas, did a phenomenal job rejuvenating the Notre Dame program and people forget that he was coach of the year nationally while he was coaching at North Carolina. How do you get dumb all of a sudden?"
Williams made sure North Carolina fans didn't forget that Doherty recruited all but two of the players who beat Illinois for the national title in April.
"I feel for Matt Doherty," Williams said amid the celebration. "I really do. If Matt was here, I would want him to know this was special and I would give him a big hug."
Doherty, an analyst for College Sports TV, was on the air when his producer hit him with that sound bite. "It was a little stunning," Doherty says.
Says Williams: "I think that it was just some really unusual, some bizarre things that went on and that's the reason that he was not there and I was. I helped recruit him, I helped coach him, he was an assistant coach for me and I love him to death. I knew it was partially bittersweet, but I wanted people to know that Matt Doherty was always going to be a big part of that championship."
Frankenstein had awakened.
Fourteen days later, Doherty was introduced as FAU coach. Guard Ty McTyer made the new guy feel at home, meeting Doherty while wearing his Jordan Tar Heels throwback jersey, although Doherty jokes, "If he really wanted to suck up to me, he'd find a No. 44. Those are very hard to find because they're in such a demand."
North Carolina provided Matt Doherty the highs, lows and everything in between in his basketball career. Two years ago, it drove him out of the sport. Seven months ago, it coaxed him back.
"I called him at the studio and I go, 'Congratulations, you just won a national championship,' " Kelly says. "And he started taking great pride. It's kind of like it almost recharged him. I don't want to say it built his confidence, but it gave him that air of, 'You know what? I can coach and I am a good coach and this is what I should be doing.' "
It's good to see that Coach Doherty, his wife and his children are all feeling at home in Boca ;D.
new article in the miami herald
I don't know if the "commuter school" reputation is going to hurt FAU. For some reason that seems to turn people off when they hear that. Things can change though. FSU used to be an all womens college.
new article in the miami herald
You are also right about UM basketball and the same will happen at FAU.